This is the first of what’ll probably be two or three posts about my trip last weekend to Spokane. The main reason I went down there was to join my brothers Dave & Mark, sister Mer, nieces & nephew, & extended family in celebrating the lives of my mother, Rauha Elizabeth (neé Siukola) Green (1928—2005) and father, Rial Eugene Green (1919–2009). But while I was down there, I also had a great Saturday visiting a local winery with Dave & his wife Linda, & we got to see members of the extended Green-Brewster family (Mark & my other sister-in-law Linda’s family, & Linda’s brother Steve’s family) and other talented people perform in a production by Davenport Theatrical of Davenport, Washington of the Steven Sondheim musical Into the Woods. I decided to write about Into the Woods first because there are still three performances to go, & just maybe there’s someone reading this who’s down in eastern Washington who might want to see it.
Davenport Theatrical was established in 2008 by Karen & Steve Brewster and Drew Kowalkowski to provide, per its website, “high quality community theater for Lincoln County and the surrounding area of Eastern Washington.” Its performers come from Davenport and the nearby communities of Davenport, Harrington, Spokane, Spokane Valley, Reardan, Wilbur, and Ritzville, with some coming from as Bellingham and — yep — Anchorage.
Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim (music & lyrics) & James Lapine (book) is Davenport Theatrical’s third production. As described in Wikipedia,
the musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales and follows them further to explore the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. The main characters are taken from the stories of Little Red Ridinghood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Cinderella, tied together by a more original story involving a Baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family, most likely taken from the original story of Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm. It also includes references to several other well-known tales.
This production had lots of family in it.
My niece Lauren Green played the role of Cinderella — the role played by Bernadette Peters in the musical’s original Broadway production in 1987. I’d seen Lauren in UAA Theatre & Dance‘s production of Into the Woods in its 2002–2003 season — the only other time I’ve seen this musical. Lauren played Rapunzel that time; but Cinderella is a much larger role, & that made me very happy because Lauren (besides being my niece) is a wonderfully talented performer with a tremendous soprano voice. She came to this role after an already busy summer: she was in Valdez in mid-June for the 17th Annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference at Prince William Sound Community College, and before that she was in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at the American Singers’ Opera Project (ASOP), where she sang the role of Fiordiligi in ASOP’s workshop production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, a part she had worked pretty darn hard to memorize before traveling down. Earlier in the year, Lauren took first place in the “upper avocation” division in both the Classical Voice and Musical Theater competitions held by the National Association of Teachers of Singing Alaska (NATS), about which I blogged back in April.
So pardon me if my photos of this production focus a lot on Lauren, because I’m pretty damn proud of her, & it’s my privilege to brag her up. Needless to say she was pretty fantastic as Cinderella, too.
But there was plenty of other talent, both family & otherwise, in the production as well. My wonderful friend & sister-in-law Linda Green (Lauren’s mom, sister of company co-founder & technical director Steve Brewster) played Cinderella’s (real) mother as well as the giant widowed when Jack of the Beanstalk fame killed her husband. Besides running the Green Teaching Studio in Anchorage, where she teaches piano & trumpet, Linda is also a working musician with a boatload of experience arranging instrumental & vocal music, & she’s a resident artist with The Character Workshop, an Anchorage community theatre group which amongst other things has toured Gilbert & Sullivan plays around public libraries in Anchorage & the Mat-Su.
Lauren has also been a longtime Character Workshop participant, as has my brother Mark Green, who was in the “Into the Woods” orchestra on flugelhorn. Mark is of course a working musician too — along with Linda, he’s a member of “Alaska’s Hottest Funky New Horn Band,” Power of Ten, where they both play trumpet. They’ve also played in a number of other groups in the Anchorage area, like their own Swing Dawgs, as well as Conexion Latina, Anchorage Blaskapelle, Sonora Sensacion, Anchorage Jazz Ensemble, etc. I have a talented family, what?
Then there’s the talent in Linda’s brother’s family, including Steve Brewster himself, who is one of the the company’s co-founders as well as its technical director, and hiw wife & company co-founder Karen Brewster, who played the Witch. A few other Brewster family members also in the cast & crew, including Emily Brewster as Little Red Riding Hood and Kellie Halverson as Snow White, not to mention the other incredible talent local to Davenport & the surrounding area. See the full cast list.
Because of family connections, this production was opportunity for a family gathering of the extended Brewster & Green families. Audience members on the afternoon of July 11 included me, my brother Dave Green (another talented musician who plays around & about the Flathead Valley of Montana) & his wife Linda — or “Linda 2” as we call her when both Linda Greens are present (due to the order the marriages took place). We got there about 20 minutes late, thanks to some mistaken directions about which way to drive out of Spokane — we’ll never let Mer & Julius forget it! (North Division!!!) Linda 1’s sister Sherrie also drove out from Spokane, & Linda 1’s mother Barbara with her fianceé Gene, who are due to be married this coming Saturday, July 18 — the one date they could squeeze in while the Alaska contingent is still down there, between the last two performances of “Into the Woods”. Afterwards we had an informal Brewster/Green & friends dinner in the hallway of Davenport High School just outside the theater, organized by Sherrie.
At this writing, there are still a few performances on schedule. If you’re in eastern Washington, go see it! Tickets are only $10.00. All performances are held in a lovely little theatre at Davenport High School in Davenport, Washington.
Friday, July 10 • 7:00 PM
Saturday, July 11 • 3:00 PM
Thursday, July 16 • 7:00 PM
Friday, July 17 • 7:00 PM
Sunday, July 19 • 3:00 PM
Here’s a slideshow of my full set of photos from the July 11 performance, courtesy my Flickr photostream, where you can also view this set. You can also expand the slideshow to view it full screen; in full screen, click on “show info” in the upper right corner to get the photo’s caption.
All these photos were taken with a Nikon Coolpix S10, without flash, from my seat in the audience. (Different seats between Act I & Act II.) Very nice to have 10x optical zoom along with some reasonable exposure control. A nice little camera.