A Jewel hidden in Saratoga.

Exclusive interview with JAY STEELE
By Iride Aparicio

Jay Steele
JAY STEELE, Board Chairperson SBMT

Photos Courtesy:  SBMT

SARATOGA, CA --  Formerly known as SARATOGA DRAMA GROUP, SOUTH BAY MUSICAL THEATRE has been presenting top-notch musical theater to the South Bay since it  was formed in l963 under the auspices of the Saratoga Federated Church, and mounted its productions in the church’s Richards Hall. When audiences grew so large for the hall, the group had to be moved to the 300 seat Saratoga Council Chambers, and the group  changed its name to SARATOGA DRAMA GROUP.  Today it is known as SOUTH BAY MUSICAL THEATRE.

The purpose of this interview, is to make those people living in SARATOGA, California, aware that at the center of their city there is a marvelous  theatre and encourage them to learn about it. To many, the experience may be as valuable, as the discovery of a raw diamond..

South Bay Musical Theatre

“I would like to say to people who have not yet visited us, to come to SOUTH BAY MUSICAL THEATRE, and  gives us a try” says JAY STEELE, Board Chairperson of  SBMT for the 20l8-2019 Season, during an interview with CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL.

He continues: "Oour little theatre in the Civic Center Area, of SARATOGA, does not look like a fancy Broadway theatre, but just come to one of our shows and experience the quality that we put on, because it really reflects how much our actors love to do what they do."

CWB Who are your Actors?

J.S “Our actors are people who have day jobs, or are retired, or maybe young and without a job yet, but all perform for the love of doing it. Not only our performers, but also the musicians and the people who design the costumes. Everyone.  Each one of our productions is a labor of love, so we do high-quality work and provide an evening of entertainment to our audience for a price that is less than a person would pay in other theatres. So, If you have not been with us, give SOUTH BAY MUSICAL THEATRE a try. We have a wonderful new 2018-2019 season.”   

Mr. STEELE, is knowledgeable about the institution. He began working with SBMT in 2002 as a performer, and he is now, BOARD CHAIRPERSON. He coordinates the Board members, guides the group as the leader, leads the meetings, and drives the agenda. He also keeps an overall view of the organization and tries help guide its priorities to be sure that the group runs effectively and  successfully, both financially and artistically.”

CWB: May I ask you how did the actor become  an administrator?

J.S: ”It all started when I was acting, and then I was asked to help out with certain things and with projects, and then I was asked to run for the Board. As a Board member I started getting more involved in different aspects of the group such as off-stage activities and then producing.  So the reason was  my  over-all love of the art and appreciation for all the different elements that go into theatre and into making a  production.”

CWB: When did you get interested  in theatre?

J.S: “Since I was a child I  always went to see theatrical performances, and I always wanted to perform, but my acting started in college, performing in musical theatre. I just loved being on stage, particularly being in a group of people who became friends and had similar interests. I guess I started in theatre because of the excitement of being on the stage and bringing whatever feeling the show was about. whether it was funny or spectacle, or moving. to the the audience  that was feeling for your performance, It was an adrenaline, a rush to me “

Mr. STEELE started his acting performing in musicals, because he believes that if you have the ability to sing, you have that extra talent that makes you able to be in a musical. “Some actors cannot sing at all so they can only act,” he says, “but those of us who can sing often pursue the musical theatre because you have to sing and dance.” He laughs before adding “In my younger days, I did a lot of dancing. I still do some.”

His definition of “Musical Theatre”  is:  Theatrical productions, plays, and stories where a significant amount of the story is told through songs.  "I define as Musical Plays  those plays where a fair portion of the story is told with songs that move the story along," he says, "In a musical, the music contributes  to telling the story.”

CWB:  How does SOUTH BAY MUSICAL THEATRE selects its musicals?

