Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I can see clearly now

New company rocks one-acts
by Christopher Key

One of the most exciting things that can happen to an old, jaded reviewer is to be invited to the premiere performance of a new theatre company.  It’s exciting for me, too.  Rimshot.

Mijo Buiskool and Spenser Stumpf are two Lynden theatre veterans with a vision.  It’s called Clear Space Youth Repertory and is sponsored by the Lynden Performing Arts Guild.  Artistic Director Buiskool calls it “…a community of like-minded people who create art, regardless of whether they’re on the cast or crew.”  Their productions are designed, managed and directed by theatre students from around the state.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

I was all prepared to lower my standards a bit for a first production by students, which goes to show how much I know.  Clear Space is a serious contender among local theatre groups and you’ll be impressed and entertained by their first effort.  They’re smart enough to start with one-acts and that’s refreshing because we don’t get to see enough of them.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

The plays are a very well-balanced group of comedies and dramas by everyone from Anton Chekov to some local playwrights that are getting first exposure.  There are remarkably few weak spots.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

Directors include Buiskool and Stumpf, in addition to Julia LaFortune, Laurence Meenk, and Weston Whitener.  The actors are an intriguing mixture of veterans and newbies and they play very well together.  Because this is an ensemble effort, I’m not going to single anyone out.  More or less in order of appearance, they are Emma Ritchie, Trevor Burden, Skyler Jones, Kit Vonnegut, Madra Likkel, Sarah Miller, Evan Riccii, Chelsea Burlile, Jonathan Phlaum, Isaiah Stumpf, Gillian Dodson, Kyle Anthony Pennington, Carole May, Laura (Williams) French, Levi Langstraat, Skyler Jones, Carmen Ferran, Dale Ross and Laurence Meenk.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

All of the techies are students, as well.  Elizabeth Barrett has designed a deceptively simple set that serves all the one-acts with a few changes of props.  Her work is enhanced by Lighting Designer Gavin Wynne.  The cast as a whole is responsible for the props and costumes and they come through like champs.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

Ever since Mickey Rooney said, “Hey, let’s put on a show” to Judy Garland, young artists have been doing theatre with varying levels of success.  This company will astonish you with the professionalism of their first production and it’s because they did a lot of homework before hitting the stage.

They seriously deserve your support and you have only three nights to show them your appreciation: June 23, 24 and 25 at the Claire vg Thomas Theatre in Lynden.  Tickets are $5.00 at the door or at the Clear Space website.

You’ll want to be able to say, “I saw them back when…”

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