The 2017 Elly Awards

Named in honor of Eleanor McClatchy — late publisher of The Sacramento Bee and renowned arts lover — the Elly Awards are the Sacramento area equivalent to the Tony Awards. The Elly Awards recognize all aspects of theatrical production, from the actors on the stage to the designers and technicians behind the scenes.

SARTA is an alliance of non-professional, community-level theaters, artists, technicians and administrators who foster and promote high-quality theater in the Sacramento region, according to its website. It keeps community theater calendars, sends out audition and performance notices, and recognizes theatrical excellence with the annual Elly Awards Ceremony.

The productions receiving the most Elly Awards were:
Peter and the Starcatcher – Green Valley Theatre Company (8)
Lizzie: The Musical – The Actor’s Playpen (4)
Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allen Poe – Green Valley Theatre Company (4)
The Wizard of Oz – Roseville Theatre Arts Academy (3)
Zoo Story – Quest Theaterworks (2)
The Good Body – Quest Theaterworks (2)
It’s A Wonderful Life – William Jessup University (2)

Elly Awards for Overall Production in individual categories in the Adult Division went to:
Peter and the Starcatcher – Green Valley Theatre Company – Comedy
Zoo Story – Quest Theaterworks – Drama
Lizzie: The Musical – The Actor’s Playpen – Musical

A full list of the 2017 Elly Award Recipients (Adult Division) can be found HERE.

A full list of the 2017 Elly Award Recipients (Youth Division) can be found HERE.

A full list of the 2017 Elly Nominees (Adult and Youth Divisions) can be found HERE.

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“A Bright New Boise” at Big Idea Theatre

One of my favorite things about Big Idea Theatre is that their production values are always top-notch. Excellent actors, beautiful sets, good lighting and sound. This leaves the audience the opportunity to really focus on the content of the work being presented.

This is very much the case with A Bright New Boise, which plays through  July 16. I’m still thinking about the arguments and implications of the play, days after seeing it, and mulling over the literary merit of this dark comedy. Continue reading ““A Bright New Boise” at Big Idea Theatre”

“The Unfortunates” at ACT

In The Unfortunates, a prisoner of war journeys through a dream world (inspired by the classic blues tune “St. James Infirmary”) where he faces a number of enemies and risks everything to save the woman he loves. The characters’ quest for salvation is marked by willingness to make music in the face of loss, and searching for love in times of desperation. It’s as life-affirming as it is dark and imaginative. Continue reading ““The Unfortunates” at ACT”

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the Crest

I have loved Big Bad Voodoo Daddy since middle school, and I went to a concert of theirs in Tahoe when I was… 14 years old? Maybe?

I so clearly recall BBVD’s superb music. How well they played together. Their fantastic stage presence and candor. How huge a crush I had on the bass player.

Nothing has changed. (Dirk, you’re as crush-worthy as ever!)

The band has been together for 22 years, still has all its original members, and is swinging like there’s no tomorrow. Continue reading “Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the Crest”

Provenance

Based on a true story.

Out of the blue, I got a message from an old friend. “Hey!” Eddie’s grinning icon appeared on my laptop’s screen. “I bought a book at the Bookery last week with your name on the inside cover. Guess what it was!”

I had no idea. I took a wild stab and guessed it was my Norton Shakespeare anthology, since Eddie and I have a shared love of theater.

“No, it’s your copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone!”

My heart skipped. My hands hovered over the keyboard as I sat stunned. How could I respond?

Of their own volition, my fingers typed out, “Awesome!”

Good. A safe response. One that wouldn’t tell him what the book’s discovery meant. Continue reading “Provenance”

The 2015 Elly Awards

Green Valley Theatre Company brought home seven awards at the 33rd Annual Elly Awards Sunday night, including the award for Overall Production of a musical for In the Heights.

Green Valley was followed closely by Big Idea Theatre, whose production of The Language Archive garnered six awards, and San Joaquin Delta College, which took home five awards for its production of Death of a Salesman.

