My upcoming musical theater opera, “Romeo and Juliet” was written with an Akai LPK25 two-octave USB keyboard. What? Muahaha, yes! In retrospect kind of hard to fathom, but there she is. I did all the music composition and beginning orchestration sketches in the Officer’s Bar of a cruise ship on my off time. The Akai LPK25 keyboard has convenient octave switching buttons on the side so I was able to easily navigate through bass and treble parts for fairly effortless composing. It was only a little tedious when doing soprano vocal lines; that’s when I really wish I had that extra octave. But hey, writing an opera on a two octave keyboard that fits in my computer bag – I’ll take that! Thank you Akai for an awesome product!
The Producers at McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon, WA from April 6-20, 2013. Presented by Theater Arts Guild of Skagit County, WA. A musical theater comedy by Mel Brooks following the antics and schemes of a broadway producer.
Steel Magnolias, the 1987 stage play by Robert Harling. Presented by ACT Theater in Anacortes, WA January 25 thru February 16, 2013.
Auditions for “Witches! the Musical” June 5-6, 2012 at the Historic Lincoln Theater in Mount Vernon, WA. Show dates will be Oct. 19-Nov. 3 at the Lincoln Theater. This is a world premiere show about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. For more info and audition signups visit http://www.WitchesMusical.com.
Produced by TAG – the Theater Arts Guild of Skagit County.
I was sent these photos of tulip season in Skagit County, Washington (USA). I don’t know if it was the sender’s intention, but the photos sure make me homesick for the Pacific Northwest of the US. This is a normal spring view in Mount Vernon, WA. A view that even locals know better than to take for granted. Photos by Gary Brown, a great supporter of the arts in Skagit County.
Mount Vernon High School (Mount Vernon, Wa USA) Choir “Synergy” directed by Megan Lizama. I recognize some of these students from our production of Disney’s High School Musical in March 2007 at McIntyre Hall.
What a great sounding group and awesome arrangements. I’ve listened to quite a few high school choir videos on YouTube and I think this is one of the best. There’s a lot of talent in the Skagit Valley of Washington and at Mount Vernon High School. I’ve also worked with many student musicians from MVHS and they were excellent as well.
Theater Arts Guild (TAG) auditions for the musical A Christmas Carol will be held September 9 and 10, 2008 at Lincoln Elementary School auditorium in Mount Vernon, WA. Singers, dancers and actors with talent of all ages, ethnicities, and â€œbody typesâ€! Parts for up to 60 actors! Show opens Nov.14 at McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon. For appointments check the TAG website for detailed audition tips and information about the show at www.theaterartsguild.org.
Mount Vernon, WA – If you have ever been involved with a Theater Arts Guild Production, You Are Invited to our TAG Family Reunion! Please join us on August 2nd at the Conway Muse for fun, music, food and hangin’ out with fellow cast and crew members from every show we’ve ever done.
For more information and ongoing updates go to the newly renovated TAG Website at http://www.theaterartsguild.org.
Mount Vernon, WA – META Performing Arts presents Alice in Wonderland April 25- May 4, 2008 at McIntyre Hall (Mount Vernon, WA).
(Click photo for full size)
Skagit County Theater Arts Guild Board of Directors 2008. Looks like everyone is in the picture except….hey, where am I? You guys decide to do a group picture right after I move to China? That sucks eggs. I’m going to lodge a formal complaint with the theatatrical whatchamacallit thingee.
Photos from the Rocky Horror Show at the Lincoln Theater, Mount Vernon, WA. Presented by the Theater Arts Guild in October and November 2007. I was music director and keyboardist.
This was one of the funnest shows and best crews I ever worked with. And everyone in the cast knows it. Long Live the Lips!
