The Virgin Valley Theatre Group opened their 13th the crowds in the audience opening weekend.
The season began with the board members, painstakingly choosing to produce only three plays this year rather than the customary four and then these same board members carefully chose which three plays to produce.
What plays would have the biggest impact and draw on the Mesquite audience was the number one concern for the little theatre group who had just blossomed in their last season drawing sold out crowds for the first time in their 12 year history.The three chosen were a comedy called Nana’s Naughty Knickers, a Pulitzer Prize winning drama titled All My Sons and of course the audience favorite, a musical. This year they’ve chosen Zombies from the Beyond.
With the season set the marketing department went to work aggressively marketing their new season. No more were the days when a poster in a store window would be enough advertising. Group members were tired of hearing the question, “There’s a theatre in Mesquite?” The VVTG marketing committee set out to answer that question with a great big, “ YES there is a wonderful little theatre in Mesquite!” and sent direct mailers to every single home in the 89027, -24 and -34 zip codes on a purple post card that would catch the resident’s attention which contained the 2014-15 season’s schedule and season ticket information.
When it came time to cast the first show, Nana’s Naughty Knickers, there was an outpouring of actors brand new to the group as well as those who have been with the group for several seasons. All were very capable and talented enough to be cast but VVTG Artistic Director and Nana’s Director, Glen Bjornson, wasn’t going to rely on talent alone to put this show together.
Bjornson, a career Psychologist, knew this show and its characters, was all about relationships and carefully chose his cast accordingly. Bjornson said, “I chose a cast that had chemistry or folks that I knew could and would develop those relationships together.” The characters are all very familiar with one another, they’ve known each other for many years and in cases where they haven’t, there’s that love interest and there had to be chemistry between each of them is how Bjornson explained some of the reason behind his choices of cast members.
Once the show was cast, rehearsals and set construction began. Bjornson said he had some difficulty determining how to make some of the set parts move as they should so he contacted the playwright and the Artistic Director of the Rainbow Theatre where the show was originally produced for some advice and kept in touch with the writer thanking her for her help and letting her know how much the cast had enjoyed getting ready for the performances.
DiSavino, the playwright, actually sent an email opening night to Bjornson wishing the cast well in their performances and asked that the VVTG send her any pictures of the production. The email read:
Break a leg tonight, Glen!
“The set looks beautiful and I’m sending your cast and crew all my very best wishes! It’s a little too far for me to be able to drive out and see your production, but I would love to see any photos you take of the performances and please keep me updated. Talk soon!”
As the lights went up on the stage opening night of their 2014 season, the director, the cast and the crew were as ready as they’d ever be to wow the audience and wow the audience they did just as the sheer size of the opening night audience in turn wowed the cast, especially those who had been with the theatre for some time.
The seats were full, over a hundred tickets were sold to the opening night performance, three times the audience the VVTG had been used to in the past and the season ticket sales soared from a mere 15 season ticket holders last season to over 100 this season.
Nana’s director Bjornson mentioned in his director’s statement, “There’s nothing deep to this piece, it’s just a frivolous romp… Still, there comes a time for just having a little fun, and that’s what we’re doing here: having a little fun. “Nana’s…” has been a joy to put together, and though we’ve all worked very hard in doing so, we’ve also had a lot of fun. But the “real fun” starts when we get an audience – when we hear your laughter and applause. That’s when the fun becomes contagious, and that’s what this kind of play is all about: having fun together with you, our audience. We invite you to join us in the experience and, in the words of the old children’s song, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!!!”
With these words and thoughts fresh in their heads the lights went up and Nana’s was a hit with the opening weekend audiences.
With all the confidence in the world the cast is now ready once again to wow the audience for the next 5 performances. Don’t miss Nana’s Naughty Knickers at the Mesquite Community Theatre October 24, 25, 31 or Nov 1 at 7 p.m. or check out the Sunday Matinee at 2 p.m. on October 26. Either time you choose come on down become an audience member and join the cast and crew of Nana’s in having a little fun.