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What are your favorite GCP memories?

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In Sunday’s Spotlight section, I anticipate Wednesday’s big 40th anniversary celebration for Good Company Players — a red-carpet affair at the Tower Theatre — with 10 memories of my own about the last 20 years of GCP productions. Here’s my first one:

The “Go-go-go Joseph” cheerleader scene in the terrific 1996 production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” The red baseball caps, pompons and pennants transformed the stage into an instant pep rally. Other productions I’ve seen of the show might use that same cheerleader convention, but this staging of the scene set the standards for all others.

What are your favorite GCP memories from over the years? (I’m hoping for some help here from longtime GCP-goers who especially might be able to help me with those first 20 years.) Feel free to add one, two or 10 to this post.

Responses to "What are your favorite GCP memories?"

Amelia Ryan says:

Favorite moments from GCP? Everything from Drowsy Chaperone, a clever play given a nearly perfect production. Hands down my favorite show at Roger Rocka’s. If I had to pick one moment, it would be something with Brian Pucheu as Adolpho, like the song “I Am Adolpho.” The problem with over-the-top characters is that it’s possible to be too over-the-top. That’s a trap many actors doing comedy fall into: If I’m getting laughs doing too much, I’ll do even more. They don’t realize that the laughter from people who can’t tell good comedy from bad drowns out the quiet groans from those who can. Pucheu’s Adolpho was delightfully, giddily, perfectly over-the-top. Even my husband, who usually doesn’t care for musicals, chuckled at everything he did.

Doug Broten says:

Every show over the last 15 years has had it’s moments, usually when one of the stars sings one of the featured songs in a production. For a moment, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the opening night of Hairspray (from about three years ago). The audience was in a great mood, the cast was really up and they all seemed to be cast perfectly, the show hit an absolute home run, and the audience not only gave them a standing ovation, but brought them back for a second ovation.

pk says:

That ’96 production of ‘Joseph’ is an all-time favorite- I remember that Kenny (??) as the lead was so energetic and had such a great voice–plus that ‘Go Go Joseph’ was a super number!

Greater Tuna–I remember at the time not believing that it was just TWO GUYS doing all the characters!

Drowsy Chaperone- I love this show (and could never understand why they hadn’t done it yet!) But their casting was amazing- Pucheu as Adolpho; Souza as the Man; and Pessano as Janet–the production was perfect!

Oliver–I remember almost crying to ‘As long as he needs me’ (I think it was Annette Federico), and Josh Montgomery in the title role, and who was the Fagin–he was awesome and came flying off the stage in our viewing! I also think S. Souza was in that production….really great; but names escape me!

It has been so amazing to see all the productions over the years….they are all special in their way….

What I love about local theater is the heart. The audience, the performers and stagehands are all rooting for each other; we love to see success and with that success a wonderful bit of entertainment that we can take pride in; performers that we can follow on their career paths or the others who perform daily in jobs that have learned from the teamwork involved from every step of the process.

Thank you to the Pessanos for bringing the heart to our community and giving us all these years of entertainment—-words cannot express the gratitude we have for your efforts in making Fresno a lively and thriving theatre experience!

Lori Wall says:

Years ago, I had the privilege of being cast in Kismet, a show that also featured Audra and Allison McDonald. What fun to scramble on the floor for scattered coins. Audra was especially animated as the three of us tried to get the most coins. But the best part was watching Dan Pessano who played the thief and Roger Rocka who played the Great Wazir. At one pivotal point in the play, Dan Pessano’s character is hurling insults at Roger Rocka’s character. Finally, with perfect timing, Dan turned and said to Roger, “May Gottschalk’s fire you!” The audience roared for about 5 minutes and the entire cast on stage turned upstage to hide their grins which were totally out of character. Dan and Roger never cracked a smile. Total professionals both.

Priscilla Wright Craft says:

My favorite moment at GCP was circa 1982 when a group of co-worker mothers brought our daughters to see “Annie”. Best friends and their little daughters had such a wonderful time laughing and crying and singing with Annie. I have never forgotten that afternoon.

Stephen says:

Wow, that’s a tough question!

Ain’t Misbehavin’ 1992. The song “Black and Blue” was entrancing and spoke to us of current racism and sadness.

City of Angels, 1993, making me cry.

Clytee’s haunting end-note in Gypsy.

The daring call to produce Miss Saigon in 2004.

The first Nunsense with Biz Feister killing us with her drunk-nun stuff.

Randy Stump with coconuts on during South Pacific.

Joel Abels. Taylor Abels. Janet Glaude not aging one single bit. Ginger consistently coming up with costume perfection.

I’ve loved watching Junior Company kids grow into starring roles.

Roger Rocka himself announcing the drink specials.

And of course the two words most of us will repeat: Audra McDonald.

And don’t get me started on Second Space memories!

Astounding KUDOS to GCP, Dan Pessano and co, and for surviving somehow financially through all these years.

Pat says:

One that was so hilarious was Paddy Myers and Mary Piona in “The Bermuda Avenue Triangle” in 2000. It was so hilarious that I almost fell out of my chair, but being that I’m so fat, I would have had a hard time falling out of it.

Joann Schilling says:

I read your article today, and you didn’t mention “Camelot” or “Jane Eyre.” I was wondering why I didn’t mention those two plays and the players that were fabulous: Paddy Myers and Christine Barth. I saw some of these other plays you write about, but they weren’t as good as “Jane Eyre.”

