Monday, March 7, 2022

Legally Blonde, The Musical


Legally Blonde, the Musical

Opens at the Ice House Theatre

March 11, 2022

Out of the throes of the pandemic, Legally Blonde, rises like a beacon of light. Many of those involved in the show have been waiting for it to come to fruition for months. The original auditions for the show were held in the fall of 2020 for an opening in the spring of 2021. Now in the spring of 2022, it is finally happening. Excitement and enthusiasm abound!

I am probably one of the few people who has never seen the movie, and thus, I am intrigued by the delight shown by members of the cast and crew to be involved with the production. Typical comments include: “fun show”, “good for all ages”, “high energy”, and “positive experience.” What more could one hope for in an evening of entertainment?

The plot line revolves around a jilted Elle Woods. Considered “unserious” by her Harvard bound, blue-blood, boyfriend Warner, she follows him to Harvard Law School where she makes a name for herself and proves she doesn’t need him to be a worthwhile person.

Elle’s growth during the story is a character arc treasured by her portrayer Becca Coffey-Godfrey. “She is a positive person, who sets out to win back her man and prove herself. Her first act finale So Much Better is a pivotal point when she realizes she is good enough. At the end of the song, she is in a good place.”

Coffey-Godfrey loves the big dance numbers choreographed by Kaylee Hernandez. “They are intense and I love getting to dance. What You Want and Bend and Snap are just a couple of the fun ones.”

Warner is a role that Huston Hoellwarth relishes although he came to the role through a rather unusual route. Hoellwarth’s day job is owning a pest control company, despite his interest in anything to do with the arts. One day while talking to a customer, she asked if he might be interested in auditioning for the show. He went home, watched the movie, and thought that Warner was the role for him. He claims that Serious, the number when he breaks up with Elle, is a fun one, “I love playing the villain.”

Jason Bionda, cast as Emmett, is a very busy young man. In addition to his role in Legally Blonde, he is in Fresno State’s production of Rent, which opens in May. Bionda is excited for Legally Blonde to finally open. He has been involved with the production since the initial auditions in the fall of 2020.  In the meantime, he was in the Players’ production of Bright Lights of Broadway, in which he had a number of roles, most notably “Ursula.”

The cast lauds Kelly Ventura as a collaborative, creative director, and he returns the compliments. “I love it when a cast comes together to work on a scene or solve a problem. And that collaboration happens almost every night during rehearsals. It’s great.”

Legally Blonde requires a large cast and crew and provides opportunities for over 25 individuals, both veteran actors and technicians as well as new comers to enjoy the comradery of community theatre. It is heartwarming to hear those involved with the production talk about the fun they are having and the closeness they feel to other cast and crew members.

The purpose of the Visalia Players is, of course, to bring entertainment to our community; the audience is our financial life-blood. However, beyond that, a community theatre is a place where people work and play together. The Visalia Players have been that organization almost 65 years. 

Legally Blonde opens at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 11 and runs for five weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 3/11, 3/12, 3/18, 3/19, 3/25, 3/26, 4/1, 4/2, 4/8, and 4/9, and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 3/13, 3/20, 3/27, 4/3, and 4/10.

To purchase tickets, visit our website at, visit our Facebook page “Visalia Community Players”, or call 559-734-3900.

If you have managed to read this far, you are entitled to a reward! To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter BLGLBL in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website Ticketing information page, or mention the code when calling our reservation line 559-734-3900, or purchasing your tickets at the theatre.




Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Murder at the Ice House Theater - Murder Mystery on January 15th

A One Night Fundraiser

January 15, 2022

NOTE:  While there will be no two-for-one tickets available for Murder at the Ice House Theatre because it is a fundraiser, it appears that at least a few people read to the end of my submission for Hot Flashes. According to the reports in Arts People, 30 tickets were purchased using the two-for-one option. That’s GREAT!  Continue to follow our blog because there will be other two-for-one opportunities in the future.

Now to the business at hand:  our murder mystery night written, directed, and produced by Visalia Players President Jen Masters. Kudos to Jen for taking on such an awesome task! 

Why a participative murder mystery? Because the genre has been entertaining folks since the early 1800’s and never fails to please! The evening can be a new experience for those who don’t normally “participate” when they go to the theatre, and can get the brain cells of all involved activated. 

Have you ever watched a murder mystery movie, TV show, or play where you didn’t try to figure out “who done it?” Now, you have the opportunity to put your intuition to work and make your guesses known.

Not only that, but you have the option to “dress up” as well! Murder at the Ice House Theatre is set in the 1920s, and all participants are encouraged to dress in attire from the period. Thinking zoot suit and flapper may help set the era for you, but if not. Here are some ideas:

Opportunities for rental and purchase abound on the Internet. Googling “costume rentals” and “1920s fashion” will more than get you started. What could be more fun that getting to pretend that you are a part of the flapper era with its speakeasies and passwords for entering forbidden haunts? 

Period attire is not required, but you might at least wear a head band with a feather!  

Now to the plot: A group of actors needing a permanent home decide to renovate an abandoned Ice House in to a theatrical venue. Does this sound familiar? OK, ignoring that, what comes next?

The theatre complete, the thespians pick an opening production to celebrate their hard work and accomplishment. Just as the curtain is going up, a horrifying discovery is made! One of the leading actors has been murdered! The “show must go on”, but it cannot go on without the murder being solved. Your help is needed. Clues abound, but nothing concrete has been revealed.

