Two weeks ago, Canyon Lake Community Theatre put on the multimedia show, “Musical Memories,” using a large outdoor movie screen and sound system at what has popularly been known over the years as the Indian Beach “Starlight Theater.”
For two hours, the audience re-lived 20-plus years of the theater group’s past musicals and shows. Actors and singers from the old shows sang songs from some of the productions while video highlights from the shows played behind them on the big screen.
At the end of the night, a memorial tribute was given for 10 CLCT actors, singers, benefactors and/or board members who have passed on. During the video tribute, Valerie Geason, assisted by Becky Hawkins, sang, “I know Where I’ve Been.”
This night was also a celebration of the group’s benefactors, who enjoyed a catered dinner in the park just before the show.
Melanie Otten says, “When putting together our video memories, we knew what we wanted to do. But our expertise is in acting on the stage, not film editing, so it seemed a daunting task. Suzanne Bolton then ‘offered up’ the services of her daughter, Jessica Bail (Bolton).”
Melanie says Jessica was one of the original CLCT members. Starting with “The Wizard of Oz,” she performed in more than 20 productions and worked on sets with her dad. Through CLCT, she gained not only a love of theater, but a love for all types of entertainment, including film.
As is the case with several of the young performers, Jessica turned from acting on stage to working behind the scenes. She went to film school and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Film Editing. She currently is currently working on a television show for Fox.
Melanie adds, “Jessica is one of several of our children that has gone on to work in the industry and, like Jessica, many of them credit their love of the arts to their starting point in this tiny theater group.”
Here are other comments about Canyon Lake Community Theatre and “Musical Memories.”
- Janice Myre is the surviving spouse of Ron Myre, former CLCT actor, board member, technical assistant and stage builder:
“The Myre family ‘grew up’ with Canyon Lake Community Theatre. The four of us (Janice, Ron, Daniel and Eric) participated behind the scenes as well as on the stage for many years. No job was too small and our kids learned so much about giving back, volunteering and respecting adults.
“Favorite memories include running from school to sports to theater rehearsals, with picnic dinners at Indian Beach (among the million gnats), learning lines, writing lines on my arm to help with recall, Ron taping his lines to the desktop during ‘Annie,’ rehearsing songs with the best music director, Ilene Moore, performing, forgetting lines, ad-libbing and making it all work – ah, priceless!
“I think it is the camaraderie that I will always remember. Our four added to many other families equaling one giant family. Of course, as in any family, there were moments when the ‘siblings’ in this giant family drove each other crazy; but we always loved each other and still do. When you get a bunch of artsy-fartsy folks together, there is such spirit, energy and fun! Everyone looked out for each other and for each other’s kids on and off the stage.
“Ron considered it a privilege to be a part of CLCT. He physically took that tiny piece of concrete at Indian Beach and extended it to make an actual stage. He also created many makeshift lighting and sound systems during the early years, and spent hours building, painting and creating. He lighted up the stage with character performances of Captain Hook and Daddy Warbucks, as well as many other roles.
“However, the role he was most proud of was that of being a positive role model to the youth involved in CLCT. He always gave everyone a chance and helped them develop their own personal character – themselves.”
- Coco Morrison is the surviving spouse of Steve Morrison, former CLCT actor, tech and stage builder:
“Steve and I spent 18 years with Canyon Lake Community Theatre. I loved the tribute to him and his memory (at the end of Musical Memories). He was devoted to theater with acting, building sets, and doing any and all odds and ends that needed to be done.
“His favorite roles were Otto in the show I directed, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’ and his last role of the Tin Man in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’
“As a family, we spent every summer at Indian Beach with our children. We made friends and memories that will last a lifetime. I know Steve would be honored to know that he was remembered by all and so am I. He was a dear friend to everyone. Thank you CLCT for keeping him in your hearts.”
- Jeanne Jack is a former CLCT board member and benefactor:
“I had the pleasure of meeting and having dinner with singer Valerie Geason, who sang the last song of the evening, ‘I know Where I’ve Been.’ She is a delightful person with a beautiful voice. Janine Gompper was great in her reprise of ‘I Just Want to Be a Star,’ from ‘Nunsense’ (2001 and 2013).
