Marilyn Izdebski has a large family, and it would be tough for her to point out a favorite child. After all, they're all stars once they get on stage.
"I stay in touch with a lot of my students. They're like my family," said the force behind San Anselmo-based Marilyn Izdebski Productions.
Izdebski is directing a production of West Side Story with actors ages 13-18 at Redwood High School's Little Theater this weekend, familiar territory for her. Izdebski has been directing plays at Redwood for the past 28 years but she's a veteran of more than 40 years on the stage. She's been performing since she was 3 years old.
"I've been doing this so long, it's fun. I can think of nothing better to do than musical theater all day long," Izdebski said.
West Side Story is a regular part of her company's rotation, as is Wizard of Oz.
She directed a musical version of Wizard of Oz from July 19-22 at Redwood, which starred her dog Bobby in the role of Toto. The time frame required the cast and crew to work all day to make the two productions happen.
"We get everyone involved — moms and dads, they make sets and costumes," Izdebski said, holding Bobby while he posed for the camera.
Izdebski's students join her company as young as 5 years old and gradually progress to classes for older students. Her youngest age group is scheduled to perform Little Mermaid in the Fall.
"Some of these kids have done 10-15 shows and for some of them it's their first show," she said.
And some of them go on to considerable success. Alumnus Matt Doyle has performed in three Broadway shows and is returning to the Bay Area later this year in a stage production of Diner. Drake High grad Lexie Papedo was nominated in 2011 for the Broadway World San Franciso Award. Jeff Wiesen has appeared on the big screen and on television, including an episode of Without A Trace. Marissa Ingrasci can count an episode of House M.D. among her credits.
And who knows how long the trip is from the West Side in Larkspur to Broadway.
IF YOU GO
West Side Story
Saturday, July 28 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 29 2 p.m.
Go to brownpapertickets.com or call 1-800-838-3006.
Tickets will also be available at the door 2 hours before each performance.