When California's Proposition 13 passed in 1978, some called it a tax-slashing revolution. As things turned out, Proposition 13 unfolded into California's services-slashing devolution.
But for one Santa Clara resident, California's experiment in unintended consequences was occasion for action, not hand-wringing. Spearheaded by community activist Cleo Stuckrath, the Women's League responded to Prop 13-driven cuts in the Senior Center's Health and Wellness program with one of Santa Clara's most enduring – and entertaining – community fundraisers: Showtime.
For 25 years, Cleo was Showtime's playwright, producer, production manager, stage director, set designer, wardrobe mistress, choreographer and prop master. When declining health forced her to step down, longtime Showtimers Rick Mauck and Robin Burdick, stepped up to ensure the popular annual entertainment would continue.
For its 30th birthday, Showtime is reprising Cleo's first Showtime melodrama, "Penelope of Pruneyard Patch."
The show concerns the malevolent machinations of Hector Hatefulheart (Rev. Bill Schultz) to cheat the honest-but-poor Pennington family out of the family homestead. Before Hatefulheart succeeds in his iniquitous intentions – which include the lily-white hand of Penelope Pennington (Laura Velasco) – handsome heartthrob Christopher Crabtree (Andrew Hyatt) saves the day, and all ends right and romantic.
The second half of the program features popular variety acts, including the return of Santa Clara's favorite magician, Phil Ackerly, the Town Square Harmonizers' barbershop harmonies, and Mission City Opera Music's Director, Michael Taylor –whose audience-pleasing baritone never fails to bring down the house. The icing on this entertainment cake is a silent auction and raffle, which includes two $500 cash prizes.
The curtain rises on Showtime at 7:00 p.m. on March 2, 3, and at 2:00 p.m. on March 4, 2012. As always, the show is at the Santa Clara Community Recreation Center, 969 Kiely Boulevard and the doors open 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.
In the interest of full disclosure: Carolyn Schuk she will be appearing in Showtime.