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Uptown actors prepare for local premiere

By David Dixon | Theater Preview

While “King Charles III” may focus on Charles, Prince of Wales, playwright Mike Bartlett has developed strong roles for other actors — including two local women hailing from Uptown — in his script.

Written in blank verse in a style similar to that of Shakespeare, the Tony Award-nominated play poses the question: What would have happened if Prince Charles of Wales (Richard Rivera) became the King of England following Queen Elizabeth II’s death?

A crucial person in Charles’ life is his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (Sandy Hotchkiss).

“I think she’s a powerful woman who had to walk through a lot of obstacles,”Hillcrest resident Sandy Hotchkiss said. “She still maintains grace and levity in her personality.”

Commoner Jess (Alyssa Salter) is a supporting character also critical to the plot. She happens to be dating Prince Henry/Harry (Travis Rynders).

North Park resident Alyssa Salter, who plays Jess (Courtesy Alyssa Salter)

“She is brave and takes a lot of risks,” Alyssa Salter, who lives in North Park, said. “Jess is really secure in who she is as a person. At times, she can be a little too smart for her own good.”

Hotchkiss and Salter are both performing in the regional premiere at the Coronado Playhouse. Both of them got involved with theater when they attended high school; Hotchkiss started performing during her freshman year.

“I took a period of time to get married and have kids, and then got back into [theater],” she said.

Salter became involved with the arts when she pulled a muscle playing sports at San Diego High School. Once Salter discovered that auditions that were happening on campus, she started to focus on the performing arts during herjunior and senior years of school. She then attended graduate school at the East 15 Acting School in Loughton, Essex.

In pursuing their craft, Hotchkiss and Salter gained plenty of experience working behind the scenes on several projects. Aside from previously participating in a traveling theater group for kids, The Traveling Munchkins, Hotchkiss is currently the producer and co-founder of the theatrical organization, Talent to aMuse Theatre Company.

Some of Hotchkiss’ favorite shows to produce for the organization are comedies.

(l to r) Richard Rivera and Sandy Hotchkiss at the Coronado Playhouse (Courtesy of Barron Henzel)

“We chose comedies more than anything because life is hard enough,” she said. “Shows we picked included Neil Simon scripts and ‘Parallel Lives’ by Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney.”

Talent to aMuse recently presented the world premiere of the play, “The Color of Light,” along with Vantage Theatre.

Currently, Salter is running her own theater company, New Match Collective.

“We’re an all-female theatre company, which is a lot of fun,” she said. “Women are telling their stories and are sharing them with other people.”

Last year, Salter’s ensemble comedy about internet dating, “Swipe,” was presented at the 2017 San Diego International Fringe Festival.

The latest project from her group is a media project called New Match Shares.

“We get women in San Diego and internationally to submit photos, videos, art, etc., based on a theme,” she said. The first one we did was about body image and the next one we’re doing is focused on mental health.”

When asked about the strength of the women who are featured in “King Charles III,” Salter shared that she loves the fact that their characters are so well developed.

“Camilla, Jess, and Catherine/Kate, Duchess of Cambridge (Julia Giolzetti), are all truly brilliant and get the men to think deeply,” Salter said. “Without them, there probably would be no show.”

“King Charles III” will play at the Coronado Playhouse from March 23 through April 22. For tickets or more information, visit coronadoplayhouse.com or call 619-435-4856.

—A fan of film and theater from a very young age, David Dixon has written reviews and features for various print and online publications. You can reach him at daviddixon0202@gmail.com.

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