James Lick Middle School Theatre Arts teacher Keith Carames isn’t preparing an ordinary musical for his students this year.
The longtime San Francisco Unified School District Visual and Performing Arts Department educator is introducing the James Lick Middle School community to the revered rock comedy “Little Shop of Horrors” this month for the first time after spending recent years orchestrating original productions for students.
“Little Shop” is no easy feat to produce, Carames notes. Renting a professional quality version of the antagonist plant “Audrey,” who’s shown in four stages throughout the musical, costs $8,000 from New York City. But Carames enlisted the help of a parent volunteer artist, who created the four plants (from the size of a coffee can to over 6 feet tall) for just $1,500.
|Photo courtesy Mike Bennewitz|
There are 25 cast members and 12 crew members (all students) who will bring the musical to life for four shows on April 12 through April 14. Students, some of whom have been accepted into SFUSD’s Ruth Asawa School of the Arts upon their eighth grade graduation, have been rehearsing since January.
SFUSD’s Visual and Performing Arts includes the disciplines of visual arts, dance, drama/theatre, music and literary arts. Arts programs for district schools that are administered by VAPA are part of SFUSD’s Curriculum and Instruction Division office that oversees teaching and learning along with the other academic subjects.
It’s widely believed that arts are fundamental to a well-rounded education for all students. Arts education deepens expression and interpretation, and accommodates individuals' strengths and learning styles. It challenges learners to develop skills needed to perceive, inquire, create, reflect and critique. When students are offered quality arts education continuously throughout their years, and are given the opportunity to build upon and refine acquired skills, they will carry those skills from school to the workplace to society at large.
“Through our work, we create an appetite for excellence,” Carames says. “Theatre at our school empowers youth to empathize, to increase self-esteem through exercises that challenge the way we think and feel about ourselves and others. Participation helps students develop a sense of belonging, trust, and risk taking, and can give public expression to the values and traditions of our community, sustain cultural heritage, foster bridges across diverse social groups, and promote tolerance and appreciation of new perspectives and abilities.”
Little Shop of Horrors
James Lick Middle School,1220 Noe Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
Evenings at – / /
Matinee at –
Ticket prices: $20 adult, $10 child/student (sliding scale donations also accepted, no one turned away for lack of funds)
Funds from ticket sales offset the cost of the production and support the Visual & Performing Arts at JLMS.
INFORMATION & TICKETS: https://www.
eventbrite.com/e/jlms- presents-little-shop-of- horrors-tickets-43767514815
ABOUT JAMES LICK MIDDLE SCHOOL
James Lick Middle School is nestled in the heart of Noe Valley, a beautiful neighborhood in San Francisco. JLMS is a mid-sized school, serving over 600 students and families. One of its biggest assets is its diverse student population, including about 65% Latino, 15% African-American, and 12% White. Over the past five years, JLMS has made great gains in student achievement, including a 130-point gain in state-wide test scores. These gains are attributed largely to the involvement of families and the highly collaborative work of a very dedicated staff.
ABOUT TEACHER/DIRECTOR KEITH CARAMES
Teacher and Director Keith Carames is highly collaborative in his work with theatre students. His leadership on recent school productions have included Homecoming: A Night at the Copa, Just in Case: Tales of an Immigrant Life and Anthem: Songs of Hope and Resistance. In particular with Just in Case: Tales of an Immigrant Life, students collaborated on developing the script with Carames, resulting in a compelling and powerful work. El Tecolte newspaper praised the production, saying “The students took difficult topics and produced a powerful musical that shows resistance in the face of conflict. Empathy and love shine through. The musical’s storyline demonstrates students’ understanding of political turmoil in a developmentally appropriate way.”