“Right:” Internship Living Art Auction helps UPT complete major renovations – The Ukiah Daily Journal


“Ron Selim is 6’6″, so he asked for higher seats, and since he did most of the work on the new seats for the theatre, we were happy to comply”, smiles Jenny Peterman, director of the Ukiah Players Theater (UPT).

“We had a few of our little guys check out if the higher seats were right for them, and they were fine. We call them “The Selim Seats” in honor of Ron and Francine Selim. I have known the Selim since I was 13 years old. They have contributed so much to the UPT,” says Peterman.

The UPT celebrates its 40th anniversary this Saturday, with an unprecedented auction and an invitation for non-bidders to enjoy the performances for free.

A “living art auction” will feature a retrospective spanning 40 years of theatrical material performed by UPT actors, from the earliest days to the present day. The auction will raise funds to complete the final tasks of a near total renovation of the theatre, which included the installation of a new roof, the aforementioned audience seating, new bathrooms, new paint, improved flooring, new doors, security system, improved storage. , shelves and more.

For the bidders, there will be champagne and wine available to the guests. “We hope this will replace silent auctions, which don’t really showcase what we have to offer, which is our art. Everyone will enjoy a great show, and those who wish to bid will have the opportunity to do so,” continues Peterman.

The outdoor stage will feature huge, life-size covered frames. When the drape is removed, the “art” will be revealed – one of the UPT actors. Beloved auctioneer Tom Allman will preside over the auction, and after the auction the actors will perform one of their roles. Thirteen pieces from the early 80s to the present day will be performed.

Featured actors include Kate Magruder, Paula Samonte, Ellen Weed, Randy Moore and Ron Cole, who represent the early years of UPT. Susan Husted-Stuart will perform a monologue from 1978 – the first piece of the evening, which was originally performed before the building was constructed. Mike Gutierrez, Amanda Baguley, Charlie Selzer and Erika Brewer will take on more recent performance roles. The theater hallway will display a retrospective of photos and newspapers from the building, and videos of UPT dinner theaters will be available.

The UPT building was completed in 1982, coinciding with co-founder Bob Currier’s birthday. “Gina Campbell designed the building and Billy Jamison was the foreman,” says Peterman. “Billy visited recently and recognized Henry DeRoche and Rick Gerrin as significant contributors to the build.”

Originally, Ukiah Players Theater and Ukiah Dance Center shared the Playhouse, as there was a death of slots available for shows. Paulette Arnold and Jim Beatty ran the ABC Dance Theatre. They both continued to work for and develop SPACE-Near and the Arnold School of Performing Arts and Cultural Education. In 1985, the Players became the main users of the theatre. Little attention was paid to the building, as the nonprofit focused on performance, paying a small staff, and purchasing basic necessities like lighting, equipment audio and video, props manufacturing equipment and advertising.

Then Covid hit. It took about 18 months for the UPT to start scheduling shows again. But the “dark” times allowed the board, staff and volunteers to focus on planning and executing building repairs and upgrades.

“Before the pandemic, we had $15,000 in theft – people hitting doors and windows, so we bought a security system in 2019. When we started to realize the quarantine was going to outlast our funds, we called a particular patron. We asked if we would sink, keep overhead super low, and keep expenses to a bare minimum if he kept us afloat. He accepted. We barricaded the building to keep it safe.

In addition to the darkness of the building, the voluntary insurance of the UPT died out. “In order to comply with legal requirements, we could not have volunteers on the property. It was necessary to wait. »

“We received a grant and in addition the town of Ukiah offered to help pay for our utilities until it was safe enough to bring people back into the theatre. This helped keep the building safe and allowed us to work safely. Now that we had power, we could reactivate the security system. The grant allowed us to re-insure our volunteers and re-employ our staff.

Billy Jamison returned and gave Peterman insight into how the building was constructed. “He told us about the initial expansion plans and we looked at the whole building with an eye on things that were aging well and things that weren’t aging well.”

