Music and theater flourish in Carson Valley

While the visual arts have flourished in Carson Valley for decades, theater has only recently made a comeback. Now two area companies raise the curtain at regular performances, and an orchestra plays a full season.

Carson Valley Community Theatre

Founded in 2004, Carson Valley Community Theatre is the first theater group to be organized in the Valley for more than 15 years. This year the company opened its season with the country-western musical, "Blackjack Bottom," which played two weekends in March.

Written by former Carson City resident Paula Nelson, who now lives in Kings Beach, Calif., the story revolved around a ranch hand singer-dancer who is encouraged by his friends to enter a talent contest and win a trip to Nashville. The cast consisted of 12 actors, six men and six women, ranging from ages 20 to 70.

"CVCT's mission is to 'promote, create, design, and perform theatrical events or contests for the Carson Valley community and the general public,'" said president Linda Diego. "In addition, the education and outreach to children and the public are significant missions of the community theater."

Diego will instruct the group's newest project, a youth theater workshop in July, open to students from elementary through high school. Younger children will focus on fun theatrical exercises, while the older participants will rehearse a one-act play.

Everyone will participate in a showcase for parents, friends and the community on the final night of the workshop.

"I'm very excited about it," Diego said. "We're hoping for a good turnout."

In the past few years, the theater group has performed a range of shows. The first was "Nurseryland," featuring five children and seven adults, performed at the Genoa Renaissance Faire in July 2004. The comedy-mystery, "Moonlight Mayhem: A Show to Die For," entertained diners at Sharkey's in January 2005. "Santa's Little Helper," an original Christmas melodrama, was performed in December 2006 at the Gardnerville and Minden Christmas tree lighting events.

The biggest production so far was "The Odd Couple," one of Neil Simon's most famous comedies. "The Odd Couple," with a cast of eight adults and a full technical staff, played to enthusiastic audiences six times over two weekends at the CVIC Hall in Minden.

CVCT is always looking for new people to become a part of their organization. Auditions are open for any of CVCT's productions, and the group encourages people interested in all aspects of theater to get involved.

"All ages are welcome to join and participate," Diego said.

Carson Valley Community Theatre currently has 30 members as well as 83 nonmembers who support the organization. The original founders were Carla Wilson, Joyce Long, Shannon Hickey, Dan and Sam Goldberg and Carolyn Lancaster. The current officers include Diego, Norris and Margaret Edson, Dave Thomas, Shannon Hickey, Jim Dunn and Carolyn Lancaster. The group welcomes residents of the valley and reaches out to neighboring communities both in Nevada and California.

For more information on Carson Valley Community Theatre, call Diego at 782-5161. The company has a monthly newsletter. Email for more information.

The Dakota Organization

Teri Lynn, who founded the Dakota Organization in 2005, knows only too well the struggle to make theater a lifelong pursuit rather than a hobby. She was involved with theater in high school and in her community in Southern California, but said she had to "quit to make a living" as an adult.

Lynn was a bookkeeper for several years as well as the owner of a fishing marina with her husband in California. Once she moved to Carson Valley, Lynn found she had time on her hands and made the decision to follow her heart and become involved with theater once again.

She auditioned for local community theater productions. After a while, she decided that the Carson Valley needed a professional theater, and the Dakota Organization was born.

"It's something I've always wanted to do," she said.

The organization's mission statement reads: "[the company will] sustain and advance live performing arts, create opportunities for community participation in enriching theatrical experiences, and focus on quality and inclusion."

Dakota consists of co-presidents Lynn and Dave Anderson, as well as other local theater gurus, Rob Hearns and Dan Rosenblath. Dakota also has a dedicated backstage crew, including Roger and Margaret Long, Lisa Castillo, Rebecca Dickson, Rick Waltz, Linda Miner, Marie Parola, Diana Jones, Pete Lynn and Richard Brong. Experienced local theater teachers James Scoggins and Karen Chandler have been very supportive of the organization, according to Lynn. The organization is tight-knit as of now, but it has hopes to expand in the future.

"We're starting off slow and working our way up," said Anderson. An airline pilot by trade, Anderson said he comes from "a very theatrical family." While off work for six years, Anderson had extra time and signed up for a theater class at Western Nevada Community College, where he met Lynn. After helping out with a WNCC show that included his daughter, Rachel, he was hooked on theater. Sixteen plays later, he found himself helping to start the Dakota Organization.

"I just love it," he said. "There's no financial reward, but making money doesn't necessarily lead to a fulfilled life. The creative rewards from theater are much more fulfilling."

Members come from many backgrounds, some with professional experience and some who have never been on a stage-but they all are dedicated to the expansion of local theater. Because it is a non-profit group, the Dakota Organization is always exploring ways to raise money for productions and has received donations from investors.

"People have been very generous," Lynn said.

However, Dakota donates a portion of their proceeds to charities. The organization is allied with Wendy Knorr, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association, and all of the proceeds of the December 2006 production went to that group.

Dakota had a busy 2006, putting on three full-length productions, "Same Time, Next Year," by Bernard Slade; "Lips Together, Teeth Apart," by Terrence McNally; and a variety show. All of the productions were performed at the CVIC Hall in downtown Minden.

