'Crazy Old Man' premieres at HART Theatre this weekend

by: COURTESY PHOTOS - A cast of about 30 make Crazy Old Man by local playwrights come to life for the frist time. You may be familiar with the story of Noah’s Ark, but you have never heard the story told this way.

Vaudeville-style villains, heartfelt ballads and artisan cheesemaking help reinvent the age-old tale this month at Hillsboro Artists Regional Theatre (HART).

It’s the world premiere of “Crazy Old Man,” a musical in two acts written by local playwrights Tina Arth, Darrell Baker and Carl Coughlan. The playwrights got a boost after the script won Page to Stage — HART’s annual playwrights showcase — last fall.

“Crazy Old Man” is a light-hearted take on the story of Noah’s Ark, with a tone more reminiscent of Mayberry than The Ten Commandments.

The show opens Friday, July 11, and runs through Aug. 3. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $17 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $11 for students and children. A special benefit performance for Animal Aid will be held at 2 p.m. on July 19.

HART artistic director Paul Roder anticipates that the family-friendly “Crazy Old Man” will be a real crowd pleaser.

“They will laugh. They will cry,” said Roder. “There are some genuinely moving moments and some truly outstanding songs.”

Many of the cast members, about 30 in all, are new to HART, but loyal audience members will recognize some of the featured actors and actresses.

Nick Hamilton, who was most recently seen at HART this spring in “Is He Dead?” and in “The Fantasticks” last fall, is playing the role of Noah. In this version of the story, Noah is a somewhat reluctant hero.

“He’s got the job, but he doesn’t want it,” Hamilton said. “Greatness keeps being thrust on him.”

Hamilton brings this interpretation of Noah to the stage with modesty and an air of humility.

Starring in the production as “Teen Ruth” is local Sarah Felder, 14.

Felder, who will be a freshman at Beaverton’s Westview High School next fall and got her start acting in the summer CAST program at Theatre in the Grove, has been bitten by the theater bug.

“I like putting on someone else’s mask,” Felder said of acting.

The young actress has taken on musicals, comedies and even Shakespeare, performing with numerous local theater groups. Felder plans to pursue writing and theater in high school.

The role of Teen Ruth is unique for Felder because it’s never been played before. No famous actresses have set the bar for the performance. She gets to create the character all on her own.

“Crazy Old Man” features 21 original songs plus an overture. The show examines themes of love, loyalty, friendship, hope and trust.

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