Mon05302016

News

FAA report

FAA report "a start" in allaying noise onslaught


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Anti-noise advocates exchange informational door hangers to give to neighbors.

A federal report released last week identifies possible solutions to the aircraft noise plaguing South Bay communities.

The Federal Aviation...

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Schools

Almond community packs meals for those in need

Almond community packs meals for those in need


Courtesy of Polly Liu
Almond School families worked together last month to package more than 15,000 meals for the Stop Hunger Now organization. Approximately 85 volunteers, including students in grades K-6, packaged meals of rice, soy, vitamins and...

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Community

Veteran Marie Houghton Mong: Mapping out a long life of doing

Veteran Marie Houghton Mong: Mapping out a long life of doing


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Marie Houghton Mong relaxes with one of her two 16-year-old cats at The Terraces at Los Altos retirement community.

On the average day, Marie Houghton Mong can be found in her attractive and comfortable apartment at T...

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Comment

Blame it on Rio: No Shoes, Please

In 2008, I wrote a column explaining why I thought Beijing was an inappropriate venue for that year’s Summer Olympic Games. I cited health risks: the city’s terrible pollution and the country’s corrupt food supply chain. I also note...

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Special Sections

Upscale modern: Los Altos Hills home honors DNA of originals

Upscale modern: Los Altos Hills home honors DNA of originals


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Melissa and Nick French, right with son Grayson, pooled their talents to design their dream home. Melissa designed the living room sofa and table.

Melissa and Nick French took “do it yourself” to a new dimens...

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Business

ATHENA awards recognize local leadership

ATHENA awards recognize local leadership


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Chamber of Commerce Mountain View presented this year’s ATHENA Leadership Award to Maria Marroquin, left, and Leane Reelfs, right. The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award went to Diana Bautista, center.

Chamber ...

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People

ERNEST TRAUGOTT

ERNEST TRAUGOTT

Resident of Los Altos 
August 18, 1920 - May 11, 2016 

Ernie died peacefully at his home, just a few months short of his 96th birthday. 

Ernie had an amazing life, born in Germany he and his family fled the Nazi's soon after Kristal...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company's 'Arts Razzle-Dazzle' showcases local talent

LA Stage Company's 'Arts Razzle-Dazzle' showcases local talent


Courtesy of Eileen Eng
Mountain View High junior Julia Rogers, 2015 South Bay Teen Idol winner, is slated to perform at Tuesday’s “Arts Razzle-Dazzle” at Bus Barn Theater.

Los Altos Stage Company shines a spotlight on the perfo...

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Spiritual Life

Former St. Nicholas pastor shares his story as exorcist

The Rev. Gary Thomas served the Los Altos faith community as pastor of St. Nicholas Catholic Parish for several years before he announced in 2005 that San Jose Bishop Patrick J. McGrath had assigned him to study in Rome, not unusual for U.S. priests...

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LAYT introduces youth to acting – and a new culture


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Young actors and actresses rehearse ahead of their auditions for “Arabian Nights.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre encourages mastery, self-confidence and a sense of belonging for students of all ages, according to the aspiring thespians who recently auditioned for the fall production of "Arabian Nights."

Founded in 1990 under the umbrella of the Los Altos Recreation Department, LAYT’s stated goal is to develop skills and interest in the dramatic arts while creating a family environment where all members are respected and well treated.

One alumna of the program, Michaela Schwartz, 22, appeared in 21 LAYT shows and co-produced a documentary, "Dramatized" (2008), for Mountain View’s Freestyle Academy. Now a junior at Chapman University in Southern California, she majors in film production with an emphasis in directing - and she’s still passionate about LAYT.

Schwartz, whose brother Devlin also acted in the troupe, said she made her "absolute closest friends" at LAYT, where she felt empowered to develop confidence and polish her acting skills to land bigger and bigger roles. The adults involved allowed students to "move at a pace that we were more comfortable with," she added.

Acting up: Students learn about other cultures

"Arabian Nights" director Rebecca J. Ennals, artistic director at the San Francisco Shakespeare Theatre, began directing LAYT plays in high school. At LAYT, she has overseen "Great Expectations" and "Little Women."

Ennals said she loves that while LAYT shows sell out and the community supports the program, "it hasn’t totally become a machine."

She first approached Trish Files, LAYT artistic director, with the "Arabian Nights" idea, because "this is about a culture these kids don’t know much about."

"It’s a very ancient and fascinating part of the world," Ennals said of Arabia, adding that acting allows people to become "a temporary expert in … cultural traditions from other countries like India or Persia."

Los Altos High School senior Rachel Bratt snagged the role of Queen Shahrazad, sharing the lead with Rasika Raghavan - LAYT productions always feature two casts.

With rehearsals scheduled 6:30-9 p.m. four times a week, Bratt has developed a system for keeping up with her schoolwork.

"A schedule for doing homework helps keep me caught up," she said. "I have three hours between school and rehearsal, so three hours for a snack and homework. It took me a little while to get used to cramming it in that tight block, but I learned to work well efficiently, and now I look forward to grabbing my script, a pencil and water before running out the door to another fantastic production at LAYT."

Bratt said she is "super-excited" to undertake her second lead part in an LAYT show - she also played Anne in "Anne of Green Gables" in 2012.

"That was probably the best show I have ever been in at LAYT," she said of "Anne of Green Gables." "Not only did it feel professional, but everybody was such a joy to work with. The cast was so close, we really were a family. Even though it’s almost been two years, we still all keep in touch and have regular get-togethers."

Her favorite role was portraying the Dancing Hamburger in "Ramona Quimby" in 2011, which she described as "one of the most fun things I have ever done, hands down."

Supporting cast: Family is key

The recent auditions for "Arabian Nights" drew a cast of young actors and their supportive family members.

"I really didn’t want to do it for a long time," admitted Nils Forstall, 11, whose sister acted before him, but somewhere along the way, "I really started to like acting."

As Nils shared his initial reluctance to take to the stage, his grandmother, Kathy Brown, noted that her daughter Molly loved the theater. The entire family had trekked to Ashland, Ore., to see plays, as well as to New York City to see "Billy Elliot" on Broadway.

Nils had hoped for a medium-size role in "Arabian Nights" - he landed the key part of Abu Hassan.

Los Altos Hills resident Riley Breier, 11, attended the auditions with his mother, Ronda. Riley previously appeared in "Ramona Quimby" as the Old Man, in "Alice" as the Ace of Spades and in "Anne of Green Gables" as Moody Spurgeon MacPherson.

Riley has attended two Peninsula Youth Theatre summer camps and appeared in class plays in grade school.

Los Altos Youth Theatre organizers ask for a commitment, requesting that actors clear their calendars of conflicts (special instances excepted). Riley said he takes learning his lines seriously, noting that he cares about the group and doesn’t want to disappoint them.

"I really love acting," he said. "I wanted to be an actor and wanted to do more intense theater."

"Arabian Nights" is scheduled Oct. 18

through Nov. 3 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

For more information, visit losaltosca.gov/recreation/page/los-altos-youth-theatre. n


Los Altos Youth Theater auditions for Arabian Nights - Photos by Los Altos Town Crier

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