Four years ago local writer, director and producer Walt deFaria was approached about doing an event to commemorate the 100th birthday of Carmel. He penned a community-based musical theater piece combining professional, amateur and youth dancers, musicians and thespians, and staged it at the town’s historic Outdoor Forest Theater. The idea was to do a fundraiser for community arts groups while highlighting the young talent of the Peninsula. “After that 2016 Carmel birthday party, we knew we were on to something,” deFaria recalls. “And it seemed to lend itself beautifully to the pops-style medium.”
Last year deFaria wrote a rousing script featuring veteran local theater favorite Gracie Poletti, cast as the confused but hilarious Mildred Rosenblatt. For this year’s third annual iteration, Rosenblatt is gone but Poletti remains playing herself as emcee, joined here by her co-star and leading man from the Forest Theater Guild’s recent and wildly popular production of Hello, Dolly!, popular local thespian Michael Jacobs. The result is two shows of shenanigans dubbed “Music, Song, Dance and all that Jazz.”
Directed by deFaria and co-produced by Yvonne Bowen in association with the Forest Theater Guild, this year’s venture sports a brand-new show in three acts with a different emphasis than in years past, owing to the appearance of two of the Monterey Jazz Festival’s most prestigious youth ensembles – the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Stars and the Monterey County Honors Vocal Ensemble.
“There’s more music, it is more straight-ahead jazz than our previous years,” deFaria says. Still present are a few cabaret-style show tunes, along with ballet excerpts from The Nutcracker and a contemporary dance duet by students from the Carmel Academy of the Performing Arts (CAPA). And the Pacific Grove High School Drama Group will present excerpts from the smash internet hit Harry Potter parody, A Very Potter Musical.
The event remains a fundraiser with proceeds to benefit the Monterey Peninsula College Theatre Company, CAPA/Dance Kids and the Forest Theater Guild. “I’m stunned by the amount of new, young local talent here,” deFaria says. “For such a small city, the proportion of talent in this area is amazing. There must be something in the water.”
CARMEL POPS! 7:30pm Saturday, Oct. 19 and 5:30pm Sunday, Oct. 20. Outdoor Forest Theater, Santa Rita and Mountain View, Carmel. $10-$25. 626-1681, foresttheaterguild.org