I first saw “The Colony — The Musical” almost 20 years ago. It had been written by Anet Carlin and Colleen Goulding and was based on the very early years of Atascadero’s history. The play opens on a warm day in June 1914, when the cornerstone for the City Administration Building was put in place. The second act, titled “A War and A Wedding,” followed.
Anet said she got her inspiration to do a play about Atascadero after seeing the Ramona Pageant in the early ’90s. What she and Colleen came up with is a dazzling musical that captures instantly what it must have been like when folks from throughout the nation arrived here to stay in a temporary tent city and see what publisher E.G. Lewis’ utopian community was all about.
Actually, there wasn’t much here yet. Lewis acquired the 23,000-acre J.H. Henry ranch in the spring of 1913 and was still putting in water mains, removing trees, mapping out streets and working on the construction of a civic center that would eventually include the Administration Building, The Printery, The Mercantile (La Plaza) and the Grammar School.
In fact, those people who came here for the laying of the cornerstone couldn’t stay more than a couple of weeks. A more permanent tent city wasn’t opened until the spring of 1915, when Lewis allowed home building to begin.
This Saturday and Sunday night, the tunes written by Colleen and the words by Anet will light up your heart as a cast of local adults and children will dance, sing and act out this Colony’s beginning.
John Lambie, a veteran actor, singer, director and high school teacher, will direct this show. Stephen Tosh is in charge of music arrangements.
The producer is Dianne Greenaway, everyone’s favorite drama and tent city champion. It’s Atascadero’s version of one of the Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney movies where someone says, “Let’s put on a play.”
The two free performances will be Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. in the Sunken Gardens. The Administration Building will be the backdrop for this wonderful show. You can bring a picnic basket to the event or purchase something there on both nights. Sit on the lawn or in one of the 500 seats that will be provided.
This could easily be the crown jewel of the yearlong celebration of the city’s 100th birthday.
I truly believe this will be an Atascadero history lesson you’ll be humming for days.