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Day: November 10, 2017

‘Heaven can wait’ but only through Nov 19

Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Homegrown Theatre hopes to highlight the absurdity of Heaven Can Wait, the story of a boxer who arrives in the afterlife 60 years early and in order to return to earth must take up the body of a nefarious millionaire.

“We are taking a 1930s play that was unabashedly sentimental and giving it a twist where we recognize the absurdity of the situation far more specifically than it was recognized in the original,” director Linda Baker said. “The absurdity of it all is really the thing.”

The play runs November 10-11, 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. and November 12 and 19 at 3 p.m. in the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center chapel.

Tickets are $15 and available at the door or online at

Jeff Minden, a 1999 McNary graduate, plays the prizefighter, Joe Pendleton. Minden was in the play in high school as the overeager messenger who mistakenly picks up Pendleton and takes him to the afterlife to start the story.

“It’s kind of fun doing it again so many years later and doing a different role this time and seeing it from a different prospective,” Minden said. “Joe’s a fantastic character. He’s so honest and earnest and straight forward but also just so not right. He also talks a lot so that’s been a challenge, getting the lines down. But it’s also so much fun, really finding him and channeling him and getting into character.”

Minden already had a background in CrossFit but has added boxing workouts to get into character.

Craig Will has been cast as the messenger. Kevin Crawford, one of the founders of Aumsville Community Theatre, is playing Mr. Jordan, who is in charge of finding another body after Pendleton’s manger Max Levene, played by Sam Tibbits, cremated his body.

Jordan finds the wealthy Jonathan Farnsworth, who is about to be murdered by his wife Julia, played by Allison Reid. While in Farnsworth’s body, Pendleton falls in love with Bette Logan, a naïve, sweet young woman played by Elizabeth Ming.

“This is the first time she’s played the ingenue,” Baker said of Ming. “Everybody wants to play the ingenue until they have to and they realized they have the stupidest lines in the whole play. The fact that Elizabeth is making them work is pretty amazing.

“The girl that has frequently had to play the ingenue and has played the ingenue her whole life is now playing the wicked wife. Allison is stepping outside of her general norm, which is fun. Everybody is kind of playing, not against type, but against usually what they have been cast.”

The rest of the cast includes Dylan Marley (Tony Abbott), Becky Nielson (Mrs. Ames), Chantelle Gemmill (Ann), Kevin Strausbaugh (Inspector Williams), Linda Cashin (First Escort), Kiley Smith (Second Escort), Elijah Rodriguez (Lefty), Edward Stiner (Workman), Dennis Koho (Doctor) and Tim and Jordan Reid as Plainclothesmen.

Strausbaugh, a 2005 McNary graduate, is also helping Baker direct the show.

Doors open 30 minutes prior to the start of the play and parking is free at the Kroc Center.

McNary not content after first playoff win since 2013

Of the Keizertimes

McNary head football coach Jeff Auvinen looked out at the Celtics five league and two state championship banners and told his team how much fun it is to practice on Thanksgiving.

McNary had just won its first playoff game since 2013 but the Celtics aren’t satisfied.

In order to continue its postseason run and get to Thanksgiving, McNary must first knock off defending state champion and No. 3 West Linn on the road Friday, Nov. 10.

“I think we’ve got a great game plan,” Auvinen said. “I think the kids are excited. I think it’s a quality opponent we’re playing. We’re going to have to play a really, really good game but it can be done.”

Auvinen compared West Linn to Sprague and West Salem, two teams that combined to outscore the Celtics 119-12 during the regular season.

“Hopefully we’ve learned from those two outings that weren’t very good efforts,” Auvinen said. “We didn’t keep our mentality about us and hopefully we’ve learned from that.”

While West Linn cruised to a state championship last season, the Lions lost back-to-back games to Tigard and Lake Oswego this season.

“They lost a load of seniors,” Auvinen said. “But they’re a quality team. They’re well coached. They have good players. They’re good offensively, defensively and special teams. They do things well.”

One of those seniors was quarterback Tim Tawa, who after being named the state Gatorade player of the year in football three straight years signed a baseball scholarship with Stanford University.

While this season’s quarterback, junior Ethan Long, doesn’t have near the accolades, Auvinen sees another good player on film.

“He’s athletic. He throws the ball well, especially on timing routes,” Auvinen said.

West Linn also graduated defensive back Elijah Molden, who signed with Washington, and offensive lineman Alex Forsyth, who signed with Oregon.

West Linn’s biggest 2018 prospect is Keishon Dawkins, a 6-foot-6, 240 pound tight end who has committed to Oregon State.

“He’s big and physical and uses his body real well,” Auvinen said. “They also have a good little receiver (senior Qawi Ntsasa) and a couple nice running backs (seniors Tyler Good and Ahmir McGee).”

McNary last played a Three Rivers League opponent in the first round of the playoffs last season, losing at Tigard 58-28.

“Tigard was a much more physical team,” Auvinen said. “They were bigger and stronger. This team is not that team. I think they (West Linn) throw the ball a little better. They have a different brand of defense. They’re not as big but they do run hard and play hard. It’s different than that (Tigard) team. It’s a different challenge.”

But McNary will have to play it best game of the season to pull off the upset.

“We’ve got to combine that game we’ve been looking for with all three aspects, special teams, offense, defense, all coming together,” Auvinen said. “We’re getting closer all the time, I think. If we combine all three of those and play really well, keep them off balance offensively and defensively, we’ll be fine.”