Fri09192014

News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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