Rocklin Community Theatre grows with guts and good neighbors
When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, April 12-18 (special performance 7:30 p.m. April 25)
Where: Finn Hall, 4090 Rocklin Road
Cost: $15 general, $12 60 and over, $10 18 and under and students
Tickets and info: www.rocklintheatre.org, (916) 740-6229
If acting is bigger than life, then Rob Hayes fits the playbill.
At 6 feet, 11 inches tall in his black platform boots, the Rocklin resident recently paraded around Finn Hall rehearsing numbers for his role as The Monster in Rocklin Community Theatre’s upcoming production of “Young Frankenstein.”
While a volunteer cast of local actors belted out “The Transylvania Mania,” Hayes confidently showed off his colossal stage presence. But the character actor was not always this wickedly inspiring. Hayes vividly remembers a gut-wrenching audition a few years back when all he wanted was a role in RCT’s “Scrooge the Musical.”
“My wife suggested I audition for a role and I was scared to death … I could not even breathe,” he remembered. “Somehow I got through it and they gave me the part of the Ghost of Jacob Marley – my first role ever.”
RCT Board Member Jill Page pegged Hayes as a natural mimic from day one and remembered when he pulled the cast out of a real nightmare before Christmas that almost stopped the show. “… It was obvious that Josh Harper, our Ghost of Christmas Present, was losing his fabulous baritone voice,” Page remembered. “We had three more shows to go … for the final three shows, Josh was on stage as the Ghost of Christmas Present, but his lines and songs were coming from Rob Hayes standing backstage with a script and a microphone – a gray ghost, draped in chains wearing his reading glasses. The scenario was actually scarier for Josh, the actor on stage lip-synching in front of a live audience! It went off without a hitch thanks to two very skilled actors.”
So grows the camaraderie and command of RCT, allowing local audiences to imagine, believe and escape into the arts. In the early 1990s ,Rocklin’s theater program, known as Showstoppers under Connie Omans, served primarily children and first invited adults to take the stage for a melodrama honoring Rocklin’s 1993 centennial celebration. In 2005, when Omans retired, Bruce and Suzi Carstens joined Page and renamed the theater program Center Stage. De-spite a budget crisis in 2009, Page and local families were able to save the program by establishing RCT as a nonprofit, not reliant on city funding.
The 2013 season has RCT in full swing with eight shows and additional theater classes. Rising ticket sales along with increased volunteer support from as far away as Sacramento and Davis have driven community partnerships.
“The city of Rocklin is proud to partner with the Rocklin Community Theatre, for we believe strongly that the arts enhance the overall quality of life, add value to the community and promote the preservation of our cultural heritage,” said City Manager Rick Horst, who signed an agreement last November granting RCT year-round primary usage of the Finnish Temperance Hall in exchange for a monthly fee and maintenance of equipment and props. “Further, it is my belief that the arts will play a significant role in the revitalization of Old Town Rocklin. But this aside, the theater is entertaining and great fun. I would encourage all to make it a family night at the Rocklin Community Theatre.”
Ryan P. Adame, deputy executive director of a nonprofit physicians membership association by day, started his work as director of “Young Frankenstein” last September and currently spends four to six hours each night leading his cast. He said RCT drives people to local restaurants, utilizes historic space and creates a culture of community.
“It’s this amazing place where lawyers, doctors, teachers, students, business owners, all walks of life, come together to make art, to have an experience together for the love of theater,” said Adame, who has been performing locally for 10 years. “It’s a training grounds for young people who want to make a career of theater, and also a sanctuary for regular people who need some balance in their lives, or just a reason to see friends and laugh.”
RCT is known for responsive audiences, top-notch acoustics and 10- to 15-piece orchestras. Volunteers embrace the attitude of “the show must go on.”
“How do you put a portable two-story house – where someone can appear in the second story window – on the stage at Finn Hall?” Page prompted. “How do you build a believable knife toss board? Longtime volunteer Dave Nilmeier has taken on these tasks. Robbie Wanamaker does our graphic designs and puts the show program together. Volunteers run the snack bar, sell tickets, paint sets, hang posters, make props and clean the bathrooms at Finn Hall during the shows. The list goes on and on!”
As Hayes mentally prepared for his monster role, he thought about upcoming costume changes.
“Oftentimes, when you come back out on stage you really don’t know if you’re put together or not,” he chuckled and noted that RCT is also changing. “More and more people, top actors in the area – they want to come here and they want to audition. It is really a theater that is gaining notoriety. Good energy and good people.”