alternative press serving the lower columbia pacific region

Hitchin’ Revival – An Original North Coast Musical At the PAC

Hitchin Flats

Creator Ned Heavenrich (left) and the Brownsmead Flats, the band behind the musical.

Hitchin’
February 7-9 and 15-17
Fri/Sat, 7:30 pm, except 2 pm on the 17th
Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center
16th & Franklin, Astoria
$15 – adults
$10 – Student/Senior

Partners for the PAC presents Hitchin’, a musical play written by Ned Heavenrich, with music composed by Heavenrich, Robert Stevens and Dan Sutherland of the Brownsmead Flats, on February 7-9 and 15-17 at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) in Astoria. The play is the second in a series of fundraisers to keep the PAC open, accessible and affordable to the community. The first fundraiser, Bach and Rock Around the Clock, featured local musicians (including the Browsmead Flats) and an all-night film festival, which is slated to be reshown in the spring.

Performed to sellout crowds at the PAC in 1997 and again in 1999, Hitchin’ tells the story of a middle-aged man confronted with his rebellious teenage son and his past in what Heavenrich described as a “partially autobiographical tale about coming of age and letting go, a result of a mid-life crisis brought on by my dad’s death in ‘88.” In 2004, Hitchin’ was revived at the River Theater.

Walter Newman is a clothing store owner and workaholic whose 20-year-old son, Matt, is getting ready to leave the house to “find his own path.” Walter finds his journal from his days on the road, and the journal’s entries come to life on the stage. Walt (as he was known then) meets Lulu, a fellow hitchhiker who knocks his socks off and heads on down the road; Mary and James Erickson, a farm couple whose oldest son was killed in the Vietnam war, and whose other sons are now estranged, with the marriage suffering; Howie, a hippie gypsy and former Peace Corps volunteer who keeps a load of pot in his Deadhead VW van; Jack, a draftee at an air force base in North Dakota who’s not especially eager to go to Vietnam; Edna (named for Edna Packard, who played the original role as Ethel), an older widow who invites Walt to her house in the middle of nowhere to reminisce on her life; Marian, Georgia and Debbie, three lesbians on a camping trip; and Sylvester, a bat-swinging hitcher who’s headed “towards his destination.” The play ends with Matt leaving, Walter still leery and the cast singing Isn’t It Exciting!

“I would say that half the characters in the play I met on the road and half are composite characters from my life and other people’s experiences,” Heavenrich explained.

The orchestra for the musical is the Browsmead Flats, who will be joined by Janet Bowler, a flutist with the North Coast Symphonic Band and other musical groups in the area. Jayne Osborn, who stage managed the River Theater production, is directing. Osborn is a veteran director and stage manager who has worked with the Astor Street Opry Company (ASOC) and the River Theater. Musical direction is by Allison Wilski, a soprano with the North Coast Chorale. Amy Coughlin, another veteran of ASOC, is stage manager. Set design is by Craig Shepherd, manager of the Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach, with set construction managed by John Fenton of the Brownsmead Flats. Josef Gault, former manager of the PAC, is in charge of sound and lighting. And Marco Davis, who played Jack in the original production of Hitchin’, is choreographer. The author is production manager, with able assistance from Heavenrich and Stevens (who played Howie in the 1999 production and was music director in the original production).

All proceeds from Hitchin’ will go to the Support the PAC fund, managed by the Clatsop Community College Foundation and the Partners for the PAC, and used for maintenance and operating costs of the PAC. Partners for the PAC is a coalition of performing arts groups that currently use the PAC for rehearsals and performances which was brought together in 2012 to help raise funds to keep the PAC open and work on ways to maintain and enhance the facility after the college suffered severe budget cuts and was unable to continue their operational support. For more information on the Partners for the PAC and how you can support the PAC, go to the Support the PAC website at supportthepac.org.

CAST: Bob Goldberg, Sandi Hilton, Jordan Okoniewski, Stephen Shannon, Sara Drage, Destiny Lish, Lenny Noller, ChrisLynn Taylor, Eddie Knick, Luke Hanflin, Lori Honl, Stephanie Rowe, Bree Heavenrich, Amy Coughlin, Jonathon Osborn, Daric Moore, Dave Bergquist and Emily Honl.

The Partners’ production of Hitchin’ is made possible by a generous grant from the Clatsop County Cultural Coalition and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

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