A little bit of Broadway came to the Temecula Valley High School campus Thursday night for the grand opening of the school’s new performing arts theater.
About 250 guests enjoyed dance, music and dramatic performances, courtesy of students from Temecula Valley, Great Oak and Chaparral high schools who were the first student performers to grace the new theater’s stage.
The grand opening, which took place inside the Golden Bears Theater, also featured a red carpet welcome, a symbolic ribbon cutting by the Temecula Valley Unified School District board, food, music, a Color Guard from the TVHS ROTC, a singing of the National Anthem from the TVHS Glee Club, and remarks from school officials.
Temecula’s mayor was among those who thanked the TVUSD board for supporting the new $15 million theater.
“This is one heck of a nice facility,” Mayor Mike Naggar told the audience during the hour-long celebration, which began at 5 p.m. and included theater tours for those who wanted to stay after the event.
“I hope a lot of young actors and a lot of young people get their start on this stage,” the mayor said.
TVUSD Superintendent Tim Ritter emphasized in his remarks the importance of the arts in education. Studies show that including the arts in education leads to more academic success for students as well, he said.
Participation in the arts also helps students feel connected to their school and community, he said.
“The arts can no longer be extras in our education system,” Ritter said. “This is definitely a proud day for our school district.”
The new theater on campus seats 800 guests and is the second-largest theater in the Temecula Valley, with the theater at the Pechanga casino being the largest, and the city’s theater in Old Town being the third-largest, officials said.
Plans are in the works to make the TVHS theater a community asset that also will be made available for other public events such as lectures and audio/video presentations, officials said.
The new theater features projection screens, surround sound, more than 4,000-square-feet of stage space, a dressing room with an audio/video feed and more than 150 theater lights.
There’s plenty of space in the facility to store props and the lobby includes gallery-like exhibit space to showcase student artworks.
The theater project included the renovation of a portion of the school’s old gym and locker rooms, which were remade into music and dance classrooms for students.
Temecula Valley High School had lacked a theater, and the new theater is among many renovations made to the campus in recent years.
The school board and district decided to go after the theater project when they learned the district would receive federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds that would cover much of the costs.
Money from previously approved local bonds rounded out the funding.
Amy Bentley is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.