By Rob LeDonne
Canyon Crest Academy graduate Emily Laliotis and junior Annika Patton were recently announced as two of the youngest participants in the San Diego International Fringe Festival, to be held July 3-13. The event is a smorgasbord of off-Broadway entertainment taking place around San Diego through the next three weeks.
“The festival encourages small productions to put on 20-, 30-minute shows at places all over downtown,” said Laliotis after a recent rehearsal of her show, “Firsts: A New Musical.” “They have these Fringe Fests all over the world, the big one in Edinburgh, Scotland.”
From Scotland the idea spread around the globe, and the event is readying for its second year in San Diego as a nonprofit project of contACT ARTS and the Actors Alliance of San Diego.
Participants of all ages were invited to submit scripts; “Firsts” and the show’s writers, Laliotis and Patton, were among those selected.
“We applied on a whim, thinking ‘Why not?’” said Laliotis of Carmel Valley. “When we heard we were accepted among all of these adults, we couldn’t believe what an incredible opportunity it was. We’re beyond thrilled.”
“Firsts: A New Musical” centers on the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. “It’s about navigating the world of love, heartbreak, and family,” Laliotis said. “The story focuses on these two sisters who are very opposite, and a boy who comes between them. Things get complicated.”
The pair initially were going to write something entirely different.
“When Annika approached me and asked if I wanted to write a musical, we were originally working on an idea regarding adults and marriage,” Laliotis said. “Then we had this realization that we should write what we know.
“We drew from our experiences and wanted to reflect teenage life. It’s not based on our lives, but has story elements that are very familiar to people our age.”
All of the students involved in “Firsts,” from actors to crew, are Canyon Crest students, and most are involved in the Envision Theater Conservatory. The show will be performed numerous times between July 3 and July 13, and the tagline for this year’s festival is “10 days of eyeball-busting shows.”
“The great thing about a festival like this is that there are so many different things to see,” said Laliotis of the event’s other offerings. “From dance, puppetry, avant-garde, and musicals like ours. It’s going to be fun.”
While a life in the theater may be a hobby for some high school students, Laliotis and Patton are taking their craft seriously. Patton will continue studying theater at Canyon Crest, and Laliotis is gearing up to attend the prestigious University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash.
“I’d love to work on music as a career,” Laliotis said. “My plan is to become a traveling musician.”
“Firsts: A New Musical” will be performed at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. July 5, 7, and 8 in the 5th Floor Arts Incubator at Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego (121 Broadway #600). For tickets, visit sdfringe.ticketleap.com/FIRSTS/. For more on the San Diego International Fringe Festival, visit www.sdfringe.org.