I thought Nadine Van Hees would be relieved when the final curtain fell after the March 29 matinee of Methow Valley Theater’s Gypsy. Instead, she’s already “looking forward to next year.” As director she found the cast of 31 “a joy to work with. I had the time of my life and I hated to say goodbye,” she told me on Monday (March 30).
Dana Stromberger was a terrific Rose. Rose is possibly the best characterization of “stage moms” in theater; she gives the type the bad name they so deserve. Dana ably belted out “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Some People,” classics of musical theater repertoire sung originally by Ethel Merman in 1950, when Gypsy premiered on Broadway, and by Angela Lansbury and Bette Midler in later productions of the musical. For such a petite woman, Dana has a great, big voice.
As a teenager at Liberty Bell High School, Lillian Tucker performed in several plays, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Boyfriend. Ten years away from valley stages, she returned for the title role in Gypsy.
After graduating from LBHS in 2004, Lillian earned a degree in journalism from the University of Washington. She wrote for the Methow Valley News for a brief stint and for several papers on the west side before going to Sierra Leone in 2010 to continue her career.
While she was working in Freetown, Lillian became very ill, seriously enough for her to be evacuated to London for treatment. She spent time in a London hospital; when she was released, she was required by her health insurance company to spend a couple of weeks in the city to continue her recuperation.
Lillian’s college friend from the UW contacted her London cousin, who volunteered to show Lillian the city while she waited for her final medical release. Bells! Whistles! Roses! Romance! Instead of leaving London when she was allowed to, Lillian stayed on with her tour guide, Rory O’Rorke. The couple’s whirlwind romance developed, and they were married in the valley in 2010.
They settled in Seattle, where their little girl Eimear Kathleen was born, and returned to the valley right before the fires began last summer. Rory talked Lillian into auditioning for Gypsy. “Nadine’s enthusiasm and love of the theater is contagious,” Lillian told me, and she has caught the acting bug again. In a couple of weeks, she, Rory, the baby and Lillian’s mother Kathleen Tucker will leave for a three-week visit with Rory’s family in England.
Donna Schulz has worked on Methow Valley Theater productions for several years, but never before has she been in charge of costumes. Donna worked with an able committee. Their combined efforts resulted in the fabulous costumes for Gypsy.
Donna began visiting thrift stores and rummage rooms more than three months ago. Costumes that appeared in the production included items Donna found on her shopping sprees, Methow Valley Theater’s wardrobe, Susan Graves’ costume rental in Okanogan, a few local collectors of vintage clothing and some talented designers/seamstresses.
The three strippers – Lisa Lindsay, Erin Bosco and Meg Trebon – designed and made their costumes. Nicole Loucks designed and sewed the Latin dancers’ costumes. Donna says that Maureen Smith, who had a costuming business in San Francisco before she retired, designed and made Janet Mehus’ two costumes as well as the sailor costumes. Nadine found the wigs, and Amanda Johnson styled and restyled them as needed. Though I thought Dana had dyed her hair for her role as Rose, she was wearing a very good wig.
As opening night approached, Donna still needed a cow costume. Three weeks ago, she and her husband, Jim, set about to make the papier-mâché cow head that played such a prominent role in the vaudeville sequences of the musical. Congratulations to all the cast of Gypsy. I could write two columns about you.
A dozen readers met at the Twisp Library last week to discuss this year’s North Central Washington Regional Library’s regional read, the national best-seller The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Author Daniel Jones Brown will do a reading from the book on April 9 at the Numerica Performing Arts Center in Wenatchee. The free event begins at 7 p.m.