Click photos for full size view
Frank ‘n Furter
Magenta and Riff Raff
Produer Roger Ragusa ala Morocco Mole
RHS Marquee outside the theater
Lincoln Theater front
RHS sets – setting up the balcony
RHS set during construction
RHS set front view during set-up
My friend Suzann just sent me this montage of some shows I’ve conducted while in Mount Vernon, WA. I can make out Elton John’s AIDA, Seussical, Disney’s High School Musical, Rocky Horror Show and Brigadoon. (The penguin outfit is what I wore in Seussical).
In a couple days I leave for Montreal, Canada to join the creation process for Cirque Du Soleil’s new show in China. Thanks Suzann for the good Mount Vernon, WA memories!
One of Suzann’s favorite sounds (and mine too!) is the sound of an orchestra tuning. I got extra brownie points with her when I had her brought down into the pit to sit in the middle of the Brigadoon orchestra while they tuned.
“A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.”
– Donna Roberts
Whidbey Island, WA was recently listed in a top 10 of international top romantic retreat locations. That’s pretty much in my backyard right now and should be no surprise to locals. People raised in this area of Washington State can easily take for granted the beautiful landscape and slower pace that is lovingly referred to as “God’s Country”.
It IS a slower pace up here compared to Los Angeles and there is a little bit of a Mayberry vibe up here – but in all the best of ways. People are still hard workers and focused – they just take the time to make strong relationships. I think it’s partly because there’s so much natural outdoor beauty up here. It keeps everyone thankful and in check. Ok, maybe a bit sappy, but I really think it might be true.
Does this laid back attitude affect the economy? Well…..Microsoft is located about 50 miles from here, so I’d say we’re doing ok.
Whidbey Island, Washington
Stress starts to melt away as you step off the ferry onto this Washington island, just one hour north of Seattle. Rich in natural beauty, Whidbey Island is also home to picturesque towns and romantic B&Bs. Spend the day in Langley (for a special treat, pick up a picnic for two from the Chef’s Pantry). Journeying north, drop by Greenbank Farms for wine and cheese before climbing the Admiralty Head Lighthouse for a gorgeous view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Toast to your travels at the new Frasers Gourmet Hideaway in Oak Harbor; whidbeycamanoislands.com.
Through a strange turn of events I ended up late on a Friday night hanging out in Sedro Woolley, WA at a local pub called Boondocks. Sedro Woolley is known internationally as a center of refined art and world culture. *cough*
It happened to be a band’s CD release party – the band Fortune 500. I’m pretty burned out on hearing slacker original bands so it was nothing I was looking forward to. But this band rocks.
Fortune 500 is my new favorite band. The drummer is TIGHT and rockin’ with a great back beat. Most drummers in unsigned bands slop through the fills and let the groove slide all over the place. Not this one. Fortune 500’s drummer had the grooves locked up tighter than a….well…he grooves.
The live mix was great – good thump on the bass and kick with the vocals thinned out over the top of the mix – kind of a Green Day sound. The music was loud but no obnoxious frequencies jumping out. Their songs were very accessible and easy to digest. Because I’m an old fogey, I especially liked their cover of “Ring of Fire” – great feel on that one.
And you know what – I liked the Sedro Woolley crowd at Boondock’s too. Now if you walk down the street then you are on your own. SW is a bit frightful downtown on the weekends.
Through their entire set, there was not a single thing that jumped out that I didn’t like. Fortune 500 should get signed.
FORTUNE 500 BAND:
Matt: Guitar, vox, harp, small keys; Andy: Bass, vox, vibraslap; Scott: Skins, vox
Influences: Green Day, Weezer, Rufus & Chaka Khan, The Who, Bluegreen, J.P. Patches, Steve Guttenberg, Pavlov Jones, Rip Taylor, Hindu Grass, Partridge Family.
