Earlier this month, the Curran hosted a celebration in honor of our Curran Arts Education initiative, ahead of the opening of the Tony-nominated musical BRIGHT STAR. We invited high school reporters to join us to give us a behind the scenes look at the evening’s festivities, which included music on all levels of the theater, San Francisco schools and community music organizations performing songs from BRIGHT STAR. Student journalist Luna Alcorcha is a freshman from San Francisco’s Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. Here are her thoughts:
At 6:00pm on October 4th on the main floor of the Curran theater, there were many youngsters dressed accordingly for the spritzy scene. The teenagers stood in their idle circles amidst adults with important appearances. One floor below, students sat plucking the strings of their fresh violins, preparing most dutifully for their performance of BRIGHT STAR and “The Sun is Going to Shine.” It was a sense of community: Bay Area art school students singing sweetly for audience members who waited for the main performance of the evening.
Away from all this lovely noise of talk and harmony was BRIGHT STAR lead Carmen Cusack. Carmen is a painting, her calm confidence like a bed of roses. Jaw-dropping, cheek-slapping, and My Dear God’s were heard as Carmen Cusack walked neatly and charmingly around the area. When asked about being thirteen she said, “Oh thirteen…I was a very busy girl. I was a mommy’s helper.” Her seventeenth year, however, was a time of going out and of singing and dancing. As praise to seventeen she said, “I could stay late in high school and rehearse in drama. I was finally able to have more of my time to create and be artistic. I preferred being seventeen.”
Carmen wound up in San Francisco in 2003 to play a part in a show which just so happened to be at the Curran, a lovely and curious synchronicity. Of San Francisco she said: “ It reminded me very much of London, it had a European vibe about it. I love the climate, I like how it gets warm in the day, then you can throw a sweater on at night, and I love being surrounded by the water.
Carmen advised teenagers who desire to pursue the arts when they group-up “to not be afraid of a lot of hard work, to not be afraid of rejection, and to not be afraid to be themselves.” Carmen said, “I struggled for years trying to be someone else, thinking that someone else would fit the role better. What I learned later on in life was to dig into what I brought to the table because what I was bringing was unique and no one else could bring the same personal, raw and organic thing. Ultimately, we humans can attempt to alter ourselves because we believe it will be beneficial, but it is often never the case. The sooner you can become comfortable in your own skin, the better.”
To Carmen, BRIGHT STAR is a show that reminds us of our human goodness. She said, “People need to be uplifted and be reminded that we all have to continue to move forward and stay positive the best we possibly can. We should be kind to each other and keep our hearts and minds open... So, I’m happy to be back in this show to remind people that there is something to be excited and to feel positive about.” BRIGHT STAR is a musical that is assisting in providing a sense of unity to the community, and is accomplishing this greatly by including students in the production of it.
Carole Shorenstein Hays, the mastermind and CEO of the Curran, who is so inclusive of youth everywhere, is motherly and an urban, chic and stylish specimen, who could not have done a better job at making this evening so welcoming. She was incredibly sweet and when asked what inspired her to include the youth she said, “I want to make sure that all the youth in the Bay Area consider the Curran their home. What better way than to start with the most talented kids in the city to be the beacon to spread the word.”