Lakeridge's drama instructor leads by example through involvement in local theater productions

by: VERN UYETAKE - Professional actor by night and Lakeridge drama instructor by day, Joe Theissen takes a break during rehearsal for Pixie Dust Productions Legally Blonde, the Musical, which opens Sept. 22.Lakeridge High School drama instructor Joe Theissen uses many methods to inspire his students. One highly effective method he uses is to lead by example: he frequently appears in local theatrical productions and in fact, is current in rehearsal for Pixie Dust Production’s “Legally Blonde, the Musical,” to open Sept. 22 at the Newmark Theater in downtown Portland.

“I get a lot of positive responses from parents,” said Theissen. “They like to see that I am involved in local theater.” Theissen is more than just involved; he is an award-winning actor and director. He won a Drammy Award in 2012 for his portrayal of the Cowardly Lion in Pixie Dust’s production of “The Wizard of Oz.” Other notable roles include Julian Marsh in “42nd Street” and Morris Brummel in Broadway Rose Theatre Company’s “No Way to Treat a Lady,” for which he won a Drammy in 2008. For his performances as Charlie/Oscar/Vittorio in Lakewood Theatre Company’s production of “Sweet Charity” in 2011, he won Drammy, PAMTA and OTAS awards.

Add to those his directing credits for “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” (2010 OTAS Award) and “The Foreigner” (2011 OTAS Award) at the Lakewood Theatre and “Grease” at Broadway Rose Summer Teen workshop.

Theissen also has worked as a soloist and studio vocalist with the Trinity Consort, OCP Recordings and Pink Martini.

“Teaching is my bread and butter, working with the kids keeps me going,” he said. “But being able to perform is the gravy.”by: VERN UYETAKE - Timothy Johnson, the assistant coach for Lakeridges dance team, and Jessica Crouch, who plays Elle, enjoy a laugh at rehearsal.

The community has the opportunity to see Theissen in action as Professor Callahan in “Legally Blonde,” which opens Sept. 22 and runs through Oct. 6. The production also includes Lake Oswego actress Erin Charles as Vivienne. Timothy Johnson, Lakeridge dance team’s assistant coach, is a member of the ensemble.

“The ensemble works so hard,” said Theissen. “There is tons of dancing - athletic dance to rock and roll. The humor (in the play) is modern and just risqué enough to be sassy.”

“Legally Blonde” is directed by Greg Tamblyn of Lake Oswego, founder of Pixie Dust Productions. The production features Jessica Crouch as Elle and Portland favorites Joshua Stenseth (Emmett), Morgan Mallory (Warner), Amy Jo Halliday (Paulette), Pam Mahon (Brooke Wyndham), Megan Carver (Pilar), Alina Ziak (Serena), Kylie Clarke Johnson (Margot), and Spencer Conway (Kyle the UPS driver).

The artistic team includes music director Alan D. Lytle, choreographer Jessica Hollyfield, lighting designer Mark LaPierre, set designer Demetri Pavloatos and costumes by Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. The technical crew includes students from Lakeridge and St. Mary’s Academy.

“It’s a fantastic cast, I really feel lucky,” said Tamblyn. “I’m thrilled to have lots of high school students involved. It brings the next generation into the professional realm. It let’s them see what it’s like.”

Tickets to “Legally Blonde” range in price from $30 to $57 with student, senior and group discounts. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. A complete show schedule can be viewed at Tickets can be purchased on the website or in person at the PCPA box office, 1111 S.W. Broadway in Portland, at TicketsWest outlets or by calling 503-946-7272.

“Legally Blonde” is presented by Hasson Company Realtors.

by: VERN UYETAKE - Theissen as Professor Callahan and Pam Mahon, who plays Brooke Wyndham, chat backstage during rehearsal.

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