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FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Local creative scene kept residents busy in 2013

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From page B1 | December 27, 2013 | Leave Comment

FAIRFIELD — Notable events in the local arts scene this year included an entertainment landmark burning, a band of brothers continuing to set the world aflame with their music and a local theatrical company lighting up the stage in their production of a much-beloved musical.

On the evening of Jan. 25, a five-alarm fire gutted the interior of Pepperbellys Comedy Club. The building had been the first movie theater in Solano County’s seat and opened in 1921. First named Solano Theater, it became Fairfield Cinema I – with Fairfield Cinema II across the street – in 1974. After the theater closed in the 1990s, it opened as a comedy club and hosted some of the biggest names in the industry.

After the fire, Pepperbellys shows took place at the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts down the street. While there are plans to rebuild and a fundraiser was held, the building remains vacant.

In theater, the show must go on and the very evening local firefighters tried to save Pepperbellys, at the Missouri Street Theatre, a local company experienced a rebirth. Fairfield Civic Theatre had not put on a show in three years, but packed the Missouri Street Theatre space in its production of “Lend Me a Tenor.”

Also in January, Bay Area Stage staged Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” at Vallejo’s Naval and Historical Museum.

In February, Cheating Daylight, an award-winning five-piece rock ’n’ roll band featuring Vacaville brothers Jesse, Kyle and Jaden Crosson and brothers Jacob and Conner Gill from Cobb, rocked the Vacaville Performing Arts Theater opening for rock legend Eddie Money. The band released their sophomore recording “Road to Somewhere” this year and later won the 2013 Best New Artist Award from the Malibu Music Awards.

Also in February at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theater, Vacaville’s Bliss Urban Arts Center presented its annual showcase “Bliss Life” that featured approximately 130 Bliss dancers, ranging in age from pre-teens to grandmothers. The high-energy showcase also included other dance crews from the Bay Area as well as a 10-year-old rapper from Vallejo.

In June, Missouri Street Theatre presented the California regional premiere of “Les Miserables” to rave reviews at the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts. The show featured local and regional actors and received standing ovations at every performance – including its interlude at the annual Arty Awards.

“It was like Christmas and my birthday rolled into one show. To perform the best musical ever written with the best actors around in the theater I love and helped to save was a dream come true. To be the premiere was the cherry on top,” Missouri Street Theatre Artistic Director Dae Spering said.

Other notable events in the 2013 Solano County arts scene included:

  • Solano Repertory Theatrical Company presented “Almost, Maine” that featured quirky stories all about love.
  • In nearby Napa County in May, the inaugural BottleRock festival took place featuring some of the biggest names in music including The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, the Zac Brown Band and The Flaming Lips.
  • In May, the Solano Winds and UC Davis Concert band shared the stage at the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts in a concert titled “Musical Narratives.”
  • The Artys, that honor excellence in Solano County theater, were held in September and the big winners included Missouri Street Theatre’s “Les Miserables,” Benicia High School’s “Spamalot” and Missouri Street Theatre’s “The Marvelous Wonderettes.”
  • Solano County lost two great patrons of the arts in 2013: Artist Randy Tribo and Solano Community College music instructor David Froehlich. Tribo served as first vice president of the Vacaville Art League Board of Directors, as well as the gallery’s student art show chair and taught classes for Vacaville’s Cultural Arts Program. Froehlich left a legacy of musical inspiration in generations of musicians including university professors and one his most famous students, Sly Stone.
  • The Benicia Old Town Theatre Group was rocked by the news that an alleged embezzler had left it in dire financial straits in April. With the help of the community, in October the group staged a well-received production of Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys” to kick off its 50th season. At the Arty Awards, the company was given a special award for its longevity in the Solano County theater community.

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at tonybethkaci@gmail.com.

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade
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