For the past seven years Debbie Scoones has been the publicity trustee on the Driftwood Players Board of Directors and continues to do so. After the passing of Nina Morean, Scoones stepped into the role of president of the board for the 2012-2013 season. She is also a co-chairperson, along with Terry Rogers, of the ensemble’s Champagne Opening biennial fundraiser, which took place Saturday night. Scoones is also active on the Driftwood stage, having played numerous roles over the years, including a part in the current production.
Last night was the biennial Champagne Opener, how are fundraising efforts going for Driftwood this year?
We sent out our fundraising letters the middle of August and we have had great response so far. We hope that even though some people were not able to attend the opening-night performance and festivities that they will consider donating to our theater. It’s because of the generous donations of so many that we are able to keep our doors open.
What is the first play of the year and do you have a part? Would you tell us a bit about the play?
Our 2012-2013 season is going to be a great season. Our first play is the Tony Award-winning musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” The music and lyrics are by William Finn. The book is by Rachel Sheinkin and it was conceived by Rebecca Feldman. Directed by Robert Neisinger, six young spellers compete for the honor of going to Washington, D.C., for the National Spelling Bee. Somewhat quirky, slightly neurotic, each speller must deal with individual problems, as stressful as “the bee” itself, and the equally quirky adults who manage the bee. All of the young spellers are played by adults and I am fortunate to be playing Olive Ostrovsky, a shy 13-year-old whose mother is in India on a nine-month spiritual quest and whose father spends a great deal of time at work, leaving Olive alone at home with her dictionary, her best friend. Recently I played a menopausal woman in “Hot Aging Women” and now I have the chance to play a 13-year-old girl. Don’t you just love theater!
How is the Playhouse holding up?
One of the reasons we do our biennial fundraisers is because the ticket sales do not cover the cost of putting on our five productions each year and maintaining our beautiful building. According to the cornerstone, our building was built in 1926 and it is showing its age. Two years ago, all the rotted wood was replaced on the outside of the building, four rotting columns in the front of the building were replaced and it was given a fresh new coat of paint. Now we are looking at replacing our roof, our furnace, putting in a handicapped entrance, putting in landscaping (which was donated at the last fundraiser), replacing crumbling concrete around the outside of the building and updating our lighting and production equipment. We have many issues to address on the outside of our building and inside our theater. We have hopes and dreams for our theater to become equipped with new technology to help us produce our shows. In August we had a water pipe break in our backstage kitchen that flooded part of our stage and went into our basement where our workshop, paint room and furnace room are located. Due to the quick response of Wood’s Janitorial Service and Service Master, we have been drying out our building. Some of the damaged areas revealed that there is asbestos in our floor tiles and mastic so we will be hauling everything out of those areas after the final performance of our first show of the season and getting all the damaged areas repaired and the floor tiles removed.
How do you go about selecting which plays to produce?
Our vice president, Jason Whited, approaches all the qualified directors at Driftwood and asks them if they are interested in directing a show for the future season. Directors submit a play for one of the five time slots and provide scripts for our board members to read. Once the scripts have been read, plays are discussed by the board and a vote is taken. It seems that currently people are interested in comedies and musicals. Those productions seem to be our most attended shows and we are very mindful of that given the current economic climate. We want people in the seats so we try to put forth a season schedule that will do just that. But we also like to provide something for all tastes and interests and a well-rounded season for veteran theater-goers as well as for those attending a play for their very first time.
What are the other plays on tap this season?
Our second slot production will be “Excursion Faire” directed by David Lund. The winner of the 17th Annual American College Theatre Festival, this play shows a way station to eternity that houses people whose bodies have never been found. With Amelia Earhart, Michael Rockefeller, Ambrose Bierce and Jimmy Hoffa, is a young man whose car caromed down a mountain and a girl who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge. All have some hope for what is yet to come, even those who abandoned all hope enter here. There are games and contests, some comic, some deadly serious, including the last one which determines why they fear facing their destinies in eternity.
