Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra turns 20

FEW GROUPS EXEMPLIFY THE INVENTIVE AND visionary spirit of the region’s arts and culture scene more than Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

From modest beginnings, CATS has grown to become one of the foothills’ most respected theatre and arts and culture groups, thanks to dedication, talent and creativity.

“Finding a need a filling it” has become a motto for CATS, which has helped bring cultural diversity to Nevada County and beyond, says Executive Director Jeannie Wood.

After some early joint productions at the Studio Theatre (now the site of the Gold Miners Inn–Holiday Inn Express & Suites), CATS ventured out on its own in 1994 and made the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City its home.

“They put all their efforts into one major show a year, stretching their resources, and often times reaching beyond what they thought was possible,” Jeannie recalls.

The community has embraced CATS, and it has won dozens of theatrical awards, most recently sweeping the Elly awards with Journey to the West.

Some memorable productions included The Joy Luck Club (2001), Snow Falling on Cedars (2010) and The King and I (2011), Lowell Robertson, a lifelong theater patron, remembers. Last year, Journey to the West won five Elly Awards, including best overall production for a comedy, the Sacramento Regional Theatre Alliance announced.

Named for Eleanor McClatchy, a devoted patron of the arts and former publisher of the Sacramento Bee, the Elly Awards celebrate excellence in Sacramento’s regional community theater. CATS productions routinely win “Ellys.” “The CATS theater experience keeps getting better,” says Lowell.

CATS 20th anniversary production is the Tony award-winning musical Miss Saigon from April 10 to May 10. Click here for more information.

Along with Miss Saigon, CATS’ cultural enrichment programs this year include the Nevada City Chinese New Year Festival on February 9, a trip to the San Francisco Opera for Madame Butterfly on June 15, three screenings during the summer of Ancestors in the Americas: The History and Legacy of Asians in the Americas, and a cooking class on Southeast Asian cuisine later in the summer.

Two years ago, CATS launched the Xiao Mao (Little CATS) Culture Club, which shares the Asian culture with children of Nevada County through workshops, Mandarin lessons and summer camps. “CATS is pleased to have programs that are serving its community well,” Jeannie explains.

This year CATS also is sponsoring a trip to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia to extend the cultural experience from Miss Saigon. It is 19 days, and the tour is designed by Overseas Adventure Travel.

Travel dates are October 27 to November 14, 2014. “From the grandeur of Angkor Wat’s temples to the simplicity of life along the Mekong River, it’s an Asian adventure like no other,” says CATS.

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