Historical Theater: Mendocino County Museum Road Show spotlights past

Billy Hetherington (sitting on a log), with Kate Magruder and Linda Pack at the 2016 Road Show.
Billy Hetherington (sitting on a log), with Kate Magruder and Linda Pack at the 2016 Road Show. SUBMITTED photos
The 2016 Road Show cast.
The 2016 Road Show cast. SUBMITTED photos

This April, the Mendocino County Museum’s Road Show returns to five venues with all new material — seven actors will portray more than 50 characters accompanied by a brand new Road Show band.

For three years — 2014, 2015 and 2016 — the Museum Road Show has played to packed houses across the county, bringing local history to life through stories and song.

Drawing solely on transcribed archives of recorded oral histories and other primary source materials, audiences vividly experience true local stories brought to life in an amazing ensemble presentation of sound, image and virtuoso acting. To further illustrate and enrich these great stories, Artistic director and production designer Linda Pack has chosen a cavalcade of vintage photographs of our county’s history — forming the backdrop upon which the incredible tales will unfold.

This year’s stories include the pivotal Frolic shipwreck and the birth of the lumber industry; schooners and stagecoach lines — the only way in the early days to transport goods or people; the truth about the Mendocino Indian “Wars”; Grace Hudson, her paintings and her love for the Pomo; and the scandalous and comical tale of the Cattle King of Round Valley and the Fraud Queen of Spiritualism.

In addition to artistic director Linda Pack, the Museum Road Show cast is made up of six renowned local actors, including: dramaturge Kate Magruder, actor, director, writer and founder of Ukiah Players Theatre; stage director Ricci Dedola, a Mendocino-based actor and director; actor Nichole Phillips, who just enjoyed her directing debut with “The Importance of Being Earnest” at UPT; teacher and founder of Willits Shakespeare Company Billy Hetherington; Ukiah-based actor Tony Rakes, frequently featured on the UPT stage; and Fort Bragg’s mayor, Lindy Peters.

This year’s band, Poonkinney Antique, has come together specifically for the Museum Road Show. Erin Brazill, Joey Goforth and Ryan Kroll play original and traditional folk songs, with a sound combining fiery gypsy jazz and sweet, pure bluegrass.

Deeply committed to our county’s history and to telling our stories, past and present, Poonkinney Antique is a group of local musicians.

The Museum Road Show will play for three weekends in April at the following venues: opening night Friday, April 7, 7:30 p.m. at Willits High School; Saturday, April 8, 7:30 p.m. at Arena Theater in Point Arena; Saturday, April 15, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Mendocino College Center Theatre in Ukiah; Friday, April 21, 7:30 p.m. at Anderson Valley Grange in Philo; and closing night on Saturday, April 22, 7:30 p.m. at Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg.

Doors open half an hour early for guests to find their seats and enjoy pre-show music.

Advance tickets are $18 for adults, $14 for seniors (65 and over) and youth (20 and under). At-the-door ticket prices are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and youth.

All tickets are available at MendocinoMuseum.org, by calling the museum at (707) 459-2736 or by visiting the Mendocino County Museum at 400 East Commercial Street in Willits during open hours, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

Tickets for individual shows can also be purchased at specific outlets in the cities of the performance venues: Mendocino Book Company (Ukiah), Arena Market and Café (Point Arena), Harvest Market (Fort Bragg) and Boont Berry Farm (Boonville). Advance purchase is strongly recommended.