Twenty Years of Wooden O

Wooden O celebrates its 20th Anniversary season this summer with productions of Henry V (the company’s namesake play) and The Tempest. We spoke with some Wooden O alums about their fondest memories of performing in the parks.

If you have a favorite Wooden O memory, please share it with us in the comments section.  We’d love to hear from you.

 Wooden O Dramatis Personae

Louise Butler: One Wooden O show in 2011 (Macbeth); returning this summer to stage manage Henry V.

Jim Gall: Two Wooden O shows, first in 2008 (A Midsummer Night’s Dream); returning this summer in The Tempest

David S. Hogan: Five Wooden O shows, first in 2002 (The Two Gentlemen of Verona); returning this summer in Henry V.

Kelly Kitchens: Five Wooden O shows, first in 2002 (The Winter’s Tale); returning this summer to direct The Tempest.

Michael Patten: Three Wooden O shows, first in 2006 (Hamlet); returning this summer in Henry V.

David Quicksall: (Four Wooden O shows, first in 2005 (Twelfth Night); returning this summer in Henry V.

Amy Thone: (Seven Wooden O shows, first in 1996 (Henry V); returning this summer in The Tempest.

 

Smiles on a Summer Night

Kelly Kitchens Shrew, I have to say, is always going to have a special place in my heart. Getting to throw a beer can across the stage, who doesn’t love that?  It’s hard to pick! I’d do it every summer. I would load up the van anytime they asked me to.

David Quicksall When we did The Taming of the Shrew at Steel Lake in Federal Way, this kid brought her pet bunny.  At very inopportune moments, the bunny kept running onto the stage and was part of the action, and the little kid had to run up on stage to corral her bunny.

David S. Hogan I have a pretty big spot in my heart for The Taming of the Shrew, because there were so many of my friends in that show, along with my wife, Angela DiMarco. I just love working with the family. To me this really feels like a family. I think this is my sixth show, and just being outdoors, you feel such a palpable connection to the audience. I can’t compare it to any other theatrical community experience. It’s just terrific.

Amy Thone My favorite memory is from a long time ago. In fact, it’s so long ago and I’m so old that it’s a little bit foggy.  We did Henry V and Todd Jamieson, may he rest in peace, directed it. In fact, his wife was in it and his kid, Harry, was an intern, and I played the Chorus. My daughter, who was then three, wandered around and usually had somebody taking care of her…thank God!  But at one point the Chorus says this beautiful line about a “little vessel having a great heart.”  And when I said the line, I watched my daughter wander around in the park, and I got to think of her as this great heart in a little body.

Kelly Kitchens The Winter’s Tale was special for me. That moment when Leontes says “Oh, she’s warm” and that statue comes back to life…I remember being down in SeaTac at Angle Lake Park and hearing that collective gasp from the audience when she moves. It’s a story that I really love to tell and the opportunity to live inside that world and create that character, it was an act of grace. Hermione is a woman who’s fighting passionately for her family. Playing her changed me a little bit. Also it was my first Wooden O show, so it’s always going to have such a special place in my heart.

Louise Butler My favorite Wooden O memory is swimming off of Mercer Island two summers ago for Macbeth. It was great. Everybody in the cast of Mackers brought their trunks or their swimsuits and we hung out. It was an idyllic summer day.

Michael Patten My favorite Wooden O moment…it’s almost impossible to pick just one, but the very first show I did with Wooden O playing Claudius with George as Hamlet.  Also getting to be the first show that went to Vashon Island last year with The Winter’s Tale.  It was pretty magical.

David Quicksall My favorite Wooden O moment was last year in The Winter’s Tale as Autolycus.  When I made my entrance, I would eat people’s food and drink their wine or whatever they had available. I went up to this one couple that had a big bottle of Mountain Dew. I cracked open the top of it and took a huge swallow, and by the time it got into my mouth and halfway into my stomach, I realized it was almost all vodka. So I had to make a decision whether to swallow all this alcohol that was in my mouth…remember I still had a whole show to do…or spit it out.  So I swallowed it.

