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Day: January 23, 2015

Omigod, you guys!

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By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A young woman and her dog follow the former’s ex-fiance to Harvard University Law School in hope of reclaiming his heart, only to discover that she might be a victim of others’ expectations.

Add in a little song, a lot of dance, stir and you’ve got Legally Blonde: The Musical, which premiered Thursday, Jan. 22, at McNary High School. The play’s run continues with performances Jan. 23 and 24, and Jan. 30 through 31. Matinees are slated for 1:30 p.m. each Saturday of the run. Admission is $10 and $7 for seniors and children under 12.

“The biggest thing is just the fun of the play. The songs are uptempo with awesome dance numbers. The choreographer has really been pushing us in the dancing,” said Julia Fegles, a McNary senior who plays the starring role of Elle Woods. “My challenge is trying to take an iconic role and still add in something of myself.”

While the plot of the play mostly follows the the movie – starring Reese Witherspoon – of the same name, the expanded version allows for more fully-realized characters, Fegles said.

“The relationship between Emmett and Elle is much more developed and you get to see much more of Paulette, who gets a little more depth,” she said.

Elle’s two love interests in the story are brought to life by a pair of McNary sophomores, Ryan Cowan and Ashton Thomas.

Cowan plays Warner Huntington III, Elle’s ex-fiance and the stereotypical Ivy League frat guy.

“I feel like it’s a way to express yourself from a different point of view and Warner is pretty much a tool and super-conceited,” said Cowan.

Thomas’ role, do-gooder law student Emmett, is also a departure from his roles as a freshman at McNary, a megalomaniac in Urinetown and a sprite in The Tempest.

“Emmett is so normal, and I think that he’s been the harder role to play,” Thomas said.

Both Cowan and Thomas come from musical, more than acting, backgrounds and said the falling back on those skills helped them through preparation.

“The singing part comes more naturally and, whenever those moments hit I know exactly what I’m doing and the vocal inflection and the facial gestures to go along with them,” Thomas said. He added that working with the play’s music director Kent Wilson has been helpful.

Cowan said most of his feedback from director Dallas Myers and castmates boiled down to two words: be meaner.

“Mr. Myers has really helped by holding my hand through the acting parts,” Cowan said.

The play includes two canine cast members. A Yorkie plays Elle’s dog Bruiser. Emma Blanco’s french bulldog, Bilbo, takes on the mantle of Rufus, the dog of a hairdresser who befriends Elle.

Blanco plays Elle’s archnemesis, and Warner’s rekindled flame, Vivienne, but Bilbo was big on the internet long before making his stage debut.

“I would post pictures of him on Instagram. The minute you do and add the hashtag ‘dog,’ you get like 20 likes from other dogs with their own accounts,” Blanco said.

Among the human members of the cast, many talked about how exhausting the roles are given how they play into stereotypes.

“After the end of the first act, I’m exhausted,” said Keilah Hernandez, who plays Margo one of the three main sorority girls.

She said inhabiting the expectations that come with the roles proved more difficult than anyone expected.

“Everyone thinks that teenage girls are good at dancing, but there are a lot of suggestive dances in this play,” Hernandez said. “When it came to those parts, the choreographer wanted us to be sexier, but we had to go backstage and figure it out. It took us forever to get it, but it’s so much fun to bring out that part of ourselves.”


SHOWTIMES

Friday, January 23, at 7:00 pm

Saturday, January 24 at 1:30 pm & 7:00 pm

Thursday, January 29, at 7:00 pm

Friday, January 30, at 7:00 pm

Saturday, January 31 at 1:30 pm & 7:00 pm

Titans give Celts biggest scare yet on hardwood

Celt Devon Dunagan, whose late-game play proved pivotal against West Salem, pushes the ball up the court in the game Tuesday, Jan. 13. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Celt Devon Dunagan, whose late-game play proved pivotal against West Salem, pushes the ball up the court in the game Tuesday, Jan. 13. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School boys varsity basketball team didn’t get much time to adjust to having a mark on its back.

Celtic players and coaches knew that competing with West Salem High School Tuesday, Jan. 13, was going to be a tall order. Man-for-man, the Titans are one of the tallest teams in the Greater Valley Conference and they used it to great effect against the Celtics. McNary won 50-44, but trailed the Titans from the second minute to the 27th minute.

