News Column

Musical will be showcased in Memorial Chapel at the University of Redlands [Redlands Daily Facts (CA)]

November 1, 2013

YellowBrix

REDLANDS >> The cast of "Redlands, My Redlands" has only 13 days before it takes the stage to perform the new musical highlighting the city's 125-year history.

Written by area residents Jim Skousen and Alexis Rafter, an ensemble of 40 explores the highs and lows Redlands has experienced since its incorporation in 1888.

Auditions for the musical - which will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 and 16 in the Memorial Chapel of the University of Redlands - were held in September.

Thirteen main characters will share the stage throughout the hour- plus musical, with ballet, tap and Broadway style numbers custom written for the quasquicentennial celebration.

"It's coming along very well," Skousen said by phone Friday. "We open in a couple weeks, so things are finally coming together very nicely. It's quite expansive, as we have a lot of different musical styles - a huge range of entertainment."

Time has been the biggest obstacle for the musical's coming together, as the duo had less than a year to write material that will be used in the production.

"There's like 15 musical numbers, so a lot of material will be covered," Skousen said.

To do a musical was the idea of Rose Palmer, president of the Redlands Area Interfaith Council, and Skousen, who presented it to the city's 125th anniversary committee headed by Mayor Pro Tem Paul Foster.

The committee jumped on board, and along with the Interfaith Council agreed to co-sponsor the musical.

"Every year the Interfaith Council does a Thanksgiving celebration, so this year they decided to do something that would be special for the 125th anniversary," Palmer said in late August.

She contacted Skousen to be a part of the project, and the local performer agreed.

To get the history correct, Skousen met with historian Tom Atchley and two musicians - Jeffrey Hunter of Riverside and Jeff Moore of Highland - to create the musical free of charge, Palmer said.

Skousen called the piece a "labor of love."

"We were kind of concerned about making historical things at first, but it's a musical. So we can't be completely historically accurate, but we've put a lot of things in there that are correct," he said. "You don't see tap dancing Smiley Brothers ever."

The two co-writers also threw in a couple other surprises, including a nod to Atchley.

As far as Skousen's favorite part of the show, the resident said it was hard to choose.

"You can't ask me to pick my favorite 'child.' It's too hard," he said.

Skousen's wife, Tina, is serving as the production's musical director, while Dan Robinson and Daniel Bachman of Redlands are the show's technical advisers.

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at several area businesses, including Pennington Designs, 19 E. Citrus Ave., Suite 104, Security Bank, 201 E. State St., and The Barber, 1752 Lugonia Ave.

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