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Children's Theatre to reopen today -- play's on

Original post made on Jan 28, 2008

The Palo Alto Children's Theatre will reopen today (Monday) and the Friday performance of "The Giver" play is back on track, Community Services Director Richard James announced Sunday night.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, January 27, 2008, 11:08 PM

Comments (17)

Posted by still-questions, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2008 at 12:33 am

Does this mean that all is clear and innocent with those involved?

Posted by Long-time supporter, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2008 at 9:35 am

The Giver is staged by the skeletal staff that remain at the theatre.

While this is very valuable, it should not detract from the community's outrage at what continues to be the City's harassment of theatre staff who have given their lives to bringing us this beloved institution - and who continue to be "investigated".

Posted by Steve, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2008 at 10:12 am

The Childrens' Theatre is an important component of the City history; however, any activity that loses close to $1 million yearly should be audited by an outside agency. Especially if there is any hint that finances are not properly maintained. If you have ever been in Pat or Michaels office, you have seen the disarray. Open the Theatre, but efficently use public funds.

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 28, 2008 at 10:31 am

six figure salaries for community theater directors? And the theater organization has hot dog sales???

Those two "execs" take 2/3 of the $300k taken in by ticket sales!

Am I alone in thinking that the city needs someone to clean house?

Sooooo many heads will roll. Cushy jobs will be eliminated. Salaries will be brought back down to earth.

Forget the blue collar thefts... worry about the white collar theft!

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2008 at 10:41 am

Joanna - you are so right. Who cares about some missing petty cash, the real crime is that we are paying community theater directors $100k each - that is an insane amount and so far beyond the market value of these jobs that its crazy. Lets see how many qualified applicants would be happy to do these jobs for $50k? or better yet make the parents of the kids in these plays actually pay enought to support this activity - why is the rest of the city bearing this cost?

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 28, 2008 at 10:59 am

Citizen, Joanna, Steve,

Obviously, you have no idea about what kind of hours and dedication it takes to keep PACT going. This is not a 40 per week job. If you doubt that, go look for yourselves.

the principals seem ALWAYS to be there, and work exceedingly hard to make coherent productions come out of the experience of coordinating dozens of children, as they're introduced to an art that teaches not only about literature, but that instills confidence, teaches cooperation toward a goal, time management, and so on.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] What correlation is there between a desk that appears messy to someone who doesn't do the work, and the way the job gets done?

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 28, 2008 at 11:39 am


No one is saying that the theater doesn't impact the neighborhood. Lots of kids love it and lots of people look forward to the productions.

Keep that separate from...

$100k+ salaries for two people. That's insane. There needs to be an audit of some sort. That's all I'm saying.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 28, 2008 at 12:23 pm

"$100k+ salaries for two people. That's insane."

What's insane about it? What's the proper care and intellectual feeding of our kids worth - from two professionals who spend upwards of 60+ hours per week at PACT (and often more).

There's a reason why PACT is such a wonderful place, and why it's run so well, practically on fumes, because there has not been much of a city operations commitment to PACT in the budget.

It gets really old hearing from people who think that an institution like PACT should be run by someone who's taking home $50K a year. That translates to less than $700 per week, in take-home pay. Tell me what kind of manager you're going to get for that pittance. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2008 at 12:49 pm

So someone works for the city of Palo Alto for 41 years - and got no cost of living increaeses, no raises, nothing???? Long time classified employes at City Hall make as much. This position requires years of professional training, college degrees, exoertise. This is not like leading a Brownie troop!! Get real. We're talkinig professional education and training and complex theater management as well as working with children of all ages. . The critics are clueless and are showing their total ignorance.

Posted by Long-time supporter, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 28, 2008 at 2:20 pm

Katie and Mike,

It's refreshing to hear your voices and know that folks are out there who appreciate the enormous effort the staff puts in. Let's try to get more voices like yours at the City Council mtg tonight at 8:00. While this issue is not on the agenda, it's important to politely let the council know supports the staff at this time of crisis.

It's time for us to support the staff the same way the staff has supported the community for all these years.


Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2008 at 2:28 pm


Rumors, inuendos and all the while the public does not really know what happened or is going on. This has been so badly handled from the City Hall 7th Floor on down - (which is nothing new) reputations are being destroyed - and good people are being destroyed.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 28, 2008 at 4:25 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2008 at 8:44 pm

Mike - you are a model of fiscal prudence. Of course you will be more popular as you advocate spending public money lavishly. I don't want to be popular, I just want this town to spend responsibly and not spend every last dime on the "children."

If you aren't a child or parent in this town you are only good for paying others bills.

Posted by Tim, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 29, 2008 at 7:40 am

Tear down the theater and build homes. Problem solved! The Palo Alto way.

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 29, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Again, the theater is a great institution in Palo Alto.

I think this warrants a public audit on city employees and pay scales.

Time and attention is being focused on petty theft of whatever equipment was taken. Peanuts compared to other "expenditures."

Posted by Mary Carlstead, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2008 at 2:07 pm

So WHAT does a public school teacher who has worked for a district for 41 years get paid? If you have a good car, you want to take it to the best mechanic around, you want the best trained dentist, the best MD, the best accountant, the best teacher for your child, the best day care center, the best-best-best. This Children's Theater is now 75 years old, it is nationally acclaimed, a unique a jewel in Palo Alto's cultural crown. You get or entry level secretary wages to do what is done at PACT by that staff. That is NOT a 9-5 job with Saturdays and Sundays and every other Friday off.This is early morning to late at night , weekdays and weekends - and a few weeks off in the autumn before school starts. It means working all night during the flood of '98 to rescue props and costumes in a flooding basement. It means the show must go on even if the director has pneumonia and is dragging an oxgen bottle. It means being so tired to almost drop. The vicious remarks, innuedoes, accusations, and speculations made on this site are beneath the dignity of the residents of this cit and the seventy five years of the PACT history.. The remarks are hurtful and destructive.

Posted by Paul Wanless, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm

I have worked with Pat and Michael for many years, both as a kid onstage, a student of the Wingspread program, and most recently as a musical director for many of their shows, and I have absolutely nothing but wholehearted support for these supremely dedicated individuals. Pat Briggs didn't win Woman of The Year award in 2003 from sitting in her office all day doing nothing. For all she does, she should probably be getting paid twice her salary, and I'll say the same for the rest of the staff. There are reasons the theater has survived for so long. There are reasons that they manage to get shows that are listed as "restricted" by the organizations that provide them. There are reasons they are consistently invited to the Junior Broadway Festival in Atlanta and win top awards.

The staff is there nights and weekends, often past midnight, grinding things out in city bureaucracy and working their young performers in about as professional a matter I've ever seen. And they still choose to stay after over 50 years (for Pat) and 30 years (for Michael.) I have only the slightest notion of some of the paperwork they have to deal with, but all those stacks seen in their office are not mere trash, they are NECESSARY to continue operations. Any other office of similar stature would need to hire at least 4 other assistants for the work they do there, yet somehow they manage it with just one, and for such high quality work.

I have no idea what happened, but I have nothing but absolute support for these great people. They EARN their salaries, and then some! They deserve praise, not belittlement.

PACT staff...I will always think you are one of the state's greatest organizations ever, no matter what anyone else might say.

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