Stage 3 Theatre Company in downtown Sonora has been through many phases in its 23-year history, and 2017 will mark a new chapter for the community theatre company.
The building that has housed Stage 3 since 1996 — at 208 S. Green St. — has been sold, but Stage 3 will remain in its current location after a remodel. That renovation is set to begin after Stage 3’s “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits” closes Sunday.
Doug Kennedy, owner of the Bourbon Barrel next door, has partnered with Stage 3 to bring the old building into the 21st century.
With an outdoor beer and wine garden, live music and comedy shows along with a season of Stage 3 productions, the new entertainment complex aims to draw locals and tourists alike.
“The Stage 3 Theatre Company board and staff are extremely pleased that Doug Kennedy has selected our community theatre as a partner to continue to provide, throughout the year, live theatre in his newly-renovated, updated, intimate black box theatre and entertainment space,” said Connie Williams, chairwoman of Stage 3’s Board of Directors.
Stage 3’s offices, rehearsal space and scene shop will move from the front of the building to the upstairs buildings.
“We’re very excited to have an indoor scene shop in the new space — no more building sets outside in the rain or the heat,” said Stage 3’s Technical Director Hugo Martinez.
Stage 3 has planned a season of five shows that will begin in May after construction is scheduled to be complete.
“We’re thrilled to have the new space and excited about our 2017 season,” said Production Manager Rocky Rhoades. “We tried to select shows with universally recognizable names and themes. We hope to make a big splash in the new performance space.”
The current team has been in place with Kimberley Simmons as operations manager, Rhoades as production manager and Martinez as the technical director since May 2015. They have been the creative force behind the last 10 productions.
Earlier this year, Stage 3 received a total of 14 Elly Award nominations from the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance. They took home five Elly Awards, including four for the 2016 season opener, “Talk Radio.”
The 2017 season opens in May with “Educating Rita” by Willy Russell, a comedy-drama in two acts that finds Frank, an English tutor in his 50s, disillusioned, drinking and buried in his books. Along comes Rita, a forthright 26-year-old hairdresser, eager to learn. Their relationship as teacher and student ultimately gives Frank a new sense of self and Rita the knowledge she so craves.
July finds Stage 3 hitting the funny bone with “The Underpants,” written by Carl Sternheim and adapted by actor-comedian Steve Martin. “The Underpants” is a classic German play about Louise and Theo Markes, a couple whose conservative existence is shattered when Louise’s bloomers fall down in public.
September brings an engagement of “The Lady With All the Answers,” a one-woman show detailing the life of renowned advice columnist Ann Landers. For decades, Ann answered countless letters from lovelorn teens, confused couples and a multitude of others in need of advice. A warmhearted play, this show aims to leave the auidence with plenty to talk about.
“Wait Until Dark,” a suspense-thriller opens in October. A popular movie, the play is an adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher culled from the original play by Frederick Knott. In 1944 Greenwich Village, Susan Hendrix, a blind yet capable woman, is imperiled by a trio of men in her own apartment. As the climax builds, Susan discovers that her blindness just might be the key to her escape.
The holiday season finds Stage 3 bringing the tunes back with the timeless musical, “The Gifts of the Magi,” by Randy Courts and Mark St. Germain. It is Christmas, but for two young lovers, the prospects are bleak, as both are out of work and penniless. In this familiar story, their dilemma is solved when both part with their most precious possessions.
While Stage 3 has continued with its regular season lineup for 2016 there has been a lot going on behind the scenes, including relocation of the props and costume room.
“Anytime someone purchases an old historic building there will be surprises as the project takes on its new character,” Williams said. “Completing the 2016 season, being dark for at least four months for the renovation to be completed, planning the 2017 season, keeping our season ticket holders and donors informed, plus planning for moving everything out of the existing theatre space before the end of the year, combined, is the challenge.”
The Board of Directors have been instrumental in Stage 3’s move and reorganization, management said.
“There’s been a lot going on,” Rhoades said. “We’re a staff of three with Hugo Martinez and Kimberley Simmons and we could not have even considered this massive reorganization and the new space without the help of countless volunteers, interns and the Board of Directors.”
While construction goes on for the remodel and renovation, Stage 3 will not be idle. There are plans for a website redesign, an increased social media presence and special events to be held off site. The staff will also be settling into the new office and rehearsal hall space behind their current location.
The Board of Directors and Stage 3 staff are looking to the future.
“Combining Mr. Kennedy’s vision of a destination food, beverage and entertainment venue in historic downtown Sonora plus Stage 3 Theatre Company’s vision to continue to provide intimate regional theatre could not be a better partnership for the future success of this community theatre company. Stay tuned,” Williams said in a statement.
“Educating Rita” opens May 26. General admission tickets are now on sale, and season tickets are currently on sale for the 2017 season with five shows, including a bonus ticket, for $115. All evening shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and matinees begin at 2 p.m. For more info, call (209 ) 536-1778 or visit stage3.org.