“I also loved Chris Vecchione’s rendition of ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ (2001). It amazes me all the work and time everyone put into these performances. I also enjoyed the aspect of how it passed down to the children and watching them grow up and also perform. It was a great evening for me.
- Ilene Moore is a current CLCT board member and director of CLCT kids’ shows:
“It was wonderful being on stage with my students of theater, together and singing our hearts out!”
- Janine Gompper is a current CLCT board member:
“Watching the videos at the Musical Memories show brought back so many great memories of hanging out at Indian Beach each summer preparing for the ‘big show.’ My children both grew up in the theater group, and the experiences they had helped mold them into the wonderful adults they are today.
“Johnny was just weeks old when Taylor and I auditioned for our first show, ‘The Music Man.’ Today he is part of the tech crew. Seeing my then 7-year-old daughter standing atop a trash can during the show-stopper number ‘Hard Knock Life,’ from ‘Annie,’ brought tears to my eyes. Where have the years gone?!
“I’d like to say thank you to all the wonderful friends we’ve made throughout the years. Being a part of CLCT has been a joy for all of us.”
- Melanie Otten is a current CLCT board member:
“‘Musical Memories’ took me back 18 years ago when my family and I first moved to Canyon Lake. That year, all three of my young sons auditioned for ‘Guys & Dolls’ on the big stage at Indian Beach. What a summer it was, going down there as a family two or three nights a week and practicing lines, songs, dances and meeting other Canyon Lake families doing the same. We would bring our dinners down and sit on blankets; it was such a great time of friendship building.
“Whether we were acting, helping build sets, setting up lights, scaffolding or sound in the park, it was a very exciting time. Then, when the show weekends came and the park was filled with residents waiting to see the final product – well, there is nothing like it. Those memories still fill my heart today.
“We have built so many lasting friendships that still bloom today for not only we parents, but for our young people who are now grown up. Many of the young people have gone on to Broadway or Hollywood in either acting or behind-the-scenes work and they have been enriched by the wonderful training that they received from a host of directors and producers throughout these many years.
“A big thanks to Pat Train for her first vision of having a community theater in this ‘Little Bit of Paradise’ and to all who have gone on to carry out that vision and make Canyon Lake Community Theatre a rich and artistic part of Canyon Lake. We are truly blessed.”
- Rachel Reed is with Reed Vocal Studio and Recordings from Orange County:
“I have a lot of wonderful memories with the Canyon Lake theater group. It was fun to be back for this show. Everyone did a great job!”
- Suzanne Bolton is a current CLCT board member:
“What I loved about Musical Memories was just that. Seeing those video clips, some of which I hadn’t looked at since those shows, truly brought back the magic that the theater group created in the park and the Lodge.
“Seeing people on the stage again that I hadn’t seen in years, or have now left us, was just a wonderful and heartfelt experience; and watching my two beautiful daughters Jessica and Katelyn literally grow up before my eyes was not only amazing but I was able to see how talented they were then and are now!
“And speaking of talent, we certainly had it! The Tousseaus, Monty Jordan, Tara Miller, the entire Vecchione family, and the comedic performances of Corky Post and Marianne Stevens, to name just a few, were so very amazing! So many of our little children, who started as the poppies in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ grew up to do shows like ‘42nd Street,’ ‘Little Women’ and high school performances of ‘Helen Keller’ and ‘West Side Story.’
“Not just the performances, but seeing all the fantastic sets that were built by our guys, the husbands who were the backbone of our construction crew and brought drawings on paper to life! They did most of it themselves, but also recruited their wives and children to paint, saw and hammer just to really bring those stories to life!
“The entire experience of Canyon Lake Community Theatre means so much to me. It afforded me the opportunity to bring out the creative side of myself; but more importantly, it gave me the opportunity to meet friends that I will have for life, and the most precious gift of all, spending invaluable time with my children at Indian Beach, which truly became our own little ‘Wonderland.’”