An Educating Musical Experience

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Tim and Pamela Kashani have impressive Broadway credits–they’ve produced big budget musicals such as “Hair” and “Memphis,” and Pamela originated the role of Rapunzel in “Into the Woods.”

However, their latest venture may be even more impressive, for different reasons.

Olivia Rybus of Newport Beach poses during a rehearsal for the musical "Higher Education." — Photo by Christopher Trela
Olivia Rybus of Newport Beach poses during a rehearsal for the musical “Higher Education.” — Photo by Christopher Trela

They are the masterminds behind Bridge 2 Broadway, which has partnered with the Orange County School of the Arts to offer local artists of all ages and experience levels the opportunity to collaborate with Broadway professionals to create and perform new Broadway musicals in Orange County.

“We are passionate about musicals, particularly new musicals, but we found that with the financial Broadway model, there are less risks being taken,” explained Pamela. “We wanted to find a way to nurture the arts here in Orange County and develop new musicals.”

The Kashanis were introduced to OCSA several years ago, and they decided to collaborate with the school on this project, which includes mounting an original musical this summer in the school’s Margaret A. Webb Theatre (formerly the OC Pavilion), a beautiful 500-seat venue that boasts professional lighting and sound.

The show, “Higher Education,” was written by the Kashanis, and features a number of students from OCSA, including Olivia Rybus, 13, from Newport Beach.

“This was a great opportunity because you get to work with theater professionals, and it’s such a creative environment. I love it.”

Rybus said she started taking singing lessons when she was 4 years old, but was really shy so she started doing theater which she said “brought me out of my shell and made me more outgoing.”

And what do her parents think of her theatrical career aspirations?

“They support me, but they want me to have a backup,” she said with a laugh. “I excel at academics, but they encourage me to do what I want. Theater is magical. It’s something that’s like nothing else.”

So is “Higher Education,” which opens this weekend and runs through July 21. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Bridge2Broadway.org.

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