Mountain Community Theater Presents: The Cherry Orchard

By Julie Horner with David Leach, Dave Halper, and Tom Goldrup

Mountain Community Theater masterfully exposes the folly of human inaction in their production of Anton Chekhov’s final masterpiece, The Cherry Orchard, opening Friday, November 22 at Park Hall in Ben Lomond and running weekends through December 15. Directed by Bill Peters, a renowned professor at San Francisco State known for his Shakespearean genius, this is “a work of art that embraces the whole variety of life.”

Chekhov, who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history, wrote The Cherry Orchard in 1903. The play opened at the Moscow Art Theatre in January 1904 in a production directed by Konstantin Stanislavski, who is credited for evolving the naturalistic performance technique known as method acting. In method acting, actors deliver sincere and emotionally expressive performances that fully identify with the character they are portraying.

The story unfolds in the Crimea region of Ukraine. 

“The Cherry Orchard is a comedic drama about a Russian family, landed gentry, basically the idle rich, but they are falling on hard times and their estate is for sale.” The estate includes a magnificent cherry orchard, famously beautiful, which also now must be sacrificed due to the family’s inextricable debt. “The culture has changed, the children got caught up in not knowing how to make a living, the free labor was gone,” says Dave Halper, who plays the role of Yepikhodov, the estate clerk. 

“It’s happening to all of us. The play is very down to earth, there’s no grandiosity in any of it. If you don’t pay the mortgage, the estate is going to be sold. The characters are very human, very relatable. You’ll see people you know in these characters. Not because they’re a buffoon or a thug or a character out of the norm. It’s your brother, your neighbor. You’ll recognize yourself in the characters,” says Halper.

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Tom Goldrup and Jim Goldrup in “The Cherry Orchard”

David Leach, who plays the role of Leonid Andreieveitch Gayev, an eccentric family member who embodies the aristocracy’s decadent life of leisure says The Cherry Orchard seems like classic tragedy but it was written as comedy. “Chekhov wrote these pieces as a slice of life. He lets it unfold before you, you get to know the characters. He’s exposing humanity at its most real,” says Leach. “And we’re fortunate to be working with a director who sees it as it was written, as comedy.” 

Tom Goldrup, who plays A Stranger, a passer-by who encounters the Gayevs as they laze around on their estate, has been to Ukraine three times. “Going to the Ukraine, I fell in love with the people and the place.” Tom has been with Mountain Community Theater since 1983, the year after they opened. This is his 19th play. “I’ve worked with everyone before, like a family together, it’s a great cast…Bill has a great crew.”

“Our director, Bill Peters, when the audience comes in, they’ll feel like they’re coming into a family, a real theater experience,” says Halper. “He also has this ability to bring out the human in the actor. As an actor, we have a natural tendency to project, be bombastic, be a little louder. Bill has a way of bringing it down to a conversational level. I’ve worked with him three times now. He’s got the ability to bring me down to a place I’d never thought of going as an actor.”

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Left to Right: Rick Kuhn, Sarah Albertson, Aki’o Nanamura in “The Cherry Orchard”

“Bill takes the time to explore the motives, the moments as they occur between people, that give texture and life, that make the whole production glow. There’s so much that is unwritten that Bill brings to the surface. Why did Chekhov say that twice? Why did he repeat it over here? Bill explores the depth of the process, fleshes it out,” says Leach.

Goldrup agrees: “I’ll second that, make that unanimous…we all wanted to audition. We all worked together doing Julius Caesar. He’s a great director to work with, a great human being. Bill would say, ‘Why don’t you try it this way, speak to me.’ It’s what you look for, that kind of understanding of the author and a subject. To have that opportunity to explore Chekhov under Bill’s directorship was not to be missed.”

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Tom Goldrup as “A Stranger” in “The Cherry Orchard”

Chekhov studied Shakespeare closely, and his works are intertwined with Shakespearean motifs. David Leach explained, “They’re both brilliant writers, but Shakespeare repeats his words – it’s finely crafted – he was exploring the beauty of the language.” Chekhov comes at it a different way. “He’s exploring the opportunity of life, exploring the beauty of the human experience. A completely different angle and just as completely amazing.”

