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New theater group takes the stage

Mask and Mirror Community Theatre of Tigard and Tualatin readies its first production
by: Jaime Valdez The cast of “The Green Room,” which opens Nov. 4 at Calvin Presbyterian Church in Tigard, are (from left) Rod Johnson, Maille O’Brien, Greg Prosser, Mason Hall, Arleen Daugherty, Allison Andresen, Nick Hamilton and Jenny Lind Conlee.

Every community, it seems, has a bunch of people who are crazy enough to do whatever it takes to put on a play.

Some - Lake Oswego, Hillsboro, Tualatin and even Tigard come to mind - have had community theater groups operating in them for years. Tigard's Broadway Rose Theater Company has now hit the 20-year mark, and Lake Oswego's theater group has been in business (under a couple of different names) since 1952.

Tualatin's Lumiere Players have put on 43 plays since 1982, and the fledgling Beaverton Civic Theatre group is beginning its third season.

Well, don't look now, but Tigard and Tualatin are both about to get their second community theater organizations.

When the Mask and Mirror Theatre Company opens 'The Green Room' on Friday, Nov. 4, at Calvin Presbyterian Church (10445 S.W. Canterbury Lane, Tigard), it will be the new kid on the community theater block. And it comes into the world sharing a common bond with most of the other organizations, whether young or old: It will make it or break it, at least at first, without a full-time home of its own.

Three rehearsal spaces

The basement of Calvin Presbyterian Church is one of three places the cast and crew of Mask and Mirror have been rehearsing. They've also spent time at Rolling Hills Community Church and the community room of Meridian Park Medical Center, both in Tualatin.

Last Wednesday night, as the eight-member cast went through scenes of 'The Green Room' in the church basement, they knew they had six more rehearsals before they would move upstairs to the church's auditorium and its ample stage.

Gary Romans, director of 'The Green Room' and Mask and Mirror's president, has been doing this sort of thing long enough (more than 30 years, but who's counting?) to be philosophical about such a group's future in the community. He's thrilled to have a facility as nice as Calvin Presbyterian to get started in, he says, but he can't help fantasizing about the company finding a home of its own some day.

'I'm hoping that somewhere in Tigard, there's about 3,000 square feet of unrentable space,' he said.

'The response from our communities has been almost overwhelming,' says Mason Hall, an actor in the first production and one of the company's founding members. 'We thought we'd have a difficult time finding an adequate stage for our first show, but we ended up with three very generous proposals. We selected Calvin due to its wonderful facility and its central location in the middle of Tigard and Tualatin.'

''The Green Room' is a perfect comedy to open the first season of a new community theater,' says Romans. 'Taking place in a theater, it allows all of the eight experienced local actors in the cast to identify each of the characters they play as somebody they've actually met in a local production. We expect the audience to laugh as hard as we have during rehearsals.'

The play, he explains, was written in 2003 by Peggy Glisson, who was involved with the Slocum House Theatre Company in Vancouver, Wash.

The cast of 'The Green Room' includes Hall, Maille O'Brien, Greg Prosser, Jenny Lind Conlee, Nick Hamilton, Arleen Daugherty, Rod Johnson and Allison Andresen. Michal Denny is assistant director.

Pat Romans, producer and board member. 'The theater community has been very good to us,' says Pat Romans, producer and board member, explaining that both the Gallery Players of McMinnville and Forest Grove's Theater in the Grove loaned Mask and Mirror costumes. And Portland Center Stage let the Tigard-Tualatin company pick out some furniture from its collection.

All about community

Before launching its first stage presentation, Mask and Mirror participated in the Tigard Festival of Balloons, The Tualatin Crawfish Festival and the Tualatin Riverkeepers Riverfront Music Festival. The organization also has formed partnerships with both the Tigard and Tualatin public libraries and is presenting frequent, free public play readings in the library community rooms. Mask and Mirror will soon be announcing acting classes for anyone in the community from sixth grade to adult.

'Involving the community is what this theater is all about,' says Gillian Stratton, founder and membership chairwoman. 'Nobody is getting paid. We do this because we love it, and we believe that live theater makes our communities more vibrant and desirable.'

Evidence of that is the innovative fundraising scheme the company has devised around its opening night, plus an unusual twist with local unemployed people in mind (see box).

'The Green Room' opens Friday, Nov. 4, at 7:30 p.m. and continues Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 2 p.m. until Nov. 20.

The play is suitable for all ages. Prices are $12 for adults; $10 for seniors, students and active military; and $5 for 9 and younger. Tickets can be reserved at ticketsmaskandmirror.com or by calling 503-691-1779. For more information, visit maskandmirror.com.