‘Anton in Show Business’: Funny, tragic and thought-provoking

In the News
Napa Valley Register Review, Dan Monez, May 18, 2017

An estimated 80 percent of the roles in American theater are men. Even more astounding is that of the 20 percent of roles that are female, 95 percent of those are women under 40.

There lies the impetus for the formation of the Napa Valley’s newest theater company, Valley Players and their recent production, “Anton in Show Business.”

Formed by several Dreamweavers alumni, three of whom are in this cast, (June Alane Reif, Debbie Baumann, and Patt Quinn), Valley Players’ mission is to produce quality live theater featuring significant roles for women over 40. The president of the company, Reif, said, “We are not excluding men or younger women but want to select plays that can feature women our age.” It makes perfect sense since women over 40 make up the majority of theater audiences today.

Jane Martin’s “Anton in Show Business” pokes fun, sometimes harshly, at theater in America. It is a comedy and there are good laughs throughout, but it is also brutally honest at exposing the reasons for the opening line, “The American Theatre’s in a s—tload of trouble.”

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Life on the stage begins at 40 for the Valley Players

In the News
Feature Article in the Daily Republic, by Amy McGinnis, May 12, 2017

A group of women in the Napa Valley took the adage, “it’s better to light a single candle than curse the darkness,” to heart.

When it became hard to find — and secure — roles for women over 40 in community theater, they formed their own troupe, the Valley Players, for that very purpose.

The youngest member of the Valley Players is 53. Others are in their 60s.

“We get better with age,” said Patte Quinn, one of three women who began the troupe.

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New theater company hopes to empower women over 40

In the News
Feature article in the Vallejo Times-Herald, by Richard Freedman, April 28, 2017

True, the upstart Valley Players community theater group based in Napa targets women 40 and older.

But it’s not as if these glorious gals of the pre-golden years are a bunch of rebel man haters. And they’re certainly not burning their bras in protest. At least not publicly.

That’s not to say the hopeful nonprofit organization isn’t on a mission, with the “short version of our mission statement — empowering women over 40 through the theater arts,” says co-founding member June Alane Reif. “We are looking to empower women who are around our age, not just through acting, but directing, stage managing, lights, sets, off stage.”

And, by no means, notes Alane Reif, “does that mean we will not have young women or any men. Obviously, we’ll have to do shows with all age groups.”

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A bright, daring beginning for Valley Players

In the News
Napa Valley Register Review, Sasha Paulsen, January 12, 2017

How much of love is fantasy, and how much does the success of a relationship depend on it?

This is the question at the basis of Harold Pinter’s consideration of marriage in “The Lover.”

And it was the bold choice for a debut production from the newly formed Napa Valley Players last week.

Pinter’s play, written in the 1960s, is sometimes described as a dark comedy, and sometimes as a edgy drama, and the skillful duo of June Alane Reif and Richard Pallaziol evoked both in their superbly ironic performances as a couple with a novel approach to keeping the flame alive in their marriage. Maybe.

The play opens in the flat of an average middle-class English couple. Richard, neat in his suit, arrives home after a day at the office. His nice wife, a perfect housewife of the time, in her dress and heels, greets him. Then, as they have their cocktails, he asks, “Did your lover visit you today?”

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Doing what they love

In the News
Napa Valley Register Columnist, Evy Warshawski, January 11, 2017

I would bet that Debbie Baumann, Barbara Nemko, Patricia Giusti Quinn and June Alane Reif — founding members of Napa’s newest theater venture, the Valley Players — have read Marsha Sinetar’s popular 1989 book, “Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow.”

Throughout the text, Sinetar provides a step-by-step guide to discovering work that fits one’s talents, passions and needs. Those of us who chose professions in the nonprofit arts often cite the book as our inspiration and raison d’ être.

With no expectation of financial reward, these four energetic, talented ladies — all former actresses with Dreamweavers Theatre — are keeping their professional day jobs while collaborating on producing plays in their spare time. “By day I’m a geek,” said Reif, a web application developer, “but by night, I’m an artist.”

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Valley Players make their debut with ‘The Lover’

In the News
Napa Valley Register Press Release, December 21, 2016

Valley Players, a new local theater troupe, open the new year with their first production, “The Lover,” by Harold Pinter at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville Jan 3-5.

“The Lover” is a quirky, tense, intriguing play that examines the private intricacies of modern marriage. To all outward appearances, Sarah and Richard are a respectable, conventional suburban couple. Behind closed doors, however, they enjoy a surprising and intriguing arrangement.

Like any of Pinter’s works, this one-act play contains the laughs, tears and tensions that arise from the social intricacies of modern life.

Directed by Debbie Baumann and featuring June Alane Reif, Richard Pallaziol and Walter Hamlin, “The Lover” will be presented in a minimalistic style and features photographs by local artist, Debbie Ames. It is recommended for adult audiences only.

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