Named in honor of Eleanor McClatchy — late publisher of The Sacramento Bee and renowned arts lover — the Elly Awards are the Sacramento area equivalent to the Tony Awards. The Elly Awards recognize all aspects of theatrical production, from the actors on the stage to the designers and technicians behind the scenes.

SARTA is an alliance of non-professional, community-level theaters, artists, technicians and administrators who foster and promote high-quality theater in the Sacramento region, according to its website. It keeps community theater calendars, sends out audition and performance notices, and recognizes theatrical excellence with the annual Elly Awards Ceremony.

The productions receiving the most Elly Awards were:
In The Heights – Green Valley Theatre Company (7)
Language Archives – Big Idea Theatre (6)
Death of a Salesman – San Joaquin Delta College (5)
Anon(ymous) – Falcon’s Eye Theatre at Folsom Lake College (3)
The Sound of Music – Stockton Civic Theatre (2)

Elly Awards for Overall Production in individual categories in the Adult Division went to:
Comedy – Language Archives – Big Idea Theatre
Drama – Death of a Salesman – San Joaquin Delta College
Musical – In the Heights – Green Valley Theatre
Original Works: Original Script – Frankenstein – Jes Gonzales – Resurrection Theatre
Original Works: Original Adaptation- Little Women – Deanne Eldridge – Free Fall

Two individuals received two Elly awards apiece – Benjamin T. Ismail for Direction and Sound Design for Language Archives and Harvey T. Jordan for Direction and Leading Male for Death of a Salesman. Both shows also won in their respective Overall Production category.

This year’s lifetime achievement awards went to Rodger McDonald and Janis Stevens. McDonald is a veteran director and actor in the Sacramento community, and recently completed his 250th production at Woodland Opera House. Stevens is been an adjunct professor at American River College, as well as an accomplished actor and director, and has touched the lives of countless numbers of students.

A full list of the 2015 Elly Award Recipients (Adult Division) can be found HERE.

A full list of the 2015 Elly Award Recipients (Youth Division) can be found HERE.

A full list of the 2015 Elly Nominees (Adult and Youth Divisions) can be found HERE.

Icy fresh

Icy fresh

Fruit Basket sorbetto, Devine Gelataria
By  

Summer demands delicious seasonal refreshment—the colder the better. Devine Gelateria’s Fruit Basket sorbetto is made from fruit in the prime of its season, and the recipe regularly changes to highlight whatever is fresh and delicious. On a recent day, the Fruit Basket boasted lots of pineapple, bunches of raspberries and blackberries, a bit of banana and a hint of rum. Sweet, tart, just a bit boozy and fantastically cold on a sweltering day. Trade in your expensive morning coffee for this treat—a small will run you $4.75. 1221 19th Street, www.devinegelateria.com.

Find the original article HERE.

Ashley Rastad, Dive Bar Mermaid

Ashley Rastad, Dive Bar mermaid

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PHOTO BY KEVIN CORTOPASSI
If you’ve gotten a drink at Dive Bar, you’re likely aware of a fishy presence in the water tank above the bar. Something that looks human, but less dry, and also with a scaly tail instead of legs. On some nights, that mystical mermaid just might be Ashley Rastad, children’s entertainer and new addition to Dive Bar’s roster of mermaids. The job is just part of her plan for growing up: “When I was a kid, I wanted to be everything when I grew up. A firefighter. A fairy. A mermaid. All at the same time.” She graciously helped us understand how that tail feels, what it’s like to swim for a living and whether she can actually see you watching her inside that tank.

 

How do you go about performing up there?

You have to move really slow-motion to articulate. It’s a very different kind of stage. It’s underwater, your audience isn’t particularly—well, I mean, there’s so much going on in the bar. … So it’s better to slow all the actions down so that everyone can sort of catch up with what you’re doing. It’s difficult, but it makes the swims go by much faster if I move in slow-motion, which I think is interesting.

