Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

WCT continues its Winter Season with Johnny Guitar

Whittier Community Theatre will continue its exciting 2014-2015 season with Nicholas Von Hoogstraten’s book turned Off-Broadway, hit musical, Johnny Guitar with performances beginning Feb. 20.

Currently in rehearsals, the musical is being directed by John Francis with musical direction by Kevin Wiley and choreography by Shannon Kane. Nancy Tyler will assist Francis and Karen Jacobson is producing.

Unlike the 1954 Western Drama starring Joan Crawford and Sterling Hayden, the musical, with lyrics and music by Joel Higgins and Martin Silvestri, resurrect the story with more laughs, more fun and more singing!

Francis, known for directing such productions at WCT as The Music Man, A Fox On The Fairway, The Rainmaker and How To Succeed In business Without Really Trying, steps up to deliver a musical that not only keeps true to the story, but is fun for the whole family.

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The musical takes place on the outskirts of a wind-swept Arizona cattle town. Although the town seems quiet, there is turmoil between the townspeople, led by Emma Small, and Vienna, the aggressive, strong-willed Saloonkeeper, who allows her former flame “The Dancin’ Kid” and his thuggish friends frequent her saloon.

As Emma Small rallies the townspeople, led by Cattle Owner McIvers, to evict Vienna and her comrades, a stranger finds his way into town to save the day, Johnny Guitar, (really gunslinger Johnny Logan), a former lover of Vienna’s. Will he save the day?

Francis’ main challenge is to “bring about the essence of the story in the famous cult classic movie of 1954 and also keep the comedy and music of the musical moving,” he said.

“It’s an unusual play in that there are only nine characters, two women and seven men,” he said. “Four of the men play four or five parts during the story.”

Matthew Berardi plays the laid back, bad tempered, gun fighter Johnny Guitar, the stranger who tries to befriend everyone, but is love stricken by Vienna.

Berardi said he finds this character interesting and will stay true to the character while adding his own skills to give the audience something refreshing and unique.

Jay Miramontes, Who has done seven productions with WCT (four musicals and three plays), will be playing “The Dancin Kid.”

Miramontes is excited to bring life to a ruff, rugged character. While he admits he’s not use to playing this kind of character, he is ready for the challenge. The challenge also consists of dancing; something he’s not use to doing.

“There’s a couple of choreography related numbers that are going to be very interesting. It’s not typically my forte, I have danced in the past, but I hear that they’re going to be fairly difficult.”

Mallory Kerwin plays Vienna, the character that was portrayed by Joan Crawford in the 1954 Western Drama.

Her angle to portraying Vienna will consist of more energy and more animation; a handy tool she has used before that has served her well. She is preparing herself by singing (she has eight songs in the show) and by watching old Westerns.

Lindsay Marsh plays Emma Small, the town owner who dislikes Vienna. This is Lindsay’s first time in a WCT production, and she will have an eight-page song all to herself. While she admits she gets anxiety thinking about it, she is ready for the challenge and is looking forward to bringing her character to life.

Andy Kresowski will play four different characters in the musical, as do three other male members of the cast.

While he finds playing four characters challenging, he is excited and continues to rehearse with the cast. While he has done many musicals before, this is his first musical that he will actually have a body microphone.

“It will be a first for me, really, it will be. It’s going to be something different, a step-up you would say. I have been in a lot of musicals, but I have never been mic’ed. This will be different.”

Other members of the cast include Greg Stokes, who will play McIvers, Richard Devicariis, who has appeared on stage at Rio Hondo, Jonathan Tupanjanin, a student at Whittier College and Justin Murphy, who will be directing the company’s final production, Neil Simon’s Rumors in June.

Make sure to catch Johnny Guitar when it opens Feb. 20 for a three week run. Friday and Saturday night performances will be at 8 p.m. and there will be one matinee, March 1, at 2:30 p.m. All performances will be at The Center Theatre, 7630 S. Washington Ave. Whittier. For reservations or tickets call (562) 696-0600 or go to for more information.

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