West End troupe rises from ashes of Forks fire
The Rainforest Players include, from left, Liane White, Curt White, Dr. Steve Kriebel and Ellen Matheny.
By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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The Rainforest Players and their desire to make good theater.
The October fire that destroyed the former International Order of Odd Fellows hall and an adjacent store building dealt the troupe “a terrible loss,” said Lela Kriebel, a Rainforest Player for about 30 years.
Costumes, lighting and all of the other equipment: “ashes.”
“But a group is not the things it's accumulated,” Kriebel said. “It's the people you work with.”
This week, the Rainforest Players will present their first production since the fire: “Mr. Pim Passes By,” a sendup of high British society by A.A. Milne.
Dr. Steve Kriebel, Lela Kriebel's husband, portrays Carraway Pim, the man who appears out of nowhere and throws a proper British household into utter turmoil.
Lela directs the show and plays the housekeeper, Anne.
It all starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in a makeshift theater at the state Department of Natural Resources, 411 Tillicum Lane.
The department isn't charging a rental fee, said Rainforest Players board member Ellen Matheny.
Admission to “Mr. Pim” is by donation, and all ages are welcome.
This is a dramatized reading rather than a fully staged production, but the actors are quite animated, added Matheny, also a cast member.
An arm of the Rainforest Players is negotiating the purchase of a downtown Forks lot that could become the site of a new arts center, Matheny said.
The empty lot once was home to the Olympic Pharmacy building before last fall's fire in the former IOOF hall at 35 N. Forks Ave. destroyed the two adjoining buildings.
The 87-year-old IOOF building had been turned over to the city and used as a community center and theater.
Last spring, the Rainforest Players decided to get to work on a show, playhouse or not.
“We couldn't just sit idly by and wait for something to happen,” said Lela Kriebel.
“We said, 'Let's start reading plays. Let's try to build toward the future.”
Actor Gerry Morris opened his home, “and we read there for a while. We thought, let's do a reading now, so people know we're still thinking positively and still having fun.”
“Mr. Pim” is “just a charming play,” she said, adding that Milne is most famous for his “Winnie the Pooh” stories, but also penned popular plays during the early 20th century.
When “Mr. Pim” comes to Forks, Warren Brown plays Lord Marden; Morris plays his nephew George Marden and Matheny plays George's wife Olivia. Liane White is their niece, Dinah, while her husband Curt White plays her sweetheart Brian Strange.
“So a husband and wife play the young lovers who want to get married,” Matheny noted.
“There's a lot of fun humor,” she said, in the 90-minute show.
“We're so glad to be back on stage. We've missed it a lot.
“We're here to entertain you, even though we don't have a home.”
Kriebel, for her part, said her cast members have a nice chemistry. And it's fun to direct her husband Steve.
“I can move him around like a piece on a chessboard,” she joked.
“He has talents I never knew he had — as do they all.”
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: August 26. 2013 6:33PM