“It’s very funny – it’s like life, like life ought to be – full of fun even if it is full of errors as well.” – David Leach

Halper, who has been with MCT for five years, invites everyone to experience The Cherry Orchard. There’s a little music, a little dancing, but mostly it’s about human interaction. “Come see the show, you’ll enjoy it.” 

He also encourages anyone with an inkling to become involved in the theater. “MCT is open to everyone, it’s a very friendly and supportive group. If somebody is curious about being involved in theater, come be on stage crew, do technical stuff, walk into an audition. If you want to be part of the fun, you don’t have to be on stage. You’re not committing to anything you don’t want to commit to. This is an opportunity to be part of the community experience.”

The Cherry Orchard opens Friday November 22nd and runs four weekends through Sunday December 15th at Ben Lomond’s historic Park Hall, 9400 Mill Street. 

Friday and Saturday performances: 8 p.m. | Sunday matinees: 2:00 p.m.
Community Night: Saturday, November 30, all tickets are two for $20.
Post-show champagne reception on opening night Friday, November 22nd.
Talk-backs with the cast and director after the performances on Sunday, November 24 and Saturday, November 30. 

General tickets are $20; Senior and Student tickets are $17.
Tickets from Brown Paper Tickets: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3617997
Mountain Community Theater: https://mctshows.org

“The Russians adore their past, hate the present, and fear the future.  How sad it would be if we forgot that the future we fear turns slowly into the present we detest, and the past that we adore.” – Anton Chekhov

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Left to Right: Sarah Albertson, Aki’o Nanamura, Tom Goldrup, Jim Goldrup, Dave Halper, Scott Kravitz, and David Leach in MCT’s “The Cherry Orchard”

The Cherry Orchard Cast: Sarah Albertson, Jocelyn McMahon-Babalis, Nat Robinson, Scott Kravitz, Helene Simkin Jara, Sequoia Jones, Jim Goldrup, David Leach, Rick Kuhn, Alie Mac, Aki’o Nanamura, Dave Halper, and Tom Goldrup.

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Julie Horner

© 2019 Julie Horner – Mountain Community Theater Presents: The Cherry Orchard – November 22 through December 15, 2019.

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Henfling’s to Reopen in Ben Lomond – A Neighborhood Hub Embraced

New owners, Erin Maye Zimmer and Josh Miller invite you to the new Henflings of Ben Lomond

By Julie Horner
We’re working through the final stages of the liquor license with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and making sure our neighbors are comfortable. It’s our goal to distinguish ourselves from previous owners and really run it with some integrity and make sure that it serves the community. We feel it’s a really important hub for Ben Lomond. This is where everybody comes together and supports each other. It’s the life of the town, and one of the big reasons why we love Ben Lomond as much as we do. To have it dead…it’s eerie. Everyone’s kind of on edge. “When are you going to open?”We’re definitely anxious to give that date but we also need to tread lightly. It’s not set by us, it’s set by the ABC and the State. We’ve done all the health inspections – we haven’t gotten the final word – and we’re waiting for some new equipment to finalize behind the bar – but we want to make sure we have everything dialed in for the inspector. There were a couple of things he wanted to see get done, but he was very excited with what he saw so far.

It’s good to see things get a little TLC. And little by little it’s coming along.
It’s still Henflings – we did not want to take that away. We’ve repaired or replaced everything but the kitchen sink. Everything has gotten a thorough scrub-down. More than one. It was playing 99 layers of filth on the wall – we were takin’ em down and passing ‘em around – I tell ya, it was nasty. We have all new equipment behind the bar: Ice machine, dishwasher, commercial freezer. We’re actually waiting on another new sink. We’re re-doing all the lines, got all new taps coming in. We’ll still have the eight beers on tap that we had before, but we’ll also have IPA and ciders – Erin’s more knowledgeable about what’s popular at the moment.

