Arts and Entertainment

The arts are springing to life

By Trudy D'Armond

For The Courier-Herald

Mother Nature has taken her timeless paint palette and loaded it up with her exquisite pastels. Her crocuses are teasing us with colors of blue and white. This is the time when I always get inspired to go take painting lessons. I want to capture that moment of life emerging from the still-cold ground. I love the tease of spring’s nurturing promise and the color it gives us.

On the Plateau we can still find exciting things to do and places to go during the cold, dark months of winter right here in our own community.

On Feb. 14, I attended a city-sponsored concert by violinist Geoffrey Castle. The evening was magical. The Enumclaw Expo Center’s fieldhouse, built in 1940, was filled with people including my husband Perry, myself and some dear friends. I once raced up and down this historic building’s hardwood floor in my stocking feet while my sister Vicki played basketball with friends. Half the kids in town swam in the huge, concrete public swimming pool in front of the building once known as Pete’s Pool.

At the concert, audience members were seated at round, cloth-covered tables with delightful centerpieces. In subdued lighting, we listened and watched Geoffrey Castle and his incredible band of assorted talents work their magic as Castle’s violin “sang” his demands. The music was passionate and stirring. It rendered your feet helpless as you tapped along with pulsating rhythms.

Enumclaw’s own Pie Goddess, Suzanne Sidhu, supplied dessert as Castle weaved his way around tables, playing his violin while making a personal connection with appreciative fans. Each of Castle’s band members could have their own solo concert. They consisted of Ben Smith of Heart on drums and Garey Shelton, who plays with B.B. King, on bass. Erick Robert played keys brilliantly and special guest vocalist James Cowan, who easily reflected the smoothness of Barry White, was sensational.

Castle manipulated his electric and acoustic violins as only a master could. It was a thrilling night of extraordinary music.

On a more current note, our own Stage Door Productions is in the middle of rehearsing for the multi-Tony award winning play “Man of La Mancha” which can be seen at the Enumclaw High School auditorium at 7:30 p.m. April 23, 24, 25 and 30 and May 1 and 2. There will be three matinees, so be sure and mark them on your calendar for 2 p.m. April 25 and 26 and May 2. Stage Door Productions will be donating all proceeds April 26 matinee to Plateau Outreach Ministries.

"Man of La Mancha" is a musical with a book by Dale Wasserman, music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion. The production was inspired by the masterpiece written by Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century during the Spanish Inquisition. It is the story of Don Quixote, the delusional knight errant who believed in the goodness of mankind, the purity of his Lady Dulcinea and his sacrificial mission to uphold good over evil. It is a love story and a tragedy. It is a comedy and a drama. It is about friendship and loyalty. I personally believe it is about hope. This story brought us Leigh’s and Darion’s inspiring song, "The Impossible Dream." This song is near and dear to my heart since it was the theme song that my high school choir sang at our 1970 graduation at Enumclaw High School.

During its 1965 run on Broadway, "Man of La Mancha" ran for 2,328 performances and won five Tony Awards.

This will be an extraordinary presentation by Stage Door Productions. Director and founder Frank Thompson knows the play well. He forms a bond of respect and admiration with all participants, from the casting and production crew to every actor with or without significant experience. The cast in any SDP presentation ultimately becomes an extended family and they work hard to give Frank the 100 percent he requests of his actors. I’ve seen this first-hand since participating either on stage or behind the scenes in the last couple of years with SDP.

I asked Frank if he would comment about his personal knowledge of "Man of La Mancha" and what he believes the audience will take from the auditorium after attending the play. He replied:

“Last November, the majority of Americans elected a man based on the belief that one man can make a difference in the world. So it is with this play, this book. The overwhelming belief that one man, with the proper vision in his heart, can bring about change.

“This play has one of the most life-affirming messages in all of theatre. Isn’t that a warming thought? That you can go to a show and know that you will feel good about yourself and your neighbor when you leave?

“To be able to share with other people the good that is in life, the hope that remains when all is thought lost…it’s crucial to the time we are now living in.”

As you can tell just by reading this director’s statements, this will be a play that will deeply touch your heart. I am so impressed by the caliber of acting in this production, not to mention the musical talent offered by this cast. Enumclaw High School’s choral director, Paul Scott, is the vocal director for the play and Stuart Johnson is lending his great gift of costuming talents toward wardrobe. Debbie Games will be leading her precision stage crew behind the scenes. Members of Ballet Workshop will be contributing their talents, while Stephanie Magnusson will conduct the live orchestra. You will see a host of local talent. To know ahead of time what this production has to offer is a real treat and I’m excited to give you a hint of great things to come.

Stage Door Productions is not slowing down. Even before "Man of La Mancha" opens on April 23, Steffanie Foster will be directing and performing in the hilarious “staged” radio show of the 1934 hit, “The Thin Man” April 9 and 10. If you were fortunate enough to see the last two radio shows put on by SDP, you were thoroughly entertained and smitten by the caliber of the performance. Watch The Courier-Herald for more information regarding times and locations.

I must congratulate Darrell Miller and his drama class for putting on one heck of a show with Enumclaw High School’s presentation of “Titanic.” I went to one of their performances and was smitten by the sincerity and dedication of each performer on that stage. It was a huge cast and the play truly moved me. At the end, I actually felt chills go up my spine. Kudos goes out to High School junior Calab Flatt for his brilliant performance of Bruce Ismay. Outstanding!

This play was full of stars and they shone brightly. All of the adults involved in this play should be proud of their affect on these teenagers. From the music to the message and the art of using every square inch of that stage, this play was very well done and the audience’s standing ovation proved it.

My “child” just turned 34 and lives in Indiana, so I don’t go to high school productions to see my son perform. I go to see our community’s children perform, because I know how important it is to them.

I was once a youngster standing on the risers at high school choral concerts wondering if my mom or dad would be able to make it. I really do know what it means to have someone out there watching and listening to what you have accomplished and so many others have worked on for so long.

A live performance is very much like a painting. Artists put their heart and soul on canvas. Vocalists and thespians display their art on the stage. As a performer myself, I can honestly say nothing is more gratifying than to see a warm turnout of audience members, especially made up of community members, family, co-workers and friends. That is the beauty of community involvement. You give us a gift in return by your wonderful support. In behalf of all artists in this incredible community, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for viewing and sharing our creations.

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