Some people just don’t give up. Main Street Theatre Works started out staging plays at the Sutter Creek Theatre. But then they lost their lease. So Main Street Theatre Works morphed into a dinner theater. But then the restaurant changed hands. So last summer, the itinerant theater company opened what was intended as a permanent home -- an outdoor amphitheatre in Jackson, next to the old Kennedy Mine. Artistic director Susan McCandless says construction of the amphitheatre was a big undertaking.
“I think we that ran something like five miles of electrical wire, and got our lighting poles in, and built the terraces, we knew they were somewhat temporary, and sodded them.”
But after a successful dedication with a Shakespeare comedy last summer, the new amphitheatre was tested by the wettest winter in ten years.
“And it went and it rained. And it rained and it rained. And we came back and we had lost the whole center section of the amphitheatre. It just had slid.”
McCandless and her theater company refused to give up. But restoring the amphitheatre was almost like starting over from scratch. Ken Stefferud, the company’s set builder and lighting technician, coordinated with construction crews earlier this summer.
“We had a backhoe here digging trenches for drainage, and we had a dozer here for a week to recontour everything.”
When all was said and done, the amphitheatre was not only fixed, it was improved.
“The acoustics are much better, and the seating and sightlights are terrific compared to what they were. They’re really good. The second time, we got it right.”
Like other outdoor venues, the Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre takes advantage of fresh air and starlight. But it also has something that you don’t hear at most other amphitheaters – singing crickets, who give the actors pretty good competition. Here’s a scene from the current show, a play from the 1950s called “The Rainmaker.”
(sound from show, with crickets)
“The Rainmaker” is a Western romance about overcoming setbacks in life, and it’s what you’d call a nearly professional production, featuring some experienced actors who’ve done independent films, and younger actors fresh out of drama school. Meantime, there’s more work ahead at the amphitheatre. Susan McCandless.
“Hopefully next season we’re going to have permanent bathrooms, and the season after that, we’re going to have a permanent Green Room. So that’s what we’re hoping.”