Rialto Theater Brings in new Talent to Playhouse
The Rialto Community Players bring talent in from as far away as Orange County, Temecula and the Victor Valley. People come from all over Southern California to see the plays as well. The Rialto Community Players perform at the Rialto Playhouse, a 150-seat performing arts center built in 1990 at 150 E. San Bernardino Ave. in Rialto. These actors and stagehands pride themselves on creating a quality experience in a small venue.
“We don’t accept anything less than quality,” said Sandy Courtney, president of Rialto Community Players. “We want people to come and enjoy the show, then go home and tell others about their great experience.”
Courtney started out in Hollywood as a professional actress, but since 1982 she has focused her talents entirely on the development of Rialto Community Players. Two other long-time members, Val Hanson and former Rialto City Council member Winnie Hanson, began their love of community theater as high school students in Pomona in 1954. They have been devoted to Rialto Community Players almost as long as Courtney.
“Live theater is better on a small stage. You can definitely hear better. You get a genuine feel for the experience,” said Val Hanson, who specializes in lighting, sound and other technical aspects of stage production.
The Rialto Community Players put on five regular plays, three experimental plays each summer, and a weeklong children’s summer day camp, in which children learn about all aspects of theater and produce their own live show.
“The plays we put on in summer are a little more risky, a little more edgy,” Mrs. Hanson continued. “If you are a real theater aficionado, you will enjoy these shows.”
“Patrons during our regular season enjoy high caliber, professionally written plays,” Winnie Hanson said. “We usually include comedies, dramatic plays, and at least one musical.”
The Rialto Community Players began offering the children’s day camp just two years ago. This year’s camp, “The Stars of Tomorrow Children’s Theater,” will run June 6-10. It’s open to children ages 6-16, and to older teens who are comfortable working with young children.
The cost is $125 per child, although Rialto Community Players may be able to offer discounts or scholarships to families with two or more participating children, or on a needs basis.
The children will attend workshops, and as a finale, will produce their own play to present to friends and family. This year’s play is “Little Mermaid.
“They learn a little costuming and a little set design,” Winnie Hanson said. “They learn a lot of acting. They will also learn to sing and dance.”
Families can learn more about this camp and other offerings produced by Stars of Tomorrow Children’s Theater by going to http://starsoftomorrowchildrenstheater.com, or by emailing Director DiDi Pelev at email@example.com, or by calling her at (909) 335-1082.
The Rialto Community Players transition from one play to another quickly. After finishing the production of “Write Me A Murder” on April 3, within a few days they had torn the set down for that production and were beginning to set the stage for the next, which begins May 14. The new show’s cast has been practicing since shortly after their auditions in early March.
In its first eight seasons, keeping the show going was a little more difficult. It staged productions from 1982-1989 at the Rialto Community Center, which at the time doubled as the community gymnasium.
“We had to watch out for sailing basketballs as we rehearsed,” Winnie Hanson said. “We would have to change our costumes in the Senior Center, then hurry across the courtyard back to the gym before we were on stage again.”
In 1988, the City of Rialto decided to build a theater complex on property the YMCA had recently vacated. This complex now includes the Rialto Playhouse, as well as an outdoor reception area, an indoor swimming pool, a gymnasium and a fitness center.
In 2007, Rialto Community Players dedicated an outdoor stage in the adjacent park, which it paid for with years of fundraising. It hosts several concerts on this stage each year.
Members of the public can rent either the theater or the outdoor stage for their own use. Interested groups may call Rialto Community Players at (909) 873-8514 for more information.
In addition to the theater auditorium, the playhouse has a box office, lobby, light and sound booth, restrooms, storage areas for costumes and props, and small changing areas for male and female actors.
Rialto Community Players’ first production at Rialto Playhouse was Plaza Suite, performed in January 1990.
“We held a black tie event to christen our new Playhouse,” Courtney said. “During the first performance, parks and recreation employees ran down the aisles bouncing basketballs to remind us of our roots. We are now in our 30th season of outstanding shows, and many more are to come!”
To learn more about the Rialto Community Players or the Rialto Playhouse, go to www.rialtocommunityplayers.org or call (909) 873-8514. Although reservations cannot be made via email, Rialto Community Players will answer questions about their theater group if sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
About the City of Rialto
Although the City of Rialto is located in the middle of one of the nation’s fastest growing regions, it has retained a small town atmosphere and similar quality of life. Rialto is an ethnically diverse and progressive community, which boasts several unique community assets including its own police and fire departments, a city-owned fitness center, performing arts theater, nine beautiful parks, a community center and senior center. Rialto is within easy range of mountains, beaches, deserts and other recreational areas.
Rialto’s housing mix and home costs are some of the most affordable in Southern California. First-time homebuyers find Rialto more affordable than almost any other comparable community in the region. Executives and those seeking high-end residences also find they can purchase much more home for their money in Rialto. This lower cost translates into more discretionary income for residents, thus benefiting retailers and service providers.
For more information about Rialto, go to www.rialtoca.gov or call (909) 879-1140.