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Theatre at the Whaley House

Focus on Cultural Fabric

By Welton Jones, Chairman, SOHO Theatre Committee

In the moonlight, on the Whaley House lawn, SOHO will offer June audiences William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Many of the same people who brought you The Gift of the Magi last Christmas will be back for the full-length comedy, one of the most fantastical and beloved plays by the favorite dramatist of 19th Century America, opening June 5 and running Wednesdays through Sundays all month.

The heritage that SOHO saves isn't just bricks and mortar. Our cultural fabric needs help, too. And that's the evolving aim of your Theatre Committee which, with an all-hands push last November, restored live theatre back to the Whaley House, 133 years after Thomas Tanner and his troupe first introduced show business into frontier San Diego. Thanks to SOHO's efforts, not only the birthplace but also the birthright of San Diego theatre is being recognized and celebrated.

The Gift of the Magi, with its scene-setting prologue, was a sold-out success proving that there is a place in the city's entertainment spectrum for shows from a gentler past. The little play, with its turn-of-the-century setting and values, matched the Whaley House aura nicely. The entire experience of the tiny playhouse, with its comfortable period chairs, its miniature raked stage and its subtle lighting design by Roger Henderson, evoked the period charm for which Old Town is known.

Henderson will be back as lighting designer for A Midsummer Night's Dream and Ingrid Helton will repeat as costumer. Ron Ray, who adapted The Gift of the Magi and played the role of Narrator, will be helping me as voice coach with the preparation and staging.

Our immediate concern is making Mr. Shakespeare's masterpiece welcome. For example, we know we will need a crew of strongbacks for erecting the lighting equipment and for taking it down, too. In addition to actors and musicians, we need painters, carpenters, electricians, circus riggers, seamstresses (or seamstressors!), secretaries, go-fors, chauffeurs, dressers, pressers, cooks, bottle-washers and playwrights. We also need instrumental musicians who play period instruments, such as: fiddles, guitars, banjos, flutes and drums.

So what's next after the Dream? That's what your Theatre Committee is deciding. And we'd love to have you join us. Undoubtedly, The Gift of the Magi will show up again next holiday season, and there will probably be a special Halloween show, making respectful use of the house's well-known reputation for occult visitations. Various concerts and readings will also be scheduled throughout the year.

If you know a show we should consider, share your knowledge. If you can think of a story that belongs on our stage, write it, or let us help you find somebody to write it. For more details, or to sign up for notification of our next Theatre Committee meeting, call (619) 297-7511 and leave a message for Frank García.

Check us out, you may be amazed at how easy it is to break into theatre, and help us save some heritage too.

2002 - Volume 33, Issue 1

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

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President's Message


Executive Director Report


Coronado Railroad Receives Historic Designation

Red Roost and Red Rest Legal Campaign


Return of the West Arcade


Theatre at the Whaley House


Daniel Slosberg is Pierre Cruzatte


Living History at the Whaley House


Redevelopment & Black Historic Preservation

SOHO Arts and Crafts Weekend 2002


Old House Fair

Getting to Know Your San Diego


Iron Road of the Californias


Volunteer Profile: Ruth Martinson

Events and Education


Thank You, Jessica McGee


Efforts to Save SS Catalina Continue


Ballpark Preservation Program Update


Four Treatment Approaches for Historic Properties

Proposition 40 Passes


Thank Yous


SOHO Thanks Longtime Members


Strength in Numbers


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