Patrice Evans, California Redwood Chorale singer and 6th Street Playhouse musical theater performer, is finally able to admit it.

“I think I have a calling,” she says. “A noble calling.”

Ever since she was 3, Patrice has secretly wanted to be a performer. But she didn’t take the idea seriously until moving to Petaluma 25 years ago.

“We had escaped Southern California and fell in love with the huge contrast we found here,” she says. “The weather is perfect — even with the afternoon breezes — and the people are so accepting. With the live-and-let-live attitude, it is a great place to raise kids.”

At first, Patrice and her family lived out of their VW van in a friend’s backyard, but soon after getting waitress work at Denny’s and nearby Cattlemen’s, she signed up for classes at SRJC.

“I loved Anthro — how people organize societies for survival — and Astronomy, and sort of backed into performing,” she explains. “I was an extremely shy person, but Marvel Gardner, the music and theater drama teacher at Casa, taught voice classes at the JC, and I discovered that when I played someone else, I wasn’t nervous.”

Patrice began appearing in productions at Santa Rosa Players — now the 6th Street Playhouse — playing what she labels as “over the top characters,” like Mrs. Keeley, the Senator’s wife in “Le Cage aux Folles,” Queen Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting, Lettice, in “The Beard of Avon,” and Mrs. Squires, one of the pick-a-little-talk-a-little women, in “The Music Man.”

This December, she has speaking parts in Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” at the 6th Street Playhouse, playing Mrs. Snoring, Man On the Train, and the Seamstress, along with singing in the ensemble.

Directed by Michael Fontaine, the production closely follows the classic film version which starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney.

“I love to be doing this play,” says Patrice. “I saw the picture when I was young and fell in love with the exuberance and fun of Danny Kaye, and the fact that everything works out — despite the lack of snow.”

Patrice’s other passion, singing with 45 voices in the California Redwood Chorale, has her busy through June. Under Robert Hazelwood’s direction, the CRC is already practicing Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” for their March 17-18 collaboration with the Santa Rosa Symphonic Chorus, the Santa Rosa Children’s Choral Academy, and the Sonoma County Philharmonic. There are two Spring concerts at the end of April, and then a Heart of Italy Concert Tour the last two weeks of June. The Italian trip begins in Rome, includes a concert at the historic Montepulciano church, and concludes with a performance with Gruppo Chorale Chianianese in Siena, Tuscany.

Asked what she’s learned from her years as a performer, Patrice says she wants wannabe singers and actors to know theu should follow their dreams.

“Don’t give up,” she says. “There are unbelievable local opportunities to learn and perform. Music and theater are important in today’s world. Without them, it would feel like not having the moon.”

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