In Chicago, we had a rather disparaging joke about our neighboring city of Gary, Ind.
The joke went: “What’s the difference between Gary and yogurt?” The answer was: “Yogurt’s got a culture!”
Thanks to Julie Baker, Ken Hardin, Mike Getz and a host of local theater companies, that joke cannot be told about the Grass Valley/Nevada City community.
Consider our St. Patrick’s weekend: On Friday, stand-up comedy at the Veteran’s Memorial Building, Saturday morning, Grand Opera simulcast at the Del Oro, Saturday evening the wit and wisdom of Shakespeare at the Nevada Theatre, Sunday a classical piano concert at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the afternoon and a classic movie at the theater that evening!
All of these offerings to our community are possible because of the entrepreneurial efforts and artistic abilities of the above mentioned and countless others who consistently take the risks of producing musical and theatrical stagings for the entertainment and enlightenment of the citizens of Nevada County … and far beyond.
Thanks also to the members of our community who regularly support these offerings and make it possible for the entrepreneurs to continue with their artistic offerings. The crossover audiences of the various productions are gratifying to see. Many of the same people who attended the Willie Nelson show at the fairgrounds last fall also were at the Nevada Theatre to see “Music Man,” “Our Town” and “Miracle on 34th Street” last year.
Last weekend, I saw many of those same faces at the Dana Carvey show, and the Ang Li piano concert. The appetite for quality entertainment is comprehensive in “our town.”
We are truly fortunate to live in a community that offers such a diversity of opportunities for personal enrichment. In addition to the few mentioned above, we also have our wonderful “Music in the Mountains” musical presentations and a wealth of local talent regularly performing in restaurant and cabaret settings.
We also have a local FM radio station, KVMR, that broadcasts a panoramic selection of music, news and educational airings 24/7 … KVMR’s range extends from Elk Grove to Truckee, and many of the people who come up to Grass Valley and Nevada City hear about our programs and their own towns on that station.
Now KVMR and The Nevada Theatre are embarking on a project that will further enhance and upgrade our cultural infrastructure. Beginning in April, construction will begin on a new 8,000-square-foot building that will enlarge the theater and provide a much-needed home for the radio station. This is an ambitious project, but one that will afford the community expanded and improved facilities for artistic and civic outreach, including a venue and an opportunity for live broadcasting from the theater … Imagine a “Prairie Home Companion” -type program, employing local talent, performed on the stage of the Nevada Theatre and aired out to a 50-plus mile radius!
The historic Nevada Theatre will celebrate its 150th birthday in 2015, and our goal is to have the new building up and operable in time for that milestone event. Of course, the continued support of our friends in the community is essential to the success of such an undertaking, but the popularity of our ongoing entertainment schedule substantiates our confidence that this bold investment in the future of Nevada County will receive that same level of enthusiastic support. Certainly it will only enhance our already well-deserved reputation of being the cultural center of the foothills.
Ron Spiller is president of the Nevada Theatre Commission.