BACKSTAGE LAKE COUNTY: ALICE IN PANTOLAND

Finding a venue for a theatre company without a home can be challenging.  As can trying to bring theatre to all while based in a county with a lake set right in the middle of it. Such are the challenges that face the Lake County Theatre Company (LCTC).  The company tries to bridge the gap by staging its shows at venues for rent in Lakeport and in Clearlake. Last year, a collaboration between LCTC and Mendocino College Lake Center brought Shakespeare at the Lake to Clearlake.

When trying to decide where to hold their latest show, Alice in Pantoland, however, the director, Dennis Fay who is also the Vice President of the LCTC Board, wanted to branch out and bring theatre to still other communities.  He worked with Dr. Giovanni Anous, Superintendent of the Upper Lake School District to identify a suitable local eventually deciding on the Upper Lake Middle School.

Fay had never worked on a Panto before, but he knew that was the kind of show he wanted to direct. Years ago, while living in England and serving in the USAF, he and his family would attend Pantos during Christmas time.   For those of you who are like me and have never heard of a panto before, a panto is the less formal name for pantomime.  Here in the United States pantomime means “to mime” while in England a pantomime or panto is a show generally based on a well known fairy tale that includes slapstick, comedy, singing, and gender-bended roles to make the telling of the story funnier.  There is also audience participation and the audience is expected to talk back.

Fay loved the concept and the fun.  So, he thought he would present this unique form of theatre to Lake County.  He researched many Pantos from a British publishing house and chose Alice in Pantoland because he felt an American audience could relate to the story. And, it also had a large number of roles for young people.

This was particularly important as LCTC dedicates one show a year to young performers.  Twenty performers aged 8-18 perform in Alice In Pantoland alongside 8 adults.  Says Fay, “Our goal is to teach theatre arts at the same time as providing our young talent an opportunity to perform.”

This show depends on interactivity.   There is music and dance in the show including some live music, some karaoke type music, and some “rocking out” dance moves to show off.  The show is geared toward general audiences especially family audiences. Most of the jokes and humor are G rated.  Several of the characters are according to the book, but of course, there are many twists and turns, especially comedic turns in the show.  “It helps if the audience is familiar with the Alice in Wonderland story line, but that isn’t needed to get the story. All will be explained by our brilliant cast,” says Fay.  .

Fay has appeared in many LCTC productions and while he has directed before, this is the first time he’s directed a play for LCTC.  His wife, Jo Fay, a retired elementary school teacher, fellow board member, and member of the local a cappella group, My Divas, is the Music Director for the show.  Zoe Richardson, choreographer of last year’s highly successful Chicago and frequent “pro” performer with Dancing With the Stars and Stripes is the choreographer. 

Richardson and the Fays have been rehearsing with the cast 3 nights a week since the first week of December at the Kelseyville United Methodist Church and also at the Upper Lake Middle School.  “Working with young people is a particular pleasure. Keeping them focused is a particular challenge. But this group of talent is well centered and enthusiastic. My wife and I love working with them and they keep us young.”

You can enjoy Alice in Pantoland January 28 through March 9 at the Upper Lake Middle School Theater at 725 Old Lucerne Rd, Upper Lake, CA 95485.  Shows are Fridays at 7pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm.  Seating is reserved so get your tickets now.  Tickets are $18 plus a small service charge and are available at LCTC.US.  There will be Alice themed refreshments for sale during the show including tea, hot chocolate, and English style munchies.

Bring your sense of humor and come prepared to participate.  Immature audiences only! Parental discretion discouraged!

Driving Miss Daisy Auditions

Driving Miss Daisy is set in the author Alfred Uhry’s hometown of Atlanta. The play spans a quarter of a century, from 1948 to 1973, and takes place before, during, and after the civil rights movement. The plot centers on the personal and social conflicts of its two strong-willed main characters, an elderly Jewish widow named Miss Daisy Werthan, and her African American driver, Hoke Colburn. Both are outsiders: Daisy because she is Jewish and Hoke because of the color of his skin.

Auditions for Driving Miss Daisy will be held at the Kelseyville United Methodist Church at 3810 Main St, Kelseyville on Thursday, February 20th at 6 pm & Saturday, February 22nd at 1 pm.  Auditioners should prepare by studying the sides. There are two for each character.  Sides do not have to be memorized.  There are three characters to audition for:  DAISY WERTHAN, a widow (age 72-97); HOKE COLEBURN, her chauffeur (age 60-85); and BOOLIE WERTHAN, her son (age 40-65).

Rehearsals begin the first week in March in Lakeport. Performances are May 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, and 24 in Lower Lake.  Access Audition Sides at LCTC.us.  The show will be presented by the Lake County Theatre Company at the Weaver Theatre in the Lower Lake School House Museum at 16435 Main Street, Lower Lake, CA 95457.

Registration for Annie

It’s not too late to register your child for Annie.  Some adult roles are also still open.  Rehearsals start February 28th.  The show will be presented at the Soper Reese Theatre May 29 through the 31.   Registration forms can be downloaded at the Center Stage Kids Children’s Theatre website.  Complete forms can be mailed or emailed.  For more information or to download a registration form go to www.centerstagekidsca.com. 

Charise Reynolds

CHARISE REYNOLDS HAS OVER 30 YEARS EXPERIENCE PERFORMING IN MUSICAL THEATER IN SAN DIEGO, LOS ANGELES, AND LAKE COUNTY. SHE’S A FORMER BOARD MEMBER OF THE LAKE COUNTY THEATRE COMPANY AND MOST RECENTLY HAS TURNED HER ENDEAVORS TOWARD PRODUCING. SHE IS CURRENTLY WORKING ON HER ONE-WOMAN SHOW TITLED “LOVE, LOSS, AND LESSONS LEARNED” SET TO BE PERFORMED IN JANUARY 2022.

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