We’re likely going to do a soft opening to get all the kinks worked out. We have a new point of sale system, and we’ll want to make sure everything’s functional there. We’ve got employees coming back and some who are new.
The kitchen has all new equipment. It will surpass the old taco stand reputation in a big way. If anyone asks, I’m a chemist…I’m just pitching in. Everything that doesn’t have to be done by a contractor, we’ve done by hand. The floors are all new. We’re waiting for new lighting, especially around the bar area and the stage. It’s all been dialed in by Mountain Service Company, making sure that the venue doesn’t bleed energy.

The bathrooms are nice and sturdy now, both men’s and women’s got a complete overhaul with doors that actually close and a sleek vintage appeal. The fire department did some work on the electrical – they had to replace breakers for safety reasons. The ceilings are scrubbed and stained, and we saved many of the dollar bills that were stuck up on the ceiling…we wanted to retain part of the history. The lucky few – the ones that popped – got their dollars photocopied into new framed art in the bathrooms. You can’t actually use the copies of the bucks to buy beer, but the art is a nod to the old days at Henflings.

We’ll have live music, mostly on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we’ll have big acts then. We’re trying to cut back on the during-the-week stuff to make it more inviting and less a burden on the local community. Barry Tanner is helping set the standard. We want people to feel invited when they’re coming here, and a lot of that has to do with the atmosphere and the environment and the respect people pay to the environment.

We are starting a brand new business. Erin has been behind the bar for years. I made up a 30-page business plan and the community stood up and said, “These are the right people.” Henflings is owned by the Ben Lomond fire station and we’re looking to remedy the lack of information about the history of Henflings. According to legend, the building was originally located up Love Creek and was relocated in 1949 to its current location in Ben Lomond. It’s a legendary venue with a storied past.

And we have amazing plans for the back deck area.

We’re hoping to open by the end of November, once the neighborhood and the County are satisfied. We’ve weatherproofed the windows and we’ll be dropping some sound-dampening curtains that go down after 10:00 pm. We’ll have a good solution for any local noise concerns. The marquis is being relocated out of the western window, and the liquor licence is pending – we’re just about ready. We’re using every hot second that we’ve got while we’re closed to make sure we do as much as we can to the place, because it’s not going to close again if we have anything to say about it.
Every day, every hour we have – we have a 4-year old – everything we’ve got is going into this place right now. This is the one chance we’ve got. We want to make a strong impression when this place opens.

Love Henfling’s again on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HenflingsBarNGrill

Copyright November 18, 2018, Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post

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More about Henflings of Ben Lomond

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Music has always been a part of the roadhouse culture, personifying the spirit of freedom and independence. Our very own Santa Cruz Mountains provide a glimpse into the classic roadhouse culture at Henflings Roadhouse Tavern in Ben Lomond. For many, Henflings epitomizes the history and tradition of Ben Lomond. In the 1950s Henflings Tavern moved from its original location on Love Creek Road to its current site off Highway 9 next to the Ben Lomond fire station. The name is the family name of the original owner. The land is still owned by the Henfling family, but the tavern is not run by them.
For more than six decades, locals and visitors alike have frequented this favorite watering hole. Henflings plays host to everyone from the Ghost Mountain Riders to the saltiest of locals, and is a historic notch on any band’s live music belt.
“For anyone who hasn’t experienced Henfling’s, it’s an unusual recipe in itself. Imagine a lively roadhouse setting, with a rough-hewn bar and rough-hewn bar patrons. Add a nice little seating/dance area and a perfectly presentable stage. Top this all off with an astounding mix of Americana music, legendary blues and slack-key guitar, jumping jazz and sweet acoustic ballads. Now stir in a spicy medley of top-line acts from all over the world. Not only is there not a bad seat in the house, there’s hardly a bad inch in the house. The unusual setting makes for musical events that are uniquely intimate.” – Ann Parker

Welcome Fairies and Earthlings

With the intensity of Scorpio, the craftsmanship of Virgo rising, and the joy of personal contact from a Libra moon, Ben Lomond craftsman, Robie Hiroz, makes magic and music in the mountains.

