Comedy, art and Gynecology; what could these things possibly have in common? The Sunshine Boys; a comedy by Neil Simon, that’s what. It’s the show that has reached outside the normal theater crowd to include the “outsiders” or those in the community who don’t know that Mesquite has a wonderful “Community Theater.”
From the time she cast the show ‘The Sunshine Boys’ and began rehearsals with some real thinkers, Glen Bjornson, Paul Benedict, John Sadler, Christopher Finnegan, Nanette Greener, Peter Pelliccio and Mike Brenner whom she’d worked with numerous times before, Director Teri Nehrenz knew the suggestions were going to come; they did and they were good.
“Community Theater” the name says it all; it’s about involving the entire community. It isn’t just about working with those who are regularly involved by either volunteering or attending performances. Community is everybody; those who already appreciate theater and those who don’t know enough about it yet to appreciate it.
Some of the suggestions Nehrenz received from her fellow cast members were ways to reach out to other members of the community; the first way involved working with local artist Floyd Johnson to develop the group’s promotional poster.
Johnson is one of Nehrenz’s favorite local artists and the suggestion from Bjornson that the poster be hand done was a good one. Johnson was the first to come to mind because he is exceptional at portrait painting despite suffering from a deteriorating retina condition which left him completely blind in his right eye and partially blind in his left.
Johnson led a flourishing art career which included owning/operating two successful art galleries in native Minneapolis, Minnesota and before that a lucrative career as a freelance Graphic Artist/Cartoonist.
Johnson regularly shows his work in the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery winning several competitions and has been chosen several times over the years as Artist of the Month; see Mesquite Local News Articles:
Nehrenz’s second idea came from a casual conversation between the cast members about people not knowing that theater exists in Mesquite. The conversation was one that had been heard many times by Nehrenz throughout her 11 years with the group.
The Sunshine Boys centers around two characters that had once been huge Vaudeville stars; one of their best known acts was the Doctor and the Tax Examiner bit.
This prompted the thought to do a commercial involving one of the local Doctors bringing yet another “outsider” into the mix.
Nehrenz had attended a seminar given by Mesa View’s new OB/GYN, Stephani Nianani M.D. during the summer and found her to be down to earth, community driven and a seemingly fun person.
Nehrenz wasn’t wrong; Dr. Nianani turned out to be quite a natural when it came to being on camera or as theater people say, “In character.” The commercial was shot on New Year’s Day and the cast and Doctor did an outstanding job. Veteran actors were amazed at the Doctors natural abilities; she fit right into the group and the others couldn’t stop talking about how good she was and how quickly they accomplished the task at hand.
You can read more about Dr. Nainani at: https://mesquitelocalnews.com/2018/10/a-practical-approach-to-patient-care/ or https://mesquitelocalnews.com/2018/02/new-ob-gyn-joins-medical-staff-mesa-view-regional-hospital/.
A third community member was included in shooting the commercial. Retired professional Ken Juber directed and held the cameras for the shoot. Juber had a long career as a professional producer/videographer/director for large corporations as well a rather varied history of game show appearances. He is no stranger to the business and Nehrenz reached out to him immediately, before the venue or Doctor agreed; Nehrenz knew that Juber would be the man for the job and he had already expressed his interest in getting involved. See MLN article: https://mesquitelocalnews.com/2018/11/a-game-show-pro/ for more information on Juber.
The poster and the commercial should be released to the public very soon, be on the lookout for both.
The Sunshine Boys opens on Jan. 18 with additional shows Jan. 19, 25, 26 Feb. 1 & 2 @ 7 p.m. and Jan. 20 & 27 at 2 p.m.; It’s a show that’s really included the community in “Community Theater. “