Buddy Holly story playing in Sonora

March 29, 2013 

He was an original nerd, but in the late 1950s the younger generation loved him. Little did he know his music would influence rock and roll for years to come.

The musical, "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" is playing at Sonora's East Theatre through April 21.

This story takes audiences on a musical journey back in time through Holly's brief life, highlighting events that produced a music legend.

From humble beginnings performing in local talent shows and on stage with a couple of friends, Holly rose to stardom in televised performances with Richie Valens and a full backup band, playing top-10 hit songs.

In this production by the Sierra Repertory Theatre, Kansas native Ralph Krumins plays Holly. Roberto Araujo, originally from Mexico City, plays Valens.

If you've ever sat on a metal folding chair at a long, rickety table for a church dinner, watching red Jell-O slowly bleeding onto your paper plate, coloring the tiny mound of scalloped potatoes on one side and a dinner roll on the other, all the while scowling as the kid next to you spills Kool-Aid on your white shirt, you'll appreciate "Church Basement Ladies."

In the basement of a small town Midwestern Lutheran church, four caring women of varying ages prepare meals for parishioners, while sharing secrets, gossip and feminine wisdom during the cultural changes of the 1960s. Never has cooking been so entertaining.

Playhouse Merced's Nancy O'Bryan, who played Patsy Cline in 2003 and 2010, stars in this production.

"Church Basement Ladies" begins April 19 and runs through May 19 at the Fallon House Theatre in the historic town of Columbia.

"Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks" is a moving comedy-drama on stage at Sonora's East Theatre from May 21 through June 23.

When a conservative minister's widow decides to take dance lessons, she never expects the brash young dance instructor who shows up at her door. More than watching two people dance the foxtrot, audiences will discover a story that focuses on the unfolding of a most unlikely friendship.

Due to language and adult subject matter, this show is rated R.

"Oklahoma!" is coming to the Fallon House stage this summer. Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved musical tale of Western rivalry will run June 28 through Aug. 18.

The Broadway play first ran 70 years ago. Sierra Rep is sure to deliver high energy and boot-stomping fun in this Pulitzer Prize-winning production.

Although the theatre company is located in a rural community, Sierra Rep is known for its high-quality productions. Sara Jones, managing director and co-founder of SRT, is proud of the progress that's been made over the past 33 years.

"We have professional actors, modern lighting and sound, creative set design, with wonderful costumes and great shows," she said.

Artistic director Scott Viets recently spent time in Los Angeles for auditions. Actors come from all over the continent.

Hundreds of season subscribers, donors and volunteers contribute to the success of this organization.

Audiences are typically impressed with the caliber of talent on the two stages. No one would guess that the first play produced by SRT was staged in a converted tin warehouse.

Yet this theater group continues "to receive top ratings for artistic and management excellence from the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts," according to the SRT website.

Special "Talk Back" conversations are held after the production every second Thursday. Audience members are welcome to stay and meet the cast, crew and director, participating in an informal time of discussion. "Talk Back" dates are listed on the website.

Performances for scheduled shows are held Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., and on Saturdays at 8 p.m. Ticket prices vary.

Visit www.sierrarep.com for more information, or call (209) 532-3120.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at composed@tds.net.

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