San Carlos kids get down to business in production of ‘Mulan Jr.’


Molly Donaldson

Junior assistant directors and Sequoia freshmen Tess Restaino and Taylor Gayner act out a scene from Disney's "Mulan Jr."

Molly Donaldson, Staff Writer

Across 28 years and 142 productions, The San Carlos Children’s Theater (SCCT) has inspired over 12,000 children to pursue their dreams of singing, dancing, and acting.  Since 1990, the non-profit organization has been educating students in the theater arts and bringing together members of the community with the shared goal of putting on a great show.

Tri-School is a program that invites students grades four through eight from the three middle schools in the San Carlos school district to put on an annual musical.

This year, “Mulan Jr.” includes cast members from Central, Tierra Linda, and San Carlos Charter Learning Center. Past shows include Disney’s “Peter Pan Jr.,” “The Music Man Jr.,” and “Shrek Jr.”   

“I think that ‘Mulan’ is a good choice because it is accessible and fun to watch,” said former SCCT actor Katie Mannion. “As for Tri-School, I think it’s a great opportunity to encourage performing in schools.”

The program provides an opportunity for students to come together in an environment in which they get to know other kids from other schools. Through the process of putting on a production, they are given a chance to form strong bonds with their peers.

“I do think [there is a] comradery and a family relationship in a cast,” said Eron Block, the executive artistic director at SCCT. “When you go through an intense process with people, you get really close because you spend so many hours together and you connect.”

The students of “Mulan Jr.” enjoy getting to know one another and bonding with new people.

“I really like the community that we have here. I really feel close to all my friends,” said Central eighth-grader Lauren Wu. “It’s a really safe space where I can feel happy.”

SCCT also allows a safe space for the youth of San Carlos to express themselves.

“I think a lot of them [the kids] do the shows because they’re looking for a creative outlet,” said Block. “They are creative, unique people [who] maybe sometimes feel like they don’t fit in the greater society. But in theater, everyone is created equal so you kind of find a home with your creative people and you feel like you belong.”

“Mulan Jr.,” as well as SCCT’s past shows, provides a chance for children to embody the experience of another.

“I like theater because it’s a really good way to express myself through different characters,” Wu said.

The organization has helped hundreds of kids, as well as adults, to express themselves and grow as people. Additionally, SCCT encourages middle school graduates to come back as assistant directors or counselors. 

“SCCT has made me a more confident, happy person and my work with the company has led to many of my longest-lasting friendships,” Mannion said. “It has also taught me leadership through my work as a director and camp counselor.”

Overall, SCCT’s goal is to educate kids in team building experiences. They also strive to make their shows a source of unity in the community.

“Hopefully we put on great shows that people will enjoy,” said Block. “They laugh, they cry; they at least get a little bit of enjoyment away from the crazy world.”

Performances of “Mulan Jr.” run from Jan. 17 through Jan. 21 at Central Middle School’s Mustang Hall. The showtimes are every day at 7 p.m., with additional matinees on weekends at 1 p.m.