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Cascades Theatrical Co. and the Tower Theatre Ponder: Ya wanna put on another show? 

Cascades Theatrical Co. and the Tower Theatre Ponder: Ya wanna put on another show?

click to enlarge Dee Torrey:  Man on a mission.
  • Dee Torrey: Man on a mission.
Dee Torrey: Man on a mission.
Executives at the Cascades Theatrical Co. (CTC) and the Tower Theater are contemplating future big-budget musical productions in the wake of the "success" of their first collaboration, Urinetown: The Musical (UTM). UTM completed its two-weekend run May 11.

Rickey Minder, who played UTM's Little Sally, said she appreciated the opportunity for growth that production provided.

Her response is noteworthy, and not because it's unexpected of an aspiring actress who was previously cast in a non-speaking role in CTC's recent production of The Fantasticks, which ran on its NW Greenwood stage last February. Rather, the response of this 21-year-old Idaho native and competitive hip-hop dancer illustrates the sort that Torrey works to foster in his "troupers." The CTC exists to accomplish three major purposes, Torrey explained in another interview: "We want to do good theater, and [that means some] heavy drama. We want to educate the public, and give our actors a chance to grow."


Minder took her UTM role as Little Sally not only as a chance to speak and sing and therefore grow in ways her part in The Fantasticks didn't allow. She also took the UTM part as one in which she could further develop skills she used in her previous role at "creating a presence" for audiences "without speaking and doing the typical things [actors do in speaking parts] to become a character. Minder also functioned as UTM's dance "captain," adjusting Sarah Hall's choreography to the actual limitations of the Tower's stage, lighting and other elements no choreographer can wholly anticipate in the transition from rehearsal studio to performance stage.

The upside of all this for Central Oregon theatergoers, actual or potential, echoes CTC's Executive Director Dee Torrey's three aims for the CTC. We get to experience Tony-winning, if not what all would call "good" theater; we gain exposure to what many more "educated" in theater value; and we get to see local actors "grow." The downside isn't hard to detect: higher ticket prices. UTM cost 50% more than the typical CTC production, $6,000, Torrey said. Ticket prices to the CTC show rose accordingly. But "we're pleased at the support we're getting," said CTC's Torrey hours after UTM's opening night, support that apparently persisted throughout the musical's run.

"We want to help Bend reach for an identity" that expands beyond being a target for real estate speculation and "the tourist trade," he said. The Tower is advancing that effort by supporting another Bend theatrical company's work to stage Driving Miss Daisy at the venue this coming September.

Whatever the fate of this current collaboration the success of the inaugural partnership between the CTC and the Tower "grew" that identity-just as that alliance grew our chances to hear Minder use another asset, her voice-as well as her body-to "create a presence" for her audience's ears as well as their eyes as they scanned a performance of the first locally-produced, big-budget musical on the stage of Bend's gem-like, inimitable Tower.

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