the California Center for the Arts, Escondido
On stage at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. Photo credit: @theCCAE via Facebook

The California Center for the Arts, Escondido will launch a conservatory program this summer to provide enhanced opportunities for those interested in theater careers.

The Dorris Staples Theatrical Conservatory is funded by a gift from the David T. and Dorris E. Staples Foundation. The late Dorris Staples, of Fallbrook, was an accomplished singer and passionate about the arts.

The center already boasts a paid internship and apprenticeship program in technical theater in partnership with the local chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (ITASE). The conservatory is intended in part to expand the program to include two additional tracks, arts administration and artistic.

Theatrical Conservatory Director Tom Abruzzo noted the impotence of a program that is focused on paid workforce development in theater arts.

“When I was an undergrad majoring in classical piano, no one told me I could have a successful and fulfilling career as an arts administrator,” he said. “I want to make sure people know that. Moreover, I want to make sure there are pathways to these careers for all people.”

The conservatory program will feature a masterclass and professional development series. The first class on Feb. 27, “Acting Through Song,” is led by Will Blum, who recently finished his run as the title character in Beetlejuice on Broadway is currently set to star in Sunday in the Park with George at CCAE Theatricals on Feb. 17-18.

The Staples conservatory also is collaborating with CCAE Theatricals, a center education program, to present Educator Nights for drama and theater arts teachers at middle schools, high schools, community colleges and universities. They will be invited to productions and pre-show mixers to network and take home educational materials for their students.

In addition, students will be given access to $20 rush tickets. For more information on Educator Nights, email Abruzzo at

The California Center for the Arts, Escondido includes a 1,523-seat concert hall, a 404-seat theater, a contemporary art museum, art and dance studios and a conference center.