Guy Farmer: The show must go on

Guy Farmer

Guy Farmer

"The show must go on." Longtime Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company Producer/Director Stephanie Arrigotti and her production team lived that old show business slogan earlier this month when they presented "Once Upon a Mattress" at the Community Center despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. How did they do that?
"I wasn't sure this production ('Mattress') would be able to complete its run until the final curtain fell last Sunday," Arrigotti – let's call her Stephanie – told me in an email interview. That was a new level of stress for a producer who has been staging popular musicals at the Community Center for more than 30 years.
Here's what happened: On Nov. 1, five days before "Mattress" was scheduled to open, Stephanie's leading lady, Darby Beckwith, tested positive for COVID-19. "Not only was the show left without a leading lady," Stephanie said, "but there was concern about infection of the rest of the cast." Stephanie called Melanie Bratsch, who had played a leading role in "Mamma Mia" three years ago and told her that she "was born to play" the role of Winnifred in "Mattress."
"Unfortunately," Stephanie added, "she had only four days to learn the role." As Bratsch was telling Stephanie that she couldn't learn the role that quickly, our intrepid producer was online ordering costumes for her new leading lady. But wait, there's more.
Bratsch "worked as hard as a human could work," Stephanie continued, so hard in fact that she lost her voice on Nov. 3, three days before the show was scheduled to open. "And here we were with two fabulous Winnifreds, one with COVID and one mute," Stephanie lamented. But the show must go on so Stephanie recruited veteran WNMTC performer Andie Wilkerson to sing the lead role from the orchestra pit on opening night, and that's exactly what happened, much to the audience's delight.
Carson City audiences are nothing but supportive when it comes to our local theater company. Beckwith returned to sing the role of Winnifred last Saturday, when I saw the rollicking show. Everyone was happy and Stephanie survived the most serious challenge of her highly successful career. The show went on.
"We are so fortunate to have an incredible talent like Stephanie to bring amazing theater to our community," said Chamber Manager Ronni Hannaman, and I couldn't agree more because I believe that live theater is essential to a community's quality of life and cultural health.
"We strive to lift the community economically, culturally and personally," Stephanie told me. "Performing arts organizations (like WNMTC) enrich the image of our capital city and offer cultural opportunities to those who live here." Do they ever, because most of the performers in her shows are recruited from the local area.
Stephanie's loyal and talented production team includes Choreographer/Assistant Director Gina Kaskie Davis, Orchestra Director Kevin Murphy and Vocal Director Judy Monson. They work together as a team to produce lively shows that attract patrons from 20 states and Canada. Another team that contributes to our cultural quality of life is the husband/wife duo of David and Elinor Bugli, who have been promoting classical and jazz music – including the popular "Jazz and Beyond" summer music festival – in our town for more than 25 years.
I've seen many community theater productions over the years, most recently at the prestigious Carpenter Center in Long Beach, and WNMTC shows are at the top of my list. So how about presenting those high quality musicals on the Stephanie Arrigotti Stage at the Bob Boldrick Theater? She's earned it because she owns that stage.
Guy W. Farmer is proud to be a patron of the Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company.

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