For years Santa Cruz resident Lynn Knudsen has advocated for more opportunities for mature adults to participate in the performing arts. Herself, a retired Broadway actress and hoofer during the 1960’s, Lynn has devoted most of her life to the arts. In 2012 Knudsen was awarded a Professional Development Grant from the Arts Council of Santa Cruz to develop opportunities for directing and producing theatre for seniors. She and two other performers from the Santa Cruz Follies drove to Oakland in July 2012 seeking performing arts training from the nationally acclaimed theatre of seniors, Stagebridge. They attended the Stagebridge Senior Performing Arts Camp for adults 50+, where they were motivated by what they learned and excited with the professionalism and expert teaching, and decided to bring this organizational model to Santa Cruz. At the same time, Stagebridge was interested in replicating its award winning work in other communities, so in August 2012 Stagebridge Founder and Director of Replication, Dr. Stuart Kandell, agreed to replicate Stagebridge in the community of Santa Cruz.
Stagebridge, founded in 1978 by Dr. Kandell and based in Oakland, is America’s oldest and most acclaimed and innovative senior theatre company. The company is nationally known as the foremost theatre of, for, and by older adults. Stagebridge has an extensive training program for older adults, award winning outreach programs for the community, and creates original plays for public audiences. The company is the winner of the Metlife Creative Aging Award and the Metlife Mind Alert Award, among others. With the Stagebridge Experience indoctrination for the last two years, Stagebridge Santa Cruz has stepped up and out from the mother lode to become NextStage Productions to continue the life changing programs of Stagebridge with the addition of a vibrant program on its own, under the sponsorship of the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County.
History of Past Classes
Power in Partnerships As Stagebridge Santa Cruz began, a collaboration between Cabrillo Extension, Cabrillo Stage, Cabrillo Theatre Arts and Stagebridge was being formed for the purpose of providing seniors with opportunities for growth as a performer and theatrical enrichment. Many of the teachers were from the Cabrillo College VAPA Dept. and Cabrillo Stage invited the students in for the Oklahoma and Oliver “Sitz Probe,” which is a special rehearsal with the Stage actors and orchestra. It was a thrill and another learning opportunity. NextStage has now replaced Stagebridge in this collaboration and will continue partnering with this group and other like minded organizations as there is added benefits from joint ventures. As a result of this collaboration two Summer Programs of Performing Arts have occurred on the Cabrillo Campus, bringing over 200 senior students together for classes like the following:
Summer 2014 Musical Theater Adventure, Sing Your Voice to Health, Acting Exploration, Acting for the Camera, Stand Up Strong! Dance the Music of Broadway, Healthy Performing with the Alexander Technique, Say Yes! Improvisation, Theatre Performance as a Social Catalyst
Summer 2013 Dance & Sing Broadway, Voice Intensive, Acting Up, Stage, Screen & More