Sounds Like: Pete Townshend introducing Green Day to Weezer
Visit Fortune 500 on MySpace.com at:
Their video is posted on their MySpace page, or you can watch it on YouTube.com at:
Boondocks Bar and Grill – 707 METCALF ST. SEDRO WOOLLEY
Boondocks Article Excerpt:
As we reported in May, the new Boondocks restaurant has opened with a bang, packing in crowds on Friday nights for live music and establishing a family restaurant in the historic Liberty Cafe location where several restaurants have come and gone in the interim since the Liberty closed back in the ’90s. We have more good news: the owners are about to reopen the connected Townsend Club/Independence Hall that faces Ferry Street. If all goes well, they will host an opening party on Friday, October 26, to celebrate Halloween.
The new Boondocks opened in the 700 block of Metcalf on April 23, 2007, then celebrated its grand opening with Nick Vigarino’s blues band on May 18 and the have already restored the old Liberty spirit of George Bellos, who opened the Liberty in that spot in 1929. Partners Ensol and Arcelia Borreli and Wesley Drake have invested in a totally new interior, but the response to their live music was so substantial that they immediately encountered a problem: the central wall that separates the bar from the dining room.
“We needed more room for live music and larger crowds,” Wes explained as he led us through the old Townsend Club and pointed out how they have already stripped it down to the bare brick walls and dismantled the false ceiling that was installed decades ago. The new room will have an 1890s decor in keeping with the history of the merged cities of 1898. As part of the process, the owners ripped out the old false ceiling, expanded the small bandstand at the front, laid new wood flooring for a large dance floor and a rustic seating area and they installed sound baffles to contend with the 14-feet ceiling.
Inside cover of Bye Bye Birdie Program – November, 2007
For two and a half years, local music and theatre communities have benefitted from the talents of Conrad Askland. Conrad is the consummate professional: creative, precise, able to balance high expectations with encouraging words and humor.
“Bye Bye Birdie” will be Conrad’s final show in the Skagit Valley for the next few years as he heads out to the far horizons of another continent and culture.
“Friends of Conrad Askland” contributed to a co-sponsorship of “Bye Bye Birdie” as a tribute to the man who has given so much to our community.
Andy and Donna Golub
Bryan and Kathryn Kay
Carol Ann Askland
Dr. Gary Brown
Geoff and Susan Arthur
Lindsey and Joe Bowen
Lynn and Frank Handi
Stewart and Lacey Woods
Mount Vernon, WA – Our own (dare we admit it?) Roger Ragusa has made good on his promise and strolled the length of Downtown Mount Vernon in his costume to generate donations for the Theater Arts Guild. He was a good sport about it and did not try to weasel out of it in anyway. By doing so he has earned $500 for the TAG general fund.
Roger Ragusa – Modern day superhero and defender of good citizens against evil. Do not let outward appearances fool you. Mr. Ragusa is rumored to be a highly trained Navy Seal and international martial arts expert. Here we see him undercover on a secret mission. He blends in with his surroundings so as to not give away his identity.
Can you spot him in this photograph? Look carefully. I’ll give you a hint – he might be between the trees.
This is not just a picture of a street corner. Roger is also camouflaged in this picture. Hint – Look between the cars. If you don’t see him at first, try blurring your eyes a bit and look deep into the picture.
Two women walking a dog on a rainy day. Or is it? Yes folks, Roger is also in this picture. This time I give you no hints, you are on your own.
During our walk a local shop owner says hello. Or is it? Yes, tricked you again. That’s no shop owner, that’s Roger Ragusa. The “invisible man” and “man of a thousand faces”.
Another street shot. Roger might be in this photo and he might not be. I’ll let you decide…
Mount Vernon, WA – The Theater Arts Guild announces auditions for Oscar Wilde’s Salome. Salome is based on the biblical character and story – an unforgettable story of love, lust, betrayal and revenge.
Performance Dates: February 8 – 16, 2008
Audition Dates: November 6 & 7, 2007
Location: Lincoln Theatre, Mount Vernon, WA
Audition Times: 6, 7, or 8 PM
(Please check in 10 min. prior to your audition time)
There are parts for 16 adult actors (17 years +).
For more information visit www.TheaterArtsGuild.orgÂ