By VIRGINIA STILL
Many people will travel “up the hill” over the next few months to enjoy the snow and winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, but there is another reason to make the journey upward — Sierra Repertory Theatre.
Sierra Repertory Theatre has two locations, the East Sonora Theatre and the Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State Park offering a variety of musicals and shows to entertain residents throughout the 209. Currently showing at the Fallon House is a family favorite, “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” based on the Paramount Pictures film through Dec. 17 and “Another Night Before Christmas” at the Sonora Theatre that will have the laughter flowing through Dec. 23.
During the course of a typical year, the theatres will have over 45,000 people in attendance at their productions; people that come from the Central Valley and surrounding area. The five founders of the Sierra Rep, David and Kathryn Kahn, Doug Brennan, and Sara and Dennis Jones established the East Sonora Theatre in 1980. Originally the East Sonora location was a small tin warehouse that was transformed into a 99-seat theatre. Today, the theatre seats 202 guests. They revamped the building in the late 1980s by raising money and transforming it into a state-of-the-art theatre.
“When they first started, they were on a shoestring (budget),” explained Managing Director Becky Saunders. “The popularity allowed them to get the money to make it what it is today. It is great.”
The Fallon House is a historic building in the Columbia State Park that seats 265 people. Since the building is historic there cannot be any changes made to it. The Jones’ put in an application for the historic designation and it was approved. They contracted their first musical production in 1997 at the Fallon House site, which became a part of the Sierra Repertory Theatre.
According to Saunders, the building was a boarding house in 1857, but then burned in a fire the same year. It was rebuilt and then burned in another fire in 1859. Owen Fallon built the third building out of brick and opened the doors as the Fallon House in 1860.
“This is a rural area and people want to see things that they have a familiarity with,” stated Saunders. “The whole Sierra Rep Theatre is special because this is a rural area and you just don’t find professional theatre like we offer, in rural areas.”
“Dennis and Sara Jones had a vision and I think it even exceeded their hopes that this is a nationally known theatre company,” expressed Saunders. “To have two professional theatres in an area like this is very, very special.”
There will be a Broadway musical opening the 2018 season at the East Sonora Theatre beginning Feb. 10 and running through April 8, 2018.
“This next season we are doing three non-musicals,” said Saunders. “We try to shake it up with a variety for everybody.”
For more information on the 2018 lineup, prices, schedules, or to purchase tickets visit www.sierrarep.com or call 209-532-3120.
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
A merry and bright theatrical experience for the whole family. Two showbiz buddies put on a show to save a rustic Vermont inn and find their perfect mates in the bargain. Full of dancing, laughter and great Irving Berlin songs including “Blue Skies,” “I Love a Piano,” “How Deep is the Ocean.” Rated G
Shows at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 3 – Dec. 17 at Fallon House Theatre, Columbia
Another Night Before Christmas
Karol, a disillusioned social worker, is trudging home one cold December night when she encounters an old man sitting on a park bench. Mistaking him for homeless, Karol offers the stranger some food – a seemingly innocent gesture, until he turns up in her apartment claiming to be Santa Claus. Thanks to a malfunctioning security system, Karol finds herself trapped with “Mr. Claus” and forced to confront her feelings about Christmas once and for all in this touching musical battle between cynicism and belief. Rated PG
Shows at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 1 – Dec. 23 at East Sonora Theatre