Arts | Inland Valley Repertory Theatre
By: Jamie Durante
The Inland Valley Repertory Theatre (IVRT) is a family-ran theater company that operates within extraordinary circumstances. As a nonprofit that does not have a venue of its own, IVRT works creatively to collaborate and partner with other arts companies in the area in order to have a place to perform their season of shows.
Donna and Frank Minano are the creative, talented and married duo behind IVRT. The Minanos have spent many years in our community adapting their theatrical performances to fit stages already set for other plays. Donna Minano shared with us, “It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You have to make sure that each piece fits. It’s like a collaboration, and it’s more interesting that way; it’s more dramatic.“
The Minanos founded IVRT in 1990, and the couple had a very successful and vibrant eight years delivering star-studded performances to the IE. This success came naturally to the couple; Frank Minano is a professional actor, singer and director, while Donna Minano is a musician.
In 1998, IVRT went on an almost 10-year hiatus to allow the couple to focus on family. Thankfully IVRT returned in 2007 after the Minanos’ oldest daughter, Amanda, started revitalizing the focus of arts in their family.
Donna Minano shared how theater has always been in Amanda’s blood, and she has some impressive accomplishments, “My older daughter is actually starting her professional acting career. She’s going on tour with The Little Mermaid. She’s about to graduate. We told her to go on this tour, because how often does this type of thing come up?”
IVRT’s main stage theater performances are regularly held at the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre in Claremont. Their season consists of three shows that are typically a drama, a comedy and a musical. They also have a fourth show at the Candlelight Pavilion that is available exclusively to the theater company’s donors and subscribers. Then this special show is usually performed open to the public at another location.
Past shows that have been taken on the road include Tuesdays with Morrie and Songs for a New World. This year, four performances of The 39 Steps will be onstage at The Grove in Upland from October 3 to October 11, 2015. These shows sell out quickly, so don’t miss your chance to catch a theatrical performance. The public can is also welcome to enjoy the dark comedy Company at the Candlelight Pavilion from Oct. 28 through November 11, 2015.
Inland Valley Repertory Theatre has a reputation for covering shows that are different from other local theater companies in the area, and Donna explained how this is part of the company’s mission, “We like to try and do things that are not done often at other local theater companies.”
One example of this mission is their upcoming showing of Company. This musical is rarely done, and it paved the way for many popular musicals today. The story follows a bachelor who hangs out with a lot of married friends, and he is contemplating whether or not marriage is worth all the trouble in the end.
Without spoiling the ending, Donna shared with us what she believed the overall epiphany behind the main character of Company, “Marriage is about having that one person in your life that makes you feel more alive. And it’s about having somebody to be there for you, but also to test you, fight for you and fight with you, and overall make you feel alive.” In addition to their popular main stage season, IVRT also hosts their Reader’s Theater At Eddie’s Pizzeria & Eatery in Claremont on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The theatre company also pairs up with Claremont Community School of Music to offer Camp Broadway to the youth in our community. Children get to learn singing, dancing and acting in a fun and exciting environment.
The program has been seeing much success, and students get to have fun while learning. Donna said, “We teach them acting skills, we play games that allow them to improvise and games that allow them to stretch their imagination and to think on their feet.” Many of the students even go on to participate in the theater’s productions.
Overall, IVRT is a theater company in the IE that steps up their game in terms of creativity, concepts and heart. Stay tuned for the announcement of IVRT’s 2016 season—like every year before, their new line-up is sure to impress.
For more information on Inland Valley Repertory Theatre, please visit their website.