In The Mix with Diane Kamrin
Aug 29, 2016 03:08PM
● By Paul Cotruvo
Theatre is alive and well in our community, and a large part
of that is due to the one and only Pleasant Hill resident Diane Kamrin. Diane
is one of the founders of STARS 2000, a fantastic teen theatre company that was
created to help young actors hone their craft. Throughout the many years, Diane
has worked tirelessly to not only direct and produce shows with the kids, but
to keep theatre alive right here in our little neck of the woods. I have known
Diane for many years. One of my first ever gigs as a musician was to play
guitar with her husband, Terry. I have never forgotten it, as they really
opened my eyes to many different styles of music. Diane was mentoring back then,
and she probably didn’t even know it! So, I thought it was time you got to know
a little about this wonderful human being.
PC: What inspired you to get into show business? And who are some of your inspirations?
DK: Actually, my father was a singer and amateur performer. Watching him (and my mom) perform in amateur productions and then being old enough to join them made a real impact. Having the opportunity to see live musical theatre growing up in San Francisco gave me the chance to see many Broadway stars - all of who were impressive. I think perhaps Rita Moreno, a local gal, is most inspirational.
PC: Do you remember the first show you were in?
DK: First, I was in dance recitals starting from the age of five or six. My mom said because I was such a 'klutz' it might help me from running into walls when I danced around the front room. My high school didn't do musicals, but I was performing with the dance department and vocal music department in all their showcases. Later, in college at San Francisco State, I was given the opportunity to perform in several shows. I think my first production was Once Upon A Mattress, which I have since choreographed at least five times! My all-time favorite, West Side Story, really made an impact on me. I was so thrilled to finally get the rights to produce this iconic American show with STARS 2000 last year.
PC: How long have you been directing and producing shows?
DK: I actually choreographed my first show as a special project while I was in college. (I won't tell you how long ago that was!!) When Terry and I moved to "the country" from S.F., I got involved in Mt. Diablo's Fine Arts Summer school - now long gone. I found a home with the Diablo Light Opera Company as a performer and then founded STARS 2000 in 1992.
PC: Can you tell us some of your moments of your career so far?
DK: Probably the first time STARS 2000 produced Les Mis in 2008 was incredibly special: a major undertaking, including the turntable stage and challenging vocal music. And then, we did it again last summer! With every show, I feel we've made an experience for our young actors that they can take with them into the world, be it in the arts or just in life. One of the most exciting experiences is going to New York and watching our former young actors star on Broadway.
PC: What is your opinion of the arts here in our community?
DK: I so wish we could find a performing arts center for Pleasant Hill - one that would be financially feasible for local non-profits and high school theatre programs and productions. We also need help in advertising our production to the community. Funding for companies like ours is minimal; production costs use most of our capital.
PC: Are you really Michael Harris's sister? Any inside scoop?
DK: Sorry to say, yes, Mike is my big brother. Mike has been very supportive of me throughout my life - and also very protective - like a second dad. It is hard to tell that we're relatives, though, because he can't carry a tune! However, that never stopped him from singing!
PC: If you were a song, what song would you be and why?
DK: That's really a hard question! The first one that comes to mind is John Lennon's “Imagine,” especially because of what the world is facing right now. On the musical theatre side of it, maybe “There's a Place For Us” from West Side Story or possibly “Happiness” from You're a Good Man Charlie Brown. Check out the lyrics - life should really be that simple!
Thanks Diane! Please check out their website at www.stars2000.azurewebsites.net and look for their next production, or just give a donation!
Quote of the Month: “Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to.” -- Willem Dafoe
Paul’s Picks for September:
September 3: Grace Leer & The Golden Harvest, WiseGirl, 1932 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill, 9:30pm
September 4: Queens & Thieves, Summer by the Lake, PH City Hall, Gregory Ln. & Cleaveland Rd., 6pm
September 9: Stung, Dan’s Bar, 1524 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, 10pm
September 17: Delta Blues Festival, Waldie Plaza, Antioch, 12pm
September 17: 18 – 21: Annual Lafayette Art & Wine Festival, Downtown Lafayette, 10am
September 23: Frankie G. & The Convictions, WiseGirl, 1932 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill, 9:30pm
September 24: Fast Times, Dan’s Bar, 1524 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, 10pm
September 25: The Sunday Paper, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 4pm
September 29: Chuck Prophet, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm