Media and News
Atascadero News Article January 8, 2020
Kate Auslen Dances for the Atascadero Performing Arts Center:
Reviving Gilbert and Sullivan Here
by Lon Allan
About Atascadero: About five years ago we tried to get an annual bluegrass festival going up in Pine Mountain Stadium, but it just didn’t fly. When I moved to Atascadero more than 40 years ago, my first thought was some kind of open-air theater nestled somewhere in the hills close to the downtown. Arnold said that an annual Gilbert and Sullivan Festival would put us on the map.
Such a show was staged on the edge of Atascadero Lake over the Fourth of July weekend in 1917 when the musical “H. M. S. Pinafore” was staged on the deck of a ship built just for the show. To refresh your memory, in this Gilbert and Sullivan opera Little Miss Buttercup cherishes a secret affection for Capt. Corcoran but cannot express it because of the disparity in their stations in life. It has all the makings of a great soap opera, including a character named Dick Deadeye.
“The night and the setting were perfect. A prettier lake, a prettier setting, a finer ship could not be got together,” the Atascadero News reported. The newspaper reported that at least 1,000 cars were parked at Atascadero Lake and it took an hour for all of them to drive from the lake to Stadium Park for a dance after the performance. At midnight there were 900 people still dancing in Stadium Park.
Before the show, the Atascadero Community Band under the direction of A. J. Dutton played for over an hour. Then, when it was time for the opera, the band moved to the forward part of the boat, leaving the main and upper decks available for the performers. Earlier in the day, a pageant based on the history of California was staged in Pine Mountain Stadium, but not until a parade was held winding its way around Atascadero’s new civic center and California Gov. William D. Stephens had spoken from the steps of the newly opened Mercantile Building—also known as “La Plaza.”
One of my favorite photos from that day is of an entire train, including the engine, tender and close to 10 Pullman cars, parked on the Southern Pacific siding that came right up to the Administration Building at that time. It is that spirit of the pageant that Arnold would like to see revived here in Atascadero, if not at the edge of Atascadero Lake, then maybe in the natural bowl at Pine Mountain Stadium.
I was in the bowl two weeks ago only to be reminded of what a splendid facility it is. Arnold Hoffman, Marj Mackey and members of the Atascadero Performing Arts Center Committee are dancing around the edge of something good for Atascadero. An annual pageant for Atascadero won’t happen over night. But it won’t happen at all if we don’t begin thinking seriously about it and moving forward one step at a time to bring all these forces together.
Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for more than four decades. He can be reached at email@example.com.
May 20, 2008 San Luis Obispo Tribune
The Atascadero Performing Arts Center Committee has partnered with the Printery Foundation "to double their own efforts to establishing a theater space in Atascadero and enable both organizations to collaborate their efforts toward restoring the 18,000 square foot building." Colony Magazine