Spotlight: Melody Langan
Interview by Katie Otte
Melody Langan is a familiar face at The Merc, having evolved as an actor in children as well as adult theater. Her acting skills began at the tender age of four in the cast of Robin Hood, and most recently, Melody performed on our stage in Adrift, a Liberty Bell Drama Company production. We are looking forward to seeing her again in The Nutcracker, opening December 2nd. As she embarks on her final year of high school and prepares to leave the valley, it seems fitting to feature Melody for the November spotlight.
In between her first time on stage and her work this fall, Melody has performed in Willy Wonka, The Wind in the Willows, Charlotte’s Web, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Twelve Angry Women, and her most memorable show, The Laramie Project. Sometime along the way, Melody volunteered to operate sound and lighting in our tech booth.
About The Laramie Project: it was one of the many theatrical partnerships The Merc and the Liberty Bell Drama Company have had through the years. During this production, Melody played multiple roles and shared that she “embodied many of her characters.” This experience resulted in self-growth, discovery, and a heightened awareness of her values. When asked what theater means to her, Melody commented that it’s her daily motivator helping her to wake up and embrace the day. She added that theater helps her make connections with her peers and our community.
Melody is currently applying to art schools and plans to obtain a musical theater degree. She hopes to act on Broadway one day and then perhaps become a drama teacher, as her teachers and directors have shaped so much of who she is. Melody’s advice for young actors is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, let go of insecurities, and become someone else for 90 minutes on stage! See you all at The Merc, where you’ll probably find Future Theater Teacher Extraordinaire– Melody Langan.
We aim the spotlight for the month of October on Phil Quevillon, board member, actor, and director extraordinaire, who has been a familiar face at The Merc Playhouse since April, 2019, when he first landed in the Methow Valley via Kansas and Illinois and auditioned for and was cast in Diner on the Way. Since that time, Phil has been on stage in Rope, Breaking Legs, A Christmas Story, and curated/directed Coronanthology. He is a member of our programming committee, which reads, discusses and selects the shows for our season, and he is set to direct a readers’ theater production called The Battle of the One-Acts, which opens on November 4; in addition, Phil has signed on to direct a readers’ theater called The Book of Liz,opening in January, 2023 and a full production called Ripcord, which opens in September, 2023.You can understand why we love him so much!
Phil has been a consummate actor since high school in Quincy, Illinois (lots of improv and full stage productions) and later when he was a “regular” in community theater for 12 years, acting in at least 2 shows a year. He says that in addition to honing his memorization skills as an actor, community theater has afforded him dancing and singing lessons as well as free haircuts and cool costumes.
Phil’s “spare time” is taken up by running a farm with his partner Rose Weagant, operating a land/stonescaping business called Gardens West, and working with students in several after school programs. Right now it’s Dungeons and Dragons, which spun off from a gaming club established by Phil during the pandemic at Liberty Bell and Disc Golf, played on a 9 hole course Phil designed and built somewhere in the vicinity of the ski trails.
When asked, “What draws you to support The Merc?” Phil responded that because the theater is small, he finds the space a creative challenge, thinking about how to make the stage visually stimulating with lights and sound. He shared further that as a director, he makes creative choices about how to make more out of the dialogue. The selection of a good, solid play is number one on his list of all considerations.
Something else the community should know about Phil is that he loves to emcee events. That’s good to know. He will be called!
Thank you, Phil, for being part of our community and our theater!
"The Battle of The One Acts"
Time Flies, Mere Mortals, The Butleress
Three One-Act Plays
Directed by Phil Quevillon
Sunday, September 18th, 4 p.m.
Wednesday, September 21st, 6 p.m.
Monday, September 26th, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, September 27th, 6 p.m.
Casting 6 actors 50/50 gender split for 3 short plays;
No prep necessary. Bring your calendar, contact information, water bottle, and details about potential activity conflicts. Rehearsals will start in early October.
Performances are November 4th - 13th
Boo & George Schneider
Interviewed by Jane Hill
This month we shine the Merc Spotlight on Boo and George Schneider, two loyal volunteers. Boo and George support the programming of the Merc through their donations, and they are also often found behind the concessions counter serving refreshments during productions.
Both “mostly” retired now, George continues to promote his love of music throughout the Valley – his flute, a well-known and welcome sound –, while Boo enjoys volunteer activities at Twisp Works, creates her own copper jewelry, and works with Hospice.
The outdoor opportunities, the arts scene, and the sense of community drew the couple permanently to the Valley in 2010. They note that Twisp is unique in having a vibrant community theater in so small a place. “Many small towns do not have this unique resource that offers coaching, the opportunities to be in front of an audience, to create on the stage and behind the scenes. We want to keep that going for all ages,” they assert.
Boo further explains the value of community theater by citing her grandmother’s words of wisdom to her as she left home to begin her first teaching job. “Join the community theater,” Grandma advised, “You’ll meet people there you wouldn’t otherwise.”
We are truly grateful that you followed Grandma's advice.
Spotlight: Ron McCollum
Interviewed by Christine M. Kendall
Methow resident Ron McCollum, a former Merc Playhouse Board member, was born and raised in Struthers, Ohio. A child of the 1950s his upbringing might easily have been featured in a Norman Rockwell painting in his early days as a paperboy or Boy Scout. He was a young man with goals, one of which was purchasing his first Ham radio set with money earned from his paper route and getting his operator’s license, an interest he continues to enjoy today. (An interest that proved highly useful during the 2014 fires when communication was limited for valley residents due to less than optimum phone service and being without electricity.)
