The journalistic record is mum about the first Santa Clara Showtime in 1982, the Dastardly Disaster, written by legendary Santa Clara community activist and journalist Cleo Stuckrath. However it must have been a roaring success because by 1983 Showtime was in full gear and everyone – community activists, politicians, dancing grandmothers, accordian players, you name it – was getting into the act.
That year’s melodrama was Penelope of Pruneyard Patch, which the Showtime troupe is reprising for 2012, the 30th anniversary of the popular Santa Clara fundraiser for senior health services.
Among 1983’s performers were then-Police Chief Frank Vasquez; former, current and future City Council members Jim Ash, Sue Lasher, John Mahan, Pat Mahan, Roger Martinez, Keri Procunier, Eddie Souza, Auralee Street, and Dan Texera, and County Supervisor Rod Diridon Sr.
“Showtime rehearsals are off and running,” wrote the prolific Cleo in the January 21, 1983 edition of the Santa Clara American. “Everyone is having the time of their lives…It is hard to say if the cast of Penelope of Pruneyard Patch is having the most fun or the enthusiastic participants of the Olio.*”
Heading that year’s cast as Penelope’s villain was Dr. Alan “Doc” Everett as Hector Hatefulheart; “a good dentist who just turned actor this year,” Cleo wrote. Craig Sala – subsequently known as Santa Clara’s Singing Policeman – played the romantic lead opposite Gretchen Stuckrath as the much put-upon Penelope.
“Craig Sala was the handsomest hero ever with the mostest of everything including muscles,” wrote Cleo in the Feb 4, 1983 American. “His Tarzan yell brought down the house.”
“It was a wonderful evening,” the newspaper quoted Santa Clara resident Gloria Citti saying. “She was right about that,” wrote Cleo. “All the way from the pre-show party to the cast party which lasted until the wee hours of the morning it was a show to remember.”
Showtime 2012 is at the Santa Clara Community Recreation Center (969 Kiely Boulevard) on March 2 and 3 at 7:00 p.m. March 4 at and 2:00 p.m. Doors open for the pre-show 90 minutes before the show. Tickets for Friday’s performance are only $5 – 1982’s price. Saturday and Sunday performances are $7.
Tickets are available at online at santaclarawomensleague.org, the Santa Clara Senior Center (1303 Fremont Street), the Community Recreation Center, and at the door. For more information, go to www.santaclarawomensleague.org or call (408) 247-5927.
Mary Hanel of the Heritage Pavilion of the Santa Clara City Library contributed to this story.
* &Olio” was the name given to a miscellaneous collection of performances in a burlesque or minstrel show. Showtime’s olio is the second half of the show, after the melodrama and intermission.