'Blackjack Bottom' opens today at Carson Valley Inn

"Blackjack Bottom," the latest production by the Carson Valley Community Theatre will open today for the first of five performances at the Carson Valley Inn in Minden. Tickets are still available for Saturday and the March 23 dinner shows.

Set in the 1950s, "Blackjack Bottom" is a story about a singing cowboy who leaves his Nevada hometown to seek fame and fortune in Nashville. He finds both, along with a few interesting characters and a city-girl romance.

Joel Hannel, who hosts and performs in the John Denver tribute "Dancing with the Mountains" every year at South Lake Tahoe, plays the lead, Johnny, along with Lisa Thomas, who plays Jessie. Thomas studied voice and dance with Brian and Dorothy Farnon, and was the recipient of the National Choral Award in 1983.

"They're fabulous," said Victoria Grathwohl, who plays Annie in the show and works in The Record-Courier advertising department.

Grathwohl said that even though the cast members range in experience from novice to professional, you can't tell anyone's better than anyone else.

"Everyone's great," she said. "Even those who have no experience, you wouldn't even know."

The cast consists of actors and crew who have been in other CVCT productions together, as well as newcomers. The group has been trying to get to know each other better, because it helps them to have better repoire on stage.

"We've been socializing, going to karaoke on the weekends," said Grathwohl. "It's a very close cast. It's amazing."

The Carson Valley Community Theatre made its comeback two years ago and Grathwohl hopes that after people see "Blackjack Bottom" they will want to join.

"I'm hoping that people will see the caliber of the acting and want to join, so that we can grow," said Grathwohl.

The one-act country western musical is written and directed by Tahoe-area business owner and former Carson City resident Paula Nelson, who now lives in Wildwood, Calif. The show features an original musical score, written mostly by the author.

The producers are Norris and Margaret Edson, the choreographer is Jerry Youngblood and property manager is Bil Luckey. Margarita Bryant will play the synthesizer and Marc Luperini will be on guitar.

The 12-member cast for this 14-character play includes Hannel, Thomas and Grathwohl, as well as Tina Robasciotti (Dolly), Lucille Rao (Mary), Justin Griggs (Joe and Chapman), Chanden Tolbert (Samantha), Al Mellon (Larry and Stan), Linda Diego (Trish), Jordan Griggs (Dave), Tom Cheney (Arnie) and Billy Starr (Lou).

Many of the cast is also working on crew, with: set design and construction by Norris Edson, Luckey, Dave Thomas, Paul Verdugo and Tom Cheney; scenery painters Dory Pharris and Kathy Hamill; wardrobe by Margaret Edson and the cast; publicity by Margaret Edson, Sue Smith and the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Authority; programs by Margaret Edson; makeup by the cast; stage crew Dave Thomas, John Smith, Luckey and Verdugo; rehearsal pianists Linda Sandstrom, Carolyn Lancaster and Nancy Tanabe; lights by Luckey; seamstresses Tanabe and Cee Cee Brown; and printing by Nagel Business Graphics.

The schedule includes Friday and Saturday dinner shows today and Saturday, and March 23 and 24, although as of press time the only tickets left are one seat for Saturday and 16 tickets for March 23. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. There is also a matinee on March 25, with doors opening at 1:30 p.m. and the show starting at 2 p.m. Beverage service will be available for purchase. Seating is limited and tickets may be purchased at the Carson Valley Inn Gift Shop. Tickets are $43 for the dinner shows and $13 for the matinee. For ticket availability, call the gift shop at 782-9711. For further information, e-mail clifclip@aol.com or call 782-3670.


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