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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Small Beach Town Harbors Big Theatrical Talent

“Though this be madness, yet there ismethod in’t.”THIS quote from “Hamlet” has obviouslybeen an inspiration to the spiritedMonica Perez, mastermind behind DominicalLittle Theatre. The small communityon the southern Pacific coast has beenvibrating with happy talk since Perez, acockeyed optimist, had a dream and madeit come true.Last year, the group’s premiere production,“The Fantasticks,” directed byPerez, proved she isn’t as crazy as peoplethought.“I was convinced Dominical and thesurrounding area harbored an immenseamount of talent,” said the charming, vivaciousPerez. Her belief has been solidifiedby this year’s ambitious enterprise, themounting of Rogers and Hammerstein’smuch-loved musical “South Pacific,”which closed April 15 after nine performances.Perez’s aim is to produce onemusical and one cabaret-style show a year.In collaboration with Hotel Roca Verdeand Jazzy’s Riverhouse, producer MichaelWitte and director Perez proved that wherethere’s a will, there’s a way, and that talentcan be found in the most unexpected places– even in the jungle. With amazing communitysupport, an international cast andtalented professionals, “South Pacific”gave all who saw it an enchanted evening.A seasoned thespian, Perez, who grewup in Alaska, made her stage debut at theage of six.“Theater is in my blood,” she said.“My parents met during a production of“Brigadoon,” and show biz has alwaysbeen an intrinsic part of my life.”Perez’s energy and dedication isimpressive – and contagious. The supportshe gave her cast and crew duringrehearsals and from the wings at performanceswas no doubt a source of inspirationto all involved.THE Hotel Roca Verde, with its largestage, open-air bar and beachfront location,was an ideal setting for a musical set in theSouth Pacific. The sound of the waves inthe background, when not obliterated by theromantic lyrics or boisterous musical numbers,added authenticity to the dialogue. Anamusing program insert advised that in theevent of torrential rain, the performancemight be temporarily suspended. This wasnot a question of washing a man right out ofyour hair, but being drowned out.The cast of 32 included Costa Rican,North American and European residentsfrom Dominical, nearby communities andas far away as San Isidro de El General.“Open auditions were held, and bothveterans and first-timers came out of thewoodwork,” Perez said. “Unlike mostcommunity theater, we have a surprisingnumber of talented men – but women areharder to find.”THIS was true, indeed, as the malecontingent stole the show with their exuberanceevery time they set foot on stage.Nevertheless, they received excellent supportfrom the “dames” in the cast, includingRebecca Scheidet as a believableNellie Forbush, and Martha Beer Gómezas Bloody Mary. The latter’s daughter –both on and off stage – Ismara played Liatwith a tenderness Frank Witte, asLieutenant Joe Cable, couldn’t resist. Hisoutstanding voice was a joy to listen to.Ensign Nellie Forbush had good reasonto fall in love with Emile de Beque,portrayed by Michael Holm, who exudedromance in his characterization and musicalportrayal of the French planter. Holm’sEurasian children, Angie Chapman andCarlos Bonilla, were an added delight. Allthe members of the navy were totally convincing,and the first-rate comic timing ofLeo Lauzon, as Luther Billis, and JerryDeGidio, as the Professor, just added tothe laughs.THE production team, creative andtechnical, reads like an international Who’sWho. It seems the entire community got inthe act and combined their talents to liveup to the saying: “The show must go on.”Canadian artists Paul Archer and TansyMaki created backdrop murals that attestedto their professional expertise in set design.Peter Jarvis and Chris Petts, both fromEngland, added to the visual extravaganzawith their scenic art and graphic designs. Asilent auction offered bidders the opportunityto take home a mural as a memento ofthe show after it closed.Musical director Ruby Kim and choreographerCathy Marckwald met the challengeof a large musical, as did costumedesigner Shawnell Parker. With help fromher seamstresses, 72 authentic period costumesgraced the stage, and makeup artistJoan Weilers added the final touches.Too many to mention by name, the listof collaborators goes on ad infinitum:sound and lighting technicians, vocal andFrench-language coaches, plus the wholeproduction team, all contributed their timeand expertise to make the show a resoundingsuccess. Residents and businesses inthe community also deserve to take a bowfor being instrumental in bringing live theaterto Dominical.IT’S heartwarming to see English-languagetheater taking root in Costa Rica,with groups such as The Jungle Players inQuepos, on the central Pacific coast, andDominical Little Theatre – not to be confusedwith The Little Theatre Group ofCosta Rica (LTG), despite the similarity inthe British spelling of “theatre.”Founded in 1949, LTG is the oldestcontinuously running English-languagetheater in Central and South America. Itlooks forward to collaborating with DominicalLittle Theatre and other new kids onthe block in a collective effort to encouragelive theater in English for the benefit ofboth foreign residents and Costa Ricans.For more information regarding DominicalLittle Theatre, visit or e-mail Monica Perez


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