Matt Coats’ dream came true this year when he and his wife, Lauren, opened their own theater company, The Gallery Theater in the old cannery building on J Street in Marysville.
Saturday October 1 marked the reopening of the antique building as a small theater company. Each Saturday evening in November local artists will perform at the theater. The Brick Coffeehouse Café will provide snacks and beverages for patrons to enjoy during the performances.
Saturday evening performances cost only $2, and the performances are appropriate for the whole family. All children under 8 years old can attend for free. There is a children’s area with arts and crafts projects open during the show, allowing adults with small children to enjoy themselves during the performance.
Opening night featured several local bands, including Nice Monster and Christian Keefer with a performance by Sweet Blends earlier in the afternoon. The show on October 8, the following weekend, featured not only the band Sweet Blends, but also had an open-mic style show. Audience members Danny Lizardo and Sandi Boden volunteered to sing on stage.
During a Jam Session on the evening of October 15, Yuba City High School teacher, Jamie Ferreira, took the stage. With his guitar, he preformed classic John Denver songs. On November 19, Blue Moon Rising will make an appearance.
Upcoming plays at the Gallery Theater will include “Red Hot Mamas,” a play by David W. Christner, in January and February, 2006. Next will be the contemporary play “Talking With”; then “Anne Get Your Gun,” a classic musical by Irving Berlin; “Hound of the Baskervilles,” next fall and “The Rocky Horror Show,” as a special performance on Halloween, 2006.
As a non-competitive company, the Gallery will post the schedules of the Acting Company, Yuba College Theatre performances and those of Yuba City High School, so thespians and theatergoers can plan accordingly. Local actors interested participating during the 2006 season shows can expect auditions to be held in December of this year.
Not only does the Gallery Theater host a vast array of plays, musicals and local bands, but Coats also offers Teen Shakespeare Workshops on Saturday afternoons from 3:00 pm to 5 pm. Classes are also available for 8-10 and 11-13 year old actors. Each six-week session costs $100. For students truly interested in the program, but who cannot afford it, there are community sponsorship programs.
Local business owners will supply the funding needed to take the class. All a student must do is request the funding from the business, and if sponsored, send a “thank-you” card. At the end of each six-week session a free performance is held for parents and friends of the students. Space is still available in some classes, but enrollment is limited to 10 students, so if interested please enroll quickly. Classes are small to promote individual attention and focus.
In about a year and a half, the Gallery Theater plans on hosting its own awards show, which will award the Frog, nicked named “The Croaky.” Coats proudly shows off a statue of a frog wearing a crown, painted gold. As he sat in one of the homey chairs in the back of the theater and props his feet up on the oak colored coffee table, Coats explained his reasons for naming an award after a frog.
“Frogs are great actors!” Coats said. “They can adapt to any environment. When you say jump, they jump. And think about it, one of the most successful actors is a frog!” Coats referred to Jim Henson’s Kermit the Frog.
The Gallery Theater has a unique look. Formally a cannery, then a chinese restaurant, the building now operates as a theater with dark, maroon colored walls. The walls display Marysville history, with antique photos and posters. A garage door front serves as a curtain on the stage, bull horns are mounted on the backdrop, area rugs are spray-panted onto the floor of the lobby, and Coats’ and other local artists’ work hang on the walls.
Coats walked over to the wall that showcases his art as well as that of others and revealed a photo he took of a lady in a patterned raincoat with a wild looking umbrella. It was taken on a trip to San Francisco, he said. Coats prefers black and white photography because it looks like something out of the 60s. Art work is original, and the original pieces as well as prints are available to purchase. Most artwork is available at $200 or less. For locals interested in selling their art, Coats will speak with anyone who is willing to sell at less than or about $200 on consignment.
“This is a laid-back gallery, and we want lots of artists,” Coats told Jennifer Picard, of the Appeal democrat.
Coats’ main goal for the theater is to reach out to the Yuba-Sutter community through the arts. He wants to see more community involvement in the lives of teenagers and children. Coats’ idea for opening a company came to him after visiting Ashland, Oregon’s Shakespeare Festival, where he saw arts education through performing Shakespeare.
Coats’ wife, who is stationed in Iraq with the U.S. Air Force, is also involved with theater. Both Coats and his wife love acting and children. Their daughter, Katie, at less than one year old was in her first play last fall with her parents: the musical “Lil’ Abner” with J&P Productions. Her parents plan on encouraging participation in theater with Katie and other young people in the Yuba-Sutter Community.