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Theater and Dance

17 Sep 2019
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Cathy Schenkelberg is coming to the valley to perform her renowned one-woman show, Squeeze My Cans: Surviving Scientology, for one reason: Scott Smith. “He’s been my friend since (we both lived in) Chicago,” Schenkelberg said during a recent phone interview. “We did Hair together, the Midwest tour. He was Berger, and I was Crissy. Scott is gay, and he knew that I loved him. I was like, ‘Oh, why are you gay? I want you to be my lover.’ We made a pact that if either of us reached a certain age, and neither of us had kids, we would have a child together. I remember when I got pregnant with my daughter, I said, ‘Well, too late. I’m pregnant.’” Scott Smith, a beloved local performer who was on the board of Dezart Performs, died suddenly last year, after suffering a heart attack. He was 61 years old. “I was…
28 Aug 2019
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“It’s a super-big challenge to fly.” That the reason it’s taken more than 20 years for the Palm Canyon Theatre to put on the popular musical Peter Pan—but the venerable downtown Palm Springs theater will launch its new season with a production of the classic musical, on Friday, Sept. 20. Paul Grant, who will play Captain Hook, discussed the show inside the spacious Palm Canyon Theatre auditorium on the northern side of downtown Palm Springs. Songs and dancing and costumes and scenery are all fine and dandy, Grant said, but to really get Peter Pan off the ground … you have to really get Peter Pan—not to mention Wendy, Michael and John Darling—off the ground, to make their way to Neverland. To replicate the show’s signature theatrical effect that sends multiple actors aloft, Grant said, “You have to hire Foy”—the company started by Peter Foy, the designer of the flight…
24 Jul 2019
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Most of the Coachella Valley’s theater companies have gone dark during these dog days of summer—and those that are still going have left things up to the kids. Desert Theatreworks is currently in the midst of showing off the results of its KidsWorks Summer Camp—and the Green Room Theatre Company this week will mount four performances of a massive production of Sister Act. David Catanzarite, Green Room Theatre Company’s founding artistic director, recently spoke to the Independent about Sister Act and Green Room’s plans for the upcoming season. Tell me about the Green Room Theatre Company and where it fits into the Coachella Valley theater ecosystem, for lack of a better word. During the regular season, from September to May, we have a lot of professional actors, and we do mainly adult plays for adult audiences. This year, we are doing three Pulitzer Prize-winning plays for our regular season (Sweat,…
24 Jun 2019
Loren Freeman is one of the best actors in our valley—and now he’s making his directorial debut with the Desert Rose Playhouse’s summer production of Ruthless! The Musical. So here’s what is wrong with the show: Absolutely nothing! This is a not-to-be-missed romp, with a high energy level that will leave you wrung out from laughing, music that will delight you, and extreme hilarity. I asked Freeman how he felt about directing his first show. “It’s a great excuse to boss everybody around,” he confided, “if you’re that kind of person.” Well, that is beyond modesty, because everyone in the cast clearly wears the stamp of his famous style. He has a matchless gift for over-the-top work, and has uniformly inspired these actors with his special comedic flair. It is a show about obsessive showbiz ambition; can there be any juicier topic? The original Los Angeles production of Ruthless! ran…
06 Jun 2019
There’s a new entry in the Coachella Valley theater scene: Meet the Encore Theatre District. Encore began in February 2017, when artistic director Tiffanie Patscheck and her son, Jeremiah Rhoads, took the first steps toward making their dream—presenting financially accessible theater with a message—into reality. The nonprofit company’s first production was a staged reading of Lydia, in September 2017. Written by Octavio Solis, it explores the experience of a Mexican-American family living on the Texas-Mexico border and trying to live their own version of the American dream. Patscheck says the play perfectly fit the company’s mission statement, which is “integrating diversity through the performing arts and inspiring the surrounding community.” Encore just closed its second, 2018-2019 season with Falling, the story of a family struggling to raise their autistic son. The company partnered up with the Coachella Valley Autism Society of America, and Patscheck says the partnership helped the company…
09 May 2019
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Steven Fales has performed his Confessions of a Mormon Boy one-man show all over the world since its debut off-Broadway more than 13 years ago—but the show may never have happened without the support of the Desert Hot Springs woman Fales calls his “Mormon Auntie Mame.” “She loved me unconditionally,” Fales said about Linda Parkin, who died of ovarian cancer in 2014. “She never had kids, but she always called me her ‘first born.’” After successful shows at Rancho Mirage’s Desert Rose Playhouse earlier this year, Confessions of a Mormon Boy is being performed each Tuesday in May at Oscar’s Café and Bar in downtown Palm Springs. The show tells the story of Fales’ upbringing as part of a prominent Mormon family in Utah, and focuses on the realization that he’s gay; his attempts at “reparative therapy”; his excommunication from the church; his fall into drug use and prostitution; and…

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