BRAWLEY â€” The North County Coalition for the Arts (NoCCA) went platinum and celebrated 20 seasonsÂ with a colorful cast of characters, a dinner, and a jog down memory lane as past seasons of hit Broadway show tunes played before the house Saturday night at a dinner/theatre production at the Stockmenâ€™s Club in Brawley.
Ayron Moiola, a NoCCA board member, expressed her appreciation to those who came before her to build the community arts program to the excellent standards the organization enjoys — from Patricia Saracco-Lang, who first conceived of the coalition, to honoring Jack and Eunice Fleming and Steven and Janet Elmore, whose sponsorship was unwavering and generous. Ruth Williams was honored as the Artist of the Evening. Williams also donated an oil painting for the Silent Auction fundraiser.
The production of the first musical, “Kiss Me Kate,” came nearly a year after NOCCAâ€™s first executive director Saracco-Lang met Rosemarie Wood in May 1998. The two became an exceptional team that produced many memorable musicals over the years, all using local talent from the Valley.
Moiola introduced NoCCA’s new executive director, Rudy Robles, who started the main attraction, while everyone present anxiously awaited for an evening of high entertainment.
With character Mayor Shinn from “The Music Man” (played by Larry Fleming) acting as the emcee, beloved characters from 20 seasonsÂ of community plays once again donned costumes and transformed into salesman/shyster Harold Hill from “The Music Man” (played by Luke Hamby), Frank Butler (Hamby) sang “Anything you can do, I can do better” with perennial favorite Megan Strahm from “Annie Get Your Gun.”
The character of tipsy Ms. Hannigan from “Annie” (DeAnn Hilfiker) gave Mayor Shinn a run for his money before delighting the audience by singing â€œLittle Girlsâ€ from the production.
Also returning to the stage was the male quartet of Danny Walker, Johnathan Pendley, Mike Cox, and Ben Brock singing alongside Marian Paroo (Sarah Malan) from “The Music Man.”
The coalition cleverly devised a plot of a passenger train breaking down in the fictional River City from The Music Man, allowing locals to disembark as their past characters, intertwining comedy, drama, singing, and a peek into the future.
A sly, but not so subtle, clue ended the show with a reveal for the next musical as Megan Strahm, dressed very much like Belle from the musical “Beauty and the Beast”, pronounced: â€œI want adventure in a great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can bear, and for once it might be grand to have someone understand. I want so much more than they have planned.â€
â€œSara Correa is such a good writer and so creative,â€ said Rosemarie Wood of the member of NOCCA executive team. â€œWe just sat down one day, brainstormed, and we had our script for the big reveal!â€
Correa not only wrote the script, but directed the entire dinner theater production. According to Wood, she will also be directing the upcoming “Beauty and the Beast,” which will open in May of 2017.