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Stepping into the spotlight

Gladstone's Bethany Ide 'toughens up' for production of 'Grease'
by: Ellen Spitaleri Bethany Ide, left, rehearses a vocal number from

Gladstone resident Bethany Ide will experience a number of 'firsts' when PHAME Academy's production of 'Grease' opens this weekend.

Ide, 28, plays Sandy, her first starring role in a musical and, when the music begins, it will be her first time onstage at Mt. Hood Community College Theatre.

It also marks the first time she has ever done fight choreography.

'The audience gets to see me punch someone,' which she noted is out of character for her, adding that although Sandy starts out as a regular schoolgirl, she definitely toughens up by the musical's end.

Although this is Ide's third production, she has been challenged by more lines to memorize and more songs to sing, not to mention that she was originally slated to play another character but was asked by director Jessica Dart to take on the part of Sandy when another actress had to drop out due to illness.

'Bethany really stepped up; when I asked her if she'd take the part, she said, 'Yeah, I'll do it,' without even thinking twice,' Dart said.

PHAME Academy

'Grease' is the 32nd musical to be produced in PHAME Academy's 26-year history, noted Stephen Beaudoin, executive director of the organization. (PHAME, which stands for Pacific Honored Artists, Musicians and Entertainers, is a performing arts academy for developmentally or intellectually disabled adults ages 17 and older.)

The population ranges from high-functioning people with autism, capable of living on their own, to others who cannot live independently; the majority have Down syndrome, Dart said.

'Grease' was a wildly popular production choice, she said, adding, 'This has been a play that the students wanted to do for years; we haven't done anything like 'Grease' before and there was quite a reaction when we announced we were doing it.'

While the annual musical is PHAME's 'marquee event,' Dart said that the academy has a 55-member choir that performs all over the Portland area. Students can also take classes in fine and performing arts, creative writing, music and dance, she added.

PHAME Academy recently got a grant from the Portland 100 Fund of Equity Foundation and, next March, organizers plan to take students on a regional tour to Oregon City and Gladstone.

'We want to bring our students out into the communities where they live so the people there can see the amazing talent we have,' Beaudoin said.

Although all the attendees at PHAME Academy have disabilities, those become secondary, he said, adding, 'We focus instead on the abilities and talents of our incredible students.'

Fast Facts

• PHAME Academy presents 'Grease'

• Saturday, June 18, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, June 19, at 2 p.m.

• Venue: Mt. Hood Community College Theatre

• Tickets range in price from $13 to $27

• Visit phameacademy.org to purchase tickets or for more information about PHAME Academy