That old song and dance
Music Theatre of Wenatchee celebrates 50 years in action
Thursday, September 29, 2011
If you go
What: Music Theatre of Wenatchee 50th anniversary gala
Where: Wenatchee High School auditorium, 1101 Millerdale Ave.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tickets and information: 663-2787 or pacwen.org
■ Master of ceremonies: Mike Magnotti
■ Cast list: Cheryl Adkins, Ashley Armstrong, Kelly Atwood, Maddy Atwood, Mason Atwood, Paul Atwood, Brad Behrens, Laura Bender, Carol Bowen, Colleen Bowen, Mariann Browne, Marlon Browne, Matthew Cadman, Maren Cagle, Abby Carlson, Emma Carlson, Marie Carlson, Melissa Carlson, Anneliese Childress, Rhonnie Craven, Dani Schafer-Cloke, Brady Dundas, Sami Everhart, Alicia Granger, Susan Gubsch, Jeff Heminger, Susan Heminger, Sherry Krebs, Jennifer Lalani, John Mausser, Tiffany Mausser, Cheyenne McKee, Patrick Murphy, Nita Paine, Matthew Pippin, Jason Rolfs, Becky Satterfield, Jacob Scott, Ainsley Shearer, Christy Shearer, David Sutherland, Sheryl Sutherland, Daina Toevs, Katelin Toevs, Bonnie VanHoven, Melanie Wallace, Shylin Wallace, Kathy Walsh, David Williams, Nancy Zahn
It’s not often you see a nonprofit community theater group last for half a century, but Music Theatre of Wenatchee is doing just that and then some.
What began in 1960 as a project by the Wenatchee Ladies Music Club to bring a musical to the annual Washington State Apple Blossom Festival has transformed into a decades-long theater tradition.
MTW made its debut in 1961 with its first Apple Blossom production, “Rosalinda,” directed by Keith Sexson. The group continued to put on annual musicals for the festival and, in the early 1970s, began doing more than one play a year. After attaining theater space on Benton Street in the late ’70s, MTW began full seasons of productions, with a comedy in June, a melodrama in July and a mytery in October.
“We followed that format for quite some time, and then in 1990 was the first time we did a musical outside of Apple Blossom in our space,” says MTW veteran Colleen Bowen. “Since that, we’ve gone gangbusters with shows that we want to do.”
In 1997, the group moved into its current space, the Riverside Playhouse on Wenatchee Avenue, where more than 50 productions have now been staged.
A part of MTW for 29 years, Bowen directs the organization’s 50th anniversary gala Friday at the Wenatchee High School auditorium. The celebration features musical standards, medleys, a multimedia show and a memorial for its deceased members.
“As much as we could, we put the original person that sang that song out there,” Bowen adds.
Sexson, one of MTW’s original members, also makes an appearance.
“He’s part of the five people that are gonna be there that were in the original production,” says Bowen. “I’ve been calling them the ‘Rosalinda Five.’ ”
Funds from the gala go toward replacing the Riverside Playhouse’s 15-year-old HVAC system.
There are a lot of memories to be made in 29 years, but Bowen says her favorite emerged from mishap.
“Back when we did ‘Angry Housewives,’ we had a mess-up and kind of were sabotaged by the backstage crew,” she recalls. “It’s just one of the funniest things ever. The show lasted an extra 25 minutes just from the laughter throughout the show.”
Bowen attributes MTW’s success to all the people involved: the unpaid actors “who do it for the love of it” and “an audience that will come and see us.”
As she says, each show pays for the next, so as long as the group continues to have an audience and willing participants, Wenatchee will have new productions to look forward to for many years to come.
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