Local youth theater company brings musical 'Pippin' musical to Danville

Company also seeking to raise $5 million for a new theater in town

"I Can Do That," a nonprofit youth theater company based in Danville, is bringing the musical "Pippin" to the Village Theatre in Danville starting next Friday.

Starting June 15, the the troupe of actors will tell the story of Pippin, "a young prince searching for his own corner of the sky." Pippin's quest for fulfillment leads him to discover that finding true happiness is more complicated than he thought. The music of Pippin is composed by Stephen Schwartz and the plot is based off of the book by Roger O. Hirson.

The musical will be performed by students at the educational youth acting troupe, who are trained by the company's founders Jarusha Ariel and Shayna Ronen.

"We are dedicated to creating professional, full-scale musicals by combining quality training with imagination, freedom and fun. We empower our students by providing a safe and nurturing environment for them to build confidence, creativity, and friendships through the art of live theatre," Ronen said.

Ariel and Ronen are two friends from the Tri-Valley who have a long history in the acting world. They started I Can Do That as a way to spread their love of the theater arts.

"Jarusha and I met when we were 10 years old in the Belasco Theatre Company, a youth theater based in Walnut Creek. Our director, Edward Belasco, was the driving force behind our love for theatre," Ronen said. "We always dreamed of having our own company and after years of hopeful conversations, we finally decided to make our dream a reality on the day of Edward's passing in 2015. We wanted to carry on his vision and give the gift of the entire theater experience to others."

Currently, the founders are working to raise $5 million to complete the construction of a theater in Danville that has been abandoned for 20 years.

"We envision a living, breathing, working theater that will become an artistic and cultural hub for the community and a second home for students and performers," Ronen said. "We see this theater expanding to become a teaching theater, offering student internships in the technical areas of theater as well on the business end. It will also host a variety of events for all ages led by other for- and nonprofit companies not limited to the performing arts."

The Belasco Theatre project, located at 500 La Gonda Way, would enable I Can Do That to hold shows for a 300-person audience. Their current venue holds 245 people and has a rehearsal space that can hold only 30 people maximum.

The project has received bids from local architects and general contractors, and has received support from both the Village Theatre and Zae Perrin, CEO of the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, an online petition supporting the project now has over 1,200 signatures.

"We see this theater as one that will be by the community and for the community. So please help us as we expand our mission to empower our community by fostering joy, self respect and excellence through the art of live theater -- together, let’s bring this theater to life,” Ronen said.

The company holds auditions year-round for their four annual full-scale productions. They also have daily classes in acting, singing and dancing as well as specialized workshops and summer camps.

Pippin opens June 15 and runs through June 24. Friday showtimes begin at 7 p.m. Saturday has a 2 p.m. matinee in addition to a 7 p.m. showtime and Sunday has one matinee showing at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the Village Theatre, 233 Front St., in Danville.


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