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Tonight … the curtain goes up on Bishop’s community theatre production of the Broadway hit ‘Chicago’. There is a palpable energy in this little Eastern Sierra mountain town in anticipation of this year’s Playhouse 395 show.

Community theatre and the arts in general are a true sign of a healthy, vibrant community where individuals from all walks of life are brought together by a love of performance and creativity.

Every culture in the world has a unique style of song and dance and traditions are most frequently celebrated by singing and dancing. Our modern cultures don’t often allow for spontaneous outbursts, but organized theatre provides a valuable outlet for creative energy and social gathering.

Playhouse 395 has been a vital part of the Bishop and Eastern Sierra communities for over 20 years. It began in the early 1970s and entertained audiences and instilled a love for performance among the community’s youth until the late 1980s. In 2006 the organization saw a resurgence of interest and energy and was re-established with the mission, “To provide exceptional theatrical experiences and education through the gift of the performing arts.”

Today the organization is a catalyst for performing arts in the region and an avenue for members of the community to polish their craft and expand their skills as singers, dancers and actors.

Community Volunteers

A show such as Chicago, and the many productions that Playhouse 395 has presented in the past, requires a major investment in time by many people to bring it to the stage. Everyone who participates in the show does so as a volunteer.

This show has close to 100 local residents (a handful of whom reside in towns as far away as Ridgecrest and Fallon, NV) who have willingly given hundreds of hours of their time in preparation for and presentation of this well-known musical.

A cast of 34 actors ranges in age from 19 to 78 with many of these women and men full-time employees in local businesses in Bishop and the Eastern Sierra. Some are seasonal workers for agencies such as the Forest Service & National Parks and others are small business owners of the stores and services that operate in our community.

The production team of show Director, Associate Director, Producer, Musical Director, Choreographer, Set Director, Stage Manager, Costume Coordinator, Orchestra Director and numerous helpers in each of these areas is also made up of volunteer community members. Each of these persons brings skills and experience in stage, song and dance to this production, but most of all they all bring a love of theatre and deep commitment to creating a quality production.

There are also many more people behind the scenes who have built sets, sewed costumes, designed lighting, sourced props, created décor, sold tickets, coordinated front of house box office and ushers, and do hair and make up. A small, but incredibly resourceful and disciplined group of volunteers makes up the stage crew and it’s safe to say that without this group … the show could not go on.

One of the things that we are especially proud of here at Playhouse 395 is our orchestra. These talented musicians also volunteer their time to learn the score, rehearse independently and with the cast and crew as show time draws near, and perform with us every night for 10 nights during the run.

The names of all those involved in this show are too numerous to list here, which is why I have not named any. However, the level of professionalism is clearly evident in this production and I encourage everyone, residents and visitors, to come a see this fabulous live theatrical performance.

We’re going to ‘razzle dazzle’ you!

Danielle Kuhl as Roxie Hart

Danielle Kuhl as Roxie Hart – photo credit: Bob Rice

Chicago in Theatres

Chicago originally opened on Broadway in 1975 and ran for 936 performances until 1977. In 1979 it debuted on the West End and ran 600 performances.

Chicago was revived on Broadway in 1996, and a year later in the West End. According to Wikipedia, “The Broadway revival holds the record as the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. It is the second longest-running show in Broadway history, behind only The Phantom of the Opera.  The West End revival ran for nearly 15 years, becoming the longest-running American musical in West End history.”

The musical is based on a dramatic play by Maurine Dallas Watkins who was a journalist in Chicago during the prohibition era. She reported on the crimes and criminals of the day and fictionalized two women charged with murder (whom she referred to as “jazz babies” in her reportage). She created a composite character of their lawyers and caricatures of the men associated with these women. Her play opened on Broadway in 1926.

Today the rights to Chicago: The Musical are given to a very limited number of companies and Playhouse 395 in Bishop is one of only six venues on the west coast approved to stage the production this year.

A real scoop!

Ron Valenzuela as Billy Flynn with Danielle Kuhl as Roxie Hart

Ron Valenzuela as Billy Flynn with Danielle Kuhl as Roxie Hart – photo credit: Bob Rice

Choreography: A Tribute to Bob Fosse

When Bob Fosse (award-winning dancer, choreographer, director and actor) originally approached Maurine Watkins in the 1960s for the rights to produce a musical adaptation of her play she refused him. After her death in 1969 her estate sold the rights to Fosse and the musical was born.

