The Ramona Play in Hemet, CA
This outdoor drama has been performed here since 1923 with good reason. "Ramona" is based on Helen Hunt Jackson's wildly successful 1884 novel. It is a love story between Ramona, a young woman raised as a lady on a successful ranch and a young Native American sheep shearer. The action of the novel is set in Southern California and the historical backdrop is the true story of the dispossession of the Native American community and the turmoil caused when California becomes part of the United States. Sadly, the Americans are not the good guys in this history or in the novel.
To me, the play is an improvement on the novel. The play pares away some of the slow and overly sentimental parts, such as the long illness of Don Felipe. Staging it as an outdoor drama is brilliant! There are horses, singing, dancing, romping children, cannon fire, gunshots, a religious procession and much more. The entire hillside is used for the action and also the locations, which include a ranch and a small indigenous settlement. So many horses! This was such fun!
The acting was excellent! I thought the actress playing Sra. Moreno made the character much more sympathetic than the novel does. The young actors playing Ramon and Alessandro were excellent and their relationship was very compelling.
The Ramona Bowl has plenty of parking and there were restrooms, food vendors, a gift shop and crafts for sale. It was a fun afternoon! Although the play starts are 3:30 PM, it was very warm. The box seats are shaded, but the regular seats are not. Bring your own seat cushions! The play is only performed in the spring. The seats range between $18 and $44. It is a great show for children, because there is so much action and spectacle.
This shows the seating which is concrete