“When you play a big team like that rebounds are tougher and the shots are contested a lot more,” said Tregg Peterson, a McNary senior.

Celt junior Trent Van Cleave put McNary on the board first with a point from the free throw line, but it was the last lead McNary would enjoy until the fourth quarter.

West kept their defenders bunched up under the net creating pressure for the Celtics when handling the ball and bad looks on the shots McNary players managed to get off. When the Celtics managed to grab a rebound around 6-foot-11 Titan Christian Russell, West destroyed their press.

The Titans ended the first frame with a 10-point lead. The second period didn’t get much better for McNary. The Keizer team edged its way back into the fray cutting West’s lead to four points on a bucket and free throw by Peterson, but the teams went to the half 26-20. Only a buzzer-beater by Trent Van Cleave closed the gap that much.

“We had struggles with their height. I actually think we could have had a better game plan going into the game, but that’s not to take anything away from West Salem as a team,” said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach.

The Celts still trailed by three points going into the fourth period, but a basket by senior Devon Dunagan with 4:41 left put the score at 38-37. Dunagan drew a foul on the attempt and knocked down both shots from the free throw line to put McNary in the lead.

From that point on, the Celts didn’t relinquish the lead. Peterson made two key defensive plays to put the ball back in Celtic hands in the final two minutes and McNary escaped with a 50-44 win.

Dunagan led McNary scoring with 13 points, most of those coming in the final minutes. Mathew Ismay, Peterson and Van Cleave had nine points apiece; Cade Goff put in six; and Harry Cavell had four.

“Once we got into the 1-3-1 (zone defense), we were able to slow the game down. When we face them again, we have to do more of that in the game and just try to outrun the big guys,” Peterson said.

Van Cleave said big teams can put the emphasis on some of McNary’s strengths despite the challenges.

“It means we have to get out in the open court and take advantage of our speed and athleticism,” he said.

The McNary boys were put to the test again Friday, Jan. 16, in a game vs. McKay High School.

“They had a good game plan and came out and played hard to take advantage of the weak spots in our defense,” Van Cleave said.

McKay turned up the heat quickly keeping the Celts within two points, 10-8, at the end of the first frame. The Celts extended their lead to seven points by halftime, but Peterson said the team adjusted its attitude in the second half.

“We knew that they would come out and thinking they were in the game and we had to come back out and hit them hard,” he said.

McNary outscored McKay 23-14 in the third quarter and 12-5 in the fourth.

“Early on, (McKay) would get a big pop from the crowd each time they hit a basket, but our defense was consistent throughout the game,” Kirch said. “We stayed composed and guarded which lets us sustain through the ups and downs of other teams.”

Peterson led Celtic scoring with 18 points; Cavell, Dunagan and Van Cleave had 12 points each; Ismay and Cole Thomas had two apiece; and Goff and Wyatt Grine had one point each.

Peterson and Van Cleave identified the team’s game starts as the area that needs the bulk of their attention.

“We’ve had a couple of good starts, but not lately, we need to come out of the locker room and fly around,” Van Cleave said.

Peterson added, “We want to be the best team in the league and we have to play like it.”

Big Toy funding needs kick

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By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Money continues to come in for the Big Toy project, but it’s been trickling in.

In a Keizertimes story last August, it was noted $197,400 had been raised for the project, or 47 percent towards the goal of $416,509.80. Fast forward five months and the raised amount has inched up to $205,948.86, an increase of a little more than $8,500. That means 49 percent of the goal, with $210,561 left to raise.

The Big Toy is scheduled to be built at Keizer Rapids Park by community volunteers over a five-day span, from June 10 to 14.

Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson, who is co-chairing the Community Build Task Force fundraising committee with Richard Walsh, noted efforts to raise money were put on hold until two main things fell into place in November.

“There are a couple of dynamics going on,” Carlson said. “One, the fundraising committee wasn’t doing much while the master planning (for KRP) was going on. Everybody agreed to wait until we know where it is. The other thing that slowed us down was developing the website (www.keizerbigtoy.org). We wanted specific information on the website about the different levels of funding. We didn’t have many fundraising committee meetings until November and December. We took a break on it.”

The Big Toy project initially got rolling in late 2012 and was to be built last September. In part due to funding as well as site location questions, the project got pushed back nine months.

In light of the June timeframe, is the funding a concern?