Fosse was an innovative choreographer and his trademark dance style is simple yet brilliant. He was well known for his use of hats and gloves and “jazz hands” are a hallmark of his style.

My dance training began at age 5 in the ballet studio and as a teenager and adult I progressed into contemporary dance. Choreographing big musical song-and-dance numbers in the style of Bob Fosse for this show has both challenged and thrilled me. An added challenge has been to work with women and men from our community whose dance training and experience is, for the majority, little to none.

I ardently believe that just about everyone can dance. All that’s needed is a good ear for rhythm, some physical coordination and … most of all … a willingness to learn! Dance steps can be taught. So armed with this belief and the trust of a truly sensational cast of guys and gals we set out to create a tribute to Mr. Bob Fosse.

We think we’ve done it!

Jennifer Collins as Velma Kelly

Jennifer Collins as Velma Kelly – photo credit: Bob Rice

Tickets

Chicago runs for three weeks in March at the Bishop High School Historical Theatre. Tickets are available online at Brown Paper Tickets, at the Inyo Council for the Arts located at 137 S. Main St. in Bishop, and at our Bishop Visitor Center at 690 N. Main St., Bishop.

The show opens tonight Friday, March 4th at 7pm. All show times and dates are listed on the Playhouse 395 website.

Support our local community theatre here in Bishop and see how this wonderful eastside town comes alive onstage and … All That Jazz!

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1 day ago

We appreciate our local businesses as they are working to #KeepBishopSafe. The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Inyo County continue to climb, so we ask you to please do your part to keep our community safe as well!! Thank you. ❤️ ... See MoreSee Less

We appreciate our local businesses as they are working to #KeepBishopSafe. The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Inyo County continue to climb, so we ask you to please do your part to keep our community safe as well!! Thank you. ❤️

Comment on Facebook We appreciate our ...

Stay safe! I want to visit this fall!

I'm going to keep telling you Bishop just how much I miss you. 💜💜💜😷🐈

Maybe next summer I can come, and I will wear a mask if still needed. Love the High Sierras.

Great job

I'm GOING to visit this fall! I promise myself!

Where is the truck located?

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3 days ago

It’s official...WE LOVE THE FAIR, BUT WE LOVE YOU MORE.

Sad news to our friends and families and riders and destruction derby drivers: The Tri County Fair has officially been cancelled for 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic rages on..... Fortunately, it looks like we are planning a major comeback in 2021 and for many years to come.
... See MoreSee Less

It’s official...

Comment on Facebook WE LOVE THE FAIR, ...

Darn, I was thinking about going there for your fair since ours was cancelled here.😏

Ok, but it will be missed!

. Not in Bollings it is going on this week

Sad, but necessary..

This year sucks!!

It will be back bigger and better, than ever. Stay well. <3

It's the Dems again!

Do sorry,. next year.

What ! Ran out of jobs !

Me too.

A couple more months of stuff like this and there will be Prime real estate in Bishop selling cheap!

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6 days ago

Heading into the weekend dreaming of backcountry lakes... which is your favorite?
#DreamNowVisitLater #KeepBishopSafe
Thank you Instagram user @kimonlhi for this spectacular shot!!
... See MoreSee Less

Heading into the weekend dreaming of backcountry lakes... which is your favorite? 
#DreamNowVisitLater #KeepBishopSafe
Thank you Instagram user @kimonlhi for this spectacular shot!!

Comment on Facebook Heading into the ...

Would have guessed Split Mtn, but have only flown over these mountains twice.

Too many to choose, the higher and more remote the better

Saddle Bag Lake. ❤️

Blue lake! The best, at least I know of~!!!

I need a good-looking tour guide(male) to show me around on my next visit. 😉🐈😷

So beautiful. I miss being up there.

Mt. Aggasisz? I probably butchered that spelling.

Blue Lake

Blue lake❣

Sabrina

Dorothy Lake

Horton Lake

Dorothy and Mildred

Beautiful

I'm guessing the trail to Bishop Pass at Bishop Lakes. :)

Beautiful

Upper Lamarck

Beautiful

That’s beautiful.

