Santos To Close Dance Project After “Sound of Music”

James Santos

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.

A Cascade Christmas

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.

The Dance Project show "Steppin' Out."

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

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of

is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

12 Responses

  1. James gave this community a tremendous gift in The Dance Project – so glad he had the vision, the enthusiasm and the talent to make it happen. Our son Max spent a year with the cast, and our family is so very grateful to James for his patience, dedication and his commitment to excellence.

    To James and family: We wish you all the very best and thank you for your brilliant work in our arts community.

  2. Avatar Connie Blanc says:

    Never enough words to express how much James has touched my family's life….My daughter, who had the opportunity to work under his direction for many shows — my husband, who learned the ropes (no pun intended) backstage and myself, who just did anything needed to "keep it alive"! To James & family…you will forever leave a handprint on our hearts! Thanks!

  3. Avatar david kerr says:

    There is a great Christmas program at the Harlan Adams Theater at Chico State.

    Wish someone would sponsor a bus or limo trip. It is a fairly long, dark and often rainy trip, but worth it.

  4. Avatar Grammalyn says:

    James and The Dance Project have brought so much joy to our community. I was priviliged to be part of the crew for these amazing folks who were fabulous both offstage and on. I'm so glad that James has a new career that will stretch his imagination even further. While I will certainly miss him dearly, I am grateful that he was able to touch so many of us so deeply while he was here.

    Change is good for everyone. I look forward to the new ideas for the upcoming shows, and am excited to see what is in our future.

  5. Avatar adrienne jacoby says:

    I must admit, if I cry much more my computer is going to short out!!!

    I understand all about moving on, I understand about change being a part of life. I understand that standing still in one's life can result in stagnation of the artistic vision. I understand that James is doing what he needs to do and what is right for him. . .. . . but no one, NO ONE is going to tell me not to be sad for Redding;s loss.

    Now that I said that, let me say to James: Viya con Dios, my talented friend. continue to learn and grow and ripen your talent and I'll keep the secret hope alive that somewhere down the line, maybe in your dotage, you'll come back to us.

    XOXOXO to you and the entire family.

  6. Avatar Romney says:


    Thank you for a great arcticle on such a talented man and one of my very best friends. I miss him every day but I know that his current job has been such a blessing to he and his family. We will all miss the Dance Project and their wonderful productions and I know this is a decision that was not made lightly.

    Thank you, James, my dear friend for wonderful shows that I was blessed to be associated with as both an audience member and as a cast member. I have learned a great deal from you and as I watch you continue living your life I know that I will always learn from you.

    Break a leg!

  7. Avatar James Santos says:

    Thank you for all the kind words. You are right, this decision was not made easily but one that makes so much sense. This choice was not made overnight but actually a process that had started almost a year ago,even so it is still hard to have it be so official. Thank God for the friends and family, you always know what to say and when I need to hear it.

  8. Avatar Trish Harris says:

    James' talent and personal insistance on perfection have made a winning combo and produced shows that have touched our hearts and filled us with memories that can never be replaced. I, for one, am very sad to see the end of this legacy that James has created. It will be missed! Thank you for all the opportunities you have created and shared with me over our many years together.

    Looking to the future, I am anxious to see our community step up and try to fill those shoes you are leaving us. There are so many talented and driven people who participate in the performing arts in this town. I'm eagerly looking forward to whatever this new chapter will bring to our community!

    God bless you and your family James. You will be a gift to whatever community you work with in the future.


  9. Avatar Donna Dowling says:

    Wow, I will really miss The Dance Project. It has been a tradition for several friends and I to attend these performances. I've always been amazed by the talent. Good luck to all, and thanks for bringing the Project to Redding!

  10. Avatar Cher says:

    James…what can I say??? Jessica & I have known you since she first started performing in Kids Unlimited at the age of 6. She is now 13 & going on her 8th year in Kids Unlimited, danced in your "A Cascade Christmas" for 4 years, "Steppin' Out", and has had the opportunity to dance under your instruction at Uprep!! We miss you a lot & Jess especially is bummed she will never have the opportunity to be a part of the older group in the Dance Project! On the flip side, we are both so very happy for your new endeavor! The best of luck to you & your family and hopefully we will be able to come see Dralion in Oregon!

    Take care….Cher & Jessica

  11. Avatar Lynn Miller says:

    James and cast of Dance Project, etal. As a volunteer with the Cascade, I have had the pleasure of working many of the performances over the last years. I will miss the talented and oh so creative troupe of young actors, singers, and dancers who filled our theatre with hours of exciting music & dance. So many wonderful comments I would hear as the audience would exclaim as they were exiting after a show! And so many kudos for the director and staff that made it all come to life for our pleasure. My best to all who are leaving for new artistic endeavors and my encouragement to those who will hopefully carry on a similar, yet new offering to the community in the future. The future of cultural growth is held in the hands of those with the vision and willingness to devote themselves to its nurturance. Aloha & thankyou James, you and your family be happy and prosper in your new adventures. And for the future of theatre, dance, music, and the arts of all kinds…keep it com'in on, keep it com'in on, don't stop it now, don't stop it now……..