Our third slot production is “The House of Agatha Mysterie” directed by Jason Whited. Ms. Mysterie, the famous and prolific mystery writer, gathers a group of the world’s finest (and most peculiar) detectives at her home for a weekend of rollicking and relaxation. Once all together, Ms. Mysterie convinces them all to solemnly promise not to solve any mystery for two whole days. Unbeknownst to Ms. Mysterie, and everyone else, each of them has decided to find a way to find the murderer without solving the mystery.
Our fourth slot will be “God of Carnage” directed by Ben Hohman. In this 2009 Tony Award winner for Best Play, two married couples meet to discuss a playground fight between their sons and gradually degenerate into children themselves.
Our fifth slot production will be “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” directed by Steven Puvogel. Three actors bring 37 of Shakespeare’s plays to life in just 97 minutes. Described as “fresh, energetic and funny. A wild and silly frolic.” Fast paced, witty and physical, it’s full of laughter for Shakespeare lovers and haters alike.
Are there any plays in particular that you would like to see Driftwood produce in coming years?
I am a huge theater fan! My husband and I have season tickets to The Paramount and The 5th Avenue in Seattle. I go to the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival with Grays Harbor College in August as part of the college’s field trip. And I go to New York every year to see 10 to 12 Broadway productions. I like to visit NYC around the time of the Tony Awards. There is an electricity and excitement in the air that is indescribable and I love, love, love being there and being a part of the whole scene. When I was there this past June, a local television station had set up a venue in Times Square for fans and were interviewing many Broadway notables. I was drinking in every minute of it! I also like going to the Seattle Reportory Theatre, Intiman Theatre, the Moore Theatre, Washington Center for Performing Arts, Grays Harbor College, 7th St. Theatre and any other theater I can attend where I can leave reality at the door and immerse myself in the story and characters’ lives.
I love musicals but I also take in non-musicals. Plays I would like to see on the Driftwood stage are “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Sweeny Todd,” “August Osage County,” “Light in the Piazza,” “A View From The Bridge,” “Death of a Salesman,” “Gypsy,” “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,” “Clybourne Park,” “First Date,” “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” “A Little Night Music,” “Next To Normal.” My list could keep going and going!
What are some of your favorite plays and roles since you’ve been involved?
I started acting at The Bishop Center back in the 1990s when my daughter told me she no longer needed me to read her a bedtime story. Some of my favorite plays and roles at the Bishop Center were Miss Hannigan in “Annie,” Mrs. Meers in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” Penelope Pennywise in “Urinetown,” Drowsy in “The Drowsy Chaperone” and Madame Giry in “The Phantom of the Opera.” At Driftwood, some of my favorite plays and roles were the “Nunsense” shows where I have reprised the role of Sister Hubert several times, Vita Louise Simmons in “Harvey,” Vera in “The Odd Couple (female version),” the Dresser in “Enter The Guardsman” and Flora Van Huysen in “The Matchmaker.”
I have been involved in 42 productions at Grays Harbor College and Driftwood either as an actor, a director, an assistant director, musical director, stage manager or stage crew. I have had the privilege of working with the MTR Summer Musical program at Grays Harbor College as the assistant director, light board operator and stage manager and this summer I had the opportunity to be a part of the musical director’s team. This fall Alex Eddy and I will be the musical directors, working with Brad Duffy and Lori Oestrich, for Grays Harbor College’s fall production of “Frog and Toad.” I have directed two plays at Driftwood — “Crimes of the Heart” and “Rumors.” I am currently reading scripts to possibly direct a play next season at Driftwood.
Is Driftwood in need of actors and volunteers?
Driftwood is always in need of actors and volunteers. If you would like to audition for a show, we list our audition dates in The Daily World and other newspapers around the area. We put out public service announcements on Grays Harbor Radio and Jodesha Broadcasting and you can find information on our website at www.aberdeendriftwood.com. If anyone is interested in volunteering at our theater, you can contact me at email@example.com. We welcome all who want to be involved with the Driftwood Players!