Dance Project founder James Santos, whose dynamic dance and musical shows have become a huge hit in Redding, announced Thursday that he’s ending the Dance Project following April’s run of “The Sound of Music” at the Cascade Theatre.
In October, Santos took a job as an assistant artistic director with one of Cirque du Soleil’s touring productions, yet still managed to produce his holiday hit, “A Cascade Christmas,” which has attracted multiple sold-out shows over its seven-year run. The Christmas event has been a financial boon for the downtown theater and a showcase for many of the region’s top dancers, singers and musicians.
Santos announced his intentions in a letter Thursday, saying, “After many thoughts and discussions, The Dance Project Board and I have decided that “The Sound of Music” will be The Dance Project’s final production,” Santos wrote. “When I started The Dance Project, it was my goal to get the company to just about where it is today.”
Santos said the Dance Project shows grew into a dream come true for him in his hometown.
“It’s been a wonderful ride, a wonderful chapter,” said Santos, reached by phone in San Antonio, Texas, where he’s on tour with the show. “There are some disappointed (people involved with the project), but the majority are people who have said, ‘You know what? It’s OK. We’ve had a good ride and I’m happy with this.”
The “Sound of Music” runs weekends April 8-16 at the Cascade. Longtime show performer and co-director Jana Pulcini-Leard is directing the current production while Santos is the producer.
Tickets are selling well for “The Sound of Music,” which runs evenings (7 p.m.) on April 8-9 and April 15-16 and afternoons (3 p.m.) on April 9 and 16. Pulcini-Leard said more than 2,000 tickets have already sold for the shows.
“If you’re going to get tickets, I’d say get them fast,” Pulcini-Leard said. “I expect there to be a full house for every show.”
Westside Performing Arts Company director and vocal coach Trish Harris is in the lead role as Maria.
Though Santos confirmed that there will be no “Cascade Christmas” in November and no spring show in 2012, he said he’s certain other companies have the ability to fill the void. He’s also hopeful that Cascade Theatre management will be respectful and change the name of the Christmas event, even if they call it “Christmas at the Cascade,” for the first couple years at least.
“We’ll be very supporting of someone coming into that time slot and filling that spot,” Santos said. “Most of our creative team is going to go away and do other creative things.”
In his letter, Santos mentioned that north state residents should make sure they support other performing groups in the area, including the Westside Performing Arts Company, The Root Theatre Company, WE Multimedia Theatre Co. and the Riverfront Playhouse.
“Support, get involved and stay connected to these organizations,” Santos wrote. “They need you, and as it was for us, every part is essential.”
The artistic director job with the international-hit-production company Cirque du Soleil has played nicely into Santos’ skill set, he said.
“Other than being away from my family, it’s the perfect fit,” said Santos. “It feels like this job was created for what I’m good at.”
Santos’ and his partner Brian Catanio, a longtime dancer with the company, have two children in Redding.
As the company concludes its run in Redding, it plans to donate its wide array of creative inventory (costumes, backdrops, props and other equipment) to area schools, primarily University Preparatory School in Redding.
Santos said he feels blessed to have experienced so much support in the north state.
“What started as a little idea I had on paper and in my heart became ‘A Cascade Christmas,’ a sold-out event that became a holiday tradition for not only my family but for the north state. Wow, what a surprise and a blessing for me this has been, every year dreaming up ideas, directing, choreographing and ‘spreading the word.’”
Jim Dyar is a news, arts and entertainment journalist for A News Cafe and also a songwriter and member of the Muletown String Band. He lives in Redding. You may e-mail Jim at email@example.com.
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