In race to reopening, Visalia Players’ ‘The Bright Lights of Broadway’ beats the Great White Way itself

Live theater in the central San Joaquin Valley is back.

Last weekend, Good Company Players dipped its theatrical toe in the water with the launch of “In the Meantime,” a cabaret offering at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater featuring a rotating cast of solo singers and duets. (It continues through May 16, all as a prelude to the opening of “Nunsense” on May 20.)

Pictured above: Jennifer Masters and Hillari Loeffler are featured in ‘The Bright Lights of Broadway.’ Photo: Susi Youngs

In terms of a fully staged, large-cast production, the Visalia Players is the first in the area to return (unless there’s some company hiding from me). The company opens “The Bright Lights of Broadway” on Friday, April 30. The 13-member cast will perform on the newly improved outdoor stage at the Ice House Theatre. Audience members will be socially distanced and follow current Tulare County Health Department regulations.

Here’s what you need to know from director Rebecca Coffey-Godfrey:

Q: Tell us about the format of the show.


A: It is a cabaret style show that features numbers from Broadway shows from past to present. I worked with two writers, Jennifer Masters and Leeni Mitchell, to help tell the story of Broadway and bring my vision to life. I have always loved Broadway and I want to share my love for Broadway and Theater with the Central Valley. I began with a list of songs I wanted to include in this show and after auditions narrowed my list down to fit to my cast strengths.

Q: What are a couple of the highlight numbers?

A: “Music of the Night” from “The Phantom of the Opera” is one of my favorites. The actors in this number do an amazing job of capturing the beauty and mystery of Christine and the Phantom. I also love the number “When you Believe,” which the entire cast is in. This song talks about the hope that can be found even through the darkest of times.

Q: What was it like for you and your cast to get back into a theater after so much time during lockdown?

A: It was amazing to step back into the theater!!! This cast brings me so much joy and they are so incredibly talented. They were all willing to go on this journey with me and never complained once while adhering to the county’s guidelines we had to follow. I feel this show has sparked something in all of us that we lost this past year.

Susi Youngs

John Piper is the Phantom and Victoria Coffey is Christine in ‘The Bright Lights of Broadway.’

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your affiliation with the Visalia Players.

A: I have been in theater for many years and am a graduate from California State University, Fresno, with my degree in theater. I got involved with the Visalia Players back in 2013 with my first show being “GI Jukebox.” After that show, I performed in numerous shows before moving to Los Angeles where I did a few professional shows. After I moved back to the Valley I got back involved with the Visalia Players as a choreographer and actress. I am a member of the Visalia Players board. “The Bright Lights of Broadway” will be my directorial debut.

Q: What’s your favorite Broadway show of all time?

A: “Wicked” and “Legally Blonde.”

Q: If Broadway were to open back up tomorrow, what show would you most want to see?

A: “Six The Musical” for sure. They were about to make their Broadway debut the week that Broadway shut down. That show is absolutely amazing and deserves to be enjoyed by audiences.

Show info

‘The Bright Lights of Broadway,’ a Visalia Players production at the Ice House Theatre. 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 2; 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 7, and Saturday, May 8; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 9. Tickets are $15. Masks and social distancing required. If you bring your own chairs to sit on during the performance, you will receive a $2 voucher to be used for snacks and drinks bought during the show.

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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