Giving Thanks

In praise of the North Bay theater community

It’s Christmastime, and I’m in the mood to ponder the many gifts I’ve been given this year by the exceptionally committed actors, directors and artists of the North Bay theater community.

I’m not talking about the shows I’ve experienced this year—and it’s been a strong year for local theater. I’m talking about those people who—through their art, their fierce love of theater or just by being cool, interesting people—brought something special to my year.

I can’t possibly mention everyone, but here are a few.

Let me first say thank you to Gene Abravaya, recovering from a heart attack that forced him to step away from directing Scrooge: The Musical at Spreckels Performing Arts Center. Like everything Gene does, Scrooge was a project he put his heart and soul into, which pretty much sums up Gene Abravaya. So, Gene, for all you do for local theater artists, for your undying belief and faith in the theater, thank you very much.

And thanks to David Yen, who not only stepped in to direct Scrooge following Gene’s illness, but also offered a fundraising run of his popular annual staging of Santaland Diaries after hearing that 6th Street Playhouse was forced to cancel its remaining studio shows after suffering serious financial problems.

And speaking of 6th Street, let me offer my gratitude for the example set by artistic director Craig Miller, whose amiable, upbeat grace under pressure has been admirable this year, under circumstances that would make Santa Claus cranky.

Then there’s the remarkable Elly Lichenstein, of Cinnabar Theater, who this year not only directed a truly memorable, endlessly clever production of The Marriage of Figaro at Cinnabar, but also gave a hilarious and heartfelt performance in Main Stage West’s Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike directed by Sheri Lee Miller.

And this brings me to Sheri. In addition to your many contributions to local theater this year (four shows as director and one as a lead actress), you also supported taking my one-man show Wretch Like Me to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, never letting me lose faith in the project or in myself. Thanks for coming along to Scotland with us as director, and thanks, Sheri, for all you do out of your love of theater. The same to all the other supremely talented theater artists of the North Bay Theater—you all inspire me.

Merry Christmas, and a happy new year.

David Templeton reviews theater for the ‘Bohemian.’

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the ‘Bohemian.’ We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected].

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