Theatre & Film Festivals
Thoroughly Modern Productions (TMP) is in the midst of rehearsals for a production of The Wizard of Oz on a scale that Central Oregon has never seen before. It’s all in preparation for the curtain going up for six shows August 22-31 at Bend’s Summit Theater, on the campus of Summit High.
With a cast of nearly 70 actors, singers, dancers and musicians, The Wizard of Oz will fill nearly every inch of Summit’s massive stage and state-of-the-art theatre with excitement. The driving force behind the production are members of the same creative team that delivered Monty Python’s Spamalot to record-breaking audiences at the Tower Theatre last Fall: David DaCosta, the show’s director and TMP’s artistic director, Musical Director Scott Michaelson and Dakota Weeda, choreography director. Together, they are working with a cast of some of Central Oregon’s most seasoned talent to bring this classic, now celebrating its 75th anniversary, to life.
Along with a cast of adults, The Wizard of Oz will feature some of Central Oregon’s most talented youth. Currently enrolled in TMP’s Wizard of Oz Summer Theater Camp, nearly 40 children ages five to 16 will join the cast of adults in roles ranging from munchkins to flying monkeys to the lead role of Dorothy.
Skylar Adams, a 16-year-old member of TMP’s Summer Theater Camp, earned the role of Dorothy by auditioning alongside the adults. “Skylar came out of nowhere, much like Dorothy herself when she landed in Oz, and surprised every one of us with her talent, spirit and energy,” says the show’s Producer, Gary Fulkerson.
“It was quite a magical moment when we all looked across the table at each other and realized that our Dorothy was coming right out of the camp itself.”
With several shows already on her resume and as the reigning Miss Teen Central Oregon competing this year for the title of Miss Teen Oregon, Skylar is no stranger to the stage. She will be featured as Dorothy singing the National Anthem at the Bend Elks home closer on August 10.
Thanks to the theatre camp element, The Wizard of Oz will feature a number of Central Oregon families sharing the stage together for the first time. “It’s an amazing story on so many levels,” says DaCosta. “Our goal is always to bring people together by producing the highest level of theater in Central Oregon for them to enjoy. But with so many families coming together on stage for this classic show, we’ve taken it to a whole new level.”
There is no shortage of storylines or talent with this production. Says DaCosta, “We are incredibly excited at Thoroughly Modern Productions to have developed a true partnership with the amazing people at Summit Theater. Expect the highest quality show. Expect surprises at every turn. Expect the time of your life enjoying this timeless classic.”
A local production company that has grown rapidly since its debut in 2013, Thoroughly Modern Productions strives to inspire, nurture, challenge, educate and empower artists and audiences alike. TMP is an alternative performance company with a commitment to helping develop original theatre artists locally, serving the community by providing a wealth of theatrical experiences to people of all ages and abilities, fostering new works that examine our present through the past, and presenting theatre that is experienced actively, not passively.
by JEFF SPRY Cascade A&E Feature Writer
Capitalizing on the coffee-crazed culture of Central Oregon, local actor and comedian Nathan Woodworth has just completed work on The Barista Times, a humorous web-series filmed entirely at Sisters Coffee Company in downtown Sisters. Woodworth has teamed up with filmmaker Sam Pyke to create this caffeinated cup-of-life dramedy at a bustling java joint and plans to broadcast it on YouTube starting in July.
“It’s an online sketch comedy series that takes place only at a coffee shop,” said Woodworth. “It satirizes the crazy life of hardworking baristas and their loyal coffee-loving customers. Most of the sketches are based on true stories that have been slightly altered and we make a point of keeping our personal views balanced by poking fun at employees and customers with equal opportunity.”
Woodworth started writing this percolating project after he finished assignments for The Second City’s celebrated online comedy writing courses while waiting to get into the next level at Los Angeles’ The Groundlings school and theater, where stars like Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig and Jimmy Fallon got their start.
“I went down to Southern California in 2012 to begin training in improvisation at The Groundlings and had to audition,” he said. “I made it through all the improv levels really fast. We watched classic Monty Python, Laurel and Hardy, Malcolm in the Middle and Saturday Night Live. For Barista Times I wanted to challenge myself by seeing how many sketch ideas I could come up with in one location. My sister, Emily, who is a professional writer, and I both decided to set it at a coffee shop where we work. Confining it to one location actually gave us more ideas, and doing it at a coffee house allowed us access to the full spectrum of humanity.
“Everybody will be able to relate to the material. It’s not just about coffee or baristas, it’s about humans and the everyday errors we make and particular quirks we carry.”
This intriguing new web-series is highly influenced by the manic works of Monty Python, especially the antics of legendary cast members John Cleese and Graham Chapman.
“What we write is socially satirical but we didn’t set out to write it that way,” he explains. “We filmed nine episodes that each average three minutes. Five of the episodes are titled, Things Baristas Shouldn’t Do and those are what I like to call Scatter Sketches, basically brief bits featuring rapid-fire one-liners all having to do with one topic. A lot of it is centered on miscommunication, eccentric characters and rude customers.”
The Barista Times was filmed over the course of several weeks during off-hours in May by Sam Pyke at Hill Shadow Pictures.
“Sam and I co-directed it and my sister and I co-wrote and co-produced it. We used only professional actors and comedians in the lead roles, including myself and Emily, Derek Sitter, Gavin Douglas from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Chris Sulak, who spent six years at Second City in Chicago with Steve Carell. The show turned out to be really hilarious and we had an amazing improvisational cast that brought it to life.”
The premier of The Barista Times screens on July 5 at the Volcanic Theatre Pub in Bend. Doors open at 6pm. Live comedy starts at 7:30pm before showing all nine episodes. Derek Sitter will also be showing an enlightening documentary called Happy included with admission. Advanced tickets are $5 per person or $7 at the door.
Stage Right Productions, the company that brought the hit sold-out show, Spamalot to the Tower Theatre, presents Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. Performances will be June 13-29 at 2nd Street Theater.
“I am thrilled by the talent that abounds in our local theater community,” says Managing Director of Stage Right Productions, Sandy Klein. “Just when I thought we’ve done the best show we’ve ever done, along comes Sweeney Todd. I have been wanting to bring this show to 2nd Street Theater for years, and its finally become a reality. The audience will definitely be talking about this one for a long time.”
Sweeney Todd is a chilling, suspenseful, heart-pounding masterpiece of revenge, murderous barber-ism and culinary crime. Sophisticated, macabre, visceral and uncompromising, Sweeney Todd nevertheless has a great sense of fun, mixing intense drama with howlingly funny moments of dark humor; audiences find themselves laughing hysterically one moment and gasping in surprise the next.
Sweeney Todd features some of Central Oregon’s finest talent, including David DaCosta as Sweeney Todd, Lilli Ann Linford-Foreman as Mrs. Lovett and an ensemble that sounds like they just came off the Broadway stage. Sweeney Todd is directed by Juliah Rae (Dixie Swim Club, Distracted) with musical direction by Scott Michaelsen (Spamalot, Company).
This chilling and frighteningly humorous musical will kick off with a champagne reception on Friday the 13 of June from 6:30-7:30pm. Shows start at 7:30pm with the exception of Sunday Matinees at 3pm.
$22 for adults, $19 student/seniors