Double the Spotlights


Bringing two high school theatre programs together for a collaborative musical can be just as intimidating as it is exciting. This spring, Jurupa Valley and Patriot High School united to bring stellar performances of The Little Mermaid Jr. to both stages. 

​​Sebastian and King Triton in The Little Mermaid JrAfter working together for several years, the theatre directors at Jurupa Valley and Patriot High School brought their students together to host JUSD’s first-ever collaborative musical. This was also the first musical that Patriot High put on under the​​​ current theatre director. The student-led production got to work in January for their performances in early April.

With a combined production of nearly 100 students, the mixed cast consisted of two sets of lead actors and a crew of students from both schools. Students had the creative freedom and the responsibility over building their stage crafts, assembling their own costumes, and leading the behind-the-scene directions for lights, sound, and actors’ cues.

Prince Eric and Co. in The Little Mermaid Jr.As the opening night approached, the productions continuously traveled to one another’s schools for rehearsals and to work with their role counterparts. Working in a new environment with new people was not easy in the beginning but through communication and accountability, they grew together as a team. 

Bryan Gomez, a JVHS junior, and Evamaria Gutierrez, a PHS sophomore, worked together as stage managers. They were responsible for directing actors and crew during rehearsals and the show. They learned to step up and be leaders while also learning to assist at the other’s theater. “I have had to adjust and navigate when working with [Bryan],” said Evamaria. “We got to learn a lot of new tricks.”

Actors also grew in their roles and made friends. “It makes me feel better knowing that I have a friend over [at Jurupa Valley High School],” said Kaitlin Crislip, who played Ariel for the Patriot High shows. She and Mariela Ramirez, JVHS’s Ariel, bonded early in the production. Throughout the process, the two students were supportive of each other and their crews. 

Ariel, Prince Eric, and Scuttle in The Little Mermaid Jr.Sharing the common interest to put on a spectacular show for the community brought students from both sch​ools closer. They created an environment that made it easier to work together and share their love of performing.

AJ Utz, who played Ursula in the JVHS shows, finds it terrifying just thinking about performing in front of a packed audience. That doesn’t stop her though. “I love being on stage,” said AJ. “There is nothing that I would rather be doing.”

All the hard work they put together on and off the stage to create a quality production was worth it. From creating a stage with an "under the sea" feeling to rehearsing for long hours, as Bryan said, all that hard work pays off when they see the audience react positively to their show.


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