Sally Gracie TwispBy Sally Gracie

Happy 98th birthday to Lloyd Bjerge, for whom a party will be held at the Methow Valley Senior Center lunch on Friday (May 2), his actual birthdate.

An honest critic must say that Mirificus High (mirificus, from the Latin: amazing, wonderful) is a work-in-progress, but no less delightful because of that. The lighting and sound needed some attention in the Friday premiere — I had trouble hearing the lyrics of a couple of the songs, and that could have been corrected with a few microphones — and the student actors lost some of the lines in the third act. Patty Watson “pulled” hers from the air with a gesture of her hand, and after that the cast was having enough fun with the audience to read from the play script when they needed to.

Danbert Nobacon directed the play, acted in it, accompanied the singers with his guitar. and collaborated with the students as they created it “from the ground up.” In his “Director’s Note,” Danbert says, “I finally get it. Why people teach … [I]t does not get any more humbling and emotionally rewarding than it has been for me” during the 10 weeks of working with the students. Though Danbert is a professional actor and musician, and usually finds plenty within himself to fill the stage on his own, he was just one of the group on stage at The Merc, even forgetting a line and looking over the back of a sofa to find it in the script.

Bryce Tillman played a football player who sings about “swallowing [his] dreams” to continue football instead of pursuing an artistic career. Patricia Watson’s song about things getting “a little weird” describes her confusion about her sexual preference. All of the characters are conflicted, uncertain of their role in their group of peers.

They face the same complicated issues that students at Liberty Bell or any high school do: some are intellectual, some deeply moral and personal. Others are the grand human questions about the meaning of life. That’s where the janitor comes in! Garrett Jensen, Mirificus High’s janitor, is the confessor, the wise man and the philosopher of the play. His role is to help the young people find the answers. I was touched as I watched these young actors in their effort to make these struggles come alive through their characters.

The songs were really good. Even memorable. I left the playhouse humming Patricia’s “weird” song.

Betty Wagoner on the Spring Trail Ride with MVBCH. Photo by Sally Gracie

Betty Wagoner on the Spring Trail Ride with MVBCH. Photo by Sally Gracie

The rain held off to allow Methow Valley Back Country Horsemen to hold their 30th annual Spring Trail Ride under sunny skies and temperatures somewhat warmer than usual. The four-hour ride concluded without major incident or injury. Winfrey Smith, a farrier who has ridden the Spring Ride for eight years, had nary a horse shoe to repair.

MVBCH raises money through auctions at the event that fund several service projects.

MVBCH will again tidy up at the Twisp River Horse Camp, a popular destination for equestrian visitors to the valley. They will repair high lines and spread gravel there. For 2014, they will again pay for an extra U.S. Forest Service crew person, this time to make significant improvements to the War Creek trail, including clearing brush, building diversions to drain storm water off the trail, and repairing the trail surface.

Major improvements to the eventual site of a horse camp at Loup Loup Sno-Park are on hold, awaiting final NEPA approval. High lines there will be repaired for day riders. On National Trails Day, June 7, volunteers will clean up the 15-mile Twisp River Trail.

Don’t miss Thursday and Saturday evenings at The Merc. On Thursday (May 1) Dana Visalli will talk about his recent experiences teaching Afghan girls in Kabul. His presentation will include a live Skype conversation with some of the students. On Saturday (May 3), Robert Horton, hosted by Twisp Library Friends, will talk about some cool adaptations from book to film. Both events are at 7 p.m., and both are free.