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News arrow Features arrow Newcomers take on the challenge of the stage in ‘Philadelphia Story’

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Newcomers take on the challenge of the stage in ‘Philadelphia Story’

Four Brookings residents have stepped up to accept a challenge they have never faced in the past – acting in live theater.

Jason Ramsey, Patrick Dodgen, Tim Murray and Kama Hedding all have roles in the current Chetco Pelican Players’ production of “The Philadelphia Story” and, for each, this is their first time on the stage.

Not only are they new to theater, two of the first-time actors are newcomers to the Brookings-Harbor community. Ramsey recently moved from Sacramento and Murray came to the area from Redding, Calif.

Ramsey plays George Kittredge, who is the fiance of lead character Tracy Lord, played by Dorothy Power.

“I moved here in September and I didn’t know anyone,” Ramsey said. “I was ready to go back to Sacramento.”

He saw an article about auditions for the play and remembering that his grandfather always told him he should be an actor, decided to try out.

“In honor of my grandfather, I tried out for ‘The Philadelphia Story’,” Ramsey said.

It was a similar situation for Murray, who plays Seth Lord. He said after living in the area only three months, he wanted to be “plugged into the community.”

Theater is something Murray has thought about for many years and “I’ve always wanted to conquer the stage.” He added that he felt the timing was just right to give theater a shot.

Dodgen said he has been living the life of work and being a father and decided that, since his children are almost grown up, he decided it was time to do something different.

He kept his eye on the Curry Coastal Pilot for auditions, and learned that this play needed several men, which gave him the motivation to try out. He was cast in the role of Sandy Lord.

Hedding, who plays photojournalist Liz Imbrie, was inspired by a friend to give theater a shot.

“A friend said I would be ideal for a part and I thought it would be something different and fun,” Hedding said.

All four agreed it’s been fun, but it’s been a lot of work as well.

“It’s very time consuming and intense, but well worth it,” Hedding said. “This particular cast and crew has an amazing chemistry and it has been one of the best experiences ever.”

Dodgen agrees. The cast and crew encourages each other and provides help, especially “covering for each other’s mistakes.”

Ramsey added that it’s also been a growth experience.

“Theater has brought me out of my shell,” Ramsey said. “I’ve always been shy.”

It is because of his shyness, Ramsey added, that the hardest part of performing has been being aware of  people he knows are in the audience.

“I’m OK with performing in front of strangers,” Ramsey said.

Most people may think learning lines is the hardest part of theater, and for Murray, it was.

“I scheduled time to do what I needed to do,” Murray said. “When I was lagging behind, I practiced my lines with my granddaughter.”

Murray’s granddaughter learned his lines as well as he did, he said.

Dodgen also felt learning lines was difficult, but also was challenged with presenting moods and accepting mistakes while staying in character.

The actors offered praise for directors Tommy Jones and Lon Goddard for helping them create their characters and offering acting tips. They also gave thanks for their patience.

A fifth actor, John Donaldson, is new to the Chetco Playhouse stage, but is a veteran actor of Lighthouse Repertory Theatre productions in Crescent City, Calif.

“The Philadelphia Story” plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 17 and 18, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 19. The production continues the following weekend.

Tickets are on sale at Mory’s, Words and Pictures, Chetco Pharmacy and Gifts, The Book Dock and will be available at the door, 1240 Chetco Ave., Brookings. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students. For reservations, call (541) 661-5166.

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