IN THIS WEEKEND’S PENINSULA SPOTLIGHT: Olympic Theatre Arts’ ‘Paragon Springs’ life in small town on verge of change

SEQUIM — Into this town “where water is wealth” — so goes the Irrigation Festival slogan — comes “Paragon Springs,” a story about healing waters suddenly, mysteriously poisoned.

In swoops the chief medical officer, Dr. Thomas Stockman, bent on finding out the truth behind this tragedy. Around him, the townspeople scurry, contending with all manner of social issues.

“Paragon Springs,” playwright Steven Dietz’s tale of small-town life, capitalism and greed, opens tonight at Olympic Theatre Arts, 414 N. Sequim Ave., and unfolds over the next three weekends. It’s a tragedy and a comedy based on Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” and set in 1926, amid the birth of radio and the final roar of the 1920s.

As soon as actor Colby Thomas laid eyes on the “Springs” script, he was hooked.

“It has a little bit of everything — comedy, drama, extended aquatic sequences — and an interesting overall theme,” said Thomas.

He portrays Lars Hovstad, a young man making the transition from a newspaper job into a radio broadcasting career.

“Springs” is “so dramatically different than many other shows produced in the area,” Thomas added.

The show’s social and political themes, its wrangling with water and stronger drinks — they make this one rich, he said. “Springs” will “not only make an audience think but entertain them thoroughly,” said Thomas.

Early on in the story, Lars is trying to persuade his brother Erik (Jeremiah Paulsen) that radio is the next big thing. Erik, editor of the Paragon Springs newspaper the Sentinel, is skeptical.

Standing at the microphone, Lars seeks to paint him a picture.

“A newspaper is a polite little thing, waitin’ out on your front step like your kind old Aunt Martha,” he tells his brother.

But “the radio is the rudest thing that man’s come up with yet, and now that loud, rude homewreckin’ thing is squarely in our hands.”

Paulsen, like Thomas, finds the “Springs” story an unusual one for the local theater scene. He was drawn in by the challenge of playing Erik, whom he calls a “sensitive hothead.”

The play’s best moments come, Paulsen added, when the townspeople’s relationships come to the fore.

“The connections are spot on and genuine,” he said. “It’s fun to really feel it and know the people watching feel it too.”

One of those relationships is between Erik and Rose, his former sweetheart who is now married to someone else.

“When I read Rose’s part, I loved it,” said Danielle Chamberlain, who was invited to audition for the role.

“She is such a strong character and, even though she can be tough sometimes, she really cares for the people around her. I also loved the love drama going on between her and Erik and Hollis,” her husband.

“My favorite part of the play is when I get to be tough. I throw things back in people’s faces a lot,” like reminding her neighbors that her brothers died in the war, or reminding the dreamers of the town that just dreams will take them nowhere.

But there’s comic relief, Chamberlain added: Odegaard, the city’s printer and bootlegger played by Jeff Marks, has a lot of juicy lines.

“I love the party scene,” in which Odegaard offers Mayor Peter Stockman (Bob Willis) some alcohol.

“Hair of the dog? Oil of the snake? Toe of the turtle? Sweat of the goat?” he invites.

Meanwhile, said Chamberlain, “everyone is kind of shying back, trying not to get caught.”

“Paragon Springs” is a highly political story, she added, but it’s also about family, love and loss. The story has just enough laughter, and “really heartfelt moments.”

The show’s cast, led by director Roger Briggs and assistant director Sharon Briggs, also includes Gary McLaughlin as Dr. Thomas Stockman; B.J. Kavanaugh as his wife Katrina; Lily Carignan as their daughter Lorna; Richard Lord as Hollis; and Sharon DelaBarre as the eccentric Widow Kroger.

As is the custom at Olympic Theatre Arts, tonight’s opening includes a champagne reception at 6:30, followed by curtain time at 7:30. The rest of the Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. through May 13. Reserved seats are $16.50 for adults and $11.50 for children 16 and younger, while a $2 discount applies for OTA members and for active duty military service members and their spouses.

For more information, visit or phone the box office at 360-683-7326.

More in Life

During the PSHA game show at the Crosby arena in Agnew last weekend, Duncan Parks, 18, and Ed ran a blazingly fast “A” division time of 8.45 in the Keyrace. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)
HORSEPLAY: Olympic Peninsula equestrians beat the heat

ARE YOU FEELING beat by the heat? It’s sure had me feeling… Continue reading

Scribble Bots STEAM event for tweens at NOLS locations

Kids in grades 4–7 will build robots that scribble… Continue reading

Emma Weller
Former Port Angeles Roughrider graduates from Harvard

Port Angeles High School alumna Emma Weller recently graduated… Continue reading

Dan Peacock, on left, receives the 2024 Community Service Award from Lora Brabant, president of the Clallam County School Retirees Association.
Peacock receives retirees’ community service award

Dan Peacock has received the 2024 Community Service Award… Continue reading

The DAISY Foundation has recognized Thomas Batey with its DAISY award.
Thomas Batey recognized

The DAISY Foundation has recognized Thomas Batey with its DAISY award. Batey… Continue reading

A GROWING CONCERN: Gardening fun in the summer sun

SUMMER HAS OFFICIALLY begun, school is out, for a couple weeks the… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Living honorably is a marathon, not a sprint

THE OPENING CEREMONY of the Paris Olympics is a week away. The… Continue reading

Jamal Rahman will discuss teaching stories and sacred verses that transformed his life at 11 a.m. Sunday. Rahman will be the guest speaker at Olympic Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
Olympic Unitarian Universalist Fellowship speaker set

Jamal Rahman will present “Healing Extremism and Polarization” at… Continue reading

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith.
Unity in Port Townsend planning for Sunday services

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith will present “Maintain Peace of… Continue reading

The Rev. Donna Little will present “The View From Here - 2024” at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Unity speaker slated Sunday

The Rev. Donna Little will present “The View From… Continue reading

Repair jewelry, bicycles at Sunday event

Volunteers to show participants how to fix common items

Diane Fatzinger uses the wind phone in Sequim, located just north of the Olympic Discovery Trail on West Hendrickson Road. (Elijah Sussman/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Wind phone offers a place for therapeutic discussion

Sequim woman constructs unwired booth to speak to lost loved one