By Noemi Garcia |Staff Writer|
Kathy Anderson first played “Ramona” but now, after 32 years of participation, played Señora Moreno and the script change allowed the audience to better understand this character.
“Before all you saw was a grumpy lady and did not understand why,” said playwright Stephen Savage.
The drama focused on an orphan Native American girl who was brought up as a Spanish girl in an Hacienda with riches, yet falls in love with a Native American boy.
The “Ramona” outdoor play was originally a book written by Helen Hunt Jackson in 1884, and was later adapted into a script in 1923 by Garnet Holme.
However, for its 93rd celebration, Savage revamped the longest running outdoor play in the United States by “modernizing the play while keeping it a living document,” said Savage.
Although the directors and producers did not find it easy to make changes, they did face some obstacles.
“After 92 years of using the same script, the community showed resistance when they saw the changes,” added Anderson.
As the director, it is Anderson’s responsibility to ensure the play continues to entertain.
“Even though the outdoor play has become a tradition, it is entertainment first and it has to stay relevant to present times,” added Anderson.
The protagonists seemed to enjoy the script change as well; they saw it as an upgrade to the original novel as well.
Kayla Contreras, who played Ramona for the first time this year, said, “I saw the play as a child and want to come back next year.”
Contreras is of Native American descent, so this opportunity really hit home and she attends Cal State Fullerton in pursuit of an acting career.
Joseph Valdez has been playing the role of Alessandro for two years now.
“It’s truly unbelievable, and the play overall seems tighter,” said Valdez, who claimed to never get nervous and has never forgotten his lines.
The play goes on for three hours with a 30 minute intermission.
The characters had to fully prepare themselves for the show.
“We began rehearsing in January, so it has been about three months, and the new script is phenomenal,” said Bret Cherliand, who played Don Felipe.
Brittney DeLeon, co-star of the play, also claimed to enjoy the script change, although she was nervous about taking on her character.
“It was my first year, and I was playing Margarita, it felt like I had big shoes to fill,” said DeLeon.
Margarita is a character known for her attitude, selfishness and envy towards Ramona.
When DeLeon was asked how she felt about the play, her attitude was beyond ecstatic.
“It is California’s gem and if anyone looks up California, Ramona is bound to come up,” said DeLeon.
“Ramona,” having been around for 93 years, still obtains great turn outs each year.
“With the new script change and the modernization this has been the best turn out in five or six years,” said Steve Silkotch, who has been participating for 16 years.
The cast notices on who attends the play and whether they are locals or not.
“People come from all over the place to see Ramona, there are about 3000 people in each showing and only about 17 percent of them are locals, that tells you how well known the play is,” concluded Gregg Wilder, who has 18 years of participation in the play.