Northwest NEWS

February 1, 1999

Entertainment

New theatre company in Redmond

by Deborah Stone

   SecondStory Repertory, a new professional theatre company, has recently been formed in Redmond. Created by Stan Gill and Jennifer Reif, the company will take up permanent residence on the second level of Redmond Town Center, next to Borders Books, in the spring.

   During the interim, SecondStory Rep will open in a temporary space next to Eddie Bauer in the retail complex. The group plans to present an eclectic mix of productions, including children's and family shows, musicals, plays, comedy and improvisation, musical revues, and student productions. Classes in a variety of theatre skills for all ages will also be offered.

   At the core of the theatre's repertoire will be the SPROUTS program, which was created by Artistic Director Stan Gill. SPROUTS is a series of musicals for children performed by a cast of professional actors and actresses. They are based on well-known children's literature and designed for ages 4-12 and accompanying adults.

   According to Reif, the shows will provide a high level of interactivity between the performers and audiences in an intimate space of 150 seats. She says, "The kids will get to sit right on stage with the actors, so they will be very much a part of the show, very involved."

   For the past four years, SPROUTS has been housed at Studio East in Kirkland with Gill and Reif at its helm and has grown in reputation and popularity. "We'll now have our own space and it will be perfect for the kinds of performances we want to do," adds Reif.

   Another unique aspect of the group's offerings is the Apprentice Program, which is designed for aspiring actors, ages 14-20. This program will give students experience in all aspects of theatre production under the supervision of SecondStory Repertory actors, directors, and teachers. Students will cast, rehearse, design, and carry out all the necessary tasks involved in putting on a full-stage production.

   "The Eastside has grown so much and there really is a need for more theatre here," says Reif. "There are not many professional groups here, and we are a professional company. Also, we want to give people who live in these communities an opportunity to see professional shows without high ticket prices and parking costs. The convenience aspect of having a theatre company right in the community will also make going to see shows easier than trekking across the bridge."

   Funding for SecondStory Rep is coming from various community businesses through sponsorships and donations, but the group is also seeking a variety of grants. They are about halfway there in realizing their financial goal.

   "The Mayor and the City of Redmond, as well as Redmond Town Center, have been so supportive," comments Reif. "We've also had support from REI, Redmond National Bank, and the Winmar Corporation."

   A benefit performance, entitled First Time SecondStory will be held Feb. 26 and 27 and will be a review of song, dance, scenes, and improvisation with the entire company. In addition, the group is selling chairs at $150 and $250 each in their new space as part of their fundraising endeavors.

   Beauty and the Beast, a SPROUTS offering, will play in the temporary space Feb. 6 and 7 at 1 and 3 p.m. There will be special school shows held during the weekdays. Theatre classes begin Feb. 23.

   For more information about upcoming shows and classes, call 425-881-6777.