VVTG performs a musical melodrama | Mesquite local news
By Abbey Snow
Virgin Valley Theater Group plays musical melodrama
After having to postpone production last year due to Covid, the Virgin Valley Theater Group is currently presenting their second annual original musical melodrama “Drama at the Diner” or “How the Rebel Found His Cause”. Members have held various jobs to create a unique production for all.
Pam Sadler is the President of the Virgin Valley Theater Group and the director of the current play.
â€œThe play is a continuation of the original 2019 melodrama, ‘Trouble on the Train or How the Valley of the Virgin got its name,’â€ Sadler said. â€œItâ€™s now in the 1950s and Monaâ€™s niece, Peggy Sue, owner of the Dry as a Bone Diner, is trying to find ways to make money to pay the back taxes on the restaurant before he not be auctioned. She also has to deal with the evil Noah Count, an entertainment promoter, who wants to take her dinner using the local singing group. If he gives them a makeover and they sign a contract, he thinks they can make him rich. Luckily, Johnny B. Goode heads to town to save Peggy Sue and the diner. And of course his wacky friends and a donkey are there to help.
Sadler said they had gone through six intense weeks of rehearsals, publicity and ticket sales to prepare for production.
â€œI think audiences love music and the romantic couples between Peggy Sue and Johnny B. Goode and between Poppy Cox and Miles Ahead,â€ Sadler said. “They also like to boo the bad guy.”
Drama at the Diner was previously scheduled to take place last year, but was canceled on March 13, 2020 due to Covid. The VVTG was able to set up a children’s program in June 2021. The program consisted of two plays, â€œJungle Bookâ€ and â€œThe Lion Kingâ€.
â€œThese were our first live plays since Covid closed the theater,â€ Sadler said. â€œThe kids had fun getting together like normal kids without wearing masks; that was before the delta variant sent us back to mask mode. All the parents were present and we did not have to move away socially. ”
Joy Craig plays Poppy Cox, the downtrodden secretary of villainous Noah Count in the musical melodrama “Drama at the Diner”. Poppy longs for love and respect and sings “Dream Lover” and “You Don’t Own Me” during her comedic journey to fulfillment.
â€œI am delighted to be back on stage here in Mesquite,â€ said Craig. â€œI have a theater degree and have performed and taught theater at two high schools in California. I have also directed and choreographed for The Magnificent Moorpark Melodrama and Vaudeville Company in Moorpark, California.
Glen S. Bjornson was the artistic director of VVTG from 2013 to 2019. He is currently working with the group on a project-to-project basis. Previously, he designed and built most of the sets and directed most of the productions.
â€œMy wife and I moved to Mesquite in 2012-2013 respectively,â€ said Bjornson. â€œWe had been going out here on vacation for years. Due to our previous involvement in theater in Minnesota and Wisconsin, we had seen a number of previous shows here. We had planned to get involved when we moved, and that is exactly what we did. I started by directing the 2013 production of ‘The Subject was Roses’ â€.
Bjornson designed and built the set for the current production and played the villainous role, Noah Count.
â€œIt’s a great role, in which I get the opportunity to engage directly with the audienceâ€¦ the more ‘hoots’ the better!â€ Said Bjornson.
Bjornson said it was a difficult production to fit on the board. The Covid stopped them a few weeks before their previous opening, so they had to strike the set and then reconstitute it for this production. In addition, many changes were made to the original script and a new casting process was carried out.
â€œI really think it’s a testament to how much we all believe in the value of live theater, both to ourselves as performers and to the audiences who attend,â€ said Bjornson. â€œA special thank you to all of usâ€¦ the artists and the audience!
Steve Mowad plays the role of Bill Foldes.
â€œI had no idea how much work was involved,â€ Mowad said. â€œThis is my first time with the Virgin Valley Theater Group. When I started I felt worried and nervous, but under the direction of director Nancy Arnold and music director Rita Hermie, I felt more comfortable and now I like it. I feel a camaraderie with my fellow actors. ”
Mowad said the stars of the play are professionals and the songs are 50s goodies. The villain performs in front of the audience and loves when he gets booed. Screenwriters Nancy Arnold and Sue Kjellsen have a great sense of humor and brought that humor to the stage. All of the cast are dedicated to making this piece a success and they have succeeded.
â€œMesquite is my new home,â€ Craig said. â€œI have been here for a little over a year and love it! The Mesquite Community Theater is a wonderful and welcoming place to play and I have made many new friends. I urge anyone interested in theater to get involved.
The performances will take place on October 8 and 9, 15 and 16, 22 and 23 at 7 p.m. October 10 and 17 at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at mctnv.com or at the theater box office one hour before performances at 150 N. Yucca, Mesquite.
The current set for Musical melodrama “Drama in the restaurant” or “How the rebel found his cause”. was designed and built by Glen Bjornson. (Photo by Glen Bjornson)
The following photos of the work in progress, “Drama at the restaurant” or “How the rebel found his cause”. were submitted by the Virgin Valley Theater Group.