Our Mission & History

Our Mission

The mission of the Ramona Hillside Players is to promote quality entertainment offering creative live theatre productions; providing a cradle for community theatre in our valley; offering opportunities for growth to actors and directors while preserving our dramatic and comedic heritage and providing mutually satisfying theatre experiences for our members and our audiences.

History (Summary)

The Players group began in 1933 as a fundraiser by the Hemet Women’s Club.  Beginning with a series of successful one-acts, they continued with regular productions staged at the Women’s Club House for decades.  In 1941, the group formalized as the Valley Players and in 1960 they purchased their own building.  With the help of the Ramona Pageant Association, the building was moved to the current location.  This gave rise to the new name, Ramona Hillside Players, the name it has gone by for [magicdate]1960[/magicdate] years.

For [magicdate]1941[/magicdate] years, the Ramona Hillside Players have entertained the San Jacinto Valley through comedy, drama and the classics.  Actors, costumers, painters, set builders, stage assistants, lighting techs and other volunteers are always welcome at the Playhouse.

If you have an interest in being involved, please call our reservation line (951) 658-5300 and leave a message. Somebody will get back to you as soon as possible. Or, come to the Playhouse for the auditions and talk to the director about how you can become involved in his or her production.

History (Detailed)

The exact date of the birth of the Players is unknown, but recollections go back to the 1930s. Alma Wilcox, one of the original actresses, recalled that in 1941 the late Harry Hofmann gave “a wonderful home to a rag-tag group called The Players in the San Jacinto Theatre.” After a fire destroyed the theatre, the group struggled for many years, presenting plays in the library, the San Jacinto Women’s Club, the Elks Club, American Legion Hall, and various churches.

In 1946, the Ramona Pageant Association granted $2,000 to encourage the Players as a means of training and teaching future actors and actresses for participation in the Ramona Pageant. The group was reorganized under the name of The Ramona Players. The first play produced was “You Can’t Take It With You.”

Without a theatre building, the Players continued their struggle, using the Pageant Cast House for meetings and rehearsals. By January 1951, there was a possibility the organization would dissolve. However, by a slim vote, it continued to produce plays at various locations, usually operating in the red.

Finally, in 1960 the Players paid $100 for a building that had been the sanctuary for the First Presbyterian Church since 1911. The Pageant Association, under the direction of Watson Gilmore, moved the building to its present location. The Pageant Association provided a grant of $3,250: $1,500 to cover moving costs and the rest to convert the building into a theatre. The Players were to pay $1.00 a year in rent. Except for water, the Players are financially responsible for all utilities and building repair and upkeep. We also carry insurance.

Following the move to a permanent home, the Players first changed their name to The Hillside Players. At the request of the Pageant Association, they officially became The Ramona Hillside Players.

During the 1987-88 season, we added air conditioning and better seating. The next renovation was an addition called The Rose Room in memory of Bill Rose, previous General Manager of the Pageant, who died in a tragic accident in January of 1988. This also included restrooms for the handicapped. This renovation was overseen by Roland Parker, Executive Director of the Pageant.

In 1988 we launched a program for student theatre, with children participating in all phases of production. In August of 1990 a student production of the musical “Bugsy Malone,” with a cast of nearly 100 was presented in the Ramona Bowl. This was the first play to be presented in the Bowl at night. In the following two years, we produced “Oklahoma” and “Barnaby,” both full-length musicals in the Bowl.

Currently, five plays are produced each year over two weekends at a cost of $20 per ticket. One performance of each production, the first Saturday, is a Benefit for a local organization as a fundraiser. Plays and directors are selected by the Board of Directors. Casts and production crews are selected by the individual play director. A stipend is paid to the Director, Stage Manager, and for Set Construction. All others are volunteers.

We have been fortunate to have presented original productions written by local individuals and one, “Virginia of the Valley,” a melodrama written by Ralph Freud just for the Players when he was associated with the Pageant. The Players have an “open arms” invitation for anyone in the community who may be interested in any phase of theatre production.

We Support Fundraising

The first Saturday of every production is reserved as a benefit for groups who want to raise funds for worthy projects.  The cost of booking the theater for your benefit is $175.00 plus royalties for the performance.  To schedule your benefit, please…

Write to:

Benefits Coordinator RHP
1045 Orchid Street
Hemet, CA 92545


Email to: rleibovich@verizon.net