Auditions took place in January for the first show of the 2007 season, "Rabbit Hole," by David Lindsay-Abaire. Other productions planned for this year are "Sylvia" by A.R. Gurney, scheduled for July, and "The Nerd" by Larry Shue, set to run in November. Visit for season ticket information.

Carson Valley Pops Orchestra

The Carson Valley Pops Orchestra is almost synonymous with the Carson Valley itself. At most community events or for holidays, the Carson Valley Pops provides entertainment beloved by all ages. Most everyone knows about the group, but not many know its history.

Carson Valley Pops was born in 1999, when conductor Danny Yale decided that the area needed its own orchestra. Danny began playing the violin at age 8 and attended the High School for Performing Arts at 13. He majored in music education at New York University and was assistant conductor of the college symphony orchestra while obtaining his degree. Danny remained in New York for several years working as a musician and participating in such productions as "Violins Over Broadway."

Danny has played in the major cities across the country. In the mid-1970s he settled in the San Francisco Bay area and for 13 years played for Broadway musicals at the Curran Theatre. He played another 13 years at the Hyatt Regency Hotel with his own seven-piece orchestra, the Regency Strings. The orchestra consisted of four violins, a piano, a bass and a harp.

When he and his wife, Cecilia, moved to Minden, he found a friendly atmosphere and a welcoming audience at the Silver Legacy Hotel in Reno, where he continues to play alongside his wife.

Cecilia also has a long history in music. She grew up in El Cerrito, Calif., and began studying violin at age 7 under none other than Danny himself. When he moved, she was left without an instructor and discontinued the violin. At 12, she picked up the banjo and began performing with her mother, Georgette Twain. They often appeared on television. At 20, Cecilia returned to violin lessons and earned a bachelor of arts degree in music at California State University in Hayward, Calif.

Cecilia joined the Regency Strings and eventually married Danny. Aside from being concertmaster for the Carson Valley Pops, Cecilia also performs for Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company productions.

The Carson Valley orchestra consists of more than 40 local players, some who are experienced musicians and others who had never touched an instrument until they joined the group. Some are in their late teens while others have reached senior-citizen status.

In 2006, the orchestra played five free shows, one at the Town of Minden's centennial celebration. Other performance themes have been "From Tales of Vienna to Tango Argentina" and "From Mozart to Broadway." The orchestra also performed "A Musical Christmas" twice in December.

The orchestra has four shows scheduled for 2007. The first one was set in late March and called "Swing into Spring!" The Pops Orchestra usually holds the concerts in the CVIC Hall, but during the spring and summer the orchestra performs in Minden Park or at other community events.

Carson Valley Pops Orchestra is a volunteer organization and welcomes nonperforming members as well as musicians. Volunteers serve refreshments at concerts, create and distribute flyers, and maintain the website. Tony Navarro serves as president of the board of directors, with Tony Chieffo as vice president, Lydie Doak, treasurer, Paula Crout, recording secretary, and Annie Navarro, corresponding secretary and publicity organizer. Stephen and Ruth Jaenchen and Fran Law are members of the board of directors, as are Danny and Cecilia Yale.

The orchestra rehearses Mondays at 7 p.m. in the CVIC Hall. Violin, viola and cello players are all welcome. Call Annie Navarro at 267-9363 or visit for information about concerts or to make tax-deductible donations.


Copeland building

The rusted, water-stained metal shell of the Copeland building doesn't exactly exude artistic promise, but several groups in Carson Valley hope some day to transform it into a performing arts center.

Although the building was built in 1970, the land it stands on functioned as a lumber yard dating back to 1908. The yard was established by the LeClaire family and was one of Minden's first businesses. Located on First Street and Highway 395, the site is known as the "gateway to historic Minden," and according to the Carson Valley Arts Council, it will serve as the "perfect anchor to the downtown district."

Sketches of the proposed arts center on the Carson Valley Arts Council's Web site are enough to make even the biggest of skeptics excited. The arts council hosted a free concert in December 2006 at the CVIC hall, where folk singer-songwriter Edie Carey performed. The concert featured a display of the sketches, which depict how the 17,900-square-foot building can be turned into a fully functional performance facility. Free concerts took place once a month through April.

The theater groups in the area are thrilled with the project. Valley dance studios and middle and high school theater groups also will be able to use the facility.

"It's something that the people in the Valley would love," said Teri Lynn, president of the Dakota Organization. "It would revitalize downtown and bring a lot to the community."

Linda Diego, president of Carson Valley Community Theatre, agrees.

"CVCT is fully supporting the efforts of Carson Valley Arts Council in their endeavor of reviving the Copeland building," she said.

The Carson Valley Arts Council meets the second Thursday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the Douglas County Parks and Recreation Annex across from Lampe Park in Gardnerville. Volunteers are always needed and donations welcome.

Carson Valley Arts Council also has a mailing list that keeps subscribers updated on all Valley art events, as well as updates about the Copeland project. Visit or call 267-2850 for more information.


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