J.S. “One of the things we do is to look at shows that have not been performed recently in the immediate area. We also look at shows that are well-liked, that have not been done lately and we present them again.  We  also  look for new shows that haven’t been done before, or have not been done in our area,  So we try a variety of things for our season and try to combine the shows that have more dancing and are up-beat, with those shows that are more serious. But basically, what we look for is  for shows that we think our audience will enjoy and will subscribe to see, and “package” them.

“We have a wonderful "package" for our 2018-2019 season. We are doing the show MAME, ( with book written by JEROME LAWRENCE and ROBERT E. LEE and music and lyrics by JERRY HERMAN). which is a classic show on Broadway.”

September 22 to October 13

 “MAME” is a unique show because it  presents  a character who is “unique” in theatre. There is so much about her, in so many levels and you can really see this complex character who can be a little shallow, but truly love and can care for someone, living in this fast paced New York society. And also, you see her going from great fortune, to depression and having to deal with problems she never faced before. I think that MAME is an unforgettable character because she can perform in so many levels.” he says.


Big River
January 26 – February l6 2019

CWB: What can you tell us about BIG RIVER?

J.S:  “BIG RIVER is the musical retelling of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”  Our Winter show is a “Best Musical”, “Best Book”, and “Best Original Score” Tony Award winner.  It is a musical which is not so well known,  but  was a very big success on Broadway, where it ran for more than three years. It is based on MARK TWAIN’S story, which is a classic American Literature book."

"The musical follows Huck’s story (the story where he is running away with a run-away slave to escape a town where he had some trouble).  It is a moving adventure  where they both go from town to town and meet different people. The story is really engaging." 

"The score was written by ROGER MILLER who is primarily known from his country-pop music, so the music suits the mood of the show. The songs are very catchy. It is a fun story, but it is also a serious story because it is about Huckleberry and his friend Jim (the slave) floating along the Mississippi meeting new people along the way. It is a great story, that takes people on the journey with the characters when they see the show.”  


May l8 – June 8, 2019J.

CWBJ: And Millie?

J.S. "THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE  is a spectacle, with a little seriousness in it. A lighter musical.  It is very funny. It is full of dancing, and silly comical situations. The main story conflict is about the young women in the l920’s meeting the men that they are going to marry. (The story takes us back to the height of the l920’s Jazz Age in New York City, when “moderns” including a flapper named Millie Dillmount,  were bobbing their hair, raising their hemlines, entering the workforce and rewriting the rules of love to get the perfect, successful husband).  “There is also a silly prop line about girls disappearing and being kidnapped, which even though it is serious, is done in kind of a silly over the top way. It is a really entertaining show that moves along in a fast pace. An audience pleaser. One of those shows where all you have to do is lean on your seat and let the show bounce along its own way.”

THOROUGHGLY MODERN MILLIE the musical, is based on the l967 Academy Award Winning ® movie of the same name,  with book by RICHARD MORRIS and DICK SCANLAND. The musical, was the 2002 Season ‘s "most awarded new show on Broadway",

CWB:  And to end our interview, what would you like to tell our readers about your “SPECIAL CONCERT” BROADWAY BY THE DECADE?

Broadway By The Decade
One night only February l0, 2019

J.S. “BROADWAY BY THE DECADE was created nine years ago by  BRAD HANDSHY, and each year the concerts have feature songs from one of the recent decades. This year will be on the Musicals of the l990’s. It will be the most recent we have done, and it will feature about twenty-five performers, and each one will be  performing one song from one of the shows of that decade. "

" BRAD who writes the show, and plays the piano and is its Musical Director, gets all the work of finding songs and finding good singers to present the songs. The show features strong performers, many of them the actors  who had played the lead roles in our other shows. What makes the show so special is that BRAD has the ear to know which person would be best singing a song, and then he transposes the song to their key."

"The show also features songs which may not have been “successful Broadway songs” but are good musically, and exemplify the music that was being played on Broadway’s productions at the time. During the show, BRAD will also talk about the trends going on Broadway at the time. This “Special” Concert has been very popular with our audience because it is unique."