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Beaverton to start the holidays with a show of laugh-filled chaos

'Happy Hollandaise' is Beaverton Civic Theatre's holiday production
by: Ammon Riley Helga Hassenpfeffer, played by Jan Rosenthal (left), confronts the characters of Beth Self (Irene) and Aaron Morrow (Larry) in Beaverton Civic Theatre’s production of “Happy Hollandaise,” which opens Friday, Nov. 25.

Opening the holiday season on Friday, Nov. 25, in the auditorium of the Beaverton City Library is Beaverton Civic Theatre's production of 'Happy Hollandaise,' a light British comedy that includes a mix of rapidly unraveling dinner plans, mistaken identity and more, making for a delightful, family-friendly show.

The play focuses on an all-too-recognizable situation - holiday preparations. All Claire Finley, the hostess, wants is the perfect Christmas. She's hired a celebrated gourmet chef to prepare her famous Hasenpfeffer Hollandaise sauce for her dinner guests, the new vicar and his wife. Unfortunately, the chef is late, the guests are early and there are burglars on the loose in the neighborhood.

To top it all off, Claire's father has been hit on the head and thinks he's the leading man in all of the West End theater productions. With the help of her brother, George, Claire tries to keep it together. But where is the holiday spirit? How will it all end?

Carrying the mixed generation concept further, the cast includes both young first-timers and older, more seasoned actors. One newcomer to BCT, Amanda Clark recently moved to Portland after graduating from Ball State University in Indiana with a BS in advertising and acting.

What aspect of her studies in adverting prepared her for community theater? 'Both advertising and theater are about telling stories and building meaningful relationships,' said Clark. 'In advertising, we build a story around a product or service that reflects the needs or wants of an individual.'

According to Clark, it is through the story that a brand is created. The consumer in turn develops a relationship with the brand. Both the advertiser and the actor need to 'get in the skin' of the character (or consumer).

'The character research process for the stage is very similar to the consumer research process, in my opinion,' said Clark. A veteran of various productions, she acknowledged that 'overall, my favorite characters are the women that were a little bit left of center and quirky. Claire is definitely one of those! With 'Happy Hollandaise,' I identify with Claire's desire to strive for the perfect Christmas, seeking to find just a bit of control in all the chaos.'

Bryn Nelson also makes her debut in this production. She is now a freshman at Portland Community College and delighted to be a part of the cast.

' I am new to the community theater,' Nelson said. 'So I will be learning new things as I embark on my first community theater job.'

Asked what she would tell friends about acting with a community theater, she said, 'If any of my friends really want to be an actor, I would encourage them to be a part of a community theater like BCT because it is a very rewarding experience.'

Stan Yeend has appeared in three previous productions at BCT: as Oscar in 'The Odd Couple,' the fall guy in 'The Nerd' and Dr. Lyman in 'Bus Stop.' In 'Happy Hollandaise,' he plays several diverse characters which he finds a distinct challenge.

Actually, Yeend said, 'One of the reasons I took this part is the opportunity to do multiple roles and dialects. I have always played around with voices. Just ask my wife. My Irish (brogue) drives her crazy! The first act should be a challenge, though, because the costume changes come fast and furious.'

One compensation to all of that, said Yeend, is that 'playing the goofball is easier than memorizing tons of lines.'

Performances are scheduled for weekends only Nov. 25 through Dec. 11. The curtain goes up on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Ticket prices for the production are $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, students and groups of 10 or more; and $5 for youths 10 and younger. Free parking is available in the library parking lots.

Prior to the Saturday, Dec. 3, performance, BCT is hosting a pre-show dessert, coffee and silent auction at 7 p.m. in the Beaverton City Library. Tickets for that event are $5.

There will be a talk back with the cast and director, Doreen Lundberg, following the Sunday, Dec. 4, performance.

The Beaverton Civic Theatre is sponsored by the Beaverton Arts Commission. For more information, visit beavertoncivictheatre.org or call 503-754-9866.