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Gualala Arts

Promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961.

Archive of past events: 2004 through 2014

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Broadway Babes are Back

Fri,  March   9, 7:00 p.m.
Sat, March 10, 7:00 p.m.
Sun, March 11, 4:00 p.m.

at the Gualala Arts Center

Broadway Babes, 1984 Almost a quarter of a century ago, Sita Milchev, Gloria Wood and Jan Harris performed "Broadway Cabaret" at the Gualala Community Center to a sold out audience and great acclaim.

Broadway Babes The trio of venerable divas is delighted to reunite and bring another fabulous revue to Gualala Arts Local Eyes series, Broadway Babes are Back, for 3 performances, March 9, 10 and 11. The program includes numbers from over two dozen Broadway (and Off- Broadway) shows from beloved "oldies" to current hits. Of note for this Local Eyes Production, the Divas are donating all proceeds back to Gualala Arts! "We planned from the beginning to make our reunion show a fundraiser for Gualala Arts," says Sita, "so a sell out will make this a significant success for the Arts Center as well."

Interview with
Jan Harris & Sita Milchev

recorded February 28, 2007

Fred Adler
"Coastal Interviews"

Fred Adler
KTDE 100.5 FM
Gualala, CA

Coleman Auditorium will be transformed into a luxurious Vegas-style lounge with non-reserved, cabaret-style seating. The Elaine Jacob Foyer will open early each performance date so that show goers can enjoy Culinary Arts Guild's popular "tapas" plates along with fine wines, microbrews and the acclaimed martini bar.

On Friday and Saturday evenings, foyer doors will open at 6:00 p.m., the house will open at 6:30 p.m. and the divas take the stage at 7:00 p.m. For Sunday's matinee, the foyer opens at 3:00 p.m., the house at 3:30 p.m., with the performance at 4:00 p.m.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of each performance, available at the Gualala Arts Center and the Dolphin. MC/VI accepted. As a special feature for all performances, Early Entry tickets will be available for an additional $5. Early Entry entitles the ticketholder to enter the Auditorium and tape their ticket to a chair before the house opens. Without an Early Entry ticket, seating is on a first-come basis when the house opens.

Sita Milchev attended Tamalpais High School in Marin County with fellow "Babe" Jan (McCready) Harris and at the tender age of 17 was accepted to sing with the San Francisco Opera Chorus. Following graduation and armed with a vocal scholarship, Sita entered San Francisco Conservatory of Music (directed 1925-1930 by Sita's grandfather, composer Ernest Bloch) followed by New York's Juilliard School of Music as a voice major. She sang and toured extensively in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago with the Collegiate Chorale (formerly Robert Shaw Chorale) under the direction of Abraham Kaplan, whose acclaimed Chorale was used by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.

Sita's extensive vocal prowess includes countless performances from local to national venues. Just a sampling includes: two years as featured vocalist at The Brass Rail Club in Manhattan; soprano and alto soloist in her grandfather, Ernest Bloch's Sacred Service with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Symphony and New York Philharmonic performances; singing the National Anthem at many conventions and most notably at the NY Mets and NY Yankees and SF Giants games as well as Little League Opening Celebrations in both Santa Rosa and Gualala, and before the start of Point Arena's 4th of July Parade; soloist at the GAC "Nine Lessons and Carols" on Christmas Eve for the past 15 years; "Middle Limb" in the local comic trio "The Redwood Tree-O", and she has sung for numerous Gualala Arts events for over 30 years. Sita has also been a member of Ernest Bloch Bells during the past 25 years, and has sung in various coastal choruses directed by Jan Harris and Gloria Wood. She is currently singing in the South Coast Jazz Choir. She also enjoys being an integral part of Gualala Arts in the Culinary Arts Guild and on the Steering Committee of the Festival of Trees. Sita is also a new Board Director on the Redwood Coast Chamber of Commerce.

Sita's Broadway repertoire was already well established by the time Sita came to Gualala to live in 1974, having performed in productions of Paint Your Wagon, Down in the Valley, Brigadoon and in Of Thee I Sing, South Pacific and Pipe Dream at Sausalito's Gate Theater. On the Mendonoma Coast, Sita sang and assisted Jan Harris with her Musical Theater Workshops and musicals in Point Arena and Gualala starting in 1980 with the role of "Miss Liberty" in Jan Harris' 1980 production Of Thee I Sing (with Gloria as Mary Turner). In 1981, Sita brought the show "From Broadway with Love" to Point Arena Theater under Broadway West Productions with Peter and Ann Arnott, Eric Strattman and Gloria Wood. As part of BWP, She and Gloria toured nationally for eleven years doing corporate shows, including the show "Teri At Eight" at the famous Plush Room in San Francisco's York Hotel. In 1984, Sita and pals Gloria and Jan created the aforementioned "Broadway Cabaret". In 1996, Sita produced, directed and performed in the "Black, White & Silver Revue" benefit, which netted $4000 for Shamli Hospice. (Jan Harris and Jan's daughter Bryn were also featured in that show). Sita played Mother Abbess in the 1996 Family Theater production The Sound of Music. For Arts Center Theater, Sita played the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors (a role she also played as a high school senior), and has directed the chorus and coached the leading players in ACT's last three winter musicals. Her granddaughter Davina Rose Allen played the role of Colin in the most recent production of The Secret Garden. Last year, Sita performed in ACT's "For the Love of Broadway", which was sold out before it opened!

