July 5, 1999
(Left to right) Woodinville Mayor Don Brocha presents a City Hall Proclamation to WHS drama department's Kate Jarman, Sebastian Mazzola, and director Hjalmer Anderson.
WOODINVILLE--The Woodinville High School drama department is giving Northshore residents two more chances to see their production of Oklahoma before "Soaring to Scotland," as one of only 17 U.S. high school troupes selected to perform in Edinburgh's Fringe Festival.
The performances will be held in the Inglemoor High School gymnasium on July 30 and 31 at 7:30 p.m. Donations will be gratefully accepted at the door. Those performances will give the group a chance to practice using their collapsible sets, which had to be specially constructed for travel and use at the internationally acclaimed Scottish festival.
"The festival attracts music, dance, and drama groups from all over the world," said WHS drama director Hjalmer Anderson. "The population of Edinburgh doubles during those three weeks to one and a half million people. We were lucky to be assigned to the Church Hill Theater. The city's 199 theaters aren't enough to accommodate all the artists, so many perform in the streets. It's not unusual to see Russian performers on one end of the street and some from South America at the other, with other continents represented in between. The newspapers hire scores of extra journalists to review every single performance, with a new show starting every two hours. We will perform twice there.
"The Fringe Festival was started in 1945, as an attempt to bridge the cultural gap caused by the war. It was featured in the Dec. 1994 issue of Smithsonian magazine. Performers include many college and professional groups. Pacific Northwest Ballet has performed there. Many famous English performers, like Monty Python and Mr. Bean, made their debuts at the festival.
"This will probably never happen again for us. We represent the entire region, with one school in California the closest school chosen in the Western U.S. Many of the 17 schools chosen are private schools in the East and South, which have a different fundraising base, coming from wealthy families and areas," said Anderson.
The selection process involved an initial application, then a series of competitive auditions, said Anderson. The troupe has taken on the challenge of raising $320,000 in the past year and a half, which equates to $3,900 per student That covers the rental of the theater and lights, shipping the scenery, construction costs for collapsible scenes, as well as travel and room and board expenses for 63 cast and crew and 12 adults.
Their financial need is ongoing, Anderson pointed out, since fundraising and performances have only raised $100,000. While he thanked local companies such as Barnes & Noble and Jet City Pizza for contributing percentages of each product they sell, he said they have received no response from major corporations. The balance will have to come out of students' pockets.
"Many of our musicians are professionals, including two from the Scottish music union. Chris Nerdine, our choreographer for the past five years, is a highly-respected professional dancer in Seattle. He did the original show, and we're still hoping he can raise the money to go with us. Sue Bardsley, our music director, has worked as music director for the Village Theater in Issaquah, Studio East in Kirkland, and the Civic Light Opera in Lake City, one of the few regional theaters that does musicals."
The group's "soaring" begins on Aug. 10. For details of their schedule, access their website at www.comzone.com/soaring2scotland/. Information is also available by calling (425) 402-9337.