Extravaganza headed this way

Diana Jorgenson
Portola Editor

It will rain in Blairsden the weekend of Aug. 20 -21. It will rain at 8 p.m. Friday evening. It will rain at 4 p.m. Saturday as well and again at 8.

It will flash lightning and thunder will roar. The sound of wind will add to the mix and rain will be heard pelting the roof. There will be a full-scale thunderstorm with all of its drama and majesty, but the storm will be a very local affair, and no one need worry about lightning strikes or wildfire.

This thunderstorm will be fully contained in The Barn during performances of Stars in the Barn, an entertainment conceptualized by local businessman Chris David.

In a recent interview, David described the thunderstorm opening created wholly on computer and enthused about the talent creating the lighting and sound for the show: "The technicians are all superstars in their own right. They've been all over the world."

The show brings to Mohawk Valley the very finest human and horse athletes and combines an eclectic grouping of acrobatics, horse dancing, visual collage and Japanese drumming for entertainment the likes of which Eastern Plumas has never seen before.

"We've got the best talent in the world coming here that weekend," David said. "I'm very proud of it. I haven't done anything like this in a while, so it's exciting."

David is no newcomer to the entertainment world. Before coming to Plumas County 20 years ago and putting his showmanship to work in the local real estate market, he had spent 30 years entertaining, much of it touring and traveling the length and breadth of the United States and Canada.

He's not only put together shows, he's participated in long-running Broadway productions, such as "Hair," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Promises, Promises."

It was natural for David to participate in this show. He was a drummer in "Hair" and he'll drum in this show, this time in tandem with Sacramento Taiko Dan, a Japanese drumming group that performs worldwide and just returned from a tour through Japan. Following the performance here, the group will perform in San Francisco.

David will also perform with his Friesian stallion, Iondor, his new abiding passion.

His wife, Bonnie, was the horse rider in the family when they lived on the East Coast; Chris became interested when they lived in Las Vegas.

"For years, I've been looking for the right horse. When I met Iondor, I became enthralled with being the best rider I can be," David said. "It's a passion. It's become a real passion."

When David found Iondor three years ago, the Friesian was pulling a carriage. It turns out, he's a dancer.

Last summer, the pair participated in Trails and Vistas in Tahoe and was the entertainment at one of the stops during the weekend event. David and Iondor were performing a piece paying homage to the Samurai warrior in partnership with Taiko drummers.

Sometimes, the drummers, seeing a new group of people coming, would drum a welcome before their arrival and Iondor would begin to dance.

The horse was so trained to dance with the drums that David finally had to ask them not to begin drumming until he was in the saddle.

David also discovered their act was one of the favorites that weekend, so he has expanded it for this production. The drums and the rhythm of the horse worked well together, he found.

"The Samurai warriors, over 1,100 years, served and protected the people of the villages that they lived in," David explained, adding a bit later, "For them, it was a way of life, one requiring meditation and dedication."

David and Iondor train every day as befits the passion he expresses for horsemanship. In the course of the interview, he went into a lengthy discussion of the attributes honed by honest horsemanship, generous with his praise for Iondor, and the importance of communication between rider and horse.

The best equestrians, he noted, can control a horse with a slender thread or a piece of paper because of the connection between them.

Diane Olds-Rossi, featured artist at the Stars in the Barn show, is such an equestrian. Her commands to her horse are barely perceptible David said.

"She allows the horses their true and full athletic ability," he said, adding that her performance takes classical dressage into the realm of entertainment.

"It'll be one of the highest forms of horsemanship eastern Plumas County residents have seen."

Apparently the world's top equestrians agree, for they have invited her to perform at World Equestrian Days in Lexington, Ky. in October.

Olds-Rossi will bring a Lipizzaner stallion and the only registered red Friesian in the world, Fire Magic, to star in her acts.

David is equally awed by Christine Van Loo, acrobat and contortionist, also performing at Stars in the Barn. She's performed with Paul McCartney and at the Super Bowl - several of them. "She's the cat's meow," he said.

Seven-time national champion and Olympic Female Athlete of the Year, Van Loo put the spider in "Spiderman" with her stunt work. She performs with a length of silk, among other things, and will perform hand-to-hand acrobatic work with Sonny Brown, another renowned acrobat who's leaving his Las Vegas show with a stand-in to perform at Stars in the Barn.

Kansas Carradine, of the acting family Carradine, has made a name for herself as an actor, but found her real niche as an acrobatic rider. She also excels at roping and has become a top lasso artist. She will show off both talents at the Stars performances.

Alain Gauthier is co-directing the production with David and adds his background working with Cirque du Soleil and Cavalia, the largest equestrian touring show in the world. He is orchestrating the visual images that will be a background to all the acts in Stars in the Barn.

Acclaimed songwriter and musician Rob Gilmore will handle the sound work. When Gilmore saw the venue at The Barn, he exclaimed "What a find! What a wonderful place to do a lot of different things. We could do anything."

David sees it the same way, "What this area needs to economically survive is at least two more 4th of July weekends," he declared.

Actually, he'd like to see smaller crowds than now congregate in Mohawk for Independence Day but more consistently spread throughout the year. "That way, we could have more of a night life here without losing the tranquility of the area."

In the meantime, David wants to share his passion for horses and his longtime love for music with the community. He hopes it will encourage visitors to come back again - and expect the unexpected in Plumas County.

He is grateful to Plumas Pines Golf Resort for sponsoring the event and providing the seed money for this unique, premier performance.

"The talent that is coming to Stars in the Barn to perform is equal to - and better - than what you will find in any production show in the world," David stressed. "I want Plumas County to see this and enjoy this."

Tickets are available at Graeagle Associates, Gumbas, Epilog Books, Eastern Plumas Chamber of Commerce, Coldwell Banker-Chandler Real Estate and Plumas Pines Golf Resort. For credit card sales, call 836-4421.

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