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North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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Marquee family: Schulzes bring artistic energy to Oceanside

In just a short time, patrons of downtown Oceanside’s nightlife will notice a brighter sparkle emanating from the historic Star Theatre on Coast Highway when the restoration of the prominent marquee, originally built in 1956, is completed.

The project is aimed to coincide with Oceanside’s 125th anniversary celebration in July.

Managing Artistic Director and Star Theatre co-owner David Schulz, 43, has traveled the world as a successful theater actor in classics such as “The Buddy Holly Story,” “Le Misérables” and “Phantom of the Opera.” In addition to his talents as a director and actor, Schulz also sings, plays guitar and the drums, and produces and records music.

Schulz is humble about his talents.

“When you grow up like I did, with a stage basically as your playground …” his voice trailed off as he jumped up from the table to open the front doors of the lobby for his mother, Ann Schulz. He credits his mother with paving the way for him to become successful in the arts.

“I knew that David was born to be in the theater – I just knew it,” Ann Schulz said.

Originally from Chicago, the Schulz family (David’s parents and his two older brothers) moved to Encinitas in 1978 after David’s father got an opportunity to become an owner of a McDonald’s restaurant.

Ann Schulz said she was originally a little hesitant about the family moving to the West Coast. A teacher by trade, and a lover of the arts, she had no idea that moving to California would eventually allow her nonprofit organization, Poinsettia Center for the Arts, to purchase the Star Theatre, and that she would be the one to introduce her own company, Coast Kids Theatre, to North County.

Soon after the family arrived in Encinitas, Ann Schulz accepted a position as a music director with the North Coast Repertory Theatre children’s program in Solana Beach. After her first show there, she went home to her husband and told him she wanted to create her own children’s production company. Shortly thereafter, Coast Kids Theatre was founded in 1981.

Ann Schulz said she had the good fortune of meeting a talented choreographer through her church named Bobbi Janikas. The two began a working relationship that continues today.

By 2000, Coast Kids Theatre had blossomed to the point where Ann Schulz believed it would be appropriate to find a permanent home for the organization. As an Encinitas resident, she originally set her sights on building a theater in town, but the overly aggressive monetary expectations prohibited the project from moving forward, she said.

She heard people mention that the Star Theatre in Oceanside was for sale. The venue was failing as a movie theater at the time, and the owner was in no position to save it.

With some trepidation, Ann traveled the few miles up the coast to visit the theater. As soon as she saw the beautiful, classic building, she fell in love with everything about it, she said.

With a bit of negotiating, Ann Schulz reached a deal with the owner. She then raced over to the city of Oceanside to present her plans. The city contributed $300,000 toward the purchase of the venue.

She ran the organization for five years with minimal help before she began looking for some assistance. It was then that David Schulz began returning home to assist with productions. By 2009, he was ready to return home for good with his wife (who is also a stage actor) and their two children to work with the family business.

“I’m going to be working in Oceanside, I’m going to live in Oceanside, I’m going to commit myself to Oceanside,” David said of his thoughts about returning home.

One of David’s first shows he directed with his mother was “The King and I” in 2010. The two met Sandra Kopitzke during auditions and cast her in the production. Kopitzke’s talent as a performer and her ability to work with children impressed David, which lead to her joining the staff.

Kopitzke came on as Coast Kids Theatre’s musical director.

Kopitzke said she really enjoys the opportunity to work on the adult and children’s productions. She explained that the process of her coming on full-time with Star Theatre was very “fluid.” In addition to working as musical director, Kopitzke also runs the Star Theatre Academy with David, where she teaches choir groups and provides voice lessons.

Star Theatre has been working to raise $50,000 of the $101,000 needed to complete the restoration of the marquee. Residents interested in contributing donations can visit www.startheatre.biz and click on the “Support Us” link. Another way Star Theatre raises money is through rental of the venue space.

The theater is located at 402 N. Coast Highway in Oceanside.

Star Theatre Company kicks off the summer season with “Hair Spray” in July. Upcoming productions, ticket prices and more information can be found online at www.startheatre.biz or by calling 760-721-9983.

Heather Randall is a North County freelance writer

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Marquee family: Schulzes bring artistic energy to Oceanside