The show must go on
Sutter Street opens doors to shut-down production
Mike Jimena and Connie Mockenhaupt from Folsom’s Sutter Street Theatre were looking forward to taking a week off for Thanksgiving, finding themselves with a rare break between main stage productions before the start of the theater’s annual run of “Holiday in the Hills.”
But when the husband and wife management team learned that a suddenly-closed theater had left a hard-working cast and crew without a place to perform their holiday production, they canceled vacation.
Last week, Roseville’s landmark Civic Theatre West shut its doors indefinitely due to surmounting debt in the neighborhood of $500,000. Not only were local theatre goers heartbroken, but the closure left actors and crew of “Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings” with a rehearsed show and no place to perform … and an audience eager to see the anticipated holiday rendition of the musical theater classic.
So Mockenhaupt, Jimena and the rest of the Sutter Street Theatre family lept into action, offering “Plaid Tidings” director Ryan Adame the option of performing the show in Folsom. The show opens Nov. 26 at 8 p.m.
Adame, who’s acted in several Sutter Street productions, had heard from members of the Roseville theater’s board of directors that things weren’t looking good for the company financially.
“I was aware that closing was a possibility,” he said. “I didn’t think it wold happen in the time frame it did. We’d hoped to make suggestions to the board to keep the theater alive and well. Or at least alive.”
“But when I walked into rehearsal that evening and the executive and artistic directors were standing there I thought, ‘this can’t be good … I doubt there just here to watch the show.’”
The news was grim: The theater would close immediately, shutting down “Plaid Tidings” after months of preparation. Adame and the rest of the cast headed to a local bar and grill to drown their sorrows, Adame said.
A meal and a couple of drinks in, Adame’s phone started ringing. He received offers from three different theaters to stage his play. One of them was from Mockenhaupt.
“Connie was really on it,” he said. She got contracts, royalty rights … everything we needed within 24 hours. Everybody in the community came forward with offers to help. It was a real outpouring of support.”
Jimena is Sutter Street’s managing director. He helped organize the the theater’s accommodation of an extra show by shuffling around the schedule for other productions and assisting Adame in adapting the show’s set for Sutter Street’s smaller stage.
But Jimena insists the real credit goes to his wife.
“To work that hard and then not have a show would just be heartbreaking,” Jimena said. “It was just Connie being Connie. She told me ‘at least we could let them do the show a few times.’ She called New York to arrange for the rights. We cut a check and made it happen.”
Because Sutter Street had to pay for the rights to run the show, they won’t be able to honor pre-sold tickets from the Roseville production. “But we are giving current ticket holders half price rates,” he said. “That way if you already bought a ticket, it isn’t a total loss.”
“Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings” is a new show that offers the best of “Forever Plaid” tied-up in a nifty package with a big Christmas bow on top. Filled with standards that have all been “Plaid-erized,” the boys are back to do their Christmas Special.
At first they aren’t sure why they’ve returned, but a phone call from the heavenly Rosemary Clooney lets them know that they’re needed to put a little harmony into a discordant world.
A talented cast featuring Nick Adorno, Troy Martin, Michael Fortunato and Bryon Roope all under the direction of Ryan Adame with musical direction by Eric Bellah and choreography by Christi Axelson bring to life the hapless quartet with wonderful music, dancing and comedy.
“Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings” runs Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 26 8 p.m., Nov. 27 8 p.m., and Nov. 28 at 4 p.m.) and continues on Fridays and Saturdays at 9 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. through Jan. 2 (no performance on Friday, Dec. 3). Tickets range from $15 to $23. Call (916) 353-1001 for reservations (group rates are available).
Sutter Street Theatre is located at 717 Sutter Street, Folsom. Visit them online at sutterstreettheatre.com.