For the Virgin Valley Theatre Group, When One Curtain Closes Another One Opens

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The Virgin Valley Theatre Group’s motto is “Setting the Stage in Mesquite” This season the VVTG has not only set the stage; they’ve set a new standard for the performing arts in Mesquite.

The VVTG closes the curtain on their final performance of the 2013-14 season this weekend and if you haven’t had the chance to see Three Murders and It’s Only Monday, you might just miss out on seeing some very talented members of the VVTG, some new, some old and all extremely funny according to Mike Brenner, VVTG board member.  Brenner has seen the show twice and couldn’t stop laughing either time.  You have two more chances, Three Murders and It’s Only Monday has two more showings, Friday and Saturday 7 p.m. at the Mesquite Community Theatre, 150 N. Yucca St.  Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students.

Susan Bennett, director of “Three Murders….”says, “I can’t stop laughing no matter how many times I’ve seen this show.  The actors are truly talented and spending time with them has been a real treat.  They’ve kept me vital and alive these past 6 weeks, I don’t know what I would have done without them.  Dale has been a special joy, he’s so nice and helpful.  He made sure I made it to rehearsal and home every night.  I just love them all and this has been a wonderful experience.”  Bennett says some people thought she couldn’t direct this show.   Bennett has extreme health issues and is almost completely confined to a wheelchair.  She says she was able to overcome and not let her disease beat her with the encouragement and help she received from these cast members.

First time VVTG actors Nancy Hewett, Kathy Bussman and Dale McAllister all agree that the experience was well worth the effort.  “We’re having a great time, this is a lot of fun.” Was the general consensus with all the actors including veterans such as Paul Benedict, Ted Ung, Chad Calmelat and Faye Bond.

Bond, who plays the character Beatrice, fell and broke her wrist in three places only days before opening the show and Patti Bjornson stepped in for the opening weekend with only two days to learn her lines and did an incredible job.  Bond came back, cast (pardon the pun) and all to finish the final 5 performances.

So when the VVTG closes the curtain on Three Murders and It’s Only Monday this weekend what will they do?  Never fear, they’ve already opened the curtain on summer workshops.

The VVTG has collaborated with Dan Nielsen, a Forty year veteran in the entertainment industry, on an original piece written by Nielsen called Fly Willie.

Fly Willie is more than a play, it’s a production complete with choreography, music and about 45 characters which the VVTG feels would be a perfect opportunity to help develop characterization, dance, physical comedy and stage presence skills.   They’ve begun a Monday night Actor’s Workshop which is open to the public and free to anyone interested in helping with this project.

With Nielsen at the helm of the workshops the participants have an award winning director with years of experience as well as the author himself to guide them through every aspect of this production.

Nielsen has a lot of ambition for this project and is still looking for participants in the workshops.  He says he would like to take this show to Branson, MO where he has won awards for his direction and choreography of the show Country Tonight.  Nielsen says he feels Branson would be a great venue for the play but don’t worry, the VVTG plans to give the Mesquite audience first dibs on seeing this original production in May of 2015.  The show won’t be part of the regular season but presented as a special event at the Mesquite Community Theatre.

Nielsen will be taking the next week off so the VVTG can present a workshop on Stage Combat.  If you’d like to increase your “fake fighting” skills you won’t want to miss this workshop which will be held at the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery Classroom on May 19 from 4:30-7 p.m.  The workshop is free to the public and will be taught by Drew Mierzejewski who is trained in stage combat and is an experienced fight captain. Drew currently performs and works with the Bristol Renaissance Faire the largest Ren Faire in the country.

With all the group’s activities and plans for the 2014-15 season in the making, the VVTG’s marketing committee has their work cut out for them.  The season isn’t completely set at this point although the group knows they will only be performing three show’s next season with the additional presentation of Fly Willie.  The show’s the VVTG board of directors has already decided on are Nana’s Naughty Knickers and All my sons; they are in the process of examining several musicals for the next season but have not yet solidified their choice.

The new marketing committee will begin their focus on social media and increasing awareness of the VVTG’s Facebook page which has a variety of interesting quotes from famous actors, trivia questions and all the information the VVTG has on auditions, past performances and anything else you would like to see thanks to the continuing efforts of VVTG Marketing committee members  Erika Marler who handles the social media and  the web sitewww.virginvalleytheatregroup.com  which is under the management of Steve Zaehringer, VVTG’s Director of Marketing.

There is no doubt that the VVTG has set a new standard for Community Theatre in Mesquite.  In sheer audience numbers, this has been undeniably the best season ever for the VVTG.  The group sold out 4 of 7 shows for their spring musical Anything Goes and the numbers for the other shows are quite impressive as well according to veteran actors who remember performing for audiences of fifteen or twenty people; this season ticket sales told a very different story.

Sarah Mulloy, board member and treasurer of the VVTG effectively gathered together over 40 members of various community organizations such as the Community Band, Mesquite Toes, Sun City Sounds, Quarter Notes, Mesquite United Methodist Church Choir member and the VVTG to volunteer ten thousand eighty hours of their collective time for this sell out, musical production.

Together the volunteers of the VVTG have clocked over 26,000 volunteer hours this season alone and are looking forward to many more hours of “Setting the Stage in Mesquite” in their 2014-15 Season.

The VVTG is always looking for dedicated actors, builders, painters, back stage help, technicians, marketing or a variety of other production work.

If you are interested joining the activities of the VVTG, volunteering or would like any other information concerning the group you can contact the VVTG at vvtheatre@gmail.com.

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