Monday, 15 July 2024

Lights go on at Soper-Reese for Winter Music Fest

Patrons of the arts wait for the show to begin on Saturday night. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.






LAKEPORT – While it was only a "temporary" grand opening at the Soper-Reese Community Theater on Saturday night, when the lights went down and the performers took the stage for the Winter Music Fest, the excitement in the audience was palpable.

The event provided Lake County residents with their first glimpse of the dream of a state-of-the-art performing arts center coming true.


"It's exciting," said Joan Holman, mistress of ceremonies for the evening, who also will be starring in the upcoming production of The Solid Gold Cadillac which opens in March.


"I remember scraping gum off the floor and cleaning years ago ... we've come a long way," Holman said.


A long way indeed. The lobby has been refurbished, the auditorium gutted and repaired, the building water-proofed from flooding, plus there's a new roof, heating and air conditioning, a sprinkler system, interior paint and more.

However, the theater is not finished yet.


"This is just the interlude," said Mike Adams, who leads the construction subcommittee. “We still have a lot more to do."

Adams is hoping the community will continue to step up and support the reconstruction efforts.


The 16th annual Winter Music Fest Vaudeville 2008, presented by the Lake County Arts Council, was held at the Soper-Reese for the first time this weekend and "coming home at last," was the theme for the evening as volunteers, sponsors and donors were thanked at a champagne reception before the performances began.


John Ross, chair of the renovation committee, held up a list of the community members and businesses who have donated their time, talents and money to make the event and the future of a top-notch performing arts venue in Lake County a reality. Ross thanked them all.



John Ross, chair of the Soper-Reese Renovation Committee, thanks all of the donors on the long list of those who have helped the theater renovation so far and implores the community to help make that list longer. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.



"I feel the excitement in the air tonight," said local actor and business owner Martin Squier. "There's a sense of finding a home for entertainers to perform and the community to enjoy."


The nearly sold-out show on Saturday evening had 17 different acts with as many different styles of singing.

From ragtime to pop, show tunes to Flamenco, folk songs to love songs and more – and the audience loved them all, especially the musical antics of Bert Hutt (who even played the spoons) and pianist David Neft, who kept the audience entertained between performers.



Pianist David Neft entertains the crowd in the newly renovated lobby of the Soper-Reese Community Theater. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.


Now that the first stage of the reconstruction effort has been fully paid for and completed, fundraising will continue for the second and final phase.

Upcoming performances at the theater include The Poetry Out Loud competition in February and a play, The Solid Gold Cadillac, in March.

Donations to support the reconstruction efforts of Soper-Reese can be sent to: Soper-Reese Fund, P.O. Box 756, Lakeport, 95453. Contributions are tax-deductible. For more information on the theater or to schedule a private tour, please call Nina Marino at 279-4082.

E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




Giving a solo performance, Robert Stark sang two songs, one of them an original. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.



Songstress Hope Nowak sang a beautiful love song. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.



Connie Miller and Bill Barrows harmonize and entertain the audience. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.



Jill Shaul and Sarah Tichava sing a duet of songs written by Tichava. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.



Actor and Singer Rod Levenduski gives a reprise from the recent production of Fiddler on the Roof, which was presented by The Lake County Repertory Theater and Lakeport Community Players this past October. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.







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