Tuesday, July 7, 2009

TADW Legacies: Marylata and Aaron Jacob; Leslie and Michael Patterson

Spending the summer working on plays at CSUN is a family tradition for two students in the 52nd Teenage Drama Workshop. Aaron Jacob, 14, and Michael Patterson, 14, are the children of TADW alumnae.

Aaron’s mom, Marylata (née Latie Elton), attended TADW from 1973-1975, as did Michael’s mom, Leslie (née Leslie Ray). During their time in the workshop, both were part of the cast and crew of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which starred a young Mare Winningham as “Puck”. Marylata was on the makeup crew and Leslie played the role of “Hermia.”

Marylata, who would go on to become a Grammy-nominated music producer, and Leslie, now a successful theatrical producer in the Bay Area, recall that many of their fellow students at TADW would achieve success in the entertainment industry, including Winningham and actors Arye Gross and the late Wendie Jo Sperber. Of course Winningham would later earn Emmy, SAG and Oscar nominations for her acting work.

For Michael Patterson, who already does voiceover work in the Bay Area, attending TADW requires extra dedication, since his family lives in Northern California, where they produce “The Great Dickens Christmas Fair,” an annual event that is a beloved San Francisco tradition.

(Pictured: Leslie and Michael Patterson in the sound room above CSUN's Campus Theatre.)

Residing nearby for the summer, Michael is now in his first year as a member of TADW’s new Design-Tech track. His older brother, Andrew also made the trek south for many summers, Leslie says. Andrew attended TADW from 2002-2004 and then went on to study at UC Santa Cruz, becoming the head PA and carpenter for its Theatre Department.

“Both of my sons grew up with their parents producing large-scale theatrical events,” Patterson said. “It has always been a part of their lives and I wanted them to be surrounded by people their own age, who felt the same way, producing quality shows.”

Marylata Jacob echoed that sentiment. “Peer pressures can leave a teen feeling out of place and out of sorts,” she said. “TADW provides a unique environment which gives a foundation of empowerment.”

Marylata, who was co-head of the Music Division of DreamWorks Pictures and music supervisor for films such as “Shrek” and “The Prince of Egypt,” says, “Everything I learned here at TADW has been useful in my professional life.” She cites accountability, commitment to excellence and a sense of belonging as examples.

(Pictured: Aaron and Marylata Jacob on the set of "The Wiz.")

What does Marylata want son Aaron to take away from TADW this year? “First and foremost, fun summer memories; secondly, improving his craft.” Aaron, who will attend Chaminade College Preparatory High School in the fall, will be seen in the ensemble of this year’s production of “The Wiz.”

Leslie agrees, saying she hopes Michael comes away with “friendships with kids of a like mind, proficiency in all aspects of theatre onstage and off, and a continued desire to 'put on a show' whenever they get the chance.”

For more information about TADW, visit www.csun.edu/tadw.

“Everything I learned here at TADW has been useful in my professional life.” -- Marylata Jacob, TADW alumna

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