Famous play celebrates its 94th anniversary

C■ By Halima Haider / Reporter

alifornia’s official outdoor play, “Ramona,” returns for its whopping 94th anniversary with a full cast of seasoned actors ready to slink down the stage. Prepare to be dazzled by performers that don their costumes as second-skin, and hurl out their scripts as born-naturals. It’ll have you thinking you’ve been slipped a time-capsule in your morning coffee as the ensemble cast takes you for an emotional spin to an epoch in American history that is often forgotten.
Former Miss Hemet 2014 Kayla Contreras will star as “Ramona” again for the second consecutive year, and the coveted role of “Alessandro,” the lead male, will be played by Joseph Valdez, the incumbent since 2013. Performance dates are April 22 to 23, 29 to 30 and May 6 to 7, and will be held at the outdoor Ramona Bowl Amphitheater in Hemet where it’s taken place since the play’s inception.
The origin of the iconic “Ramona” dates back to 1884 when Helen Hunt Jackson’s famed titular novel was published. A tragic tale of two lovers that poetically encapsulates the genocidal history of Southern California’s native people in all its rightful poignancy, Ramona became an instant classic. And as it most often happens with classics, in 1923, the hit novel was adapted into the theatrical act that continues to pull at the heartstrings of those who attend. Hollywood icons to have played the role of “Ramona” include Oscar-nominated actress Anne Archer circa 1969, and Golden Globe-winner and sex-symbol Raquel Welch circa 1959.
2017 Cast:
Ramona: Kayla Contreras
Alessandro: Joseph Valdez
Juan: Daniel Martinez
Señora: Kathi Anderson
Felipe: Bret Cherland
Marda: Cesaria Hernandez
Padre Salvedierra: Robert Leibovich
Margarita: Paola Cifuentes
Luigo: Pablo Cifuentes
Dolores: Emilia Skye Hernandez-Minard
Padre Gaspara: Randy Dawkins
Ysidro: Josh Soto
Aunt Ri: Monica Reichl
Mara: Teresa Seaton
Joe: Rafael Wave Hernandez-Minard
Jefferson Hyer: Gregg Wilder
Jim Farrar: Dan Ferguson
Kit Carson/Jake: Mike Thomas
Capt. Merrill: Eric Cervantes
Curly: Steve Silkotch, Jr.
Hayton: Chris Summers
Jose: Jesse Nechochea
Yank: Rick Hodson
Sergeant: J.R. Hull
Captain Hernandez: Ray Munoz
Lt. Sandoval: David Sandoval
Ned: Steve Hoadley
Wagon master: Danny Sullivan
Indian soloist: Frank Jaramillo
Helen Hunt Jackson: Linda Greilich

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