Nice 👍

Ruwau Lake, Tyee Lakes, upper Lamark lake, Blue lake, & Little Lakes Valley.

Terra Rankin

Lake.

Johanna Atwell

Any part of Bishop is fine, I JUST WANT TO BE THERE TO ENJOY THIS BEAUTIFUL PLACE! 😀❤️😄💙

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1 week ago

Our friends at Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association welcome everyone to stop by for in-person visitor service plus a great selection of area maps, books and more. They do a great job of helping our guests recreate responsibly!Thanks ESIA for providing helpful information and advice to visitors on responsible recreation in our region! ... See MoreSee Less

Our friends at Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association welcome everyone to stop by for in-person visitor service plus a great selection of area maps, books and more.  They do a great job of helping our guests recreate responsibly!

1 week ago

Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals (Oxford Dictionary)
We are grateful to our COMMUNITY locally and afar, for loving and supporting BISHOP and Inyo County. ❤️

Here is a little glimpse of how our community has pulled together over the past few months:
www.bishopvisitor.com/eastern-sierra-covid-stories/
... See MoreSee Less

Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals (Oxford Dictionary)
We are grateful to our COMMUNITY locally and afar, for loving and supporting BISHOP and Inyo County.  ❤️

Here is a little glimpse of how our community has pulled together over the past few months:
https://www.bishopvisitor.com/eastern-sierra-covid-stories/

Comment on Facebook Community: a feeling...

The community stories are wonderful

The big deal when I was growing up was going to the Tri-County Fair rodeo, taking in a movie, and having dinner...all over Labor Day. Then there were the trips from Mammoth to Bishop to go to the grocery store, topped off by a stop at Schatz for sandwiches and to buy bread. What a wonderful place!!!

Used to watch movies at this theater back in the early 70's. Great memories wonderful town. I visit just about every year and enjoy the old school vibe. My parents started AYSO soccer in Bishop. I used to bicycle down the street as a kid, drop a fishing line and pull out lots of trout.

No Bishop does not need a Walmart mart or another supposed better grocery store. We do not have the people to work them. Plus we have new buildings that weren't supposed to be built and a whole mess of empty buildings. We want to keep it a small town feel.

I was sorry to hear that the JC Penny store closed there. I used to work there when I lived in Cali. I had the most wonderful coworkers and the best boss ever!!! Bishop will live on in my heart forever.

Remember Jill Kenmont👍👍

Great little town Bishop is, leave it alone. My mom graduated from Bishop High school, we went to Bishop many years for Christmas with my Grandparents

I was born in Bishop and moved out around 1990. I've moved all over California since then, and no matter where I moved to I always wanted to go back. Some day... Maybe when my kids are all grown and out of the house I'll take my wife and dogs and move back...

Great town. can't wait to come visit when things calm down. Missed Mule days and our family reunion at the lodge but we will be back

Looking forward to visiting as soon and we can! We love Bishop!

Love Bishop! Just passed thru Monday on the way back from Yosemite!

Bishop is in one of the most beautiful settings on Earth. The eastern Sierra and the Owens Valley will persevere.

I love that Bishop is a smaller town. It part id it s charm for visitors. Needed some items last trip , found them in town and what friendly people !! And you should fit your town , not always for the town to fit you.

3 yrs ago we just started driving , landed in Bishop, stayed several days, just loved that trip, no fish but who cares .... 😍🎣🚗💨💨

best town in California

We believe in Bishop. Stay well. <3

Between 1934 and 1939, I spent some Saturday afternoons watching movies at the theatre in Bishop - think the Hollands owned it then - one of the Holland boys was in my elementary school grade. Best wishes to all.

Bishop is fine the way it is.

Please don't change! I love you the way you are!!

We would like to keep it that way, but there are a lot of people coming into the area now who are leaving their trash on the ground & putting graffiti on any available surface. Do that S... at home, not in our town.

You have no idea how badly I need to visit You Bishop.

Saw it has been 100 degrees up there.

Play my brother Danny scene Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at that theater years and years ago

Lived here in the early 80’s

Soon as possible.

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