It is sometimes difficult to tell the professionals from the amateurs when one attends theater productions in Pagosa Springs.
For the past 23 years, Music Boosters has produced professional quality musical theater for their audiences, utilizing the finest talent in town. Anyone who might be slightly skeptical about the quality of talent a town the size of Pagosa Springs could offer should be prepared to be amazed and bedazzled by the star quality performances in Music Boosters’ upcoming summer spectacular, “Cinderella.”
Many have wondered how it is possible for a small mountain town to have such incredibly talented people. Where do they come from? How did we get so lucky? In truth, talent is only a part of the equation. It takes a director with exceptional skill, patience, and experience to elicit the kinds of performances to which Pagosans have become accustomed. It takes a director who not only has an extraordinary vision for the overall look and feel of the play itself, but one who is also a teacher and a mentor, someone who knows how to work with amateurs and bring out their best performances. For more than ten years, Music Boosters’ director, Dale Johnson, has worked with the youngest to the oldest, helping them to discover and develop their acting skills.
Those who have worked in theater have run across those tyrannical directors whose style of directing is the shaming method — “Don’t give me excuses, just get it right!” However, when working with volunteers who include very young children, sometimes awkward — sometimes brazen teenagers, and intimidated adults, the approach must be one of kindness and careful guidance.
“It takes an extraordinary person to be able to help people utilize their imaginations, their emotions, and their human experiences and turn those people into storytellers,” says Music Boosters music director Sally Neel. “Dale knows how to do this in a way that is non-threatening. She realizes that acting requires a certain human vulnerability and that it can be a scary thing to be on stage in front of hundreds of people. Yet by the time our actors go on stage, they feel well prepared to put on the show of their lives.”
Those who attend Music Boosters productions are scarcely aware of the director. Johnson seldom makes public speeches, and reluctantly takes a bow at the end of each performance. Occasionally, she will sneak into a big dance number just to satisfy her own desire to be on stage, but her greatest joy and glory is in the amazing actors she continues to coach. She takes pride in each one, showering them with personal accolades, rejoicing in their triumphs, and encouraging them through their mistakes. As a result, there are many, many local actors, young and old, who look upon Dale Johnson as the person who introduced them to the magic of theater.
Johnson’s magic will engulf the upcoming production of “Cinderella” in the beautiful ballroom choreography, the comic “ballet” of the Fairy Godmother (played by Darcy DeGuise), the adorable little “mice” who add their voices to Cinderella’s songs, and in the enchanting romance of Cinderella and Prince Christopher. Audiences will be delighted and amazed at our local talent. And behind each one will be the hand of the director, encouraging, instructing and cheering them on.
Tickets are now on sale in the Chamber office downtown or by going to Brown Paper Tickets (www.brownpapertickets.com) for Music Boosters’ upcoming production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” opening Friday, June 29 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. The play will continue its run June 30, July 1, 5, 6 and 7.
Tickets for “Cinderella” are $15 (adults); $12 (seniors 65-plus), and $10 (students), with children age 5 and under admitted free. The 2 p.m. Sunday matinee performance on July 1 will include a special offer for children age 10 and under. Children who dress in a costume of their favorite fairytale character will get in free.