Melodrama set this weekend at Dunbar
Here’s my yearly enthusiastic endorsement of a show I love, a production replete with memorable characters, fantastic sets, surprising sound effects and lots of fun. Yes, it’s time for Dunbar Elementary School’s mighty melodrama, this year in its 20th anniversary performance.
It’s hard for me to believe that show’s been going since 1992. The first year, Susie and Squire Fridell’s daughter Lexy and her classmates starred in the show. Now, two decades on, Lexy’s a well-known actress, playing off and on Broadway. We can’t promise that all performers in this small town show will make it to the big time, but in this Valley, who knows. We do have our share of famous and infamous folks raised right here.
While Squire and Susie were motivated to initiate Dunbar’s melodrama to give Lexy’s class that unifying experience of completing a production together, the Fridell team maintained their dedication for many years enriching the lives of all Dunbar graduates. Being part of the Dunbar fifth-grade melodrama has become a rite of passage for hundreds of Dunbar students. And they love celebrating that fact. Many return to watch the performances every year. This year, on the 20th anniversary, we expect crowds of past actors and their families.
For the past decade, Sonoma Treasure Kate Kennedy has directed the annual play with lots of assistance from the school staff and parent volunteers. Kate not only excels as a kid-wrangler (encouraging even some theater neophytes to take speaking parts and coaching them to grand success), but she’s also more-than-adept at encouraging parent volunteers to take on responsibilities. It’s a team effort, with Kate’s genius unifying all amateurs into a cohesive and successful team.
Every year the performance is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend. This year that is Friday, May 25, Saturday, May 26, and Sunday, May 27. Show time is at 6 p.m. each night. “Doors” and the concession stand open at 5 p.m. Tickets are available at the venue and are $10 for adult, $5 for children, and the “family corral” package is $25 for two adults and two kids. Seating is picnic-style with blankets and low-chairs encouraged. This is family-friendly outdoor entertainment at its best and serves as Dunbar's every year, all class reunion, of sorts.
In celebration of this year’s anniversary, the school will be holding a western-style gala barbecue on Saturday, beginning at 4:30 p.m. The Glen Ellen Fire Department is grilling some goodies with plate dinners available for $10. Dunbar alumni will be asked to stand up and shout out their play, year and character. This is a wonderful community tradition.
If you have any questions regarding the play, contact the volunteer producers at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Although the playbill has gone to press, they continue to accept direct donations, raffle items and concession supplies. If you have something you would like to donate, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 996-3352.
Of course, your Glen Ellen columnist will be there. Sweetie and I have been fans of this show since our own Horace Herst played the second year’s show, with Squire and Susie leading him. We’ll see you there this year for “Dastardly Deeds at Yoursin Mine or Yukon Take it With You.”
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