The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District (PSJA ISD) Fine Arts Department is proud to announce a new program beginning this fall.
The Tri-City Theatre will bring top thespians from the five PSJA high schools together onstage for a historic performance of Chicago.
Jon Taylor has been with PSJA ISD for 43 years and is currently the director of the fine arts program.
“This is the [first time] students from all five high schools [will be together] in one show,” Taylor said.
For several years, Taylor and other PSJA fine arts staff members had hoped to provide more opportunities for students to experience versatility within the different aspects of musical theater. The Tri-City Theatre allows students to work with a wide variety of new faces and talents across the district.
Kicking off the Tri-City theater, PSJA hosted The Rising Stars Musical Theatre Camp beginning this June. Rising Stars Musical Theatre Camp was the first summer musical theater camp open to all middle school and high school students across PSJA.
Taylor shared that the ultimate goal of the Tri-City Theatre is to provide students with the instruction needed to become more well-rounded in the talents and skills involved in musical theater.
“We would have students coming to high school that were great actors, but didn’t have training in singing or dancing,” Taylor said.
Taylor explained how versatility is paramount for performers in theater and those who work behind the scenes.
“[Our summer camp offered] acting, singing, dancing, marketing, set construction, lighting, sound, instrumental music, graphic design, and hair and makeup,” Taylor said.
The Rising Stars Musical Theatre Camp was led by nationally recognized experts in musical theater and assisted by PSJA professionals, including music teachers, dance teachers, and theater teachers.
At the end of camp, auditions for the musical Chicago were held for interested high school students.
Taylor expressed a shared concern between himself and others leading the camp that the casting of Chicago might inadvertently involve students from only one or two schools. However, he was pleasantly surprised.
“We have talented children at all campuses [and] we have a good number of students from each of the high schools participating [in the play],” Taylor said.
Apart from the Tri-City Theatre, the PSJA Fine Arts Department prides itself in its wide variety of programs for students to participate in. Students can choose from art, band, choir, conjunto, dance, film, folklorico, jazz band, orchestra, and theatre.
With the early college programs offered through PSJA, all high school students can earn an associate degree before graduation. Some fine arts courses offered can count as dual credit toward that degree.
“We are proud of our rich history of excellence. We’ve had many [students] earning top honors in local and state level competition every single year for many years,” Taylor said.
Karissa Elizondo, a PSJA Southwest Early College High School Junior, shared her experience with The Rising Stars Musical Theatre Camp.
“We have learned to truly appreciate each other’s talents and creativity through this experience. I feel inspired to continue fueling my passion for musical theater and I look forward to participating in future Tri-City Theatre productions,” Elizondo said.
Performances of Chicago will run from Sept. 7th – 11th at PSJA North Early College High School. Admission is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased online beginning Aug. 23rd at psjaisd.us.