Gloria Wood's connection to this wonderful community goes back many years. After performing four years with the San Francisco Opera Company and five more with the San Francisco Symphony, she migrated north to fulfill her dream of living on the coast. Jan Harris cast her as Mary Turner in the Arena Coast Music Association production Gershwin's Of Thee I Sing, which also featured Sita Milchev. Some residents may remember the performances Gloria did at that time with her then-husband, the late Dale Wood. They co-directed the White Water Wailers choral group, and she and Dale gave many cabaret concerts, as well as co-directing the annual Christmas Carol Sing at The Sea Ranch. Gloria also directed the Coast Choir for Santa Rosa Junior College and taught music for Horicon School.

Gloria is well known to Bay Area audiences for her work in musical theatre as both performer and musical director. She has had featured roles in six Mountain Plays in Marin and has performed in various musicals and solo cabaret venues. Favorite roles are: Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly, Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, Jack's Mother in Into the Woods, the Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music, Anna Maurant in Street Scene (which also featured Sita) and Madame Dubonnet in The Boy Friend. She recently performed the role of Betty Meeks in the play The Foreigner, presented by Ross Valley Players. In 2005, she was awarded a Dean Goodman Award for her musical direction of Once Upon a Mattress for RVP. Gloria was most recently seen as Mrs. Peachum in Three Penny Opera at College of Marin directed by James Dunn (who also directed Jan Harris in the same role in his 1978 production). Gloria toured nationally with Sita with Peter Arnott's "Broadway West" Productions, and has continued her classical performing with numerous concerts and recitals throughout the Bay Area and the celebrated Yosemite Bracebridge dinners during the Christmas season.

Currently, Gloria teaches voice to many Bay Area singers and actors. In addition to her private teaching, Gloria has been a faculty member of both the Marin Theatre Company and Vector Theatre Conservatory. The show she wrote, "It Starts When We're Kids," ran for over ten months in Marin. She would like to re-mount it here on the coast, given all the wonderful talent she has seen of late! Gloria plans on making more music here; and is delighted to have this opportunity once again to share the stage with her dear friends, Sita and Jan and to work with everyone's beloved Don Krieger!

Jan Harris began her training at 8 years old with piano and ballet, adding voice lessons in her teens. She attended Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley with "bosom buddy" Sita Milchev (née Dimitroff) who were both members of the Advanced Choir and in the casts of several shows together. Following graduation, Jan played Bianca in Marin Shakespeare Festival's Taming of the Shrew opposite Bay Area puppeteer Bruce Chessé who subsequently became her real-life husband. With several music scholarships in tow, Jan attended SF State University and as an incoming freshman won the leading role of Polly Peachum in Benjamin Britten's The Beggar's Opera with husband Bruce playing her father Mr. Peachum.

Jan worked in community and regional theater for decades from Marin to Los Angeles to Oregon, including ACT's apprentice program, the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Pasadena Playhouse, Circle Star Theater, SF's Lamplighters touring company, Mill Valley Center for the Performing Arts, The Mountain Play, College of Marin Theater Arts Department and Ross Valley Players. In all, Jan has performed in dozens of shows including Marian in The Music Man, Anita in West Side Story, all four leading women's roles in separate productions of Three Penny Opera, Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors in 5 different productions and Amelia in the West Coast Premiere of Menotti's Amelia Goes to the Ball. Besides performing in several plays, she has also had roles in the musicals Peter Pan, Brigadoon, The Pajama Game, Wonderful Town, Oklahoma!, Carousel, Bye Bye Birdie, My Fair Lady, Oliver!, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas The Mikado and HMS Pinafore, operas The Tender Land, Merry Wives of Windsor and The Medium.

While playing Aldonza/Dulcinea in Ross Valley Players Man of La Mancha, she met her current husband Wayne Harris. Moving north from Marin to Gualala, Jan was director of the Arena Coast Music Association Choir for two years, with Wayne played in the Ernest Bloch Bells, directed three Musical Theater Workshops, the book musicals Of Thee I Sing and Bye Bye Birdie, directed and played Mother in two productions of Amahl & the Night Visitors and directed the drama The Shadowbox. With Gualala Arts, she co-produced the first Art in the Redwoods "Midsummer Faire" with Shakespeare in the Park, which she also directed and performed Gertrude in scenes from Hamlet and Katherine in Taming of the Shrew. She has also performed in local dramas White Liars and Song at Twilight, "Broadway Cabaret" with Sita and Gloria and Sita's "Black, White & Silver Revue" benefit for Shamli Hospice.

Jan's "day jobs" include Executive Director of the Redwood Coast Chamber of Commerce, being a minister and wedding/event coordinator with Celebration Connection and a partner with husband Wayne in the canoe and kayak livery, Adventure Rents. She has two children, Val Luergan and Bryn Harris (who is following in Mom's footsteps). Jan is the Chair of Gualala Arts Festival of Trees Steering Committee and a co-producer of the Redwood Coast Whale & Jazz Festival. Jan is thrilled to return to performing with her friends and co-divas in "Broadway Babes are Back" and hopes to continue to perform and direct local theater.

The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 or email for more information.