Summer musical a fun family activity

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The outdoor summer musical is fast approaching.

This year, “The Music Man” will be gracing our beautiful amphitheater stage with the talented Kevin Loomer as Professor Harold Hill and Shauna Fletcher as Marion the Librarian. This is sure to be an entertaining event, full of music, dancing and fun characters.

Show info

“The Music Man” runs July 11-13, 18-20 and 25-27. Tickets are available here.

To view the production’s Facebook page, click here.

OK, I may be a tiny bit biased. Just a teeny bit.

My children and I are part of the cast this year. My daughter is Minnie Hix, a trombone girl; my son is Logan Dunlop (whose first name he changed from the original Linus), a band boy; and I am Ethel Redenbacher, a Pickalittle Lady.

We are having so much fun getting to know the other 95 or so people working on the show as we learn songs and dances. When we aren’t on stage we have enjoyed the beauty of the amphitheater: the lovely outdoor surroundings, the birds and the impromptu games of tag and hide and seek.

My children are having such a great time with the other kids in the cast. My son, who loves the company of teenagers, has already picked out a young lady — a dark-haired soprano — as his future girlfriend. He is generously supportive, though, of a more-age-appropriate young man who is his rival. It is wonderful to watch my daughter sing and dance with the other little girls. She is becoming very independent, so I have to admire her from a distance now. But it makes me happy to see her being part of something so positive.

Love intrigues and new friends aside, though, the best part of all this is watching both my children get to play characters from small-town Iowa in 1912. The music and dancing are cheerful and the premise of the show is uplifting. I’m looking forward to our opening night on July 11.

This is not my first experience at the Fort Walla Walla Amphitheatre. In 1985 I played a townsperson in “The Sound of Music.” My good friend Jeana Dewitt and I joined Courtney and Katie Kress and many other talented actors for that show and it was a wonderful introduction to theatre.

Julie Jones played Maria and it has been so great to work with her again this year as our musical director. Besides working very creatively and cooperatively with Kevin Loomer and Brad Willcuts, the director and assistant director, Julie is an inspirational teacher. As a teacher, I enjoy watching her techniques for helping us learn, remember and grow as a group.

I remember back in 1985 when Julie played Maria I admired her beautiful voice. Now I am also able to admire her abilities as a music teacher.

Over the years many things have remained the same at the amphitheatre — the rustic and beautiful setting, the quality and popularity of the performances and many of the talented actors. But for me, this year I am so happy to be able to participate with my own children.

Though I have participated in community theatre since childhood, I haven’t had many opportunities to do theatre since my children were born. It has been exciting to re-enter the world of performing. I feel lucky to start back with such a wonderful, family-friendly show. I hope you have an opportunity to come enjoy “The Music Man.”

Sara Van Donge is a Walla Walla native and middle school dual language teacher. She can be reached at saravandonge@gmail.com.

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