Casting announced for Coachella Valley Repertory 2023 Youth Outreach Production



OPHELIA LIVES! by Gillette Elvgren

CV REP | Contributed

Coachella Valley Repertory announces the student cast and crew members for its 2023 Youth Outreach Production, OPHELIA LIVES! These annual productions are produced through CVRep’s Community Outreach Programs. OPHELIA LIVES! was written by Gillette Elvgren and deals honestly and openly with issues that affect today’s teens, such as suicide, depression, self-esteem, substance abuse, cutting, etc. It also touches on constructive paths to resolution. The cast was selected through a traditional audition process, and includes FAITH COBURN (11th grade, Cathedral City High School), GENESIS ESPEJO (11th grade, Cathedral City High School), GALILEA HUERICA INEZ (12th grade, Cathedral City High School), Yahajaira Pazand (11th grade, Cathedral City High School), IRAM HUERTA (12th grade, Cathedral City High School), FIDENCIO ROMERO AGUILERA (12th grade, Cathedral City High School), LAUREN CRUZ DE ARMAS (10th grade, La Quinta High School), SOPHIE HUGHES (10th grade, Rancho Mirage High School), and ARIANA JENKINS (10th grade, Palm Springs High School), and KYMANI FEGURGUR (10th grade, Palm Springs High School),.

Set backstage in a high school theater, the drama class is rehearsing Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The plot suddenly twists when the teacher, Ms. Peters, discovers an unsigned letter from a student who is considering suicide. As they examine Shakespeare’s complex characters, the students discover their personal inner strength, which leads them through hurt and pain to positive, healthy choices.

OPHELIA LIVES! is receiving a fully professional production. In addition to performing on the CVRep stage in front of audiences, students are working with professional designers, directors, and backstage crew. OPHELIA LIVES! is being directed by HOWARD SHANGRAW, Director of the CVRep Conservatory and Community Outreach Programs. Shangraw is an award-winning director, composer, performing arts administrator, instructor and coach. His professional acting career includes productions off-Broadway, summer stock, feature films, episodic television, day-time soap operas and regional theatre productions.

OPHELIA LIVES! will be performed at CVRep for Coachella Valley school students at 2 p.m. September 19-22 and 26-29 at 2 p.m. Student performances are FREE, and CVRep will pay for buses to take students to and from their schools. There will be one public performance on September 30 at 2 p.m. Tickets for that performance are $10 and available online and by calling the CVRep box office at (760) 296-2966. All performances will be followed by a Q&A with the cast, crew, and CVRep Artistic Director Adam Karsten. The actors will talk about their experiences, opening a dialogue that can continue long after leaving the theater.

Shangraw said, “Our Youth Outreach Programs are taught and mentored by theatre professionals who encourage students to let their imaginations soar. Our production of OPHELIA LIVES! bravely and honestly speaks to several sensitive and perplexing personal issues that teens deal with. Through the brilliance of Shakespeare and the medium of theatre, we hope that everyone will gain a real understanding of the challenges facing our young people and inspire them into making positive, healthy, and constructive choices.”


Award-winning playwright Gillette Elvgren has penned numerous plays for schools, teens, and family audiences. His writings tackle topics such as AIDS, chemical abuse, child abuse, and teenage sexuality. Putting those issues on stage “is a very good way to get the message across,” says Elvgren, whose “social action” dramas have been produced by acting groups all over the country.

Coachella Valley Repertory thanks the Anderson Children’s Foundation for a grant that has helped make this year’s Youth Outreach Production possible.


Produced through CVRep Community Programs

School Performances: September 19-22 and 26-29, 2023

Public Performance: September 31 at 2 p.m.

Location: Coachella Valley Repertory

28510 East Palm Canyon Dr., Cathedral City, CA 92634

Tickets: Student performances are free; public performance tickets are $10

COACHELLA VALLEY REPERTORY is a non-profit, professional regional theater. It is the only theater in California’s Coachella Valley that has Small Professional Theatre (SPT) status with Actor’s Equity.

CVRep produces professional theater and educational programs that present thought provoking theatre of substance. It also offers professional level theatre training for young people and adults in its Conservatory, Writing Competition, and other meaningful, socially, and culturally relevant children’s outreach programs. As a member of the Coachella Valley community, CVRep is committed to enriching the quality of life for all residents and to providing memorable experiences for the Valley’s many visitors.

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