By Dee Jae Cox
In this rush to get back to normal, we find ourselves searching for familiarity. Places, people and things that feel safe and comfortable. COVID-19 has shown us that there is an abundance of good will, harmony, humanity and solidarity in our society. And, conversely, there are also examples in this critically vulnerable time of violence against women, pleas for racial justice in our streets and forces that work to divide us. Perhaps normal is being redefined. And as we seek to find the familiar, theatres across the Coachella Valley are moving forward in small increments in an effort to find their footing again. No confirmed dates yet on when the doors will open and live stage performances will resume. Social distancing is forcing theatre professionals to create new ways to present their craft and redefine normal.
Two desert theatres have noted events lined up that are well worth checking out.
Coachella Valley Repertory is venturing forward in their presentation of ‘virtual’ Theatre Thursdays. June 25th’s performance will present “Meet & Greet,” written by Stan Zimmerman (“The Golden Girls”, “Roseanne”, “Gilmore Girls”) and Christian McLaughlin (“Desperate Housewives”, “Married With Children”). “Meet & Greet” originated at The Hollywood Fringe Festival and went on to have a successful, five-month run in Los Angeles. The comic story tells the tale of a quartet of fictional Broadway/Hollywood divas vying for a sitcom pilot lead. Not surprisingly, each diva finds the presence of the other three more than a bit irritating … and more than a bit of a surprise as well, since all four women are complete opposites.
The Cast includes JUDITH CHAPMAN as Margo Jane Marsden, a Broadway diva with multiple Tony Awards. DANIELE GAITHER as Desiree White, who stole the limelight on the hit Bravo reality show, “The Real Housekeepers of Palm Beach” and quickly earned her own spin-off series, “Cray Cray For Desiree”. TERESA GANZEL as Teri Valentine, the sexy blonde bombshell who co-starred with Belinda Reid on the People’s Choice-nominated sitcom, “You Better Work”. Besides her many charities and the occasional Lifetime movie, Teri keeps busy with her multi-million dollar product line. MELISSA PETERMAN as Belinda Reid, theatrically trained at UCLA and co-starred with Teri Valentine in the hit comedy series, “You Better Work”. Now the only place she appears regularly is on TMZ and in the tabloids. BRENDAN ROBINSON is featured as the Casting Assistant, a baby shark exuding youthful enthusiasm.
This show can be watched on Thursday, June 25th at 6pm. CLICK HERE to register for this special online reading
The Palm Canyon Theatre, (PCT) will hold a 5-week theatre camp beginning Monday, June 22. Kids camp is for young artists, ages 6-17-years-old and will be held Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. This will be the 24th year that PCT will be holding its summer camp, but this year, the camp will be guided by additional health and government regulations amid the coronavirus pandemic, as the country’s economy reopens. PCT will follow detailed guidance from the California Department of Public Health.
Each week has a special theme including Western, Halloween, Princess and Super Heroes, and more. Participants will be divided into small groups to learn different components of theatre.
The camp includes instruction in acting, singing, dancing, makeup, set design, props, costuming, stage combat, improve and more. Campers will learn skills that will help prepare them for an audition or improve their self-esteem for a school presentation.
“As more businesses are opening, parents are going back to work, and they are looking for a safe, quality activity for their kids,” said Se Layne, PCT camp director. “For kids who are interested in the performing arts and even those kids who need to boost their self-confidence, our camp is a great option. It is our sincere desire to provide a fun camp experience, during these challenging times, while doing our utmost to maintain a safe and sanitary environment for both campers and staff,” said Layne.
Palm Canyon Theatre is located in the historic Frances S. Stevens School, which has several rooms to separate camp groups. PCT will follow state, county and city guidelines for running day camps, and will continue monitoring any changes in the guidance.
For more information or to register for Summer Kids Camp, call the Palm Canyon Theatre Box Office at 760-323-5123 or download the registration information online at PalmCanyonTheatre.org. Palm Canyon Theatre is located at 538 North Palm Canyon Drive, at the corner of Alejo Road and Palm Canyon Drive.
Dee Jae Cox is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director of The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project.