“It’s a concern for the project,” Carlson said. “It’s not a concern for me because I didn’t take on this job with the idea that it’s my job to raise the money. I’m to give the tools and structure so people on the committee can raise the money. It’s up to them to raise it. I don’t take personal responsibility for raising money. We have identified target groups to reach out to.”

Mark Caillier, general coordinator for the project – city councilor Marlene Quinn is chair of the task force – noted the lack of work done in recent months.

“I don’t think they’ve been doing anything,” Caillier said. “They put things on hold and took a hiatus. They will have to really push. We haven’t sold many components. Am I concerned? No. Bu I want them to be successful in fundraising, selling components and getting grants. I think the fire has caught. They will be doing their thing.

“Some of what they were hearing (last year) was we don’t know where it will be yet,” he added. “Then it was holiday time. They know what their timeline is and are hitting the ground running right now…Folks are thinking we don’t have any time left. We do, but we don’t have any time to waste. We need to push it.”

Walsh noted elements such as site location, design, the website and costs have been figured out and, as such, now is the time to kick things up a notch.

“I think we are finally in a position to go into high gear to reach out to the community for funding and to sign up enough volunteers to build the Big Toy,” Walsh said. “Overall I am very pleased with the work so far and the response of the community. We have already involved more people and raised more money than any other Keizer park project since the creation of Keizer Rapids Park itself. Now that everything for a successful campaign is in place we are now moving into high gear to bring the fundraising and volunteer campaign to the community.”

With the holidays in the mirror, Clarkson also feels things will take off.

“We’ve got all the tools in place,” she said. “Now it’s just a matter of people going out. Now that we’re moving into spring, everyone will go full bore.”

Other aspects are going full bore as well. Caillier expects to clear trees from the orchard site where the Big Toy is being located by next week.

But what happens if the money is not raised by June? Carlson deferred the question to Caillier, who in turn deferred to Walsh and Quinn.

“That’s a real good question,” Caillier said.

Walsh sidestepped the question.

“I am confident Keizer residents and businesses will come through, as they always have and we will have a wonderful Big Toy this summer that we can all enjoy for generations to come,” Walsh said.

Station proposal okayed

Bonaventure's Ben Settecase shows a Keizer Station Area C proposal last week at a Greater Gubser Neighorhood Association meeting. Keizer City Councilors approved the proposal on Tuesday. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Bonaventure’s Ben Settecase shows a Keizer Station Area C proposal last week at a Greater Gubser Neighorhood Association meeting. Keizer City Councilors approved the proposal on Tuesday. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

A proposal for new apartments and a retirement community in Area C of Keizer Station was approved unanimously Tuesday night by the Keizer City Council.

Whether that means the project was approved quickly or not depends on the perspective.

The joint proposal by Mountain West Investment (with the 180 apartments) and Bonaventure Senior Living (the 154-unit retirement community) was discussed by councilors for the first time Tuesday. Following a public hearing and public testimony, councilors closed the record and voted 6-0 in favor, with Dennis Koho absent.

Representatives from the two companies first met with city officials in September and soon after started meeting with neighbors.

From the perspective of a large new project, getting approval at the first meeting less than four months after an initial pre-conference meeting is quick.

On the other hand, the approval marked a key point in a long-running issue. A previous proposal to do commercial building – a rumored 116,000 square foot Walmart was the lightning rod – a few years ago was vigorously protested, in particular by Kevin Hohnbaum and his Keep Keizer Livable group. The plans from 2011 were hotly debated. A revised plan from the fall of 2012 was eventually passed, but nothing ever came of that project.

The previous groundwork in terms of a master plan for the land was utilized as the starting point for the current proposal, with an amendment deleting the previous medical office and substituting in the retirement community.

The hearing for the proposal started at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, with approval coming shortly before 10.

Councilor Brandon Smith returned to the council after a two-year absence, having previously served from 2007 until 2013 and thus being familiar with the topic.

“I hope it eventually gets done,” Smith said of the proposal. “It’s interesting to me in my first meeting back it comes up again. I live off Area C. I’m excited about having something finally happen. I like the design; I voted to approve the previous one. I’m looking forward to good things coming to Keizer.”

New councilor Amy Ripp opined everyone involved had done their due diligence, while fellow newcomer Roland Herrera indicated a willingness to vote on the issue right away.

“I know you’re all sincere in your passion,” Herrera told the applicants.