'High School Musical' star kicks off arts program in Utah schools
Education • Actress will encourage kids to participate in the arts.
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Actress Alyson Reed is reviving her character Mrs. Darbus, the loopy teacher from the "High School Musical" series, for a series of artistic workshops in the location the musical was filmed: Salt Lake City.

The veteran Broadway actress kicked a new arts program Monday at Canyon Rim Elementary. She will be conducting workshops throughout the week, including a Family Night open to the public on Thursday.

"I have a real soft spot for Salt Lake City," Reed said. "99.9 percent of these students won't go into show business, but they will learn so many important things."

Filmed in Utah, the original film in 2006 boasted catchy songs and energetic choreography by Emmy winners Kenny Ortega and Salt Lake City's Bonnie Story, and told the story of high school jock Troy (Zach Efron) and brainiac Gabriella (Vanessa Anne Hudgens), who join forces to star in the school musical.

The movie was the highest-rated program for the Disney Channel and the soundtrack was a best-selling album. The movie, in addition to being a sensation in countries like India and Japan, has spawned theatrical productions and a touring concert.

Reed has already taught a similar arts program to some 800,000 students in New York in what were called Active Learning Assemblies.

Cynthia Fleming, executive producer of the Salt Lake Acting Company, said the timing was perfect to host Reed this week. She said the veteran actress' theater  games  and  master  classes  do  more  than  captivate  students  through  fun  activities —  they encourage confidence, focus on developing students'  self-esteem, and encourage  students to  express  their creativity.

Fleming and Reed met more than 30 years ago when the pair performed in the national tour of "A Chorus Line."

"There will be something for everyone," Fleming said.

Elementary School Learning Assemblies • Starting on Jan. 28, Reed will perform her workshops at five Beverley Taylor Sorensen schools, where the arts are promoted at schools where students come from low-income homes. Throughout the week, Reed will perform the free educational and entertaining assemblies. Reed will engage with more than 3,000 students at Canyon Rim Elementary, Washington Elementary, Nibley Park Elementary, Wasatch Elementary and Bennion Elementary.

Family Night • At 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 31 at Clayton Middle School (1470 S. 1900 East in Salt Lake City), Reed said she will host an evening that will have something for everyone, not just those interested in show business. The evening will include theater games, improvisation, scene work, mock interviews, and a question-and-answer session, among others. The tickets cost $5.

Actor's Workshop • At 11 a.m. on Feb. 2, Reed will conduct a master class for serious students of acting ages 12-18 at Salt Lake Acting Company (168 W. 500 North in Salt Lake City). Tickets cost $25.

Reed  has  over  40  years  of  professional  experience  as  an  actress, director,  and  private  coach in  television, film and theater. Having  worked with such luminaries as Bob Fosse and Richard  Attenborough,  Reed's  acting  credits  range  from a Tony nomination during her 15  years  on  Broadway,  to  staring  as  Cassie in the film version of  "A Chorus Line, "to her portrayal of Mrs. Darbus in  "High School Musical."

"These are all the things I've learned over the years," said Reed, 55, who started in show business at 12. "It's not just about the arts, it's about life."

For tickets, call Salt Lake Acting Company 801-363-7522 or click on www.saltlakeactingcompany.org.

rparker@sltrib.com

Twitter: @rayutah —

Family night

When • 6:30 p.m., Thursday

Where • Clayton Middle School, 1470 S. 1900 East, Salt Lake City

What • Theater games, improvisation, scene work, mock interviews and a question-and-answer session

Tickets • $5

Actor's workshop

When • 11 a.m., Feb. 2

Where • Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City

What • Alyson Reed will conduct a master class for students of acting ages 12-18

Tickets • $25

P For tickets, call Salt Lake Acting Company 801-363-7522 or www.saltlakeactingcompany.org.