By Julie Horner

With steady hands rough and stained with varnish, Robie slowly takes the top of the fiddle off with a butter knife. The top releases. “The seal breaks – makes that sound – POP! Scares you at first,” he says. A four-inch crack running parallel to the neck where it meets the upper bout has necessitated a visit to Robie’s Fiddle and Banjo Shop in Ben Lomond. In business for 17 years refurbishing violins and banjos from an outbuilding behind his home that he built and named “The Saloon,” this is a visit home to where this fiddle, salvaged and refurbished from a prior lifetime, was purchased nearly a decade ago.

Once the top is removed, Robie repairs the crack with wood glue and clamps, easy enough. While he’s got the fiddle open, he is compelled to practice a new technique that he has recently discovered that coaxes a warmer tone from the old wood. “First, using little thumb planes, I shape the inside of the fiddle’s top to get more sound. Then I shorten the base-bar (a wooden ridge running nearly the full length of the top’s underside), which allows the bass tones to take over. You get richer tone even in the high strings, and the low strings have that growling sound.”

Wiry and unstoppable at 78, Robie retired in 2010 after 33 years as the graphic arts teacher at Santa Cruz’ Harbor High School. His specialty? Having fun with the kids. “Especially break dancing!” His philosophy in teaching is this: “If you make a mistake, it’s good, because it will take you someplace else where you’ve never been.”

Robie’s been playing banjo since he was 27 and fiddle for about 19 years, he says. He used to bring his banjo and fiddle to his classroom to practice. “I like the banjo, it’s exciting, but my heart is with the fiddle. I love those Irish melodies…and not fast…I like to get the beauty of it. The classic Irish melody.”

His craft is evident in projects large and small on his sunny quarter acre, including the old-time saloon (which doubles as his workshop, complete with a miniature bot-bellied stove) and a wee elf house handcrafted to exquisite detail inside and out. His latest idea shrinks the elf house to doggie size, and he has begun selling these custom canine dwellings at Mountain Feed & Supply in Ben Lomond. The hand-made sign on latest doghouse reads: Welcome fairies and earthlings! “Each one is different, and I get faster as I go.” Each doghouse takes about two weeks of solid work to make.

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Robie Hiroz – Robie’s Violin and Banjo Shop, Ben Lomond, CA

Clara, Robie’s wife of 56 years, inspired him to take up the fiddle. She plays with the Cabrillo orchestra and with quartets at Ben Lomond Library, he says. They’ve known each other since they were kids. “I think I was seven. I first saw her in church playing violin as a youngster, her brother playing piano. She fixed someone’s fiddle for them and I thought, maybe that’s something I can do! He’s discovered after nearly 20 years of working on them how to make them sound good.

Robie repairs and refurbishes banjos and fiddles. He also makes his own banjos. Known by word of mouth and open by appointment, “I usually have about 30 full size fiddles on hand, and many smaller sized ones for youngsters. Come to the shop to try all the fiddles!”

You can also find Robie playing banjo or fiddle once or twice a week at Mountain Feed, usually noon to 2:00. “…playing out there in the sun…been doing that for about six or seven years. People especially seem to enjoy the Irish music. I enjoy talking to the people. Astrology is a big deal for me, too, and I sometimes get a chance to discuss that with folks.”

Robie’s Violin and Banjo Shop | 831-336-4625 | cahootshome@cruzio.com

Copyright 2018 Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post

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Divining the Creative Ripple

Local music artist explores the many moods of nature, synthesized

By Julie Horner

Waves of vividly evolving earth impressions dance inside closed eyelids. At times, fluidly womb-like, the tonally suggestive near-silence of floating in space or being submerged in amniotic suppleness gives way to the rumble of thunder, a taste of nourishing rain, ebulliently flowing streams, and the pulse of the ocean’s tide. In the mind’s eye and in the heart, there is a very real feeling of resting one’s head upon the bosom of the earth. All is released, unclenched, and the spirit is at ease.

