By Amy Krause
Ramona Community Theater is coming back to life with a play scheduled for April 20, 21, 27, and 28. It’s called “Reservation for Murder,” written and directed by Ramona residents A.J. Bess and Danny Stapp.
This fast-paced comedy is hilarious and full of diverse, interesting characters. It’s just plain funny and is appropriate for all ages.
The production will be at the Ramona United Methodist Church, 3394 Chapel Lane. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Tickets may be purchased at the door or by calling 760-315-0994.
The show will start at 7 the first three nights — April 20, 21 and 27 — and 8 on closing night, April 28. Doors will open 30 minutes before the show will start and it will be general seating.
“We’re happy to be a part of this, and hope it sparks more interest in local theater projects,” said Bess. “We believe it’s important for everyone to support and encourage art in their community. Hope everyone enjoys the show, and continues to come out and be a part of performing arts in Ramona.”
It’s funny how things happen. When Ramona Community Theater first started, Tom Ferguson Jr., a member of the Ramona United Methodist Church, arranged to have the first few variety shows at his church and that is how the troupe got up and running. RCT made enough money with those shows to put on its first big musical, “The Music Man.”
After performing that show at the Charles R. Nunn Performing Arts Center at Olive Peirce Middle School, RCS started performing at what used to be Ramona’s charter high school with shows like “Honk Jr.,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Charlie’s Aunt,” “Godspell,” and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
When Sun Valley Charter High School closed, RCT no longer had a place to perform. The troupe tried doing a revue, “Gotta Sing,” in the Ramona Woman’s Clubhouse, but it proved to be too small of a venue. Hopefully, some day, the Ramona Town Hall stage will be able to bring up its lights again and RCT will have a new home — a new old home, that is, because the Ramona Town Hall Players once used the Town Hall stage for many productions.
As artistic director for RCT, I remember when, as a child, my mother took me to the musical “Godspell” put on by the Ramona Town Hall Players. Guess who was playing the role of Jesus? Tom Ferguson. I love how this town still has that small town feeling when its past runs into the present.
So, while looking for a venue for “Reservation for Murder,” who should contact RCT, but Ramona United Methodist Church. Jason Purtle, the congregation’s music director, emailed RCT after seeing a blurb about auditions in the Ramona Sentinel, and presented the theater group with perfect space to perform “Reservation for Murder.”
The RUMC congregation loves to have its building used for great things, and is happy to have the community share their love for the arts. So, when RCT’s stage went dark for lack of a venue, among other things, who should come to their rescue, but the same wonderful people who got them started in the beginning.
RCT is excited to get going again.
And, to start off with an original hilarious murder mystery, written and directed by Ramona’s A.J. Bess and Danny Stapp, how could things get better?
Bess has written other shows performed in Ramona for RCT and for Mountain Valley Academy High School. “Call Me Jimmy” has been performed four different times in Ramona and is taking the stage again with Olive Peirce Middle School’s drama club in May. Another show some might know is “Auditions at St. Maude’s.”
“Reservation for Murder” is rehearsing at the RUMC Friday nights at 7. They are working hard to bring the audience to tears with laughter.