To borrow and tweak a line from arguably the world’s greatest playwright William Shakespeare, all the desert’s a stage these days.
From Palm Springs to Rancho Mirage, the Coachella Valley is experiencing a resurgence in community theater. A few small companies have emerged in recent years with a renewed focus on staging sophisticated, provocative and entertaining works.
Their commitment is often evidenced by a change of address or new digs.
Coyote StageWorks returns to the 400-seat Annenberg Theater to stage its fourth season starting Thanksgiving weekend, it announced last week. Coachella Valley Repertory moved into its own 75-seat venue last year at The Atrium in Rancho Mirage. And Desert Rose Productions has a capital campaign underway to establish a playhouse in Cathedral City.
Further evidence that theater is alive and well in the desert is the type of productions planned for the 2012-2013 season. Though only Desert Rose has a decidedly LGBT-focus, all recognize the diversity of valley audiences with content that’s likely to appeal to the gay audience.
Coyote StageWorks’ lineup includes a Tony Award-nominated comedy based on the real life of delusional operatic singer Florence Foster Jenkins, a 1960s musical of the popular hits that defined a generation, and a one-night-only reading of “The Women” that surely will be a memorable night for anyone who loves theater. (Tickets are available at (760) 325-4490, www.annenbergtheater.org and the box office, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs.)
Coachella Valley Repertory, which opened in its new space with “The Woolgatherers” featuring two gifted performers, will stage “Collected Stories” by Donald Marguelies in October and November, followed by Richard Alfieri’s “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” early next year, and Cormac McCarthy’s look at truth, belief and fiction in “The Sunset Limited” next March and April. (Learn more about tickets or a season subscription at (760) 296-2966 and www.cvrep.org)
Coachella Valley actors who want to get in on the act will get a chance this weekend. The nonprofit theater company Dezart Performs will have open call auditions for all actors 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club, 314 S. Cahuilla Road in Palm Springs. (For more information, contact Michael Shaw at email@example.com)
For valley residents who appreciate literary and performance art, the opportunity to see great plays of different genres is promising. The McCallum, Palm Canyon and Annenberg theaters have served the community well for years and will continue to do so with musical theater, musical acts and other shows; these additional opportunities to experience community theater won’t likely hinder them. (www.mccallumthreatre.com, www.palmcanyontheatre.org )
Many of the folks supporting the smaller companies are betting there’s room and an audience for everyone.
When told this week about the growth of community theater in the Palm Springs area, Broadway actress Betty Buckley (of “Cats,” “Sunset Boulevard” and “Gypsy” among other shows) declared it to be a “wonderful” thing with benefits for audiences.
She said, “Theater is important in every community as far as the storytelling goes — the way it inspires and connects us.”