Karan Johnson says:

Since I’ve been around from the very beginning, my favorite memories are of three opening nights – the first one at The Fresno Hilton in 1973. I remember all the meetings and rehearsals, and wondering if this experiment was going to work. Now there are many thriving theatre groups in Fresno but back then it was unexplored territory. It was an absolutely thrilling night and the production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” was outstanding.Was there ever a funnier Pseudolus than Dan Pessano, or a lovelier Philia than Jan Pessano?
The 2nd thrilling opening night was when “Gypsy” opened at the Music Hall in 1978 – finally our own home! It was down to the wire (just hours before showtime) to see if everything would get finished in time to open! “Gypsy” is a great musical and this production was wonderful. I’ll always remember Kim Williams singing “Little Lamb.”
The 2nd Space opened in 1982 and I was lucky enough to work on the first two shows – we started with a very challenging show, “The Elephant Man,” and the performances of Dan Farmer and Noel Adams were outstanding. The excellent quality of the shows in the 2nd Space has continued…a few favorites of mine are the heart-breaking “Terra Nova,” a very funny and innovative “Mikado” directed by Chris Moad in 1984, and “Lost in Yonkers” in 2009.

Danielle says:

I have so many wonderful memories because of Good Company Players. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a performer there for the past 4 years but my parents and I have been frequent audience members since 1999. A few favorites for me…

-Jessica Sarkisian as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. This is one of my favorite shows and one of my favorite roles and she was just so wonderful. Her performance in this literally inspired me to want to perform.

-Peter Allwine in Hot Mikado. This was the first show I ever saw twice. I loved everything about this show but specifically, Peter. Peter’s physicality in this show could be the measuring stick for how big, slap-stick comedy can and should work.

-Taylor Abels and the rest of the cast of Little Women the Musical. I loved this show and watching Taylor sing “Astonishing” was exactly that. It was a moment I always try to keep vivid in my mind because I feel like one day, when she is shining bright on Broadway, I’ll be able to say “I saw her when”.

-Janet Glaude in Hairspray. Her whole performance was top notch but “I Know Where I’ve Been” brought me to tears and brought me to my feet like no other performance ever has.

-The Drowsy Chaperone. I could go through and say outstanding things about every single cast member- this show, in my opinion, is the best overall show I have ever seen at GCP and it’s one of the best productions I’ve seen period.

-Fiddler on the Roof 2013. I just saw this show a few weeks ago and I cannot recommend it enough. “Far From the Home I Love” and the scene leading up to that was a huge standout moment in the show for me. Dan and Emily Pessano are just wonderful and watching this touching father/daughter moment happen between a real father and daughter was incredibly moving.

I’m so proud and thankful to be a part of this company, on and off the stage. I hope the next 40 years are just as amazing and successful. Thank you, GCP for all that you provide this community.

Robert Daniels says:

Getting to work with some of Fresno finest actors, directors, techies has been a joy! Loving the unsuspected moments on and off stage! All love for the craft which is live theatre!

The Scarlet Pimpernel… there would be a collective holding of breath backstage wondering if the head that was being chopped off would, in fact, stay in the basket, or bounce out and onto the stage. Never a dull moment in that show but so much fun!

Martin Martinez says:

As an actor being in “Stalag 17 ” and playing a catatonic man with a brilliant director Duane and other cast members.As an audience member the first time I saw “Forever Plaid” in the 1990′s. I remember being amazed at the music and the great harmonies of the cast and some of them returned in the version I crewed some years back.That was a show I will never get tired of seeing.

Mary Vaux says:

I remember going to the shows at the Fresno Hilton. They were wonderful. I have also attended many shows at Roger Rocka’s on Wishon. I have also attended many Second Space shows. Some which included my nephew. He was one of the actors in Greater Tuna and did a spectacular job! I have never seen a bad show at either theater. I hope the Good Company Players continue to prosper. Congrats on 40 years!!

Mohammad says:

Do people remember The Crucible from a couple years ago? I know I’ll never forget it. It was the first GCP show I saw–and I felt simultaneously moved, inspired, and at times–even terrified, watching some magnificent performers bring to life such a timeless classic. I talked about the show so much my friends wanted duck-tape my mouth and throw me down a river. I couldn’t stop thinking about it–I was like a high school girl experiencing her first crush.

suzanne grazyna says:

Thank you, Mohammad! It was very intense work on an amazing script. I’m so honored that you became a part of it with us.

Patty Branco says:

Well comparing myself to some of the people that have already posted, I’m a relative newcomer to the audience. I’ve seen so many shows since Sugar Babies in 2010, it’s hard to pick one moment….but I have to say some of my favorites included the swell of pride I felt when I saw my nephew walk on that stage for the first time, the opening song of The Wedding Singer, seeing him dance (and not badly for someone who has never studied) as IQ in Hairspray, laughing at him as the French Taunter in Spamalot, and finally, the chills I felt on that last phrase of Mariah in Paint Your Wagon. We are so happy and proud that Tyler is a part of the Good Company Players. He’s met friends that will last a lifetime and has learned from some of the best. Here’s to many more shows!

S. Gray says:

NANCY MILLER!!!!!!!!

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