ETCETERA - First-time area actor treads the boards in Spokane

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The big deal about actor Jeff Daniels' play, "Escanaba in da Moonlight," is that a former Athena resident is cast in the lead role.

Spokesman-Review writer Jim Kershner cautions readers that audiences should be prepared for a Pat McManus-style huntin' comedy. Kershner recommends the production, "If you're looking for a real hoot." The entertainment, Kershner wrote, includes "Scott Miller (who's) funny and well-cast as the unlucky Reuben (Soady)."

Turns out Scott graduated in 1987 from Weston-McEwen High School in Athena. I was tipped off to his adventure by an anonymous fan, who mailed me Kershner's review.

The production is currently being staged at the Spokane Civic Theatre, according to an April 9 story in the Spokesman. Daniels also starred in the movie of the same name, and raised $1.5 million from fellow Michigan residents to finance the project in 2002.

The story's set at a Michigan deer-hunting camp on the Upper Peninsula. Kershner adds that Jeff Daniel's "show is all slapstick and no substance, but a theatergoer cannot subsist on a steady diet of serious issue dramas."

Scott saw the Civic Theatre's Web site on audition day and "I thought, well, what the hell?" With no prior acting experience, he auditioned and was called back for a second reading the following night. They offered him the part, he said, but expressed concern over his lack of training and experience.

The story revolves around his character and his inability to kill a deer. Ironically, Scott's been a vegetarian for about six months. "It's funny I ended up in that role," he laughed.

"I think it's going very well," Scott said of the play. "It's well received by the audience," he added. "I didn't think they would, but the audience finds humor in it. It's been a lot of fun. For me the biggest upside is all the people my wife and I have met. The director and cast have been so welcoming and friendly."

After high school, Scott attended Portland State University, then was a ski bum for six years in Jackson Hole, Wyo. He also served as a white-water raft guide there in the summers, and guided on a river in Honduras in Central America.

He worked sales jobs in Colorado and from about 1997-2006 in Portland. He's currently a dental products salesman for professional oral care with Procter & Gamble's Crest and Oral-B products. His territory includes the Walla Walla area. He's based in Spokane where he and wife Janie Miller are expecting their first child, a daughter, on July 27.

"Escanaba's" cast does benefit shows on Wednesdays, and also performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, with 2 p.m. matinees on Sundays. Scott's parents, Bob and Janet Miller, reside in Athena.

The play will continue at the Civic through April 25. Call 509-325-2507 for ticket information.

Touchet School Supporters, a group of community members who support their students and teachers, are hosting their third annual Great Dinner Give-A-Way, said member Marilyn Hines.

Tickets are $3 each. Prizes include a $75 gift certificate to Creek Town Cafe; a $70 gift certificate at Cameo Heights Mansion; a $50 gift certificate at The Oasis; a family dinner at Pheasant Creek Smokehouse BBQ; and a $25 gift certificate at Thundering Hooves.

During the past year, Touchet School Supporters purchased matting equipment for the art department, student awards and a reading rug for the library. They also sponsored the community Halloween party and put on two staff appreciation breakfasts.

Contact community members for tickets or call Marilyn at 509-240-4041. The drawing will be May 7, during the May Day celebration at Touchet School.

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The monthly strawberry waffle supper hosted by the folks at the Center at the Park, 720 Sprague Ave., raises funds to help support its programs for area senior citizens.

The Belgian waffles are heaped with strawberries and whipped cream and accompanied by sausage and coffee. It's $3.50 for the meal, served from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday. A musical performance will follow.

The Center at the Park recently fixed up its gift shop with the help of Linda Plumbley, assisted by time and skills from Dan Mallery, Jerry Alzeltine, Hersch Fullerton and Linda Franco.

A Center-sponsored tour of the Hanford B Reactor is on the agenda May 26. For $38 it includes a two-hour private, escorted look-see of the reactor, bus transportation, a snack and lunch on participants' own at Cousins Restaurant.

Another tour in the works is to the historic Hot Lake Springs & David Manuel Foundry June 17 for $49. Participants will be able to see the buildings and facilities, foundry, art gallery and more. Bus transportation and lunch are included. For more details, call The Center at 527-3775.

Edison Elementary PTA members provided every student with a free T-shirt on March 26, the Walla Walla Public Schools online Week in Review reported.

The shirt design was inspired by Edison's district map and the idea that students from a wide variety of backgrounds come together at Edison.

Mike Hammond and Verna Reesman of Walla Walla took a cruise leaving from Tampa, Fla., earlier this year when it was a frosty 26 degrees in the usually balmy state.

Aboard the Delbert McClinton Sandy Beaches Caribbean cruise, they were shoulder-to-shoulder with what Mike describes as the "world's best blues artists in an up-close family-type atmosphere."

The Holland America vessel sailed into Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, where they explored Mayan ruins, and Roatan, Honduras, where they checked out a reef while aboard a semi-submarine.

They especially enjoyed performances and opportunities to meet Delbert McClinton, Cyril Neville, Marcia Ball, Teresa James, Tab Benoit and Tommy Castro, Mike noted in the March Blues News from the Walla Walla Blues Society.

"There was music on several stages starting at 11 a.m. and changing every (11/2 hours) until 12:30 a.m. and jams until dawn," Mike recalled. Mike and Verna already plan to go on the January 2011 cruise. For more details, see delbert.com.

In other WWBS news, their ongoing Instruments for Kids program now has a couple of convenient auxiliary drop-off points. Sapolil Cellers, 15 E. Main St., and Blazing Guitars, 30 S. Colville St., will accept used instruments.