As a teenager Ron loved the bebop days of rock ‘n' roll, sported traditional tan buck shoes and as a high school graduate had his first tailor made suit. He was recruited by the Air Force Academy to play football as a lineman, but in rigorous boot camp training he shed so much weight he was too light for the team. Ron was in the Academy’s fifth graduating class and following graduation went to Chandler A.F.B. in Arizona for pilots training learning to fly a KC 135 or the Boeing 707. He did three tours of duty in Southeast Asia. After leaving the military in 1969, despite a degree in engineering and science, Ron was intrigued by the world of finance and began job hunting in Seattle when he and his first wife Mary decided to settle where she had family (Mary passed in 1986.) Ron was offered a position with Paine Webber Jackson & Curtis where he was a financial advisor for 41 years even following the company’s acquisition in 2000 by UBS Switzerland AG.
Ron and Mary Lou bought a vacation home in Edelweiss in 1989 and were frequent visitors to the Methow Valley making many friends in this area.
Ron’s interest in theatre was sparked by clients in Seattle at PW & J who encouraged him to become a member of the Intiman Theater’s board. The thought of doing so intrigued Ron as an opportunity to mix with a community far different from people he associated with at work or at his church, and he discovered it was fascinating to learn the inner workings of theater. He moved from the theater board to the Foundation Board during a capital campaign at Intiman and was also involved at that time in the search for a new artistic director. He enjoyed working with Intiman’s Managing Director Laura Penn, and they were able to bring Bartlett Sher, considered a wunderkind in theater, to Seattle. As luck would have it, Mary Lou and Ron saw a show Sher directed in New York that was only in preview and were very impressed with it.
Ron said being associated with Intiman and people like Penn and Sher was exciting and a great experience. The Intiman also was winning Tony awards for a regional theatre and it was rewarding to be a part of such highly recognized work.
Mary Lou and Ron moved to the Methow permanently in 2011 remodeling a home on Wolf Creek, and in that year Ron met Julie Wenzel, then Artistic Director of the Merc Playhouse, and she asked Ron to join the Merc Playhouse Board. Given his experience with Intiman Ron was more than happy to do so. As part of the board he met a wide array of people in the Methow Valley involved in theater either on stage or doing the additional technical or stagecraft work necessary in putting on productions. Ron served as the board treasurer and helped guide the budgetary process working with Missi Smith when she became Executive Director. Missi and Ron attended educational seminars on non-profit stewardship and worked on streamlining its financial procedures.
One of the things Ron emphasized was the quality of productions the Merc Playhouse does, and how our community has so many opportunities to be a part of them. There is volunteering to work concessions, serving on the board (which is in need of more board members) or getting involved in shows at the Merc as an actor, stagehand, stage manager, costuming, set design or in the Tech booth handling sound or lighting. He encourages people to consider doing so because it’s a fantastic way to meet people of all ages in our community.
Ron spoke of his enjoyment of the Merc Playhouse Reader's Theatre productions and pointed out they can be less intimidating for those new to theater to be involved in, or those with limited time to be part of a show. Reader's Theater productions don’t require people to memorize lines and they have short rehearsal schedules usually taking place for limited hours in the week prior to opening.
Going forward it’s an exciting time to be involved with the Merc as the board and community members consider strategic plans for the Merc Playhouse’s almost 100 year old structure and the property they own beside it.
Since Ron no longer serves on the Board he has time for many other pursuits: traveling, bicycling, golfing, but the Merc Playhouse and its future is still important to him. He and Mary Lou support the Merc as donors and by attending productions. One show that Ron hasn’t forgotten was Venus in Fur. He fully expects to see more unforgettable live theater on the Merc’s stage.
Join us for two amazing shows - the culmination of a weeks long Summer Music Theater Camp - Friday and Saturday
Our next generation of thespians had an amazing week of fun, bringing to life, the fantastical magic of Winnie the Pooh.
It has all your favorite characters in it, including Piglet, Tigger, Owl and of course Pooh. Come re-discover this sweet beloved tale, live onstage at the Merc Playhouse. Nothing compares to live theater, so bouncy on down for toe-tapping song and dance....you'll leave re-energized and smiling. Thanks to the cast, their families, the Merc Staff and our Summer Camp Directors Megan and Jennifer.
Friday doors at 3:30 / Show at 4:00
Saturday doors 1:30 / Show 2:00
By donation at the door, thank you, and see you there....
Spotlight: Mark Easton
Artist, film maker, director, actor, in fact this list does go on, however in today's Spotlight, we're going to explore Mark as Director. Audiences were enthralled with his realization of "Diner on the Way", on stage in July 2019. Now he's beginning work on "The One Act Play that Goes Wrong". Today we shine the center spot on Mark and ask him a few questions. We all agree you'll find his answers intriguing, and leave you with a smile on your face. The show opens September 16th.
1) Tell us about your past experience with theater.
ME: With lots of counseling I have managed to block out most of my past, especially anything to do with the theater.
2) What excites you about live theater?
ME: Anything can go wrong; except the things you expect to go wrong.
3) Why is it important in a small community like the Methow Valley?
ME: I don't consider the Valley a small community, rather a suburb of Wenatchee. But that doesn't make theater in Twisp any less important, it just makes it a shorter commute....so no excuses for not attneding.
4) Can you share a unique experience you have had in a theater setting...as an actor or director?
ME: All of my experiences have been rather mundane in regards to theater, especially as an actor.
5) What draws you to a particular script like "Diner on the Way" or "The One Act Play that Goes Wrong"?
ME: They don't bore me.
6) As a director, what do you hope to accomplish?
ME: Get out alive.
7) Who should consider auditioning for this upcoming play?
8) Anything else you would like for us to know?
ME: Be sure to hydrate, and there is a burn ban in effect until October 15th, also leave your estate to The Merc in your will.
The Merc Playhouse