Ernest Ochoco working to keep GATE Theater Program alive - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Ernest Ochoco working to keep GATE Theater Program alive

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We're only two days away to the big season premier of "Rise" on NBC. From the producers of Hamilton and Friday Night Lights, "Rise" is a heartening new musical drama - inspired by a true story - about finding inspiration in unexpected places. To promote the upcoming series, we sit down with the public school performing arts teachers, the talents, and the trailblazers here at home.

Tonight, we head down south to check out the GATE Theater Program.

The Southern High School theater, Guam's premier stage for large shows, shines no more. "1,000 seats. and it's always empty," said director Ernest Ochoco. The only stars here - mold. "And if you look up at the ceiling, there is a whole bunch of mold. If you look through the orchestra pit, there's a whole bunch of mold growing," he added.

And downstairs, termites eat away at the props and elaborate sets. "We're trying our best to quell that and to solve it, but the money just doesn't seem to be there," Ochoco noted.

 The problem boils down to a broken air conditioning unit. But, as the saying goes, the show must go on.

Ochoco, the GATE Theater Director and Producer and proud public school product, is helping to keep the program alive. "Oh my god! I love the kids. Most of the time, whenever kids join things like this, they need something like a grade or hours for service learning, but once you start getting them into it and they start understanding the human side of it, you see a lot of people change. And that's one of the things I love the most. seeing these kids change from someone who is shy or someone who is apathetic, get touched by the arts or get moved by the arts and the community that it creates and all of a sudden they blossom into something more," he shared.

Their upcoming show, Shrek the Musical is set for April 4th and 5th in a different venue. "Thank God we were able to find the facility that was able to house us, which is the Father Duenas Phoenix Center. And we're barely managing some of the costs. It's been tough. we really have to be super resourceful and creative," he said.

And learning to improvise is just one of the many skills you'll learn in theater. That and how to be human. "Without the arts we become kind of robotic. And we get into routine and we forget how to feel. 0101 and how to interact with one another on a human level. I think that's one of the most important things for us to teach each other," he said. And if we were to focus more on the arts, and the fine arts, and how we live as human beings, I think we can really solve a lot of our issues that deal with our social problems."

And if theater really can fix the world's problems, why not support? "I think people should try it. I think parents should encourage it. I think parents should connect with it. Talent pools here are plentiful. I think we have a lot of people who are talented on island," he said.

Get your tickets for Shrek The Musical at Tango Theatres Micronesia Mall and Agana Shopping Center.

The season premier for RISE airs on Wednesday, March 14th at 9 p.m. on KUAM TV8 and at 8 p.m. every Wednesday after.

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