Musical instruments gathering dust can be put to good use with young musicians in the area through this program. For more details, see wwbs@bmi.net, or write WWBS, 610 S. Roosevelt St..

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Queen Elizabeth presented Tom Henderson with an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace in late March.

Tom's work was mentioned in a recent Etcetera item. A member of Rotary International, he created ShelterBox in 2000 to meet the diverse needs of disaster victims worldwide.

After Haiti's devastating earthquake, members of Walla Walla Noon Rotary Club 271 teamed to send ShelterBoxes there.

The Queen honored the ShelterBox founder and CEO for his outstanding contribution to charity and humanitarian work over the past decade. "During that time, ShelterBox has worked on every continent providing emergency aid after earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, hurricanes, typhoons, landslides, volcanoes and armed conflicts," it was noted in Noon Rotary's e-bulletin for March 31.

For more on the story, see www.shelterbox.org/news.php?id=279

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Five middle school students presented their mock legislative bills on April 6 to a panel of judges as part of the "Girls Rock the House" program.

It's a national initiative for eighth-grade girls in political districts represented by women of the U.S. House of Representatives, it said in the April 9 Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review.

Walla Walla is in the state's Fifth District, represented by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers.

Parents Katherine Southwick-Hess and Donna Wujek organized the effort after getting a call from McMorris-Rodgers encouraging them to get involved.

"At first I thought, ‘I can't possibly take on another project,' but you just can't say no to the congresswoman," Katherine said.

"It's been an amazing experience working with these girls and watching them gain confidence and skills."

The program offers students a six-week hands-on learning experience about the United States political system. One of the girls will advance to represent Walla Walla at district competition and possibly win a trip to Washington, D.C. Walla Walla representative will be named soon.

Students Allison Wujek and Mary Crowley, both from Assumption School, and Elli Rassbach, Brelynn Hess and Ambria Mourning, all from Pioneer, selected an issue they were passionate about to research and then presented recommendations for addressing their issues in the form of legislative bills. Topics ranged from social issues and the economy to efforts to improve educational opportunities.

Judges Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, director of the Walla Walla YWCA, Mira Gobel, associate principal at Walla Walla High School, and Jennifer Northam, public relations coordinator for Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, were selected to judge because they are successful women leaders in the community and serve as role models for Girls Rock the House participants. Learn more about Girls Rock the House online at www.girlsrockthehouse.org/.

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The McDonald Zaring Insurance American Cancer Society Relay for Life Team is holding a Bunco fundraiser from 6-8 p.m. May 13 at the Elks Lodge, 315 E. Rose St. The cost is $15 per person and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to Relay for Life. Prizes are being donated by local merchan ts.

R.S.V.P. by e-mail to team captains Glenda Thompson at glenda.thompson@mcdonaldzaring.com or Cherie Engebretson at cherie.engebretson@mcdonaldzaring.com. For more details online, see Relayforlife.org

Former Walla Wallan Jack Darch wrote from Salinas, Calif., with greetings for fellow members of the Walla Walla High School Class of 1941. To put it in his words, "69 years - good grief!"

He'd like to get in touch with classmates out here who remember him. He still has a Wa-Hi year book from 1941 so he can look up friends from the past. Jack can be contacted at 831-455-2148 or 26210 Acclaim Court, Las Palmas Ranch II, Salinas, CA 93908.

Luminary bags for the 2010 Relay For Life of Walla Walla are available at Christian Supply & Gifts, 115 E. Main St., and at Special FX, 921 S. Ninth Ave. The luminary bags, which can be dedicated "In Honor of" or "In Memory of" are lighted and placed around the Martin Field track during the 2010 Relay For Life, which will be June 11-12. Suggested donation for the luminary bags is $10.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life raises funds for research, patient support, advocacy and a goal of more birthdays. More information can be found at www.relayforlife.org/wallawallawa or call Kim Porter, 529-9597.

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Walla Walla's Spring Barrel Tasting weekend is May 1-2, and the women of Delta Gamma at Whitman College are conducting the annual Anchor Drive, their largest fundraiser. It's a designated driving service for weekend wine tasting trips, said member Katie Miller.

Proceeds directly benefit the Delta Gamma national philanthropy, Service for Sight and the United Blind of Walla Walla by installing audible crosswalks for the visually impaired.

Anchor Drive operates on a donation basis, with the suggested rate of $20 per hour per vehicle.

To hire a driver, e-mail anchordrive@gmail.com with the number of people in your party, the days you would like a driver, and whether you would like to use your personal vehicle or reserve a car, Katie said. Early signups are encouraged.

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A team of students representing Walla Walla High School won highest honors in this year's WordMasters Challenge. The national competition for high school students requires close reading and analysis of many different kinds of prose and poetry.

Wa-Hi's ninth-grade students tied for 12th place in the nation in the year's third meet, held in February. They participated with 526 other school teams from across the country. More than 52,000 students nationwide and in three foreign nations participated. The team was supervised by Lori Dohe, Wa-Hi English teacher. WordMasters individual honors went to Olivia Welker, junior, who placed among the 25 highest-scoring 11th graders in the country. She made only one mistake. Other high scorers include Tanner McCoon, Kalie Adams, Luke Flippo, Ashley Melton, Clare Reese, Gregg Heller, Jocelyn Thompson, Krystal Bautista, Sarah Fuller, Anna Tupper-Bridges and Kailee Willard. The news was reported in the online Week in Review.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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