By Catherine Gonzales
Catherine & John Gonzales came on a Focus on Mexico program in February 2008. A
couple of years later Catherine joined the Focus team as an in-house buyer’s
representative. Even as busy as she is, she found time to get involved with the
Lakeside Little Theatre here in Lake
Chapala, returning to an
early love of musical theater. We’re so
glad she did.
Some Hidden, and not so hidden talents, are discovered here
Many people find out, in their “jubilation” (Marie’s new and improved
word for retirement) that they have talents they never knew that they had. Perhaps they decide to volunteer to help and
teach kids, when they had never been a teacher.
A friend picked up a paintbrush for the first time in her life, and her
art is now sold on the internet and is in great demand. I knew that I could
sing, so it wasn’t a hidden talent, but I had not been singing for a long time.
The combination of having free time and an environment of adventure, the expats at Lakeside
can uncover new talents and, in my
case also resurrect old talents.
As a kid growing up in New
Orleans, our school performed Gilbert & Sullivan
operettas every year. As a soprano, I
was cast as Josephine in the “H.M.S. Pinafore” and Yum Yum in “The
Mikado.” I was also in the chorus in
“Pirates of Penzance.”
Fast forward 40 years.
I heard that the Lakeside Little Theatre (LLT) was going to hold
auditions for “Chicago,”
my second favorite musical (first is “Les Miserables”). Although, I had not been in a show for 40
years, the opportunity to be in “Chicago”
was very tantalizing. I so loved the
songs. Well, unfortunately, due to some
technical and legal details, LLT could not put on “Chicago.”
However, with the creativity and talent you could expect
from a director like Barbara Clippinger, she created “A Taste of Broadway,”
which is a collection of delightful Broadway show tunes that are all woven
together by a narration of anecdotes that Barbara and her son wrote. The result was a sold-out run within three
days of Opening Night.
So, yes, I did audition.
And, yes, I did get a part. I
knew that I could sing and generally, as a newcomer, I would be in a chorus
where I could “hide out.” If I missed a
note or ran out of breath, no one would really notice. The challenge was dancing.
The Broadway show
tunes I had to sing AND dance to were “Hello Dolly,” “Hey Big Spender,” “All He
Cares About is Love,” “Razzle Dazzle” and “All that Jazz” (I was so happy to be
in three songs from Chicago). Each of
these songs required dancing; not only dancing, but dancing with props (fans,
cowboy hat, purple drape). I had never
danced in my life.
Our choreographer was
Alexis Hoff and her husband, Fleming Halby.
Poor Alexis. She had to turn me
into a dancer. I wasn’t sure if it would
kill me or her first. Her patience was
remarkable. Fleming would work with me
Alexis performed with the ballet in New York at the Harkness Ballet and on
Broadway. When she moved to the First
Chamber Dance Co. in Seattle,
she met her husband Fleming. Fleming had trained and danced with the Royal
Danish Ballet before he moved to NYC and then Seattle. The partnership of Alexis and Fleming is such
a great asset to our theatre here at Lakeside.
Watching Alexis and Barbara choreograph each of the numbers
(“Small World” and “Ring Them Bells” didn’t have dancing) was a joy. Barbara had been a dancer on Broadway, worked
on many popular shows and also worked in Las
So, after practicing our dancing in the rehearsal hall, we moved to the
stage, then lights were added, then costumes, then the set, then the
music. Watching each of the “layers” of
the show come together to create the
final show, and Barbara’s vision, was a
Our Music Director was Pattye Simpson. I had first seen Pattye perform as Pasty Kline when I
first arrived on Lakeside. Pattye
has an operatic voice and background. Given the talents of Barbara, Pattye, Alexis Fleming and many more people in carpentry,
lighting and stage management, I am
struck by how remarkable that all this talent is living in a little fishing
village in Mexico.
I feel truly blessed to live in a place where hidden talents
can be explored and trained to such a level that the community is enhanced and
all of our lives benefit.