We had the good fortune of connecting with Frank Minano and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Frank, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Back in the late 1980s in the Inland Empire, live theatre was limited. Upon graduating from South Coast Repertory Theatre Professional Acting Conservatory and from UC Irvine, I was determined to bring quality regional theatre to the Inland Empire. My wife and I saw that the city of Rancho Cucamonga was building a cultural center that included a theatre space and we knew this was the sign to get things going.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Partnering with city officials and local businesses, my wife and I founded IVRT Company, a non-profit theatre organization. Company Members were selected, along with guest artists, and soon after our productions began to grow in audience popularity. IVRT was one of the firsts in the valley to pay for non-union performers at the time. Fast forward to the mid 2000s, we never obtained our own brick-and-mortar, we took a deep breath and featured our shows during the week when the local dinner theatre was not offering a production. This was a huge step and honor to be on the Dinner Theatre stage as their reputation for excellence is a constant for decades throughout Southern California. Upcycling sets, live musicians and regional production premieres paved the path to IVRT’s reputation, now in its 31st year. Even during the pandemic, 8 productions were designed virtually, expanding the audience and performers from out of the local area.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

In the Inland Empire an exciting itinerary would include: A wonderful stroll of downtown La Verne and Claremont, for shops, restaurants and breweries.

The next day would include a trip East to Riverside to visit the historic Mission Inn Hotel and then dinner at a great restaurant in Rancho Cucamonga at Victoria Gardens and then onto the Playhouse to catch a show or concert.

The next day would include a lovely walk in the Botanic Gardens in Claremont and then a mid-week show at IVRT, where ‘Wednesdays Got Dramatic’ features a comedy, drama or musical.

Finally the weekend and why not enjoy dinner and a show at the World Famous Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Artistic Director/Founder of South Coast Repertory Theater, Martin Benson was a great mentor. His sharing of experience in starting the Tony Award-Winning Theatre was a ‘master class’ in itself. I was even fortunate enough to shadow him as directed A Streetcar Named Desire. His sharing of information included Danny Newman’s SUBSCRIBE NOW! And finally huge credit goes to Ben Bollinger, owner of the Candlelight Dinner Theater. His vision to make room for our theatre group and generosity gave IVRT a home!

Website: www.ivrt.org

Image Credits
Photos by DawnEllen Ferry

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