By Abbey Snow

Virgin Valley Theatre Group Performs Musical Melodrama  

After having to postpone the production last year due to Covid, the Virgin Valley Theatre Group is currently performing their second annual Original Musical Melodrama ‘Drama at the Diner’ or  ‘How the Rebel Found His Cause.’ Members have taken up various jobs to create a unique production for all. 

Pam Sadler is the president of the Virgin Valley Theatre Group and stage manager for the current play.

“The play is a continuation of the 2019 original melodrama, ‘Trouble on the Train or How the Virgin Valley Got Its Name,’” Sadler said. “ We are now in the 1950’s and Mona’s niece Peggy Sue, proprietor of the Dry as a Bone Diner, is trying to find ways to make money to pay the back taxes on the diner before it goes on the auction block. She also has to contend with the evil Noah Count, an entertainment promoter, who wants to take the diner from her by using the local singing group. If he gives them a makeover and they sign a contract, he thinks they can make him rich. Fortunately, Johnny B. Goode, rides into town to save Peggy Sue and the diner. And of course, her zany friends and a donkey are there to help.”

Sadler said they went through an intense six weeks of rehearsals, advertising and selling tickets to prepare for the production.

“I think the audience loves the music and the romantic couplings between Peggy Sue and Johnny B.Goode and between Poppy Cox and Miles Ahead,” Sadler said. “ They also love to boo the villain.”

Drama at the Diner was previously scheduled to run last year, but was cancelled on March 13, 2020 due to Covid. The VVTG was able to put on a children’s program in June of 2021. The program consisted of two plays, ‘Jungle Book’ and ‘The Lion King.’ 

“Those were our first live plays since Covid shut the theatre down,” Sadler said. “The kids had a ball getting together like normal kids without wearing masks; this was before the delta variant sent us back into mask mode. All the parents attended and we didn’t have to social distance.” 

Joy Craig plays Poppy Cox, the downtrodden secretary to the villain, 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” on her comedic journey to fulfillment.

“I am thrilled to be back on stage here in Mesquite,” Craig said. “I have a theater degree and performed and taught theater for two high schools in California. I also directed and choreographed for The Magnificent Moorpark Melodrama and Vaudeville company in Moorpark, California.” 

Glen S. Bjornson was the Artistic Director with the VVTG from 2013-2019. He currently works with the group on a project to project basis. Previously he designed and built most of the sets  and directed most of the productions. 

“My wife and I moved to Mesquite in 2012-2013 respectively,” Bjornson said.”We’d been coming out here on vacation for years. Because of our previous involvement in theatre back in Minnesota and Wisconsin, We had seen a number of earlier shows here. We planned to get involved when we moved, and that’s just what we did. I started by directing the 2013 production of ‘The Subject was Roses’”.

Bjornson designed and built the set for the current production as well as playing the part of the villain, Noah Count. 

“It’s a great part, in which I have the opportunity to engage directly with the audience…The more “boos” the better!”Bjornson said. 

Bjornson said this has been a difficult production to get on the board with. Covid stopped them a few weeks before their previous opening, so they had to strike the set and then reconstruct it for this production. In addition, there were numerous edits to the original script and a new process of casting conducted. 

“I really think it’s a testament to how much we all believe in the value of live theatre, both for ourselves as artists and for the audiences who attend,” Bjornson said. “Special thanks to us all…the artists and audiences alike!”

Steve Mowad plays the role of Bill Foldes. 

“I had no idea how much work was involved,” Mowad said. “ This is my first time with the Virgin Valley Theater Group. When I started I felt worried and nervous, but under the guidance of Director Nancy Arnold and Musical Director Rita Hermie,  I got more comfortable and I now enjoy it.I feel a camaraderie with my fellow actors. ”  

Mowad said the stars of the play are professional and the songs are 50’s treats. The villain plays to the audience and loves when he gets booed. The Writers Nancy Arnold and Sue Kjellsen have a great sense of humor and translated that humor to the stage. The entire cast is dedicated to making this play a success and they have succeeded.

“Mesquite is my new home,” Craig said. “ I have been here a little over a year and I love it! Mesquite Community Theater is a wonderful, welcoming place to perform and I have made many new friends. I urge anyone interested in theater to get involved.”

Performances are Oct 8 & 9, 15 & 16, 22 & 23 at 7:00 p.m. Oct 10 & 17 at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased online at mctnv.com or at the Theatre Box Office one hour Prior to Performances at 150 N.Yucca, Mesquite. 

The current Set for Musical Melodrama ‘Drama at the Diner’ or  ‘How the Rebel Found His Cause.’ was designed and built by Glen  Bjornson. ( Photo by Glen Bjornson)

 

The following photos  of  the current play, ‘Drama at the Diner’ or  ‘How the Rebel Found His Cause.’ were submitted by Nancy Arnold