The Creative Center Goes To Hollywood With Grease

May 17, 2017 | 2017 Articles, Evelyne Vivies, Theatre

by Evelyne Vivies

Grease marks the 40th year anniversary of the Creative Center in Visalia in more ways than one. The elbow grease it took in 1977, under the devoted and relentless leadership of Violet Gingsburg, to get this beloved landmark of Visalia up and running for one, and then there is this month’s theater performance of Grease.

For many years people up and down the state of California have not only purchased fine artwork from the amazing artists found there but also attended theater performances by the Creative Center students both on and offsite at community events; partnering oftentimes with the Arts Consortium of Visalia.

creative center

Carmelo Ruiz

The mission statement of The Creative Center is A non-profit community arts center for adults with developmental disabilities with the mission of fostering self-expression, self-worth, and personal growth through the arts, community integration, providing cultural resources to the community and recognizing the individual’s value and contribution. This mission lives on, forty years later, under the devoted direction of Amanda Guajardo. Thanks to Amanda, in this fortieth year, the students of the Creative Center have been able to greatly benefit from advancements in technology with the recent hire of a performing arts director, Carmelo Ruiz of Hollywood. As Carmelo explains, “The music has always been here, but we are taking it to another level.”

Carmelo is a Hollywood actor, producer, and radio talk show host and has used all of his experiences and contacts in Hollywood to the benefit of the students of the Creative Center. Although he is currently working on a feature film in Hollywood and doing radio, he not only has time to be a performing arts teacher at The Creative Center, but has created new opportunities for students to learn new technological trades in art, such as, recording, filming, and production.


GREASErehearsal-(from left to right)
Cory Janca, Tim Buss, Chris Stark, Edward Villarreal. Robert Johnston, Wyatt Kruger, Eddie Paradez,
& Luis Navarrete

“Everything that I have learned in the entertainment business when it comes to production, music promotion, and filming, I am trying to bring to the Creative Center because the clients here have a potential to branch out that way,” says Carmelo.

There is now a TV news media channel on YouTube entitled The Creative Center News as well as a radio podcast and recording studio run by the students. These additions have had tremendous impact on the artistic expressions of all the students, including one particularly talented student of the Creative Center, Robert Johnston.

Robert Johnston is a natural-born singer, songwriter, and performer. In The Creative Center’s new recording studio, he was able to publish a single and is working on an album. Check out his performance and other students’ performances on the center’s website.

At the Grease Performance, you will be able to see Robert Johnston perform “Beauty School Drop Out.” You will also see, Cory Janca as Danny Zuko, Courtney Bernardo as Sandy Dumbrowski, Laura Hess, as Frenchie, Mikaela Trujillo as Jen, one of the pink ladies, and many others on-stage and behind-the-scene artists.

Carmelo talked to me about his amazement, as someone who is coming from the heart of the entertainment industry less than a year ago, and of the tremendous talent he has witnessed there. “I am so impressed with the quality of the natural-born talent we have here. Many of them have hidden talents.” Whether it is in acting, singing, dancing or other artistic performance, Carmelo says, “I really feel that we have a lot of talent that needs to be shared with people.”


GREASE rehearsal-(from left to right)
Courtney Bernardo
Cory Janca

Sometimes Hollywood performers perform with less enthusiasm for an audience of one as opposed to a large audience, not so for Creative Center students. “They put 100% into everything they do, every time, so when I see that, I feel like they deserve to get out there, they deserve to be seen by top Hollywood producers or film makers, so that they can get a chance to do auditions or casting when opportunities come up.”

Carmelo believes that there are real opportunities for the students to branch out with the gifts that they have. “I can’t wait to showcase this talent to everyone.” Including Hollywood contacts who are already impressed with what they have seen and heard from the website and CDs and are gearing up to be onsite at the theater performance of Grease. “We are bringing Hollywood to the Creative Center.”


Working on the set

The fine art Jon Gingsburg Gallery will be open before and after show performances. This gallery, which functions just like any other gallery in the world, displays beautiful works of art from the students of the Creative Center for perusing or purchase. This is a way for them to make a living.

Opening Night is May 22 with three evening shows and three matinee shows and dessert served at the evening performance.Tickets are $10. Seating is limited and reservations are recommended. Contact The Creative Center to reserve your tickets at (559) 733-9329.


Evelyne Vivies is a native to the French island of Guadeloupe living the American dream in Visalia, CA.

1 Comment

  1. This is awesome Great Job I am so happy to see this show it going to be AWESOME thank you for all your work . Rosie


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