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The play’s the thing in this week’s column, which starts with news about two dramatic productions.

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First, Upstage Napa Valley, director Sharie Renault and seven local actors will present a reading of local playwright Richard Uhlig’s “The Doctor’s Residence” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at the St. Helena Public Library. After the reading, Uhlig will talk about his rural Kansas upbringing which inspired it. A $15 donation is appreciated.

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In other theatrical news, the talented students of St. Helena Drama are taking on their most topical project yet with “The Laramie Project,” which looks back at the brutal 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. His death raised awareness of hate crimes and became a landmark in the gay rights movement. Four performances are scheduled for Oct. 17-20 at the St. Helena Performing Arts Center. Students Sofia Osborne and Joe Brawdy will direct what’s clearly a very meaningful project for the cast and crew. It’s a far cry from the light and fizzy fare of, for example, “Mamma Mia,” but I hope it draws a crowd nonetheless.

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On a very different note, registration opened Friday for the Pet Parade, the highlight of the Hometown Harvest Festival on Saturday, Oct. 19. The day begins with a 1-mile fun run at 8 a.m., a 5K and 10K race at 8:30, a pancake breakfast hosted by the Troop One Boy Scouts in the Carnegie Building from 9 to 11:30 a.m., and the Pet Parade at 9:30. The Harvest Festival will continue until 4 p.m. If you and the family pet want to flaunt your stuff, you can register by calling 968-9222, going to cityofsthelean.org/parksrec, or dropping by the Parks & Rec office on Railroad Avenue.

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Registration is still open for the “Come Out of the Shower” community choir led by Marielle Coeytaux, which held its first rehearsal on Monday. The choir meets every Monday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Building. There’s a $100 fee for the fall season, which culminates with an informal performances with friends and family. To register, go to cityofsthelena.org/parksrec, call 968-9222, or go to the Parks and Rec office at 1574 Railroad Ave.

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As you’ll see, the coming week is crammed with activities revolving around our Latino community. The St. Helena Multicultural Group is putting on the annual Mexican Independence Day celebration from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, at Lyman Park. Expect music, dancing, informational booths, oodles of delicious Mexican food, and a festive atmosphere.

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The St. Helena Public Library is hosting the band Cascada de Flores and “The Treasures of Aquiles” at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17. The premise of the bilingual, family-friendly and free show is quite colorful and difficult to paraphrase, so I’ll let the library’s own event listing speak for itself: “Poor Aquiles! His pueblo is barren with no dance, music, or song. So, he sets out on an adventure with his favorite suitcase. Along the way, he learns to sing from a bee, the joy of rhythm from a horse, and to play from a man with a big mustache. Aquiles’ suitcase turns into a treasure chest: filled with new found stories, songs, games, dances and rhymes and he brings it back to his pueblo. Come join him in his adventure!”

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By the way, I mentioned it last week, but don’t forget about Mariachi Jalisco’s performance at the library at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12. It should be a blast.

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I doubt you have a 2020 calendar handy, so I won’t ask you to mark it. Just take note that next April 2-6 St. Helena’s Harvest Inn will be the host resort for Songwriters in Paradise, a singer-songwriter festival featuring acoustic performances at local wineries. Find more details at songwritersinparadise.com.

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