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Highest Tide to Open Tonight, full feature inside

Trapped waist deep in mud with an ice-cold tide quickly rising, Kenny Phelps desperately cries out “Don’t leave me!” to his friend Miles O’Malley. Miles throws Kenny a tube of PVC and tells him to breath through it. The cold grey moon illuminates and casts a blue ambiance from the reflected water as Miles runs off-stage to find help. The house lights fade, and Kenny walks downstage, out of sight.

The cast and crew of the latest theater production “Highest Tide” held their final full dress rehearsal Thursday night at eight p.m. in the Robinson Theater. Based on the book of the same name, “Highest Tide” is the story of Miles O’Malley’s turbulent and celebrated summer.

Beginning when Miles finds a dead giant squid washed up on the beach, “Highest Tide” is a tale of coming-of-age and coping with change, seen through the eyes of an adolescent boy. Miles’s life is turned on its head as he watches his parents separate, stumbles over his attractions to the daughter of the Judge, and is celebrated by a cult as a prophet.

After the rehearsal, director Bobby Vrtis holds a short review for the weary cast. Rehearsals over the last several weeks have taken their toll, and the everyone is in a hurry to get home to rest before opening night Friday. “This show needs an audience,” Vrtis emphasizes. Vrtis adds that “This is a show where you can play with the audience,” encouraging the actors to have a good time, but not go overboard.

“Highest Tide” is the first Robinson show for Vrtis, a Ph. D. candidate and former UO master student, and saying he is enthusiastic for opening night is an understatement. “It’s ben crazy and hectic but it’s been such a joy ride,” he explains. He feels the story of growing up is something we all can relate to. “It’s a very human thing to have urges and desires” he says. Vrtis is also pleased with the way the cast and crew took his ideas and added their own to the mix. “Brad’s set has changed the feel of the play for the better.”

Vrtis thinks the cast has done a great job with their characters. He particularly noted Annie Sept’s work as a number of different characters in the play, including a reporter and a social services worker. While having had no real theater experience before, according to Vrtis, Sept was a great contribution to the “Highest Tide”. “It’s great becaus you can see it’s all new and exciting to her, she has a lot of energy, Vrtis says. But Vrtis is especially proud of Sophomore Colin Lawrence, who stars as Miles. “Colin could have done this play in his sleep, but he didn’t.”

Lawrence, who is playing his first star role in “Highest Tide” is excited for opening night. “It’s a story I really connect with,” he explains. While there have been some setbacks with the theater that delayed and complicated rehearsals, he feels the show is coming together and is ready for opening night. He noted the good chemistry between him and co-star Lacy Allen, and it is visible on stage.

Allen, a Junior at the UO, is performing her second main-stage show. She agrees that there is a great dynamic between them professionally, but says it comes from a good friendship. “Colin feels like my friend, I can say anything to him” she explains after the rehearsal. She expects a good audience reaction, although she knows that performing in front of an audience of theater majors will be intimidating. She still expresses confidence, having theater experience, in her own words “since forever.”

Craig Lamm, who plays Miles’s friend Kenny Phelps, has also enjoyed working on the production. “Bobby’s an amazing director” he explained to me, and he enjoys the play’s non traditional narrative, where dialogue is limited and instead narration is taken by each character in turn, lending their own characterizations to a fraction of a line. Lamm said that playing Kenny, a 13-year-old, sex obsessed, air guitaring teenager was tons of fun. “I just get to act like a kid.”

Highest Tide opens Friday, April 16 and will run until May 1. Tickets are $14 for general public, $12 for UO faculty and staff, and $7 for students.

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  1. Timothy says:

    I’m reading the Voice?

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