Instructor inspires teens in production of ‘Fame’

By Max Sutton-Smolin

In some ways, the teens involved in The Actors’ Conservatory Theatre of San Diego’s production of “Fame” are playing themselves.

“Fame” tells the story of young people trying to make it big singing, acting or dancing at a performing arts school in New York City and the ACT cast includes local actors ages 7 to 21.

The musical will run from Jan. 22-Jan. 31 at the Joan B. Kroc Theatre.

” ‘Fame’ follows five characters … their career, their struggles, their family, their friends … whether or not they have talent,” said assistant stage manager Amanda Gustafson, 21. “There’s a lot of singing and dancing.”

Director Leigh Scarritt, who is also artistic director of the company, said she chose this play, in part, because it is a “perfect vehicle” to “showcase these wonderfully, brilliantly talented young people.” Another reason, from a marketability perspective, is that a new “Fame” movie was recently released.

“We thought this was the one the kids had all talked about,” said Beth Mercer, 53, producer of “Fame” and member of the ACT board of directors. Mercer said Scarritt offers her young actors “everything from life lessons to unbelievable acting and singing.”

The majority of the student actors are from the San Dieguito High School District. They began rehearsals in October. Some were in the ACT cast of the musical “Rent” this past summer, and cited that as a reason for taking part in this production.

Kelli Colarusso, 14, attends La Jolla High School. She said from “Rent” she learned much about “how to get in character and form a story,” and chose to do “Fame” because she wanted to learn even more.

“I primarily wanted to be in the show because this is what I love to do,” Colarusso said. “(In fact) there’s nothing else I’d rather do.”

Scarritt said her method of directing involves focusing on the process of the individual actor instead of the product. “I don’t necessarily cast what would be best for the show, but what I see is best for them, and it ultimately ends up being right,” she said.

This casting technique afforded Matt Maretz, 18, of Canyon Crest Academy, the opportunity he wanted to play outside of stereotypes. The role Maretz has in “Fame” is very different from the role he had in “Rent.”

“Miss Leigh gave me that opportunity and it was a huge challenge, but I think I’m doing a good job taking it on,” Maretz said.

Peter Hoban, 18, of Canyon Crest Academy, has been working with Scarritt for about a year. He called the experience “the best choice theatrically” he has ever made.

Scarritt said the ACT program “is not about being better than someone else or another company, it’s just about us achieving our own personal excellence. That’s what we’re responsible for.”

In other theater companies, she said, the actors are pitted against each other and rivalry sometimes undermines their performances. “The industry is based on external assessment, making it an inherently competitive business,” Scarritt said, adding that she emphasizes the personal responsibility each actor has for the well-being of his craft.

Actor Hoban agreed. “For me, it is the meaning behind the show, which is ‘be you and your own excellence will come from that,’ whether that’s performing or just being a good person.”

Scarritt said, “They come to me talented and I just have the privilege of getting their psychology aligned with their spirit and their talent. … And that is a successful actor.”

- Performances: 7 p.m. Jan. 22; 2 and 7 p.m. Jan. 23; 2 and 5:30 p.m. Jan. 24; 7 p.m. Jan. 28-29; 2 and 7 p.m. Jan. 30; 2 p.m. Jan. 31.
- Where: Joan B. Kroc Theatre, 6611 University Ave., San Diego
- Tickets: $15-$18
- Contact:,
(858) 777-9899

Related posts:

  1. Local thespians join ‘Rent’ cast
  2. It’s a wonderful production of a holiday-themed classic
  3. Music inspires Ida Houby
  4. ‘Wicked’ mesmerizes San Diego audiences
  5. Coryell a finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Short URL:

Posted by on Jan 14, 2010. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6



  • La Jolla Library welcomes new chief Shaun Briley
    For La Jolla Riford Library’s new head librarian, Shaun Briley, books have been a part of his life and career, in some form or another, every step of the way. […]
  • Tangerine trees, marmalade skies for Beatles-inspired Patrons of the Prado gala in Balboa Park, San Diego
    “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was the theme of the Patrons of the Prado gala on July 12, 2014 in Balboa Park, San Diego. Beatles-inspired music came from Wayne Foster Entertainment. Sandy Redman and Jeanne Jones served as event chairs. 2014’s beneficiaries are the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego Museum of Art and The Old Globe Theatre. […]
  • La Jolla’s Best Bets for events July 31- Aug. 7
    Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) offers a crash course in starting a photography collection 6 p.m. Thursday Aug. 7. at the Ligne Roset Showroom, 7726 Girard Ave. MOPA assistant curator Chantel Paul and director of jdc Fine Art Jennifer DeCarlo will share professional insights. […]




  • Rancho Santa Fe resident’s Gen 7 wines earn top honors
    Rancho Santa Fe resident Tim Bacino’s Gen 7 Wines is on a hot streak, his varietals winning several awards this summer in California wine competitions. […]
  • Torrey Pines High School baseball alum Taylor Murphy excelling in pro ball
    It was during a breakout senior year at Torrey Pines High that Taylor Murphy first popped up on the radar of professional scouts. Shortly after graduation, Murphy was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the June 2011 amateur draft. He declined, honoring a commitment to the University of the Pacific. Three years later, Murphy got another sho […]
  • Why Hire a Licensed Landscape Professional?
    By Steve Jacobs, Nature Designs The old saying – “if something seems to good to be true, it probable is” – is quite fitting when it comes to hiring a contractor for your home or yard construction project. While it is smart to shop around, get quotes, etc., don’t fall into the trap of trusting […]