Did it take a lot of training?

It takes about four to six weeks. They want to make sure that you’re comfortable in the tank. You do training in the water, usually once or twice a week. The bar opens at 4 p.m., so we’re usually in there swimming at, like, 9 a.m.

Tell me about the tail.

It’s amazing. They are manufactured by this company called Mertailor out of Florida. The type of tail that we use is—I want tosay it’s partial silicone. It’s on a neoprene backing so it’s a little bit warmer. It’s got really awesome, intricate scaling and a beautiful paint job. … They weigh about 35 pounds or so. They’re fairly hefty. And they’re a tight squeeze.

Do you have your own tail, or do you have to share?

Sometimes, we have to share. … It kind of depends on your size. And how tall you are. Right now I have a tail that I don’t share with anyone else. It’s named Falkor [after the dragon from The Neverending Story]. They all have names.

What’s Falkor like?

It’s sort of like a frosty white-pinkish-purple. Sort of like Falkor’s colors. Every time I put it on, I go, “I’m a luckdragon.”

Do you have nonaquatic passions?

I’ve started doing a little bit of canvas painting. I write a little bit. Eventually, though, I will be a farmer. I mean a self-sustained organic homestead type of farmer. That’s what I really want to do.

OK, back to the tank. How do you get in there?

We have direct access to the tank right there [in the dressing room]. So we suit up and get right in. … Downstairs, they have a really great, big, fancy armchair on rollers with a handle attached to the back so someone can push you around.

How long do you stay in the tank?

We swim for 25 minutes out of an hour. And then, we swim again for 25 minutes out of a separate hour. … You have to have a break in between to warm up.

Warm up? How cold is it in there?

I don’t know exactly. They definitely cater to the fish, not to the mermaids, and the fish are much happier in cooler water.

Gotta be good to the fish.

They are curious, and super-used-to having mermaids in the tank. They get out of your way, and we take care not to touch them. Or mess with them. Or flap them. Or poke them. Or anything. We don’t want to hurt them at all. It’s sort of like we’re visiting their house every time we swim.

How long can you hold your breath?

I don’t know. We don’t time ourselves. But I can hold it longer and longer the more I practice.

How’s the people-watching in there?

I can definitely make out when people are doing a Snapchat or a photo—anything with an electronic light. I’ve had friends bring glow sticks so I can pick out where the glow sticks are and stuff. … I wear contact lenses, so I actually can’t see super-well in the tank anyways.

Do you get recognized outside the tank?

Yeah. Last night, I went downstairs really quick, and it was probably really easy to recognize me since I was the only one in the bar with sopping wet hair and a shiny bra on. I got a couple high-fives.

Would you trade your voice for legs?

No.

Sweet, savory, seasonal

Sweet, savory, seasonal

Prosciutto and watermelon pizza, Paesanos
Meat and melon on a pizza? I wasn’t so sure about it going in, but I’ve seen the light. Paesanos’ delicious seasonal pizza ($13.95) has just the right balance of sweet and savory on top of a tasty crust. The pizza is generously covered with mozzarella and feta, and then prosciutto and watermelon. It’s topped with a balsamic glaze and fresh basil. While it’s large enough to split, leftovers make a great lunch the next day if you don’t feel like sharing. 1806 Capitol Avenue, www.paesanos.biz.
Find the original article on SN&R’s website HERE.

The 2015 Elly Nominations

elly_logo_categoryTheatremakers from all over Sacramento gathered for the announcement of the 436 nominations for the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance’s Elly Awards Saturday night at the West Sacramento Community Center.

SARTA’s Elly’s are the Sacramento area equivalent of the Tony Awards, with recognition for all aspects of production from lead and supporting actor and actress to costume, lighting, sound and set design to music direction and choreography to overall production in a seven different categories. Continue reading “The 2015 Elly Nominations”