photographs by Barry Wisdom /
When the Light Opera Theatre of Sacramento was founded in 1982, its mission goals were clearly defined: to present "the comic humor of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan"; to provide "via an open-audition process, an opportunity for local performers to bring their talents to Sacramento audiences"; and to promote "the performing arts in the Sacramento region."
Those goals may have been flexed and bent a bit to allow for the staging of such non-Gilbert and Sullivan productions as Darion and Leigh's "Man of La Mancha" and Stephen Sondheim's "Side by Side" on regional stages in Woodland, Placerville and Davis, but for the most part LOTS has not strayed far from its original path.
Not only has the LOTS board of directors stayed the course, but so have co-founders and current artistic directors Mike and Debbie Baad, who've seen their children Chris Baad and Katie Daley happily follow them in roles on- and off-stage.
"It was one of those things you don't realize is as unique as it is," said Daley. "It's not every kid who knows every word of the Gilbert and Sullivan catalog. I can't imagine having grown up without theater – it's been a huge part of my life."
Daley – a University of California, Davis, theater arts graduate – spent a year of post-grad seasoning in New York, as well as a year stage managing at Sacramento Theatre Company, where she earned her Equity card.
She has also augmented her résumé with 10 years (and counting) of work experience in the Music Circus wardrobe department. In 2012 she transitioned from her long-standing role as LOTS' production manager/producer to director. She is currently at the helm of Sondheim's fairytale foray "Into the Woods," which continues through Feb. 17 at the 24th Street Theatre in Sacramento.
Changing tempo from the comic camp of Gilbert and Sullivan to the erudite, close to sung-through score of Sondheim could be called – at the very least – ambitious.
"Ambitious is a good word for it," said Daley. "But we (Daley and her husband) are familiar wtih his work, having produced it in college. Philip, especially, had a good grasp of the music. But we knew it was always going to depend on the cast.
"We were so lucky with auditions.The people who came out to audition were wonderful musicians as well as actors. I feel we had the pick of the litter when it comes to talent in Sacramento."
Among the cast's principals are: Sara Haugland (Cinderella); Kate Murphy (Rapunzel); Kelly Cullity/Jennifer Morrison (Little Red Riding Hood); John Unrath (Jack); Rhonda Thomas (the Giant); Margherita Valeriano (the Witch); Mike Yee (the Baker); and Dani Hansen (the Baker's Wife). Also featured are Daley's brother Chris as the Wolf, and her father Mike as the Narrator/Mysterious Man. (Daley's mother, Debbie, is serving as costume designer.)
"I think this is a beautiful show," said Daley. "And, if it is, I keep telling the cast it's not because of me, it's because of them."
Daley, who was born during a 1984 run of "The Pirates of Penzance," began her career as an actor with LOTS as a precocious onstage presence, making her acting debut at 5 with a small part in "The Mikado."
Two distinct memories of that production still linger.
"I remember doing a little dance with my parents and two of the supporting actors," said Daley, "and I remember getting into trouble for coming to school wearing (leftover) eyeliner from the show."
Daley, who met her husband (and LOTS' future music director) Philip Daley at UC Davis, said the errant eyeliner incident wasn't her only brush with authority while in primary school.
"My father would say, 'Crap!' when he forgot his lines," said Daley. "I got in trouble at school for saying 'crap' more than once. I have a lot of those kinds of stories that come from watching my parents onstage."
Her theatrical eccentricities are more likely to garner applause than detention slips these days, however.
"Into the Woods" is Daley's second full-length directorial assignment for LOTS, the first being last year's acclaimed production of "The Pirates of Penzance," which featured acting turns by her brother, father and mother. But she originally directed at LOTS in 2008 when she mounted Gilbert and Sullivan's 30-minute production of "Trial by Jury" as part of a fundraising event.
"I thought, 'Oh, that'll be fun,'" said Daley, who confirmed that playing the role of ringmaster was, indeed, fun. "It was a great experience for me from the beginning, in a setting where I did everything – from casting to directing. It was kind of an unofficial changing of hands."
"My parents," Daley continued, "are still very much involved. But they've paid their dues and can do what they want now. For years, my husband, brother and I have been jumping in doing what needs to be done. Now I really look forward to being on the creative side in a leadership role."
JUST THE FACTS
WHAT: The Light Opera Theatre of Sacramento production of the Stephen Sondhem-James Lapine musical "Into the Woods"
WHEN: Feb. 1-17, 2013, with performances at: 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1; 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3; 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10; 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17
WHERE: 24th Street Theatre, 2791 24th St., Sacramento
HOW MUCH: $15-$20; to purchase tickets online, click here
To view additional production photos of LOTS' "Into the Woods," click here.