Some history and commentary concerning the subject matter of the following interview:
The community at the present time faces a stark quandary and a historic milestone: Shall it have a fire department at its present level that has worked for decades, or shall the city continue to press forward at full throttle hoping the California DoF will allow the city the use of a portion of the bond money for the proposed new and duplicate playhouse, or use money from the City’s reserve or the General Fund?
The proposed new city duplicate playhouse initially was estimated at a costs of $8.9 million. Then later it mushroomed into a $13.8 million, including a steel superstructure building to House it along with another duplicate city building, a community center .
The Chamber of Commerce worked with City Hall for a long while before the public even knew about the playhouse plans. There was no public input.
One of the past board members of the Chamber, Brian Tabeling – also stage director of Theatre 29 — met regularly with city hall providing input for the proposed theater. Thereafter, the City executed a bond debt for thirty years at a price of $31 million dollars. This, too, was accomplished without public input. Meantime, there continues to be no public input.
Gary Danigneault –owner of the local radio station KCDZ 107.7 — past president of the Chamber; past President of Theatre 29; present Board member of the Theater; and a local play director for Theatre 29 — was the mover and shaker behind the new playhouse.
Mr. Daigneault presented a model of the first playhouse during a city council meeting — and it has expanded from its initial cost since then to three times the cost. The cost of consulting services was stated to be about an alleged $35,000. Where did that money come from? Today, no body knows but for a few insiders.
Note that Theatre 29 has exclusive use of the city building known as John Calveri Theater (aka Theatre 29) for something like one dollar a year.
City Manager, Richard Warne, said in a public meeting that the newly proposed theater would be used for showing new plays presented by Theatre 29. Meantime, the John Calveri city building would be occupied and used by Theatre 29 as a rehearsal forum to later be show cased in the new city playhouse
Gary Daigneault, and the Editor of the Local Newspaper, The Desert Trail, Kurt Schauppner, who is also a locall playwright for Theatre 29 , and Brian Tabeling, past Chamber director and as mentioned stage director and their supporters all favor a new playhouse. Do they have conflicting interests?
Twentynine Palms City Councilman Dan Mintz is a stockholder in Mr. Daigneault radio station — the Morongo Basin Broadcasting Corporation, as per his FPPC Form 700. Mr. Mintz is also a member of a Rotary Club in which both he and Mr. Daigneault are members.
Note that Councilman Mintz is and has been from the beginning a stanch supported of the theater. He owns property holding 3 1/2 blocks, about 3-5 tenths of a mile from the proposed new playhouse. Not also that there is no FPPC conflict of interest for Mr. Mintz because his business are out of the 500 feet range. But does he have a potential material interest should the playhouse be built? I think he does because Gary Daigneault pitches that the playhouse will bring be good for businesses.
Mintz is silent on the prospect of saving the TPFD.
I have taken the liberty of posting the Sun Runner Interview because of the what I believe are inconsistencies in Mr. Daigneault interview and the facts.
Finally, shall the city move forward with a new playhouse, or shall it focus on maintaining an adequate fire department so as to protect three public schools in the city, residents of the city and the business community. What is the priority? Why is the Chamber of Commerce silent on fire protection for its membership?
HERE IS THE SUN RUNNER MAGAZINE INTERVIEW
Your intrepid editor is profiling two theatres for this issue—Theatre 29 in Twentynine Palms, and Coyote StageWorks of Palm Springs. I caught up with a busy Gary Daigneault (via telephone), longtime past president of Theatre 29’s board of directors and the driving creative force behind the success of the Twentynine Palms community theatre from its inception in 1999. Original founders John (deceased) and Carol Calveri (now living in Colorado) have handed over the reins of operation to Brian and Patti Tabeling, and Daigneault, all of whom are still very much connected with the theatre.
SR: As the area’s only year-round, live theatre venue, how difficult has it been to produce and present eight productions a year, plus special events, especially if you factor in hot summer weather and part-time residents?
GD: Theatre under the best of conditions is always a challenge. We always try to offer our patrons and subscribers a balanced season of musicals, comedies, and dramas, so there is something that appeals to everyone. This year, we did nine shows: comedies, dramas, and musicals. It seems to be working, as we’re in our 13th season. As for the weather… well
Mother Nature controls that issue.
SR: How does the production selection process work?
GD: We have a production committee that selects our directors and plays, and matches them up. We also have potential directors bring us suggestions of plays they would like to do. There are, however, certain scheduling slots that are pretty firm from year to year.
SR: Like which ones?
GD: We’ve learned over the years that musicals and “young people or kid” oriented shows work best in the summer, when there is plenty of rehearsal time available. So, the committee schedules accordingly. Dramas or comedies seem to have more appeal in the fall and spring. Of course, the traditional Christmas show very rarely moves from late November into early December.
SR: Does Theatre 29 have any plans for expanding the present building on Sullivan Road?
GD: Yes, we are always exploring ways to improve and expand the building in order to make the theatre experience for our patrons more pleasant and enjoy- able. In addition, there are talks, in the exploratory stage, to see if a new 250 seat, state of the art theatre is feasible for the City of Twentynine Palms.
SR: How would Theatre 29 fit into that scenario?
GD: It’s premature to discuss our role in the project at this point in time. However, I can say we would be happy to play some part, perhaps, as the operators of the new theatre once it is completed. But, that’s all in the future. Right now our energy is focused on the opening of our next production “Asylum: Halloween Haunt,” created by Eric Ross. Come up and see what takes place on Fridays and Saturdays nights beginning October 19. Following the “haunt” make sure you see our Christmas show, “A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol,” directed by Marty Neider from November 16 through December 15.
SR: Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to talk with us. Good luck with your new season.
End of Interview with Gary Daigneault
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