Redding City Musical Theatre Company
By Brandi Barnett
Theatre That Moves YouMarch 2007
By Michael O'Brien
The Music Man. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.Oklahoma! 42nd Street. South Pacific. The titles bring smiles and goose bumps to musical theater lovers. To see such musicals, North State residents at one time would have to travel to San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York City. However, we are fortunate to find ourselves associated with someone who made a dream come true, and produces such entertaining spectacles right here in Redding.
Diana Christensen founded The Redding CityMusical Theatre Company (RCMTC) in 2005 as a culmination of a dream born in a lifetime of dance, theater and music. Featuring local talent and Broadway-caliber material,Christensen and her company are set to put Redding on the map as a featured destination for audiences to see quality musicals.
“I have danced my whole life,”Christensen said. “At 17, I traveled to L.A. and spent a summer training in tap, ballet, and jazz at Dupree Dance Academy. After I married and started my family, I begin teaching dance in Chico and doing choreography for community theatre.
“When we came to Redding, I was asked to choreograph Shasta High School's musicals and enjoyed that for 12 years,” she said. “I have choreographed about 20 musicals in all, and have supplemented that experience with many college theatre classes. I now teach dance classes at Redding Ballet Academie, choreograph for Redding City Ballet, and sit on the board of directors for the ballet company.”
Christensen is also the artistic director, boardmember, producer and director of all RCMTC musicals.
“There is a need and a desire here for this type of cultured entertainment,”Christensen said. “I love musicals and decided to fill this need by providing something I love to be involved with.”
The realization of her company was borne out of the success of producing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 2005 as a part of the Redding City Ballet. “It was the first musical performed at the newly renovated Cascade Theater.We did three shows over one weekend and sold 3,000 tickets,”Christensen said. “I started RCMTC soon after that experience. In 2006, we presented Peter Pan as our first musical, followed by Guys&Dolls.We’ll do three (musicals) at the Cascade in 2007, starting in March with five performances of South Pacific.” “I thought a WWII-era musical would appeal to people in our community,”Christensen said. “Plus it is an old favorite that promotes very familiar songs, such as ‘Some Enchanted Evening.’”
It also features a script that highlights what Christensen considers family-oriented material. As a connoisseur of musicals, she and her family have attended many productions in and out of our area. Based on these experiences, she decided that her company would produce only family-oriented musicals, as this is the type she and her family most enjoy attending.
As with any successful company, the curtain-time production created is only a part of the journey. RCMTC is not just about performing musicals.Christensen has created features of her company that add to the experience. “We provide training workshops for the actors and
actresses in the community, to allow the man opportunity to become better in their craft. In turn, this gives us a more experienced talent base to draw from for future musicals.”
Ultimately, RCMTC’s goal is to produce musicals that feature wholesome material, and are open to anyone in the community to participate.When asked about her goals for the future of RCMTC, Christensen hopes to create a junior company. “The junior company will allow younger actors to participate, featuring true musicals with parts for youth, rather than young people playing parts normally filled by adult actors. This Junior Company will help expand the experienced group of actors as well, and encourage the younger actors to pursue their dreams and goals in higher theatrical education,”Christensen said. “Consequently, I have a goal to establish a scholarship fund. Once established, a percentage of proceeds from ticket sales will go into that fund.” So, attending an RCMTC performance will not only fulfill a need for entertainment, but will contribute to the education of the people involved.