Sapphire Oceans is a single one-hour track representing a complete hydrological cycle with music and sounds of nature. Composed by Felton musician and Mountain Spirit co-owner, Josh Kunkel, this original composition washes away the relentless press of the day’s needs.

“The music begins with a storm-burst, then focuses in on a single drop of rain. The raindrops pool together, forming a stream, which flows down to the ocean shore. After playing in the waves, the music plunges below the surface, descending deeper and deeper, past the reach of the sun’s rays, until a place of profound mystery and silence is reached. Rising to the surface again, the journey ends as we hear the sound of waves crashing and birds chirping on the shore. The sounds of rain and thunder make themselves present in the background, reminding us that the cycle will renew itself again and again.”

The sounds began in nature. “We have recorded stream, ocean, and water sounds at dozens of different locations from Malibu to Mendocino,” Kunkel says.

After he produced the field recordings, he wrote several instrumental sections, performed over multiple sessions, to develop layers of expression and to add color to the track. “Techniques drawn from Impressionist and classical music have been used to render the natural sounds of water on acoustic instruments. Tempo devices such as ritardando, accelerando, and tempo rubato convey the rising and falling movements of the waves, and instrumental portamento effects like harp glissandos and timpani roll pedal glissandos evoke the shimmer of sunlight on the water and the rumbling crash of the ocean breaking up on the shoreline.”

The album is produced, arranged, composed, and performed by Kunkel at West Park Avenue Studios. The recording intertwines the sounds of nature with adept use of advanced technical know-how. Kunkel describes the process: “Never-before-heard new timbres have been created by fusing the sound of acoustic orchestra instruments with cutting-edge, avant-garde, forward-looking sound synthesis, resulting in clean, clear, sparkling tessellated electronic textures utilizing the Elka Synthex, EMS VCS3 and Synthi AKS, Oberheim OB-X, and Roland Juno 60.”

An extra set of ears on a project can be revealing. “At a certain point in the project, David Streit, who has worked with everyone from Johnny Cash and Dave Brubeck to GZA and Cliff Richard, had come on board to help me engineer and mix. That is an invaluable contribution that I’ll always appreciate,” says Kunkel.

Like a natural mountain spring, Kunkel’s project trickled and transformed over time. “Sapphire Oceans had just spontaneously grown; it had just taken on a life of its own. Like it had needed to be born, to well up and burst through into existence, and I had just been the channel for it. It is like the quote from the Hindu holy book, the Chandogya Upanishad, about a drop of water flowing into the river, and then into the infinite vastness of the sea, losing its sense of separateness in the process. That is literally how the project has grown, from one tiny little droplet of an idea, to this sprawling, long, complex track with many moods and emotions.”

“There are things that happened during the recording of this album that are so spooky, I’ll never tell. But you can hear them happen on the record. Things that are just from beyond this plane of existence, unknowable things that are from outside of our realm of understanding. But after many months, the project finally coalesced, and all the different tributaries ultimately came together to form a work greater than the sum of all its parts.”

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Music Artist Josh Kunkel – Sapphire Oceans

When not divining the creative ripple, Josh enjoys the bounty of living in the Santa Cruz Mountains. “I get pleasure from cooking international cuisine, going on long hikes in nature, and relaxing with family and friends. I am also a movie connoisseur and news junkie. I enjoy art, fashion, photography, and collecting historical armaments.”

A compelling voyage among elements and imaginings, Sapphire Oceans is available at Mountain Spirit 6299 Highway 9, Felton or everywhere online including: itunes.apple.com/Sapphire Oceans | www.youtube.com/SapphireOceans

Copyright 2017 Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post

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The Gift of Go-To: Boulder Creek’s Barry Tanner

By Julie Horner

It’s all happened here, at the corner of Forest Street and Pine just behind the Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Boulder Creek, in the building that formerly housed the town’s post office and is now often referred to simply as “Barry Tanner’s studio.” Whether for fundraisers, remembrances, band practice, or recording, the studio is as no-nonsense on the outside as its owner. Inside is where the magic happens and the place has become a community hub through the generosity of a man who has energy to burn and an innate talent to make things happen. “I grew up in Davis. My mom was campaign manager for the first socialist mayor in the United States. I was born to organize people.”

