CVIndependent

Thu11262020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Theater and Dance

21 Oct 2020
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There has been almost no programming from the Coachella Valley’s theater companies since the pandemic arrived and ruined everything in March—with one notable exception: CVRep, and its Theatre Thursday virtual shows. And if the California Department of Public Health gives the OK, CVRep—in conjunction with Cathedral City—could become the first local theater company to bring live productions back to the Coachella Valley, starting in December. Ron Celona, CVRep’s founding artistic director, explained during a recent phone interview that because the theater company is now the proud owner of its own building—the CVRep Playhouse, in Cathedral City—he couldn’t just wait out the pandemic without doing anything. “This is a year where I can’t even break even,” he said. “I have to make money just to support the building. So that’s what took us to the current plan.” That plan started with the launch of Theatre Thursday in April. Every non-holiday Thursday…
27 Aug 2020
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Thespians everywhere have been aching for the day they can re-enter the world of theater, which was shut down suddenly—along with almost everything else—in March. The brand-new North Star Theatre Company has an outside-of-the-box plan—and if all goes according to that plan, the company will debut with a live production of West Side Story in October. Christine Michele—among other things, the lead singer of the cover band Christine and the Lost Keys—and James Owens are the co-founders of the North Star Theatre, and both have an extensive background in local theater. “Ever since March, James and I have been talking about starting our own theater company,” Michele said during a recent phone interview. “We both have been wanting to do something like this forever.” Added Owens: “I can’t remember when my first thought was, but I definitely have been thinking about doing something like this for a long time. The…
22 Jul 2020
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Before everything went to hell, the Coachella Valley theater community was enjoying, by far, its most successful season ever. CVRep was reveling in its first full season in its gorgeous new home, the CVRep Playhouse in Cathedral City. Dezart Performs and the Desert Rose Playhouse were in the midst of sold-out seasons. Coyote StageWorks was getting settled into its new digs at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, while Palm Canyon Theatre and Desert Theatreworks were packing people into shows in downtown Palm Springs and Indio, respectively. “We started off our ninth season like a rocket,” said Shawn Abramowitz, the executive director and board president of the Desert Ensemble Theatre Company, which shares space at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club with Dezart Performs. “We had not just record attendance, but record donations—and we were really growing, which allowed us to invest more.” The weekend of March 13-15 was going to the…
16 Mar 2020
Ron Celona looked weary as patrons entered the CVRep Playhouse in Cathedral City for the Saturday, March 14, matinee performance of The City of Conversation. This was supposed to be a bustling, packed weekend of theater in the Coachella Valley. At least four theaters were opening new productions, while two more companies continued successful shows. But as of that Saturday afternoon, The City of Conversation was the only show still open. Before we entered the theater—not even one-third full—Celona confided that after the Sunday show, CVRep, too, would be going dark. Barring a miracle, we were watching the last play to be performed in the Coachella Valley by our fantastic theater companies in quite some time. The production of The City of Conversation was a fantastic. Thanks to a great cast, led by Martha Hackett as old-school liberal activist/socialite Hester Ferris, the play showed how political differences can rip a…
12 Mar 2020
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To the characters in The Boys in the Band, someone like Pete Buttigieg would have been inconceivable—a happily out (and married) man who was a serious candidate for the U.S. presidency. When Boys premiered in 1968—one year before the Stonewall riots—a same-sex couple still could be arrested for dancing together, even in a place as purportedly free-thinking as New York City’s Greenwich Village. “Younger actors have to be very, very mindful that they’re not aware of the level of repression of these characters,” says Michael Pacas, who is directing the production of the play that will open at Palm Canyon Theatre for four shows on April 30. “Back then, you could be arrested for just being in a gay bar, have your name in the paper and be fired. Younger actors enjoy a much more permissive society.” Boys, the story of a group of gay friends who have gathered at…
08 Mar 2020
Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing was first performed in London back in 1993, when revealing one’s homosexuality was much scarier, but the play’s themes of forbidden love and the struggle for self-acceptance seem just as germane today—and Desert Rose Playhouse’s current production of the play is thought-provoking and effective. The story centers around 16-year-old Jamie and his neighbor Ste, also 16, who reside in a row of flats in Thamesmead, a working-class area of South London. Jamie lives with his brassy bartender mother, Sandra, and her current boyfriend, Tony, an artist several years her junior. Ste’s family is quite dysfunctional—his brother is a drug addict, and his angry, alcoholic father is physically abusive. Jamie’s other neighbor is the quirky Leah, who has been expelled from school and now spends her days endlessly listening to Mama Cass records. Ste often stays the night at Jamie’s flat to avoid his father’s beatings, sleeping…

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