Si View Metro Parks is once again teaming up with the Valley Center Stage to host outdoor theater at this summer’s Theater in the Park program on Sunday, July 29.
The yearly theater event is held behind the community center at Si View Park every summer since 2015 and has actors from North Bend’s Valley Center Stage perform a play for children of all ages.
This year’s show is “The Bremen Town Black Cat Band” by Paul Lewis, a musical show about a group of animal musicians on a journey to reunite a donkey and their family. Lewis also wrote the play that was performed at last year’s Theater in the Park “Caps for Sale.”
Minna Rudd, recreation manager at Si View Metro Parks, said the program has been a great way to get kids to see live theater, most for the first time, in a setting that allows for some background noise and interactivity with the audience.
The Valley Center Stage gets pretty creative with the sets, Rudd said. Since their downtown North Bend space is limited, the actors and crew at the theater have a lot of experience in making their own sets for the various productions. For the Theater in the Park, they made the sets in the theater and will move them to the park for the performance.
Jim Snyder, artistic director at the Valley Center Stage, said the actors are currently rehearsing indoors at the center, but will move to the park as the performance date gets closer.
Snyder said they chose this play very similarly to how they make decisions during the main theater season. They work with the director who presents scripts, several of which were written by Paul Lewis, and decide on a good show based on audience appeal.
“We had such a good response last year and enjoyed that … so much, we were happy to do another Paul Lewis show,” Snyder said.
Dylan Trabert, director of this year’s show, said that performing outdoors is very different to the usual acoustics of a room.
“There are a fair amount of things you need to adjust for, acoustics is a big one, you need to make everything bigger, both gestures and volume so we use microphones as well,” he said.
This will be Trabert’s first time directing a play with the Valley Center Stage. As a freelance theater actor and director, last year’s production of “A Christmas Carol” was the first time he worked with the Valley Center Stage. He will also be directing the first show of the upcoming theater season “The Baker Street Irregulars.”
The play will be premiered at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 29 at Si View Community Park and admission is free. The play will also run the next week indoors at Valley Center Stage. Those show times are 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 2; 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4; and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5. More information is available at valleycenterstage.org.
“It’s an opportune time to get outdoors,” Rudd said. “And this is just one of many ways that the community can do so and immerse your young ones and families in the world of cultural arts. It’s a great way to support the local theater and the programs at Valley Center Stage.”