Virgin Valley Theatre Group has been holding the Actor’s Workshop since the beginning of May. The workshops are focused on an original musical show called Fly Willie written by award-winning director/choreographer Dan Nielsen.
The workshops have drawn a number of theatre members but not many have stuck with the program. Some of the workshop members who have been with the program from the start believe that the choreography has frightened many of the group’s members away from the workshops but they don’t understand why. VVTG member, Patty Amore said, “The workshop is perfect for the many actors who love to work in the musicals; musicals always have choreography and these workshops are perfect for getting in shape to do that. These workshops are always a great way to stay in shape and to expand anyone’s performance skills. I just don’t understand why more people aren’t here having fun with us.”
Nielsen says his workshops are presently focusing on the choreography because he really hasn’t had enough characters on a consistent basis to work on the script or the background scenes. He feels that his workshops, given a chance, will give the VVTG actor’s a real all around “Entertainer” experience and this overall experience is key to help them expand their talents as actors and he’s excited to share his wealth of knowledge with the all of the group’s members.
Nielsen has won awards for his choreography and direction in Branson, MO for a show called Country Tonight which continues to win awards for Best Country Music Show of the Year, Best Live Country Show in America and Best Show in the Smokies just to name just a few by groups such as North American Country Music Associations International, Readers Choice and Country Music of America International. Country Tonight has continued to win Best Country Show of the Year since 1997.
Nielsen has a long list of credits to his name beginning with becoming a Mousekeeter with Disney Studios in the New Mickey Mouse Club when he was a child in the 70’s, until he took a break from the entertainment industry to become a State of Nevada Police Officer in 2005.
During Nielsen’s career as a police officer he toyed with writing Fly Willie but never really tried to develop it seriously until a life threatening motorcycle accident put him out of commission for nearly a year.
During his rehabilitation Nielsen picked his script up once again and this time he took things seriously. He worked to develop a show that was family friendly and a comedy that would make everybody feel good. He wants his audience both young and old to leave the show with sore sides because they’ve laughed from beginning to end. Nielsen says he wants a show that has everything; not just a play, not just a Vegas Review type of show. “Fly Willie is a musical play which involves a lot of physical comedy which of course has to be choreographed. Not all the show is music, not all of it is dialogue either, there are layers when sometimes you’ll have Willie Gambini, the main character, talking in the present, remembering his younger self while his younger self is actually upstage acting out what Willie is remembering.”
Fly Willie is the story of Willie Gambini, who’s family is “The Family” and he wants to break away from that life to become an actor. Willie is not a great actor but meets his wife Mary during his failing career. Willie is still financially dependent on his family because of his failure but he’s still a dreamer and he has high hopes.
Willie’s wife Mary inherits a farm in Pickensquaga, USA but poor Willie is an even worse as a farmer than he is an actor. He is constantly daydreaming while completing his chores and the farm animals take on the role of his characters.
After Willie decides he isn’t ever going to be a successful farmer and a plane crashes into his barn he gets the notion to turn his farm into an airport and the fun and laughs really begin.
Nielsen sought a venue for developing his show and felt he hit the jackpot when former Splash Cast mate and friend Gino Venezia brought Nielsen to the show Murder Inn which was presented by the Virgin Valley Theatre Group.
Nielsen commented that he saw a charming theatre, perfect for his venue, and a theatre group with talented actors who were enthusiastic about their art…he knew he’d found the people he wanted to work with. Although he’s familiar with Las Vegas, it’s not the intimate venue he’s looking for, the Mesquite Community Theatre and the Virgin Valley Theatre Group are great for getting a small show off the ground and the audience in Mesquite will be the perfect critics.
The workshops have moved into the actual theatre space rather than the cramped but adequate Green Room and the workshop members can’t be more thrilled with the feel of the stage. Member Roberta Brocious commented, “It brings things much closer to the feel of actually performing and we can more accurately judge our dance steps. It’s a whole different experience, being on stage, and it’s exciting!
The workshops will continue from July 21 through August 25 with the hopes of fully casting the show in the fall and performing in May of 2015, not as a part of their regular season but as a special performance presented by the VVTG.
More information on the Virgin Valley Theatre Group’s Fly Willie workshops can be obtained by contacting the VVTG through their email firstname.lastname@example.org or Teri Nehrenz at 702-533-9577.