By Pamela Dozois
There’s an old adage: “Once in show business, always in show business.”
It seems to apply to Carole and Jeffrey Bloom, Los Alamos residents who have a history working in the movie and television industry in Los Angeles.
Jeffrey Bloom, for example, wrote a live radio/stage play titled “The Chesterfield Woman,” which was performed at the prestigious Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles. The Blooms have decided to resurrect the play to raise money for the Los Alamos Senior Center.
“Since Jeffrey had already written and directed the play, we had the idea to form a theater group in Los Alamos with the goal of staging the play to raise funds for a much-needed new roof for the Los Alamos Senior Center,” Carole Bloom said. “As I am currently on the board of the Senior Center, I am aware of the costs involved in replacing the roof and the limited funds we have in our coffer. So Jeffrey and I thought it would be a great idea to use the play to help raise some of the money required for this major expenditure.”
The Blooms first needed to find a venue that had a stage and ample seating space. It was then that Cathy Duncan, owner of Price Ranch, offered to host the production.
“Cathy Duncan is an amazing supporter of all our local charitable events and she also puts on a barbecue/dance twice a year for the community,” said Carole. “Once we had a venue we then had to find actors. We decided to form a theater group, not only with the goal of staging the play but also with the intention of having future plays in Los Alamos. So the Los Alamos Theatre Group was formed.”
“We asked people we knew if they had any previous acting experience and we found out rather quickly that we would be working with people with no acting experience whatsoever,” she said.
“Those who were interested read for the parts and the ones who could commit to the project were cast. We chose those who really wanted to be a part of this new acting group we were forming. They are all local Los Alamos residents. Several have full-time jobs so Jeffrey set rehearsal times to fit with their schedules,” said Carole. “We started with Jason Mergenov. Jeffrey had always pictured Jason as the lead character in his play, detective Milo Sampson.”
The cast members for “The Chesterfield Woman” are Doug Clark, Jennifer Hooten, Jon Hooten, Julie Moore (narrator), Michael Nicola, Bob Oswaks and Steven Webb.
“Every one of these performers put 100 percent of themselves into their characters,” said Jeffrey. “I rehearsed with them individually, in pairs and in a group and I am so pleased with the growth of each performer and how they have grown into their roles.”
Jeffrey is a writer, director and producer who worked in the television and film industry and Carole was a documentary and television producer, “in their former lives,” she said.
“The Chesterfield Woman” is a murder mystery set in 1947 Hollywood. Mrs. Chesterfield solicits the help of private detective Milo Sampson when her husband goes missing. An investigation is set in motion, leading through twists and turns to a surprise ending.
“We tried to give the flavor of the 1940s through wardrobe and props. But finding clothing and props from that period, in the valley, was nearly impossible. We did our best, so we call it 1940ish,” Carole said.
“We were sold out before we even put up a poster and had a waiting list for tickets,” she said in amazement. “This is truly a small-town big event.”
Other locals involved in the play’s fundraising efforts were Sam Moore, technical director, Gabriel Bustamonte, Jim Alberts; music by Lee Stanchfield and Connie Rohde; set design by Joellyn and Neil Goodman. Plenty on Bell, Bob’s Wellbread and the Senior Center provided light snacks and the wine was provided by Sandoval-Mergenor Wine.
The Los Alamos Theatre Group is planning to put on more plays in the future and welcomes Los Alamos residents who are interested to get involved.
Carole was the vice president of the Los Alamos Men’s Club and vice president of the Los Alamos Library Board when the new library was being built and is currently on the board of the Los Alamos Senior Center. She is also a volunteer in the Emergency Department at Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital.
Jeffrey is a photographer and the administrator of the “Visit Los Alamos Valley” website on Facebook. He is the photographer for the book “Characters,” which is a compilation of photos of people who live in the valley.
“He does it for the love of photography and offers the book at cost to anyone who wants one. This is the 15th edition of the book, which keeps getting updated,” Carole said.
“This project was fun and challenging but in the end, it’s all about community.
For more information, visit the Los Alamos Theatre Group (LATG) on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Jeffrey Bloom Photography, visit jeffreybloomphotography.com or www.facebook.com/VisitLosAlamosCA.