Editor’s note: Due to inclement weather, “The Wind in the Willows” has been rescheduled for Friday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Jan. 26, at 2 p.m. Visit pahstheatre.com for more information.
PORT ANGELES — The East Park Avenue Players will present “The Wind in the Willows” on Friday and Saturday.
Admission will be by donation; the show is free of charge. It will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave.
Tickets will be provided at the door. Concessions and baked pastries will be for sale.
The East Park Avenue Players is an ensemble performance group created from Port Angeles High School’s advanced acting class taught by Kelly Lovall, who directed the play.
Lovall, who has run the theater department at the high school since 2002, has directed such plays as “The Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Crucible,” “Dancing at Lughnasa,” “Welcome to the Moon,” “As You Like It” and others.
She assembled a select group of young performers in this acting class and together they have spent hundreds of hours training and practicing their craft, she said.
The play was adapted by Joseph Baldwin from a British children’s book written in 1908 by Kenneth Grahame.
The story follows friends Toad, Badger, Rat and Mole through adventure and misadventure as they traipse through Wild Wood to save the day by recapturing Toad Hall from the incursion of Jack Weasel and his kin and rescuing little Portly Otter from their clutches. The wise old Badger leads the protective Rat, the polite and worrisome Mole and the boastful, free-spirited Toad through these travails.
The members of this theater group, many of whom have had past acting and performance experience in community plays and acting classes, focus on four major events during the year: a winter season children’s play set in January; a Shakespeare Review set in a Shakespeare Café Venue, which also includes original poetry and an invitation for open mic; a student-directed and student playwright showcase; and the final spring play showcase set in black-box seating.
The group is part of the Port Angeles High School’s Theatre Department, and some students participate in the after-school Drama Club program.
“But our purpose is a bit different,” Lovall said.
“We are looking to raise the bar in the drama and performance art at the high school. We want the community to know that when they see an East Park Avenue Players production, they can expect to see young adults who train in their craft and are totally committed to the art of performance.”
This is the fourth year that Lovall’s advanced acting class has presented a children’s play to the public. It was started by Jeanne Beard, a kindergarten teacher at Jefferson Elementary, for the sole purpose of providing plays for the district’s kindergartners. Beard teamed with Lovall and wrote a grant to pay for kindergarten students to be transported to Port Angeles High School during the school day to see a play that was made just for them.
Beard retired in 2017, and the kindergarten teacher Lucy Edwards took over in 2018, and then kindergarten teacher Sarah Tuegan took the lead in organizing the kindergartners for the current year.
At first, Lovall only showed it during the school day, but she decided to make the plays available for the whole community.
The cast includes seniors Nathaniel Mcinnis, Keanu Armitage and Allison Locke; juniors Autumn Shaw, Gwendolyn Aue and Madison Peterson; sophomores Skylar Jackson, Zoe Williams, Leia Kenton, Hunter Cassinelli, Maleeah Casey, Rachel Crenshaw and Ella Bouy; and freshmen Ana Arndt and Abby Sanford.
The stage crew from the theater tech class taught by Patric McInnis includes seniors Riley Baermann and Zachary Perry; juniors Johnathan Maestes and Zephania Waldron; and sophomores Joelle Gahimer, Daya Woodyard, Tyler Smith and Dalton Ross.