With 15 performances and 5 workshops across 6 convenient Salem venues, this year’s Cherry Blossom Theatre Festival has something for everyone.
The second annual Festival is also generating the kind of attention that may “turn the greater-Salem theatre community into a destination for audiences and artists across the mid-Valley and the Pacific Northwest,” says Jay Gipson-King, President of the Salem Theatre Network, which produces the Festival.
Everyone is invited to the city-wide event, where attendees can select exactly the performances that appeal most to them – whether it be the comedic romp The Foreigner presented by Enlightened Theatrics at the Grand Theatre, or several opportunities for interactive improv with Capitol City Theater, or twisted versions of Grimm’s fairy tales enacted by Keizer Homegrown Theatre – or a legend of life and death told through the traditional dances of Mexico by Casa de la Cultura Tlanese.
“I’m a huge fan of this festival,” says Linda Cashin, who serves on both the Aumsville Community Theatre board and the board of the Salem Theatre Network. “Last year I volunteered, attended a comedy improv, 5 plays, 3 workshops, and performed in a show. It was spectacular.”
Those bitten by the theatre bug will be able to participate on a personal level, with a number of workshops helmed by experienced performers and directors that will teach valuable techniques to help ace singing, acting and dance auditions.
Pentacle Theatre’s Lisa Joyce is excited about the Festival on many fronts. “Pentacle is proud to be a part of a thriving theater community and to participate in this celebration,” she says. Pentacle is presenting Tim Firth’s Calendar Girls twice, both as part of a Friday night kick-off party and as a Sunday matinee. The riotous play is based on the true story of a group of Yorkshire women who become famous after they pose nude for a calendar to raise money for a local hospital.
“The cast members are having a ton of fun,” Joyce says, “and their excitement is contagious.”
Enlightened Theatric’s The Foreigner will be the latest production to fulfill the group’s mission to offer professional stage experiences to Salem audiences. In the play, a shy young man navigates a visit to a fishing lodge by pretending to be a non-English speaker – only to find himself an unwitting confidant of the other guests with hilarious complications.
Aumsville Community Theatre will roll out more good times with The Demise of the Downhome Dealers, a family-friendly, audience participation murder mystery. “The show is lots of fun,” Cashin says, “with some very funny songs.”
Other worthy groups to show their entertainment chops include local favorites Keizer Homegrown Theatre, Brush Creek Playhouse, Willamette University, Gallery Theater, and McKay High School – all with work specially chosen for this event.
The Salem Theatre Network that links these theatres together and produces the Festival is an alliance of 12 local organizations with the vision of a united theatre community. Proceeds from the 2018 Cherry Blossom Theatre Festival will help fund grants that transport middle school students to see high school plays in the greater Salem area.
The second annual Cherry Blossom Theatre Festival “fulfills the promise of the Theatre Network,” says Gipson-King, the educator and theatre artist who founded the Network. “It is a city-wide event that we can only achieve by working together.”
Tickets for a single performances, as well as Passports for multiple performances, can be purchased by contacting Pentacle Theatre box office at 503-485-4300. More information can be found at www.SalemTheatreNetwork.org/cherryblossom
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