â-  Groundbreaking plot involves mixed marriages, racial prejudice

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: TRIUMPH PHOTOGRAPHY - Geoffery Simmons as Joe and Carmen Brantley-Payne as Queenie in Lakewood Theatre Companys production of Show Boat.

As the final presentation of the 2013-14 season, Lakewood Theatre Company will present a new production of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s musical “Show Boat.” The production opens Friday and continues through June 8. The story is based on the novel by Edna Ferber, with music by Kern and book and lyrics by Hammerstein. Noted musical numbers include such classic songs as “Ol’ Man River,” “Make Believe” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man.” With stage direction by Ron Daum and musical direction by Jon Quesenberry, the cast of “Show Boat” includes Jay Pevney as Capt. Andy Hawks, Matthew Hayward as Gaylord Ravenal, Geoffery Simmons as Joe, Carmen Brantley-Payne as Queenie, Jennifer Davis as Magnolia and Lake Oswego actress Laila Murphy as Julie.

“Show Boat” covers a span of 40 years and how those years affected Capt. Hawk’s family and their show boat troop of actors who perform on the Cotton Blossom floating theater. Interwoven into the groundbreaking plot were such topics as mixed marriages, racial prejudice, addiction and desertion.

The show opens in the 1880s with the Cotton Blossom arriving and setting up to perform for the evening. The opening number “Cotton Blossom” introduces us to the cook, Queenie, and her husband, Joe, along with stage performers Julie, Steve (Andrew Stark), Frank (Jameson Tabor) and Ellie (Lindsay Schramm). All work for Hawks and his wife Parthy (Debbie Domby-Hood), who worry that the Cotton Blossom isn’t an appropriate place for their daughter, Magnolia.

Magnolia loves the Cotton Blossom and its theatrical world, however, she develops a new love for Gaylord Ravenal, a gambler. Their romance is as turbulent as the river and impacts her family and friends through the years.

“The concept of racial integration and race unity has been the pivot around which my parents raised me,” Laila Murphy said. “It has been an interesting and challenging journey playing the role of Julie and trying to internalize what it must have been like for women of mixed race at the turn of the century. I feel fortunate to have mixed race children who have opportunity and freedom to marry whatever color or nationality they want. Writing a musical in the twenties that highlighted the topic of race was quite a new concept and very bold! Nothing had been done like this before. It is an honor to be a part of this story. The cast, crew and production team are all outstanding.”

Others in the cast include David Sargent, Jared Warby, Travis C. Patterson, Thomas Slater, Lalanya Gunn, Emily Tyler, Danielle Valentine, Monica Rodrigues, James Dixon, Jerrod Neal, Gerrin Mitchell, Quinlyn Wright, Kurleen Nowickas and Aida Valentine.

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, one Wednesday performance at 7:30 p.m. May 21, Sundays at 2 and 7 p.m. and one Saturday 2 p.m. performance on June 7.

Tickets are $26 for adults and $24 for seniors. All performances are on the Headlee Mainstage at Lakewood Center for the Arts, 368 S State St. in Lake Oswego. Order tickets online at or by calling the box office at 503-635-3901.

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