How the evening will proceed: Hors d’oeuvres will be available from 6:30 p.m. Libations of your choice will be for sale as a start. You will greet your fellow participants, admire their attire, and muse about what participative, interactive, improv theatre will be like. By the way, the number of participants will be capped at 80 so you’ll want to make your reservations early.

At 7:30, Jen Masters will welcome everyone, explain what has happened, and provide the rules for participating in solving the murder. You will then be ushered into the auditorium where the remainder of the action will occur. 

The seating area and the stage will be available for investigation by participants, but the backstage area will be off limits. The members of the cast and crew of the stalled production will provide clues, but they are at a loss as to who could have perpetrated such a dastardly deed. YOUR insights will be critical to the successful resolution of the evening.

Oh, yes, there will be a prize for the chief investigator who solves the mystery. Will that be you?

All tickets for the evening of participative entertainment will be $30 and the proceeds will go toward our upcoming ADA improvements. So . . . 



Saturday, October 30, 2021

Hot Flashes! By Nancy Holley


Note: Writing a blog is a new adventure for me. So . . . I’m going to begin by writing an article about the Visalia Players upcoming production just as I would if I were writing for an on-line magazine. We will see if that “works” to promote our community theatre productions as intended!

Here goes:

Following on the heels of the Visalia Players successful fund raiser, A Night in Vegas, and the very popular cabaret, Copper Creek, is the hilarious musical Hot Flashes. Ageless in popularity, Hot Flashes focuses on the age-related condition of menopause in a very comical and entertaining fashion.

Hot Flashes was originally produced by the Visalia Players in 2010, directed by Gary Benjamin and Sylvia Tejerian Garoian. Reprise Director Susan Mathews emphasizes the debt she owes to Benjamin and Garoian for their creativity and success. “I decided to direct the show due to its original success. Mathews notes that coming out of the COVID pandemic, our communityneeds entertainment and joy.

Mathews also credits Benjamin and Garoian with many of the ideas that shape and form the characters. The play’s authors provided flexibility for directors in determining the number of women to cast in the show. Benjamin and Garoian decided to use four women to depict the challenging and comical adventures of an all-women band as they age from 40-70. Mathews has followed suit.

Musical Director Marguerite Crownover has used her considerable talent to increase the vocal harmonies in the many familiar and original tunes that support the show. Please note that while the melodies of such favorites as I am Woman, Memories, and In the Mood will cause numerous audience members to reminisce, the lyrics are decidedly different and intended to amuse and delight.

Thanks to the talented women who compose the cast, the choreography of the production has been expanded. Karen Simpson (Kate), Debra Hansen (Marvella), Lori Pasion-Gonzales (Lori), and Susan Mathews (Sharon) have worked tirelessly to create a show full of movement as well as soaring melodies.

Yes, that right, Mathews has not only taken on the responsibility of directing Hot Flashes, but is also reprising her role of Sharon from the original production. This has been a particularly arduous task as the current production of Hot Flashes was initially scheduled for 2020 and had to be rescheduled due to COVID. Keeping the cast/musicians/crew intact and supplemented as necessary has been difficult.

Mathews has taken it all in stride. “I’m very fortunate to have Marguerite as my second set of eyes while I’m on stage. The cast has been very supportive and easy to direct.” Simpson was also a member of the original cast and noted the challenges of reprising her role. “I’m familiar with Kate, but the addition of harmonies and choreography have had the effect of creating a new experience. It’s a very different production.

Hansen and Pasion-Gonzales are new to the show and having a wonderful time. Hansen relishes Marvella as an aging rock and roll chick who “wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” Pasion-Gonzales has a great time with new lyrics to I am Woman, but identifies her favorite number as the Country Western, Break Up Break Down.

The supporting instrumentation includes Crownover on keyboard, Chris Haberman on bass, Susi Youngs on drums, and Sandy Manes on piano. As if being musical director and playing keyboard weren’t enough, Crownover also has a minor role as Jeannie. 

Reprising his original duties from the 2010 production, Haberman is the announcer and Father O’Weissberg, as well as a musician. Haberman expressed sadness and joy at being a part of Hot Flashes. “It’s sad because in the original show Gary was our drummer, and it’s joyful because the show is just as hilarious today as it was then. It’s just what everyone needs.”

No show is complete without a backstage crew, and Hot Flashes is no exception. Supporting the production are Brent Iden, sound design, Alyson Cook, sound technician, Keith Lindersmith, lighting design, and Jeff Smith, set design. Mathews gives credit for costume design and construction to Barbara Cooke (the designer in 2010), Mary Anne Smith, and all the cast members. “They really pitched in and helped everything come together.”

Hot Flashes opened at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia on Friday, October 29 and will run the next three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 11/5, 11/6, 11/12, 11/13, 11/19, and 11/20, and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 11/7, 11/14, and 11/21.

To purchase tickets, visit our website at, visit our Facebook page “Visalia Community Players”, or call 559-734-3900.

If you have managed to read this far, you are entitled to a reward! To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter BLGHFL in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website Ticketing information page, or mention the code when calling our reservation line 559-734-3900, or purchasing your tickets at the theatre.


Legally Blonde, The Musical

  Legally Blonde, the Musical Opens at the Ice House Theatre March 11, 2022 Out of the throes of the pandemic, Legally Blonde , rises ...