Home News Vision Spotlight: Virtual Theater

Spotlight: Virtual Theater

Submitted Photo A snapshot of the Ocotillo Troupe during virtual rehearsals on Zoom for the premiere of "The Sunshine Boys," which will live-stream on Facebook on April 25.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Ocotillo Comedy Troupe brings Neil Simon’s ‘The Sunshine Boys’ to screen

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

The Ocotillo Comedy Troupe switched its scheduled theater performance of Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys” in Artesia’s Ocotillo Performing Arts Center to be live-streamed on Facebook on April 25 and at a later date as a radio broadcast show.

In a phone interview, the play’s director Kandese Green talked about the change. “We really want to have everybody join in and have something fun to do right now,” Green said. “We are going to record it with Zoom and put it on Facebook. The play was supposed to be last weekend. I’ve been watching Midland Theatre for the Arts in Michigan, they’ve been doing a Shakespeare show live. They do Shakespeare in plays and put it on that way. I thought, we can do that for the people here so they can still see ‘The Sunshine Boys.’”

Support Local Journalism
Subscribe to the Roswell Daily Record today.

Green said that she talked it over with OPAC’s executive director Laurie Schotz who was looking for new ideas to help the community and the center. Schotz encouraged Green to go forward with her plans.

Asked how they got the permission to go live, Green said, “A lot of publishers — where we get the rights from — they put out the information on what we can do really fast once the quarantine happened. Everybody is really understanding that we want the art to continue, and how do we work together as an art community to still bring that.”

Green said about the play, “It is a comedy that takes place in the mid-1980s. It starts out with one guy who was part of a Vaudeville duo, called The Sunshine Boys. He gets asked to put the old skids together and joins his former partner. The funny part is that Willy and Al — which is his partner — broke up, and so they are not getting along at all and Willy is cantankerous and grumpy and just hard to get along with. So putting them back together is a really big challenge.

“Our main character, which is Willy, is played by Isiah Mendoza. Isiah has been in quite a few plays with me in the past and Al Lewis is played by Bret Harden who is a newcomer here at the theater. The nephew is played by me — two roles as director and actor. I’ve done it a few times,” Green said and laughed.

This will be the first time for the troupe and Green to do a live-streaming performance. “None of us have done this before,” she said. “It’s just us putting it together in a way that will make sense to our audience. I’ve directed a radio performance of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Some of us have performed for a non-audience in the past. You don’t have to worry about how you’re looking, what you are doing, or how you are coming off. With this (live-streaming on Facebook) we have to think — people are watching me, so how do I prepare my character when I am not with everybody? We’re all in a different location — how do we do that so it makes sense to the audience and it also makes sense to the rest of us? I think this is the biggest challenge. But I have a fun cast, it’s so much fun, even just listening to them, it’s hysterical.”

The two actors playing the old men are actually young. “It’s so much fun hearing Isaiah creating his old man voice,” Green said and chuckled. “They are also trying to come up with things to make him look older when you view him on live-stream and so, he said, ‘I guess I go to Walmart to get hairspray and baby powder.’ We are coming up with creative ways on how to portray the characters, and you’ll really enjoy yourselves watching.

“For the viewing portion, we are going to be doing it on the 25th on our Facebook page of the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center. Donations can be made on the Facebook page once they are going live. Green said that a fundraiser link will be posted in the comment section.

“We’ve been given a chance to understand other ways of doing things, and that we can still be connected even when we can’t go and do all the things we’ve planned to. But I feel we’ll have a play in the summer, either June or July, so hopefully everybody can come and see us in person,” Green said.

Also performing in the livestream are Becky Terpening (TV director Phil), Melanie Dippel (TV director assistant Eddie), Maria Almanza (patient), Ashley Mason (Nurse MacKintosh) and Liz Para (Nurse O’Neil).

For more information, visit OPAC’s Facebook page @ocotilloperformingartscenter or visit artesiaartscouncil.com.


Previous article2 more COVID-19 deaths reported in New Mexico
Next articleHistorically Speaking: The biography — and other history — of the late Nicholas Hughes