BWW Review: The Palm Canyon Theatre Reaches New HEIGHTS With Current Production Of Tony Winning Musical
As a diversion from my standard, oft-critical observations of professional theatre, this column serves as less of a "review" and more of a LOVE NOTE to the Palm Canyon Theatre and the cast and creative team of their current stage production, Lin Manuel Miranda's IN THE HEIGHTS, playing through Sunday. For the past twenty years The Palm Canyon Theatre has served as the Coachella Valley's leading community theatre company and, with an annual season of more than a dozen MainStage musical and dramatic productions, provided Palm Springs and neighboring communities with a consistent, quality live theatre experience. I know people often cringe when they hear the words "community theatre", but The Palm Canyon Theatre should wear it as a badge of honor as they provide the opportunity for local community members (many performing in a production for the first time) to share the stage with seasoned professional actors, and that collaboration is incredible for both the burgeoning actors and the community at large. I have deep respect and admiration for founder, Bill Layne, and his tremendous family - Sylvia, Se and J.W. - for their creative energy, their passion for live theatre and their commitment to the desert community.
The second half of my LOVE NOTE is to director Shafik Wahhab and his cast and creative team of PCT's mid-summer production of IN THE HEIGHTS. I attended the production last evening with the invitation, and intent, to "review" the production - but opted, instead of criticism, to celebrate the enthusiasm, hard work and obvious passion of the cast and crew. I do have my critical observations. It is not flawless. But, in this case, the only "take away" I want to pass on is that we should all support live theatre, at every level and at every venue, grand or small, that boldly hangs out a sign that proclaims itself a "theatre". We should support community theatre, we should support experimental theatre, we should support educational theatre -- we should reward the risk that goes along with bringing up the curtain on a live theatrical event and applaud the passions and talents of the actors, amateur of professional, who devote so much of their time and their hearts to make a difference in their communities - usually with no compensation. Congratulations and kudos to the efforts of the cast and crew of IN THE HEIGHTS, with special recognition to choreographer Jacqueline LeBlanc.
The Palm Canyon Theatre has a loyal and appreciative audience. And for good reason. They give their all to everything they do. I would encourage you to attend this production of IN THE HEIGHTS and/or any of the offerings in the upcoming season. And, when you do, let go of your "critical eye" and celebrate, along with me, the enthusiasm and "love for the theatre" you will find lurking in every corner of the PCT.
Thank you, Bill Layne, for building a true legacy of live theatre in Palm Springs.
Thank you Shafik Wahhab, for personally loving IN THE HEIGHTS so much that you were devoted and determined to share that love with desert audiences.
I know that this column strays a bit from my "norm" and some of you may have been longing for criticism-- but I am very pleased that it does what it does. For tickets to IN THE HEIGHTS or upcoming PCT productions visit www.palmcanyontheatre.org.