Doing what they love

Napa Valley Register Columnist, Evy Warshawski, January 11, 2017

I would bet that Debbie Baumann, Barbara Nemko, Patricia Giusti Quinn and June Alane Reif — founding members of Napa’s newest theater venture, the Valley Players — have read Marsha Sinetar’s popular 1989 book, “Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow.”

Throughout the text, Sinetar provides a step-by-step guide to discovering work that fits one’s talents, passions and needs. Those of us who chose professions in the nonprofit arts often cite the book as our inspiration and raison d’ être.

With no expectation of financial reward, these four energetic, talented ladies — all former actresses with Dreamweavers Theatre — are keeping their professional day jobs while collaborating on producing plays in their spare time. “By day I’m a geek,” said Reif, a web application developer, “but by night, I’m an artist.”

Valley Players’ first offering premiered last week with both the play, Harold Pinter’s 1962 work, “The Lover,” and audience using the ample stage of Lincoln Theater. Featuring Reif and fellow thespian Richard Pallaziol, this quirky, one-act about “modern marriage” was performed with panache and assurance. If this is any indication of what’s in store for Napa Valley audiences, we’re in good stead for more quality theater choices in our midst.

I recently spoke with Reif about the genesis of and plan for this fledgling artistic endeavor.

“We wanted to start out with a small group,” Reif said, “as it can be hard to make decisions with a larger group. We wanted to get everything organized and then open the door. Funding-wise, we’re pooling our resources, splitting the costs and hoping we can make some of our money back.”

The mission of the community-based Valley Players is to produce quality plays from both classic and contemporary canons, with a focus on providing roles for women over age 40 and audiences over age 50.