From Forest Grove theater to Pacific University concerts, the arts thrive

by: COURTESY - Theatre in the Grove's Rocky Horror Show.Concerts, drama productions, a speech by an Olympic athlete and one giant mural marked a banner year in arts and entertainment in western Washington County. Here's a smattering of highlights:


Forest Grove audiences raved about Theater in the Grove’s production of “Chicago: The Musical,” starring Jenny Hauser as Roxie Hart, Jodi Coffman as Velma Kelly and James Grimes as Billy Flynn. Using words like “sexy” and “hot,” viewers praised the production’s choreography, acting, singing and overall skill at “vamping it up.”

The 1970s band Kansas joined the Pacific Philharmonic Orchestra for a concert at Pacific University, indulging conductor Bryce Seliger’s passion for bringing rock and classical music together. Rock music can be a powerful marketing tool for classical giants such as Beethoven, Seliger said. “It draws in an audience that never would have gone to the (symphony) concert to begin with,” she said. And ideally, folks walk out saying, “Wow, I love the orchestra.”


by: COURTESY - Theater in the Grove's production of Chicago: The Musical.Theatre in the Grove took on the “Rocky Horror Show” to the delight — and shock — of audiences used to the nonprofit’s more family-friendly performances. “We don’t want to corrupt or traumatize anybody,” said Director Pruella Centers, whose 18-and-over cast pranced and danced its way through the rock-n-roll story of an ordinary couple, Brad and Janet, and the unforgettable night they spend at the castle of Dr. Frank N. Furter, a transvestite mad-scientist from the planet Transsexual.


by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Virginia Garcia Health Center mural.Along with opening its doors to low-income patients across western Washington County, the new Virginia Garcia Health Center unveiled a 40-foot long mural on its front wall, facing Adair Street. The 3.5-foot-tall tile mosaic was created by Hector H. Hernandez and uses butterflies to represent migrant farm families who come to Washington County. Also depicted is Virginia Garcia and her family. Garcia died of blood poisoning at age six after a small cut on her foot went untreated. In the mural Garcia’s spirit is represented by a tulip, which transforms into a butterfly, which flies towards the distant horizon and the sun beyond it.

A packed Taylor-Meade auditorium welcomed activist and 1960s icon John Carlos, one of the two black U.S. Olympic medalists who raised their fists on the victory stand during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner. Carlos, 67 at the time he delivered Pacific’s annual Whitely Distinguished Lecture, said the raised fist was meant to symbolize his protest against racial and other injustices back in the United States.


The production of "Narnia" at Theater in the Grove marked the final local effort of husband-wife team James and Michelle Friend. Michelle, who directed "Narnia," and James, who handled the show's set, lighting and choreography, are returning to Texas. The couple has been actively involved in TITG, said Publicity Manager Ken Centers. "Both were in numerous shows. James was elected onto our Board of Directors and Michelle has directed several productions. They are wonderful people and will be sorely missed."

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