Merc hosts popular musical for three shows

By Ann McCreary

“The Last Salmon,” a musical with a message, returns to The Merc Playhouse in Twisp this weekend, with three shows on Friday through Sunday (Oct. 6 – 8).

Described as “a chamber musical for kids and people who love them,” the show uses contemporary music styles such as hip-hop and indie-pop to tell a story that begins with the Native American First Salmon ceremony.

The musical tells the story of Buck, a wild salmon who travels with his fish friends from his river home out to the ocean and back again. Their sometimes-dangerous journey carries a message of hope for the future – not just for salmon but for people and the Earth.

“The Last Salmon” debuted at The Merc in February 2016, and was subsequently performed at Seattle University. Music for the show was written by Casey James, who has written songs recorded by major artists including Elton John, Lou Rawls and Jennifer Lopez, among others. James has numerous gold and platinum records to his credit, and has received commissions for work performed in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Beijing.

Written and directed by Ki Gottberg, artistic director of The Merc, the story is told through music and dialog by seven singers and musicians. The show is more like a concert than a traditional play, Gottberg said. Designed to be a children’s production, the show appeals to all ages, she said.

A made-in-the-Methow musical, “The Last Salmon” is adapted from a book with the same title, written by local author Phil Davis. It incorporates themes of Native American tradition, such as stewardship of the land and harmony with nature.

The story is told from the perspectives of humans and salmon, as the singers/actors move between the characters.

In addition to Casey James, the show features Dayton Edwards on drums; Asa Daniels, percussion; George Schneider, flute and percussion; Rebecca Kinney, vocals, Andrew Tuller, guitar; and Nick Bosco, bass guitar.

Performances are at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Adult tickets are $16-$18, youth tickets are $5-$7. The show is sponsored in part by the Methow Conservancy, which will host a discussion after the performances on Friday and Saturday.

Limited reserved seats can be purchased online at www.mercplayhouse.org. For information call 997-7529.