Kelly Kitchens But then, there’s the Bull Pen…There’s a place near SeaTac called the Bull Pen. It’s epic. It’s a Wooden O tradition that if you’re down there performing you gotta make a pit stop at the Bull Pen.  They do karaoke. Not college karaoke…these people are serious about their karaoke. And you can get a lot of fried brown at this place, so that’s a lot of fun.

Jim Gall My favorite memory happened last year. I was playing Sir Toby Belch, and I had a gag where I had a water bottle around my waist and I used it urinate my name on the backdrop. But at once performance, I forgot to get the top back on and it soaked my pants, so I spent the rest of the show like a skid row bum with a big stain on my shorts.  Everyone enjoyed it except for me.

Kelly Kitchens It’s such a family, that’s why it’s hard to pick a favorite memory. George Mount has such a gift for creating family, building a company, and telling these stories. The family of Wooden O that he has created, it’s arms are open wide and they enfold every member…and so a favorite memory, it’s hard because it’s like which favorite Christmas did you have growing up?  It’s hard to choose. What I do love about it is that no matter where you go or whether you’re performing that summer or not, you’re part of the Wooden O family.

Comments

  1. Kris Fulsaas says

    I loved theater—especially Shakespeare—in high school and intended to see tons of it when I moved to Seattle in the ’70s but somehow got distracted by so many other things. The summer after Mom died, my sister had gotten laid off—twice—and we really, really needed something fun and free to do. We went a little mad the summer of 2009 and saw 10 free Shakespeare plays in parks all over the Pacific Northwest, starting with the best: Wooden O. We’ve been to every Wooden O play since, bringing along friends and picnics and having the best time of our lives, toasting Mom every time. Wooden O is simply the best Shakespeare I’ve ever seen (well, except for Seattle Shakespeare)! You all are delightfully inspired!

  2. says

    Nope, can’t pick just one! Let’s see…George Mount as Richard III and Mike Dooly as Buckingham; Quicksall and Kitchens in Shrew; Altwies and Thone in Much Ado; Reginald André Jackson as Macbeth. Wooden O even made me love The Winter’s Tale! http://gscheiderer.blogspot.com/2012/07/winters-tale-wooden-o-productions.html. Thanks for all the fantastic theater. I love, love, love watching kids be so transfixed by what you do. See you in the park this weekend!

  3. Lisa Emlen says

    I usually see the plays in Volunteer Park, where you can count on an airplane flying overhead at some point and nearly drowning out someone’s lines. It’s just something you do your best to ignore. But during “Romeo and Juliet”– this was the production set in a contemporary war-torn country, with the Montagues as a U.N. peacekeeping force– a plane entered the world of the play just as Mercutio was telling Romeo to “borrow Cupid’s wings, And soar with them above a common bound”. Both actors then turned their gaze skyward and silently watched the plane go over. I can’t remember if it was before or after Romeo’s reply that the audience erupted in applause, but everyone loved that scene and I’ve always remembered it (still have program… this was Taylor Maxwell as Mercutio, Michael Place as Romeo). I also loved the production of “Hamlet” that was mentioned above. Maybe someone can help me out with the name of the actor that played Ophelia opposite George Mount. She might be the most heartbreaking Ophelia I’ve ever seen. I remember watching from my blanket and trying very, very hard not to bawl.
    My family and I always look forward to these plays. Thank you for doing them!

  4. Cally Shine says

    I am a four year Wooden O veteran and with the company, have turned 20 this summer. As all the people mentioned above (and countless more) have contributed to the growth and success of Wooden O, so have they done to me. Whether they know it or not, they are my family and I am forever grateful for them. They helped raise me, train me, inspire me, and so much, much more. When I was 14, Russ Banham called me in for my first real audition, so went and read for him and George as Jessica in The Merchant of Venice. I ended up being the youngest member of our cast, but that didn’t seem to matter because for the first time, I was being taken seriously. As someone who has been both an audience member (as a child and an adult) and a participant, Wooden O shows are my favorite theatre experiences. I am now pursuing a BFA in Acting/Directing at The University of Montana and have taken everything my Wooden O family has taught me with me. Thank you, all.

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