Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, October 27, 2018

MVNews this week:  Page B:1




 .....How One Person, One Family 
Keeps An Important Community 
Asset Alive By Rebecca Wright


Everyone in Sierra Madre knows of Gayle Bluemel and 
her family. The beloved former principal of the Sierra 
Madre School has always worked hard to make musical 
theatre accessible to children. She started the Pasadena 
Musical Theatre Program in 1995. At the time, it was part 
of the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Gifted 
and Talented Education (GATE) program, so for the first 
few years that it was around it went by the name GATE 
Summer Musical Theatre Workshop. Gayle Bluemel 
worked with Cynthia Abbot to bring musical theatre to 
students and also to attempt to identify GATE students in 
the performance arts. 

 The GATE Summer Musical Theatre Workshop initially 
met at Pasadena High School (PHS) but in later years it 
moved to Wilson. Each summer over 100 children would 
register and attend. As a PUSD program, it was considered 
part of summer school and therefor open to PUSD students 
for free. This lasted for eight or nine years. Unfortunately, 
due to budget cuts, the GATE Summer Musical Theatre 
Program could no longer be funded by PUSD, nor could it 
still be free, so Bluemel made it a non-profit and changed 
its name to “Pasadena Musical Theatre Program” (PMTP). 

 Bluemel is the matriarch of a very musical family. Her 
children, Emily and Cody, were in the very first GATE 
Summer Musical Theatre Workshop, and as they grew up, 
they stayed very involved in musical theatre. Emily works 
with the Performing Arts Kids (PAK) at Sierra Madre 
Middle School, does a lot of work around the Spotlight 
Performances at Sierra Madre Elementary (SME), teaches 
Musical Theatre Performance and Workshop at the 
California School of the Arts, and had her own web series 
called Stealing Focus. Cody works at SME during PE, 
Recreational Time, and also helps a lot of the students with 
homework if they need it. He is also the Technical Director 
at the Gayle Bluemel Auditorium at SME. It should come as 
no surprise then, that when Gayle Bluemel decided it was 
time for her to take a step back from the PMTP program, 
Emily and Cody were there to fill her shoes along with one 
of their longtime friends, who was also an alumnus of the 
program, Ryan Oliver. 

 Ryan initially took over as artistic director of the shows. 
Because enrollment was so high, he split the program into 
two shows, a junior high show that Emily led, and one 
for high schoolers that he handled. Throughout the years 
that he was in charge, venues changed a bit depending on 
what was available each year. Some years the program was 
at PHS, others it was at the Pasadena Playhouse. In 2015, 
Ryan made the decision to step back and Gayle Bluemel 

 By this point the program had been around for 20 
years and it needed to be revitalized. The first change was 
to return it to one show. Initially it was open to 4th-8th 
graders, but last year 9th graders were added and this 
coming year 10th graders will be eligible as well. The 
program also returned to SME and the Gayle Bluemel 
Auditorium. It is still a non-profit, and therefore not 
funded by PUSD, but it is a community partner. The PMTP 
is open to any child ages 4th to 10th grade in the area. 
PUSD students get a 25% scholarship towards the $500 
enrollment fee, and additional scholarships are available 
for all students. Enrollment is open now, and there will be a 
special performance at Kersting Court on November 24th, 
during the Winter Village. 

A few big things make PMTP as special as it is. The first 
is that it is a family project. Gayle Bluemel is the musical 
director, her daughter Emily is the director, and Cody is 
the stage manager. Emily, “is brilliant. She writes the shows 
every year,” and both she and Cody connect well with the 
kids. Cody bring in Gerald the Puppet all the time for the 
kids. Both of them, “connect with the kids in a way I don’t; 
it’s a neat evolution.”. Both Emily and Cody have a talent 
for getting kids to open up and have fun on what can be a 
scary place: the stage. 