Once on the coast, he jumped deep into the Santa Cruz music and theater scene. He lived off-grid in Last Chance for a while and then bought a place in Boulder Creek in 2003 when, he says, “places were boarded up…it was dead.” He had choices…and a little inheritance…so he spent some time traveling, most notably to New Orleans and France, where he spent years playing music in a 7-piece jazz/blues band. “I never saved any money doing it but got paid well and treated well.” He bought a tiny apartment overlooking the Mediterranean and was inspired by vibrant festivals, painters, jugglers, and dancers. He brought that joie de vivre back to Boulder Creek: “I either had to move or create some kind of scene here.”

In 2004 he was instrumental in organizing live dinner music on Friday and Saturday nights at the Blue Sun Cafe (where Los Amigos is now), “and from there to Joe’s,” he says. Then he landed the old post office. It was a “serendipitous horsehead in the bed” moment: He could either “keep running around Europe eating French food” or make an offer.

“This building has led to Joe’s Bar and Boulder Creek Music Works. From the minute I took possession of the building people started showing up…Tim Welch (Funkranomicon) was waiting outside with his drums in his pickup truck.” Barry’s studio filled a need, and word-of-mouth the news got out. “There’s so many phenomenal musicians up here; the studio provides a pivot point, a hub, to rehearse and record, all those kinds of things.”

“It’s what I love doing…I’d be doing it anywhere…that’s my curse.” But he’s doing it here.

He and Todd Reed started regular music at Joe’s in 2008. “There’s a long list of musicians who played benefits there, but we were the first to start regular music on Thursdays for the Camp Krem kids. All money from the tip jar went to Doctors Without Borders – this was right after Haiti.” Every Thursday is the pro-jam now, where top talent comes together to form ad hoc bands for a night. Dozens of local bands got their start playing together at Joe’s, he says. Barry himself plays bass in Badenov (“as in Boris and Natasha”), an example of what he calls “putting a band together at short notice.”

“I book and do sound for over 200 bands a year at Joe’s, plug-and-play.” And this doesn’t count local festivals. He gets calls from three or four bands a week from around the world, he says. And he’s just completed a series of seven First Friday concerts at the Odd Fellows Hall; he often finds himself running back and forth across the street between Joe’s and the I.O.O.F.

Countless bands have recorded albums and shot video in Barry’s studio, and he just got his 16-channel system up and running. “Everyone and their brother has a home setup. I have the perfect room for recording a large group.” Funkranomicon, Take One, Live Concert Series with Carolyn Sills, Vito and Friends, Research and Development, all have recorded at Barry’s. Agents for some of them, like High on Fire and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, “sneak their people here to get them out of the cities to help them get focused.” The recording space is more like being in a living room than being in a high-pressure studio. “I measure my success by how busy the studio is, how much is getting done.”

Barry’s studio also boasts fully operational live-broadcast radio capability. The equipment was initially set up for KBCZ 90.1 Boulder Creek Community Radio before the station moved to the Visitor Center. “I started with the radio before there was even a station. It was just a dream.” Barry lay the groundwork to broadcast from his place, produced the morning show from there, and trained volunteers. “I love teaching. I was having a ball teaching people how to be on the radio.”

“Go-to people pop up, they’re going to make it happen. There are people in this community who have that gift.” But, he says, everybody should step in and lend a hand. “You gotta get your shovel out to keep the go-to people from burning out.”

Three years ago, Barry was told he would only be alive for another year. Now he doesn’t waste his time. “I’m going to go to festivals…I’ve got to get my tickets to Kate Wolf…I’ve got an air mattress that fits perfectly in the back of my van, my folding chairs…”

Contact Barry: BCMusicWorks@gmail.com

Copyright 2017 Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post

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