Joyful ‘Wonderful Town’ to open at David Douglas High

Take a fun story line, add music by Leonard Bernstein, and you get an enjoyable evening at this musical, opening on November 14 …

In the final rehearsals for their new fall musical, Wonderful Town, David Douglas High actors, singers, and dancers perform a number from the “Street Dance”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The David Douglas High School (DDHS) Performing Arts Department kicks off their performance season with a rollicking musical called Wonderful Town.

If you can’t recall the show, that’s okay, said musical’s director – Judy LeCoq, a DDHS theater instructor.

“True, it is a relatively little-known musical play,” admitted LeCoq. “But it is a really entertaining show. It features fabulous music composed by Leonard Bernstein – it is one of his early musicals.

“It’s a colorful, light, and lively show, with terrific music and dance numbers,” LeCoq told East Portland News. “It’s just plain a lot of fun!”

DDHS Choral and Vocal Instructor Christopher Silva and the show’s director, Judy LeCoq, clearly admire how the actors and singers perform their roles.

Rather unique about the show, its director said, is that it has two female leads, surrounded by an ensemble of strong and memorable characters. “It’s not often that you see that in modern theater,” remarked LeCoq.

About the story
Wonderful Town is loosely based on autobiographical short stories by Ruth McKenney, published in The New Yorker magazine about her, and her acting-bound sister Eileen, reaching out for success from their dingy basement apartment of New York City’s Greenwich Village.

Sarah Granberg, playing Ruth, an aspiring writer – and Alanna St. Peters, portraying Eileen, her star-struck sister, are thrilled to be in the “Big Apple”, where they hope to find fortune and fame.

Set in the 1930s, a dedicated-but-novice writer, Ruth Sherwood, arrives in Greenwich Village from her home in Columbus, Ohio along with her beautiful younger sister, Eileen, who has her heart sent on becoming a famous actress.

They quickly learn the ways of the “big city” as they both learn about disappointment, love, and success, through their interactions with characters such as their landlord, Mr. Appopolous, and others – such as Mr. Valenti, Frank Lippencott, and magazine editor Bob Baker.

Bella Green (who plays Helen) wonders why Olivia Stuart (as Mrs. Wade) is being featured in a work of art, as her boyfriend Jacob Gallagher (football player Wreck) observes Connor Riggs (Mr. Appopolous) create an artistic masterpiece.

  • Will Ruth be able to sell stories she’s written?
  • Can Eileen find success on the stage?
  • Is it possible for the sisters to find true love in the Big City?

Come see Wonderful Town, and you’ll have a great time watching as this story unfolds.

DDHS senior and Stagecraft student Briana Kersey finishes a door frame that will be used in one of the many sets featured in Wonderful Town.

Stagecraft challenges met
Seeing the cast of 48 student actors, chorus, and dancers rehearse, it’s clear that that they’re up to the challenge of presenting this fast-moving show.

But, without the work of DDHS Stagecraft students, they players would be performing on a bare stage.

“The technical challenge of this show is that there are so many different locations, or scenes,” said DDHS Theater Manager and Stagecraft Instructor Molly Stowe. “In just seconds, the scenes change from a basement apartment, to a street outside.

“Then, the next scene is the backyard of an apartment,” Stowe said, “followed by the street scene, and eventually a night club.”

Stagecraft student Jonah Edwards paints a set piece for the show.

To make this all work, about 50 Stagecraft students have been building the sets, and about 25 student stage technicians will “run” the show’s lighting and sound; and managing the complex set changes, Stowe added.

Wonderful Town opens on November 14 at 7:30 p.m. and continues on November 15. They’re presenting a Family Matinee show at 2:30 p.m. on November 16. The show finishes its run with evening performances on November 20, 21 and 22.

Why are Ethan Archer (playing editor Robert Baker) Rebecca Tew (another editor) practicing flipping flapjacks? Come see Wonderful Town and find out!

TICKETS: Adults: $10 | Students/Seniors: $7. Reserve tickets online at their website: CLICK HERE, or buy them in advance at the Box Office from 3:00 until 5:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (school days). Contact the Box Office for more information at 503-261-8270. The David Douglas High Horner Performing Art Center is located at 1400 SE 130th Avenue, between SE Stark and Division streets.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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