Angela Irish takes center stage at Theatre Boosters Gala 

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By Kelly Lieber, Special to the Independent

Not a dry eye in the house.

That was the consensus at the Woman’s Club on Saturday night, Jan. 20, at the Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) Theatre Boosters Gala: A Night at the Copacabana.

The LBHS Theatre Boosters organized the Gala to raise awareness and funds for the school’s theatre program. However, a secret part of the Gala was to honor Laguna Beach resident Angela Irish for over 30 years of service to the LBHS Theatre program.

Angela Irish reacts to her surprise acknowledgment at the LBHS Theatre Boosters Gala on Jan. 20. Photo/Christina Shook

Irish was serenaded, flash mob style, with the song “Tradition” from her favorite musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” accompanied by the magical fiddling of LBHS alum Hannah Glass.

The number began with the emcee, Howard Lorey’s (of the Strangers, Dirty Bird fame) rendition of Teyve, leading into the meaning behind “Tradition.” Irish’s beloved Laguna Tunes, including Patti Jo Kiraly, Robin Casselman, Rebecca Lyles, Jay Rechter, RonDee Kelly, Diane Kloke and Regina Hartley, joined in song alongside LBHS Theatre Alumni, including Wyatt Shipp and Angela’s son, Michael Irish, parents of LBHS Theatre Alumni, including Martha and Tom Davis, Steve McIntosh and current students.

LBHS performing arts supporter Angela Irish was celebrated for her 30 plus years of commitment to youth theater in Laguna Beach. during the Theatre Boosters Gala on Jan. 20. Photo/Christina Shook

Irish’s son and his wife, Jesi, along with Irish’s sister, Jennifer, and niece, Victoria, flew in for the surprise dedication.

After LBHS Theatre Director Meghan Minguez-Marshall gave a moving speech and honored Irish with an award, Irish thanked attendees while admitting she is uncomfortable in the spotlight, explaining that her decades of commitment to the theatre program is for the students.

Irish, who some may remember as a teacher at the Top of the World Elementary School, has worked with the LBHS Theatre Program for over 30 years since her son performed at the Artists Theater. She was also instrumental in getting the Theatre Boosters off the ground.

LBHS performing arts supporter Angela Irish was celebrated during the Theatre Boosters Gala on Jan. 20. Photo/Christina Shook

Irish also works with all the high school performing arts disciplines and sometimes helps with other community groups. Additionally, she provides costumes and props for Thurston Middle School and loans materials to other local high schools.

When she isn’t clothing local thespians, Irish can also be found hard at work at the local library bookstore as part of Friends of the Library. She is on the Friends of the Library and Laguna Tunes boards and sings in the community choir.

Irish and Gala goers were serenaded, flash mob style, with the song “Tradition” from her favorite musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” accompanied by the magical fiddling of LBHS alum Hannah Glass. Photo/Christina Shook

Keeping Irish’s surprise dedication a secret was no small feat, as she seems to know everyone in Laguna Beach. Her friendships run deep and wide, from quilting club buddies to library friends, Laguna Tunes pals, the multiple generations of the Drama Mamas, and her school district coworkers – Irish is blessed with many friends who all adore her.

The flash mob serenade was the brainchild of LBHS Theatre Boosters co-chair Sophia Callisto. Callisto and co-chair Kelly Lieber were so excited to honor Irish that they wanted people from her 30-plus years of service to join them. For several months, Callisto and Lieber planned the event, and their hard work paid off as the fundraiser secured enough contributions for travel to state and international thespian festivals.

Minguez-Marshall and Musical Theatre Director Lindsey Parker helped select and coach some of the students who performed at the Gala.

The students sang and danced while audience members, besides the performers’ parents, watched glassy-eyed as the students rocked the house.

Next on tap for the LBHS Theatre Program is the screenplay musical version of the original film Mean Girls. The performance will run from March 8 to March 10 and March 15 to March 17 at the LBHS Artists Theater.

Most students who performed at the Gala will also be in Mean Girls. Minguez-Marshall and Lindsey Parker will be directing the students, while Irish will be in her most comfortable spot behind the scenes, providing costumes, props and support.

Tickets for Mean Girls will go on sale at the end of February. For more program and ticket information, visit the LBHS Theatre’s Instagram, @lbusdtheatre or email [email protected].

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