 Next on the list is the kind of program that PMTP is. 
Many different programs have sprung up since PMPT got 
its start-though it was the first summer musical theatre 
program here- but what makes PMTP unique is that it is 
always a musical revue set around a specific theme instead 
of a set show. This means that there is room for many more 
leads, and every student who attends get to get a lot of 
experience. Everyone participates. And for students who 
are more interested in the technical side of musical theatre, 
Cody works as the stage manager and is very excited to 
teach kids the ins and outs of tech work for a production. 

 Another thing that makes PMPT so valuable is the 
support that it gets. Parents are always around to help 
with costumes, photography, decoration the lobby with 
headshots, and giving TLC anywhere its needed, whether 
than means bringing snacks and water or just being 
around as an extra set of hands. The board of directors 
is very committed to the program as well, as is SME. The 
principal and custodial staff both make the program feel 
welcome and SME has been the program’s home for the 
past four years. 

 One special aspect of the support for PMPT is the 
students. Right now, there is a bit of a mentorship program, 
as alumni come back and offer their help where they can. 
Many come back and work as interns with the program 
once they have aged out; for the past two years the 
choreographers have been PMTP alumni who wanted to 
give back to the program. 

 Looking back, Bluemel says that her favorite show was 
probably the first one they ever did: a revue of Rogers & 
Hammerstein. This is in part because her kids were in this 
one, and also because it was the first time, she got to see 
her dream come to life. That particular script was done 
a few times, not only because the music that goes with it 
is wonderful, but also because this particular show lends 
itself particularly well to teaching students about the 
historical and cultural settings that the different Rogers 
& Hammerstein shows came from. From Oklahoma to 
South Pacific to The King and I, there is a lot to learn about 
the world. 

 Enrollment is open now and while it is a total of $375 
for PUSD students and $500 for non-PUSD students, 
it only takes a $100 deposit to secure your place. The 
balance after the initial $100 can be covered through 
regular payment or in ad sales. There are scholarships 
available for those that need it. The enrollment fee 
includes a professional headshot and a performance 
t-shirt. The sooner you register, the better. Registration 
can be done online at 
PMTP is a five-week program. This year the show is “Let 
the Sunshine In,” and the theme is “Groovy Musicals”. It 
will run from June 10th up to their show which will be on 
July 11th. 

Gayle Bluemel (center) and her daughter 
Emily and son Cody

In collaboration with Huffy Bicycles, Pasadena Unified School District, The Salvation Army, and our 
sister Altadena and San Marino Rotary Clubs, you'll find at least 100 volunteers building hundreds 
of bikes for needy families in Pasadena. The build will start at 8 am, Saturday, November 10th at 
the Pasadena Unified School District Maintenance Facility located at 750-762 W Woodbury Rd, 
Altadena, CA 91001.


Proposition 3, The Water Supply and Water Quality 
Act, would provide general obligation bond funding 
for water-related projects intended to provide safe 
drinking water to disadvantaged communities, 
improve water supply reliability, help implement the 
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), 
repair infrastructure and restore watersheds. These 
projects are needed as California’s water future becomes 
increasingly challenging as a result of climate change, 
aging infrastructure, natural disasters and population 
growth. Voters will have the opportunity to approve 
the $8.8 billion water bond on the November 6, 2018 
General Election ballot.

 FMWD’s President Atwater stated: “This bond would 
provide substantial benefits for California communities 
and help ensure safe and reliable water for California’s 
future as it faces extremes in weather due to climate 
change. Water agencies will need to improve facilities to 
handle more years of drought followed with less frequent 
years of intense rain.”

 The following are Major Funding Category Highlights:

 For questions, please contact FMWD at (818) 790-

 Foothill Municipal Water District provides imported 
water to Crescenta Valley Water District, La Cañada 
Irrigation District, Mesa Crest Water Company, Valley 
Water Company, Lincoln Avenue Water Company, Las 
Flores Water Company and Rubio Cañon Land & Water 
Association. Kinneloa Irrigation District, another retail 
agency, takes no water from Foothill.

Katie Orth626.688.0418 
Let Us Make Our Town, Your Town.
Kersting Court30 N. Baldwin AvenueSierra Madre 91024THE WEBB-MARTIN GROUP
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