Funding for the renovations was provided by a number of private donors. “We did a fundraiser to replace the seats in the theater and won $7,500 of the $22,000 needed. I took the risk of writing a letter to someone I had never met. A donor showed up with the full amount,” Peterman continues.

The roof and the dormers had to be replaced. “We were almost done when we removed the heating and cooling systems to repair the roof below. Of course we found the roof to be rotten and the heating and air conditioning needed to be re-run. Other donors have come forward to make up the shortfall. Peterman thanks Jason Hartje of Mendocino Roofing and Manny of Next Generation Heating and Cooling who did the roofing work.

“We decided to reduce the infrastructure to the original skeleton of the building. The beautiful original beams are still in excellent condition and pay homage to the founders while retaining the original aesthetic. Removing the rugs was hellish. There were several kinds of glue. We had to grind the glue by hand. It took two months, and we’re still cleaning up the cement dust.

Private donors also facilitated the renovation of the bathrooms, carried out by John Chan, a long-time UPT supporter. Other upgrades to the facility include lobby lighting upgrades, handmade barn doors, a touchless bottle station, and a new coat of paint for the entire facility. In the locker rooms, Black Oak Coffee Roasters donated a sink and permanent coffee station, including a coffee stash. New industrial shelving will soon have welded screens that will help keep accessories and other valuables organized and secure.

In addition to facility upgrades, Peterman worked on organizational structural upgrades.

“We have replaced Guild Nights with Gala Nights. We wanted to open the party up to everyone, so there will be drinks, desserts, giveaways and special perks for each show. The gala evenings will take place on the first Friday of each new show, which allows more people to attend, including families, often excluded from Guild evenings.

Peterman sees more collaborations in the future. We are working with Steve Marston of Willits Community Theatre. At our auction, we will be selling tickets for Clarence Darrow, a collaboration between Willits Community Theater and UPT, directed by Jim Williams and starring UPT’s Timothy Fischer.

“UPT Board Chairman Chris Douthit becomes a drama teacher at Ukiah High School, and Maria Monti, who is retiring, comes here to direct for us. We are setting up the first UPT collaboration / Ukiah High for years – Alice in Wonderland, which will open this fall.

Peterman is waiting to direct this season, so she can complete renovations to the facility. “We would like to be able to rent out the theatre, do more outdoor activities and improve the outdoor stage. We got married here in April. It’s a great space and we invite the public to inquire about using the facility for conferences, concerts and other events.

If you were on the UPT mailing list, there might be a reason you haven’t heard from them.

“During the pandemic, we lost our ticketing system and our mailing list. We went back to a previous mailing list and had a hard time getting people to subscribe and come back online. Volunteers help navigate our new system.

Peterman estimates that an excess of 250 shows were presented at the Low Gap site. These shows would not have happened without the continued generosity of the community, which has placed UPT as an organizational priority.

“We are on season 44 and have produced 5-6 shows per season. This number does not include special events. Previously, in the days of David Hanson, there were even more shows per season. Saturday we will sell tickets for our 44th season, which we will announce during the auction.

“Something that takes a back seat in people’s minds is the social importance of theatre, not only in creating art, but also in creating community among people with diverse lifestyles. Within these walls, many bridges are crossed,” concludes Peterman.

Auction tickets are available at the $10 event online, which includes a paddle and chair. The show is free for anyone who wishes to bring a lawn chair and sit around the periphery. There will be a Taco Truck in the parking lot and tables and chairs for dinner, and because it’s a birthday party, cupcakes, ice cream and cold drinks are offered by Black Oak Coffee Roasters. Wine, beer, soft drinks and seasonal Blackberry Cobbler Stout floats are offered by the O’Meara Brothers Restaurant and Brewery in Lakeport.

For more information, visit https://www.ukiahplayerstheatre.org or call (707) 462-9226.


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