Ophelia’s Jump picks up new batch of awards

(L-R) Sheila Malone, Michael Mullen, Gerry Tonella, Chloe Reyes, Spike Pulice, Beatrice Casagrán, Graham Kurtz, Vanessa Gamble, and Shinshin Tsai pictured Monday at the Orange County Theater Guild Awards ceremony in Costa Mesa. Photo/by Francis Gacad

On Monday, Ophelia’s Jump Productions picked up Orange County Theater Guild Awards for outstanding production of a musical and best costume design for its production ofNevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe.” The event was held at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Samueli Theater in Costa Mesa. 

“It was an unexpected and delightful surprise,” wrote OJP Producing Artistic Director and director of “Nevermore” Beatrice Casagrán in a news release. “We were up against some really brilliant productions by theaters who are much bigger than we are. It’s a real honor and a light in a difficult theatre-making landscape.”

(On floor, L-R) Chloe Reyes, Vanessa Gamble, Molly Billman, Graham Kurtz, Kenn Schmidt and Gerry Tonnela. In foreground, Spike Pulice. Photo/by Beatrice Casagrán

The Upland-based nonprofit regional theater company was also recently recognized by the Los Angeles theater community with a Stage Raw award for production design for its world premiere production ofSealed Orders” by Claremont playwright Jean Collinsworth. “Sealed Orders” was also nominated for best new play by the American Theatre Critics Association.

Ophelia’s Jump’s artistic success comes as it continues to struggle in a post-pandemic economy, where attendance can be erratic, donations are down, and government grants have dried up.

“It’s ironic,” wrote Casagrán. “Audience and critical feedback are super positive, memberships are up, and we have more first time patrons than ever, but we are facing a 50% drop in individual giving and a 70% drop in government grants at a time when costs are up almost 300% from pre-pandemic budgets. We are not alone, small performing arts organizations across the state are closing or drastically cutting their programming. In many ways, OJP is lucky to serve a community of arts lovers. We feel if we can just let people know what is going on they will step up to support live theatre in the community.”

According to OJP’s news release, recent surveys have found ticket sales and other earned revenue covers only 30% to 40% of small nonprofit performing arts companies’ programmatic and operating costs. Companies have to fundraise for the rest.

“Our mission includes keeping theatre accessible to everyone in the community,” wrote OJP Board President Sonja Stump in the news release. “That’s why we do not charge anywhere near the price per seat that it would take to cover our costs and we offer performances at very low ‘pay what you can/pay it forward’ pricing. It’s a constant struggle to meet our mission of paying all artists and keeping prices accessible.”

Ophelia’s Jump Producing Artistic Director Beatrice Casagrán pictured Monday at the Orange County Theater Guild Awards ceremony in Costa Mesa. Photo/courtesy of Beatrice Casagrán

This summer OJP will present “La Tempestad,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” The play is set in Cuba and will feature original live Afro-Cuban music by percussionist Arturo Stable and guitarist Andres Vadin, and original choreography by Cuban choreographer Kati Hernandez. Going back to its repertory format, OJP will also present “The Knight of the Burning Pestle, an interactive comedy directed by OJP co-founder Caitlin Lopez. 

The Midsummer Shakespeare Festival runs July 11-21 at the Sontag Greek Theater at Pomona College. 

“The festival is a labor of love,” Casagrán wrote. “It has never broken even, but we founded it to attract visitors to Claremont during the slower summer month of July. We have drawn visitors from across the state and even from outside of California. I really enjoy working with local businesses, musicians, and artisans to make this yearly Claremont tradition come to life. We just have to figure out how to pay for it all.”

More information is available at opheliasjump.org, via email to info@opheliasjump.org, or by calling (909) 734-6565.


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