The Tale of Dale Franzen: A Life in Seven Acts (So Far)
June 19, 2013

The action takes place in Hollywood, Canada, Sweden, Spain, and
countless other international settings.
There is no intermission.


Act I
Hollywood. Young Dale Seligman is the all-singing, all-dancing daughter of a homemaker and a film/television producer. She performs with the Royal Ballet at the Shrine Auditorium, but ultimately sets her sights on singing. Dale is granted a full scholarship to study voice at Immaculate Heart High School, then transfers after a year to the progressive Oakwood High School in the valley. There she pens a full-length tragic opera, dutifully killing off all the characters by the final curtain.

Act II
Dale spends a year studying voice with famed American soprano Marni Nixon at CalArts. At 19, Dale sets off for Canada with her betrothed, where she thrills audiences with her performances in musicals and operettas, attending college on and off.

Eight years pass. Dale returns to Los Angeles, studies opera at USC, and launches her professional opera career. She performs in major opera houses throughout the world and spends eight years with the Los Angeles Opera. (Some favorite roles include Yum-Yum in “The Mikado,” with Dudley Moore, and Alexandra in “Regina.”) Dale is quick to volunteer to sing in arts education concerts for children and at senior centers, a commitment to outreach that will prove prescient in Act VII.

In 1983, Dale marries attorney Don Franzen, with whom she will raise two daughters and her son from a previous marriage. The role of wife and mother proves more gratifying than any role she’s played on stage, as she skillfully balances a loving family and a fulfilling singing career that will span over two decades.

Act IV
Dale is now in her early 30s and pregnant with her second child when she is asked to teach a voice class at Santa Monica College (SMC). Dale’s passion for teaching is ignited, and she creates an opera workshop for the school. After her daughter is born, Dale begins to perform professionally again and must bid adieu to SMC. Little does she know that her collaboration with the school is only just beginning.

Act V
Around the same time she begins teaching, Dale enrolls at Antioch University Los Angeles to finish her bachelor’s degree. She is delighted to explore interests beyond classical music through the school’s broad liberal arts curriculum. Child development instructor Stephanie Solomon becomes a lifelong mentor and friend, and Dale’s young daughter is the subject of many a home-grown Piaget experiment. Dale graduates from AULA with her BA in Liberal Studies in 1985.

Act VI
Piedad Robertson, then president of SMC, asks Dale to develop a new program at the school. With a partner, Dale creates the Academy for Entertainment and Technology, which opens in 1997. Dale is asked to serve as the Academy’s dean but declines, hungry for an even bigger challenge.

Dale’s wish comes true when President Robertson asks her to transform an off -campus auditorium into a world-class performing arts center. Dale and actor Dustin Hoff man (a former SMC student) toil for years, planning and fundraising. Finally, the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center opens in 2008 with Dale as director and Hoffman as artistic chair.

Dale discovers that she has inherited her father’s gift for producing, primed by his tales from the Hollywood trenches. The Broad Stage’s critically acclaimed, often international programming – including live theater, dance, opera, symphonies, and more – delights both traditional and nontraditional theater-goers alike.

Forever grateful for the impact of the arts on her own life, Dale takes special pride in the free and low-cost programs the Broad Stage offers to school groups. The all-singing, all-dancing student has become a powerful theatrical master, bringing the joy of live performance to appreciative audiences.

Note: Act VII remains a work in progress.
As for Act VIII, only time will tell.

Dale Franzen
“I started off as a classical musician; I never dreamed that I would end up doing what I’m doing now. If you had said to me when I was 20, ‘You’re going to build a theater and run it,’ I’d have said, ‘You’re nuts. How on earth would I do that?’ But that’s what happened. Life is long. If you stay healthy, you could live to 100 and you may end up having four careers. So the skills that you learn along the way are everything. My father was a producer. I never dreamed that those conversations I heard when I was seven, eight, nine years old would come back to haunt me in my job right now – in a good way. As you enter a career, be open to the many different paths and skills that you might use someday. I think having some diversity in what you do is very important now. A lot of people are much narrower. They go, ‘I’m going to be a singer, and that’s all I’m going to be,’ but I had other skills that I was open to exploring. I think the world is moving more and more toward hybrid careers, so accept the idea that you probably won’t stay in the same career for your whole life – that’s highly unlikely.”

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