New Paso Robles theater company being formed

Aliyson Oken

PAS0 ROBLES-Theater in the vineyards was just a dream to dramaturge Cynthia Anthony until Via Vega Winery owners Larry and April Gomez made her dream a reality.

The Gomez family has opened their winery to the arts and will now host the new Paso Robles community theater group at the Double Playhouse. This all began when Larry Gomez had the idea to have a venue that would debut more than just music. He wanted it to foster a new era of theatrical arts in Paso Robles with the Wine Country Theater. Larry said that his daughter was the inspiration, because of her love of theater arts.

"We have a little girl that has a whole lot of ammo in her heart," said Larry Gomez. "It is really a neat thing. It is something we definitely want to encourage, and through her travels. we have encountered all of the other people that love the arts and have theater in their blood. I just saw it as an inevitability to have something. because we hase such a wealth of space here. We really want to have our own venue to watch our children grow and enhance the experience for everyone that loves the craft, You get one dose of theater in you and you get it."

Larry Cornez said he enjoys chasing dreams and that is what they are doing and the actors do every day.

"It is all about the dream and this is just more fun fundamentally to be able to set it up in my own winery. I mean come on, there is nothing better than that," said Larry. "I get to be part of it and that makes me happy. Now, we are going to take it up a notch and it is pretty exciting." April Gomez also said that they love theater and are really happy to be able to make this dream a reality.

"We just wanted to bring something new to the area and we really love theater. Then, we mct Cynthia and it has all come together." said April Gomez. - "People are starving for the arts in the North County. so we think that this will be a great way to start"

Cynthia Anthony has a long history of working in theater. She went to California State University. Long Beach and graduated with a degree in theater arts. Anthony also has a teaching credential and has taught theater and ran various theater groups in the area. She and her husband have backed the Plays in the Park and she directed "Man of La Mancha" and "South Pacific." Not only has she been involved in the arts in the North County for 25 years or more, it is her passion and dream to bring community theater back to Paso Robles. Anthony said that none of this would be possible without the help of Larry and April Gomez.

"It is great. Larry already built the stage and that is how this whole thing got started. It was awesome because he said 'You know I want to put up a stage at my winery.' thinking maybe instead of music they could do something different like theater," said Anthony. "So. I said let me talk to you. Actor, Jacob Shearer and I came out and found that Larry had constructed 14, 4 by 8 platforms that can go together and form any modular configuration of a stage. It will work really well for small plays. We stared exploring the idea and found that it is the perfect marriage-wine and theater."

Anthony said they did some research and discovered that no one is really doing theater consistently in a winery.

"I feel that because this is an unusual venue, a great pairing and opportunity that we are going to run with it," he said. "It is the beginning of a new era of community theater in Paso Robles. There have been a few other companies in the past, but now there is nothing in Paso. So, we arc very excitcd to experiment and see if we can get enough community support, great talent and technical volunteers. If it were not for April and Larry, the owners of Via Vega Winery, we would not be able to make this dream a reality."

The first production will be "It Had to Be You," by Rence Taylor and Joseph Bologna it will use what is called a single-unit set so the Via Wga stage will be perfect.

Via Vega owners plan to create an intimate setting for people to enjoy with barrel-head tables and wine sold by the glass and bottle. It will cost around $25 per person to attend. They will also have a Valentine's Day show with special treats and a romantic setting. Owner April Gomez said that it takes a true passion for theater to come together.

"It is about sharing their talents. They don't get paid. They just pour their hearts out and everyone walks away feeling good," said April. "Everyone remembers the plays or shows they have seen live and go away better for it. There is definitely an interest in the county and players that want to get experience in a theater group. Our venue is so expandable and we hope to bring in at least 50 people or more a night and club members can expect to have their discounts on wine. This won't be a big money maker at first, but with the help of the community, Cynthia, Larry and I hope that it will be a success."

They all said it will be important to receive community support in all forms. from promotion to actors, set builders, to lighting and sound operators. Anthony said they needed stage managers, like yesterday and need people to contribute financially. Though they have found some local support, that would be a great help.

"We have made the connection with Project Theater," said Anthony. "They will be serving as an umbrella organization for our new baby the Wine Country Theater, so that we can have the privilege of using their non-profit number, so we can give charitable donation receipts to generous donors. It is a wonderful collaboration, because their future dream is to invest in the building of a venue. My dream is to develop a community of artists and an appreciative audience in the community, so that, if and when those two things synergize, everything will be in place. We are very grateful to Project Theater and that board of directors and I am very honored. Hopefully, people will feel like this is good thing for the community and find a way to make this possible with their donations."

To be a part of this ncw venture im community theater anyone may come to the auditions for Wine Country Theater's first production "it Had To Be You." They will be held at Via Vega Winery. 2378 Adobe Road in Paso Robles at 6:30 p.m. on Monday. Dec. 9. Anyone that would like to help with any aspect of planning, building acting, running sound, lights, generous donations, or stage managing should contact Cynthia Anthony at or call 610-0786.