By Irene Hilsendager
Ashley Kimball, a star struck child, who choreographed her own production in the seventh grade, has brought drama classes, singing and fun to Cotati.
STAR kids stands for Sonoma Theatre Art, but STAR kids production serves this small but energized group well; as over 50 children are enjoying the drama classes taught by Kimball and also has partnershipped with the City of Cotati Parks and Recreation.
When Ashley started the musical theatre class four years ago, very few children attended the classes but now this program has doubled in size. The students are from five to seventeen years of age. Kimball not only teaches drama and singing but trains the children in all aspects of theatre. Anderson Ferro, a ten-year-old is the sound and lighting director, others are assistant directors.
The STAR kids have rehearsed at the Ray Miller room in Cotati for the past two years. A very kind gentleman built a stage in the Miller room so the children could give their potential best and feel the vibes of being on stage.
Now days, Ashley is looking for a new location to hold the musical events they have rehearsed all summer long. She is eyeing the Cotati Veteran’s Building which she calls a jewel with lighting, seating and kitchen facilities. Kimball said this would be a perfect spot to hold their fall fundraiser, STAR will be having a talent show September 30 at the Cotati Vet Building. There is no charge but donations are accepted; there will be raffle tickets sold. Whatever money is raised, it goes back into buying new equipment, be it sound equipment, lights or even new chairs.
The STAR program is a tuition-based program; however, no child is ever turned away for financial reasons. There are free workshops with a series of improv games. Let your child imagine being the star of the two productions coming up.
The students at STAR keep coming back to the classes and make great new friends from different areas in Sonoma County. Local schools work with the STAR kids to run their drama programs. Ashley has seen the changes in personalities and transformations for many of the students. One child wouldn’t speak at her local school but after taking drama classes and being given a role in the production of the “Lion King,” this once silent student became a star. Kimball makes sure every child has an opportunity for a big role regardless if they are novices or old-timers. Every child is featured and gets a spot light.
Kimball comes from a well-known theatre family in Stockton. Her father was a high school choir teacher and mom was running the high school drama program. She graduated from the Sonoma State University theatre arts program with a bachelor degree. She plays the violin and sings and entertains at senior centers.
Ashley says her theatre class students feel safe in coming to the workshops and auditions as she does gender and age blind casting. No questions asked. No experience is necessary. A free musical theatre workshop is being offered at the Ray Miller Community Center in Cotati from 4-6 p.m. Reserve your spot today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or bring your children and let them shine.
Two musical events are upcoming: “Peter Pan Jr.” will feature 8-17-year-old students with rehearsal held Tuesday from 4-5:30 pm. at the Cotati Center and will be performed at the Cotati Veteran’s Building, August 29 and September 5. “The Winter Sisters” will be held December 2 and 3. Auditions are August 29 from 4—7 p.m.