Arts and Entertainment

A tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein takes off

The cast of “A Grand Night for Singing” is eager to present their show to Islanders and raise money for Drama Dock. - Hawk Jones photo
The cast of “A Grand Night for Singing” is eager to present their show to Islanders and raise money for Drama Dock.
— image credit: Hawk Jones photo

Romance will be in the air this weekend when a talented group of local singers performs a gala tribute to the love-drenched music of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

The show, “A Grand Night for Singing,” is being staged as a benefit for Vashon’s community theater company, Drama Dock, and will include renditions of such beloved show tunes as “Oh What a Beautiful Morning,” “Shall We Dance,” “Some Enchanted Evening” and other Rodgers and Hammerstein compositions.

The benefit was the brainchild of Marita Ericksen, a well-known singer and choir director who is the show’s musical director.

Ericksen said she hopes “A Grand Night for Singing” will raise much-needed funds for the community theater group.

“Royalties are a big cost for small theaters to pay, not including sets, costumes, music, rental space, et cetera,” she said. “As a longtime Drama Dock person, I wanted to help raise more money for this year’s shows, including ‘Oklahoma,’ which will be performed this summer.”

Ericksen said the idea to stage “A Grand Night for Singing” came to her about a year ago, when she was talking to her daughter Elise Ericksen, who is a choreographer and dancer based in Portland.

The mother-daughter duo wanted to work on a show together, and they chose the Rodgers and Hammerstein tribute in order to combine their skills in singing, choral direction and choreography.

“The coolest thing has been my daughter coming up from Portland every weekend,” Ericksen enthused. “I have loved watching her tell people my age how to dance.”

“A Grand Night for Singing” will also feature the talents of a constellation of local theater stars, including Julea Gardener, Jim Gilmour, Emma Hennessey, Lauri Hennessey, Kevin Joyce, Gary Koch, Gretchen Neffenger, Paul Robb, Lizzy Schoen, Stefan Wolczko and Rich Wiley.

Two other Drama Dock stalwarts, Sue Wiley and Tish Lopez, are producing and directing the show. Accompaniment will be provided by a trio that includes Linda Lee on piano, Danny Salonen on percussion and Nancy Morgan on flute.

And according to cast member Lauri Hennessey, everyone involved in “A Grand Night for Singing” is having a grand time.

“Two weeks ago, we turned the corner where we know we have a good show,” Hennessey said. “There are several crowd-pleasing numbers with comedy in them — yes, we’re definitely having fun.”

Ericksen concurred.

“I love these people,” she said. “It’s all been a labor of love.”

She added that she is looking forward to welcoming Islanders to “A Grand Night for Singing,” and getting their reactions.

“There are so many funny things that happen, and everyone is going to connect with certain songs and what those songs meant to them when they were growing up,” she promised.

“A Grand Night for Singing” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 12 and 13, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, at the Vashon High School theater. Sunday’s performance will in-clude chocolates for audience members and a silent auction in the theater lobby. Tickets, on sale now at Vashon Book Shop and Books by the Way, are $15 for the Friday and Saturday shows and $20 for the Sunday show.

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