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“Walking the Boards”: An Oakridge original and a must see performance!

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Bob Wilson, longtime director of the Zero Clearance Theater, attended “Walking The Boards”, a tribute performance to him.

By TEIRI FREBORG/for The Herald  —  Zero Clearance Theaters’ production of “Walking the Boards” was presented last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and will be presented again this coming weekend, Friday through Sunday on the Stage at Lion Mountain Bakery on Hwy 58.

A tribute to actor/director Bob Wilson

“Walking the Boards” is a tribute to long time former Oakridge resident, playwright, director, and actor, Bob Wilson. This tribute was

The crew brought out Bob’s directing chair for the performance

well earned. Bob has done so much for performance art in our little Oakridge. He gave local talent a chance to shine and grow. Bob performed in, or directed, 67 plays between September 1997 and October 2016. This performance is a very special grouping of Bobs’ works. A great deal of thought went into selecting the six one-act plays and three monologues from the many pieces he has written.

Over twenty-five years of theater in Oakridge

ZCT was formed in the 1990’s by Warren Carlson and Pat Harmon. Bob, though not an original founder, became a driving force, along with Harmon and John and Janet Milandin.  Over time, they’ve moved their performance locations from the Willamette Activity Center to the Westridge Middle School, then back to the WAC, and were then forced to relocate again two weeks before a performance. Hopefully, they have found a permanent home at the Bakery.

A cast from the ages

The cast is familiar to anyone who has attended a theater performance in Oakridge, plus some very talented new faces. Long time favorites Loren Christopher Michaels, Carina Shorer (especially good in “ISO (In Search Of)” as was Ross Spencer), Catrina Davis, Greg Burton, Ross Spencer, Demetrius Arnold, Mary Lee Sayre and others who couldn’t pass up the chance to perform Bob’s works. Performing in the tribute was very special to each of the cast members. None being more so than Ross Spencer. Ross has performed with, or for, Bob since the very beginning. When Bob first moved to Oakridge, he started as just an actor.

In 1998, an actor in the play, “Clara”, bailed, and Ross was asked to step in, thus began his working with Bob. There were numerous trials and obstacles along the way to producing three plays a year for 29 years. This also included the summer Radio Shows.

A flashlight performance

Ross remembered one early production at the WAC when the power went out all over Oakridge in the middle of the play. Should they stop? An audience member brought out a flashlight. Soon, others in the audience were going for their flashlights. Many were running out to their cars or pulling them out their bags. The play went on by audience flashlight. THAT is community theater! That was just one of numerous issues that could have derailed a performance. Bob ALWAYS believed the show must go on. And it always did.

Terry Callahan, a true behind the scenes person, keeps the sets interesting when not voicing sound effects on the summertime Radio Show.

Terry Callahan is one of Bob’s long-time friend, actor, and radio show sound effects guy. He observed that the community has always been involved; whether providing props or set building, whatever was needed. Sets, props, costumes, everything was scrounged or donated. Bob donated his work also; twenty three of his original pieces found their way to the Oakridge stage.

Director Chamberlain executes flawlessly

The performances in this production are polished and on point, and moves at a good pace.  This cast ranges in age from very young to retirees. The director, Becky Chamberlain, has acted in and directed a number of Zero Clearance productions. This one was very smooth. She has a very special relationship with Bob. Their story is printed in the program. Loren Christopher Michaels, the pro that he is, lends his touch to lights, sound, video, and design. His performance in the “The Lazarus Zone” was flawless.

Current director, Becky Chamberlain, and Bob at Orphans- May 2017 Teiri Freborg photo

A video montage of photos from Bob’s directing and acting days was also shown. Actors who graced our stage but are now gone brought back memories. Bob’s more complete story is also in the program.

Even though Bob has retired from theater, his vision is carried on by the current Board of Directors of Friends of the Theater & Arts. Budding actors and stage hands have an outlet, and our community receives something special. The show does go on.

Many old ZCT friends came together

Those of us who attended on Sunday, Feb 5th, had a very special treat. The playwright himself, along with his friend, Mary Sooh, and his sister Mary were in attendance. The cast brought Bob’s director chair for him to sit in.  Bob was presented with the original artwork from the program cover, autographed by the entire cast. As always, he was his humble self, saying, “It is very rare that a playwright gets to see their works performed. I was very, very fortunate.” Also in attendance were founders Pat Harmon, with her daughter, Sally, and John Milandin, with his son, Michael.

There’s still time to catch “Walking the Boards”

My recommendation? Go to these talented performances. See the old pros and the young ones. Go for the variety of subjects. Go to be entertained. There really isn’t a boring moment. If you really aren’t into live theater, go anyway for Jacqui’s cookies at intermission.

The Friday and Saturday night shows are at 7 pm (doors open at 6), the Sunday performance is a matinee starting at 2 pm (doors at 1).

Tickets: In advance- $12.00 for adults. At the door- $15.00. Kids ½ price. Advance tickets can be purchased at Lion Mtn Bakery on Hwy 58, or the Mane Street Coffee in the Uptown district. On Saturday night, Jacqui Lamont’s fabulous lasagna dinner (meat or veggie) is served at 5:30 PM. Cost- $25.00. Wine and beer will also be available for purchase Saturday night only.

 

Teiri Freborg is a former Oakridge resident who performed in a number of plays directed by Bob and with many of the cast and crew. If there were issues with the performance, Teiri would have spotted it.  

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