Dance rehearsal
REHEARSAL Some members of the cast of ‘Company’ wore masks when they met to practice their steps prior to the show’s opening on July 5. (Photo by Steven David Martin)

The traditional home of the Raven Players is, and always has been, the Raven Theater. This week, however, the Players are trying on not just a new play, but a new stage: Their upcoming production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company will take place at the Windsor High School Theater Building.

The original start date of June 28 has been pushed back a week, as rumors that some of the cast came down with Covid began to spread. The new start date will be July 5; the full three-week run will thus continue until July 21.

“We’ve been pursuing performance venue partnerships the past few seasons and are fortunate that Windsor High and WUSD are allowing us to use the fantastic Playhouse at WHS for our premiere production in that partnership,” said Steven David Martin, director of the Raven Players.

He said the school auditorium is a bit smaller than the Raven, with about 300 seats, which “provides a more intimate environment for the show than the larger Raven Theater.” The Raven can hold up to 443 seats, depending on its configuration.

The Windsor theater was designed for the school by QKA, Quattrocchi Kwok Architects, and received several state design awards at the time it was completed in 2000.

The play itself, Company, has music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; George Furth wrote the book. It received a then-record 14 Tony nominations the year of its premiere, 1970, winning six. It concerns the 35th birthday party of a bachelor who is beginning to think about marriage, and a series of vignettes that follow.

Company will run from July 3 through July 21 at the Windsor High School Auditorium, usually Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sunday afternoon at 2pm.

Musical Chairs

With the theatrics of the Raven Players moving elsewhere, the Raven Theater itself is not remaining empty. Regarding the Players’ move to Windsor this summer, Raven Performing Arts Director Tom Brand said, “One of the benefits is we have five weeks open up for other shows and events.  We are really busy, with only a few weeks out of the year where we are dark.”

RETURN ENGAGEMENT Guitarist and singer Leo Kottke returns to the Raven Theater on Tuesday, June 25, with his decades-long repertoire of ‘American primitive’ music. (Photo by Jake Cudek)

Case in point: On Wednesday, June 25, guitarist Leo Kottke returns to the stage, not quite a year following his previous concert in town last July.

At that time, the Tribune reported, “To say Kottke is just a cult guitarist falls short of his impact. Though hardly a household name, people who know the songs ‘Eight Miles High’ or ‘Sweet Emotion’ are more likely to know versions by the Byrds or Aerosmith. But one could argue in all seriousness that his versions are better. They are certainly more evocative, and have become something akin to hits for his loyal audience.”

Hyperbole aside, Kottke presents a wide-ranging, informal and quite humorous program of American guitar music. His baritone singing voice is well-used in the service of his material, but it’s his guitar work that carries the show. Doors 7pm, music at 8pm,

A week later, on July 3, the volume gets turned up by the Fabulous Thunderbirds. A powerhouse blues band, the Thunderbirds had a series of hits in the 1980s, including “Tuff Enough” and “Wrap It Up,” building on their early output that mined the deep ore of electric blues and swamp rock at roughly the same time ZZ Top, another Austin band, was doing the same.

Most of the songs and singing are the work of Kim Wilson, whose harmonica defines the sound as much as the stinging guitar licks do. Jimmie Vaughan, older brother of Stevie Ray, was the original guitarist, but Wilson has been through a couple dozen sidemen in the intervening decades.

The barn-burning sound remains the same, and since the theater promises that the area in front of the stage will be open for dancing, it’s a safe bet the Raven will be rockin’ the night before the 4th of July.

Other programs scheduled for the Raven in coming months include a Traveling Wilburys Revue tribute on July 26, and the next night, July 27, the South African vocal group Ladysmith Mambazo. See for complete schedules.

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Christian Kallen has called Healdsburg home for over 30 years. A former travel writer and web producer, he has worked with Microsoft, Yahoo, MSNBC and other media companies, usually in an editorial capacity. He started reporting locally in 2008, moving from Patch to the Sonoma Index-Tribune to the Kenwood Press before joining the Healdsburg Tribune in 2022.


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