Big turnout at event redux raises $1,000 for city librarys public-art project

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Tommie Ann Draper leaps above Olivia Martorana during their dance routine to 'In My Arms' at Saturday night's Stars in the Grove. The duo from Forest Grove Dance Arts was one of 15 acts in the community show, which was resurrected this year, two decades after it folded due to dwindling audiences.About 275 friends and relatives gathered in Forest Grove’s giant living room Saturday.

Or at least that’s what the resurrected Stars in the Grove felt like as a nearly packed house clapped and hooted for 25 community members who shared their various talents in Pacific University’s Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Center.

Though we didn’t know all the performers personally, it turned out we knew them all as neighbors: The Tuality Healthcare nurse, the Intel employee, the Pacific University student, the First Christian Church members — and, of course, a passel of kids ranging from a preschooler to high school seniors.

They wore jeans and boots, suits and ties, white tights and black patent-leather shoes, sparkling sequins and swashbuckling pirate garb complete with NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Pacific University student and harpist Felicity Dyall came 'all the way from Portland,' according to emcee Pete Truax, to perform 'Sabre Dance' by Susan McDonald.

Once a regular Forest Grove event, Stars in the Grove ended 20 years ago after its popularity faded and its yearly audiences shrank. But Lois Hornberger, a former executive director of the Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce who now handles conferences for Pacific University, raised the idea of bringing it back as a way to celebrate Taylor-Meade’s 20th year. Pacific and the chamber partnered to make it happen.

Current Chamber Director Howard Sullivan worried the audience might be small. “You always have that at the back of your mind,” he said.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - (Left to right) Emma Coffey, Aaron Orr and Noah Wilson-Fey, all Forest Grove High School students, sing 'Paradox' from the upcoming school musical, 'Pirates of Penzance.'But the show was a success in every way. It moved quickly with a great variety of acts, all of which were well done. Pete and Pat Truax were a perfect emcee duo, with Pat’s easygoing charm offsetting Pete’s classic mix of serious reflection and deadpan humor.

And through ticket sales, the Forest Grove Public Arts Commission raised more than $1,000 toward a public-art project that will feature the work of world-renowned glass artist Ed Carpenter.

The show started off on a quiet note when 9-year-old Riley Reynolds walked out on stage by himself. There had been no introduction and he paused halfway to the microphone when he noticed the huge crowd — leaving some in the audience uncertain about whether he was part of the NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Riley Reynolds, 9, kicks off Saturday's Stars in the Grove with an a capella performance of 'This Pretty Planet.'

Then he stepped up to the mic and with a perfect combination of innocence and guts began his a capella versions of “This Pretty Planet” and “America.”

Young Andrea, 5, and Caleb, 7, Richardson each offered Suzuki method classics — she on the violin and he on the piano.

There were four great dance numbers, including one with ribbons and acrobatic moves. A trio of Forest Grove High School students gave a preview of the upcoming spring musical, Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance.” There was also a harp solo, a healthy mix of singers and a beat boxer, Robert Maughan, who learned his craft on YouTube.

Maughan’s starling-like vocal mix of rhythmic buzzing, chirping and booming brought curious smiles to most of the faces in the crowd.

“It’s not my genre, but I was impressed. It takes some talent to do that,” said Ron Outcalt, a barbershop quartet member who himself had performed at long-ago Stars in the Grove shows.

Outcalt, who was there to support a trio of singers from his church, said during intermission that he was glad to see Stars back in business.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Andrea Richardon, 5, hits all the right notes in the Suzuki classic, 'O Come Little Children.'So was Evelyn Orr, whose son was part of the “Pirates of Penzance” trio. “Look at what we have in little Forest Grove,” she said. “I’m loving this. I think it’s great.”

Nobody pretended it was Broadway quality — careful listeners probably caught a few memory slips or out-of-tune moments — but it was exactly what promoters hoped for: a good, fun show with talented performers who love their art.

The Fields of Praise trio from First Christian Church captured that spirit when it ended the evening with the song “Anyway” by Martina McBride.

At one point, the lyrics allude to the fact that not every song can be a showstopper. “You can pour your soul out singing a song you believe in, that tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang ...Sing it anyway!”

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Robert Maughan spent six months learning beat boxing from YouTube and performed well enough Saturday to draw one of the night's most enthusiastic audience responses.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Bonnie Thomas sings 'God's Country,' a song written by her son, who usually joins her in harmony but was in New Jerseyat the time of the show.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Lisa Maisel, a nurse who works in the recovery room at Tuality Hospital, belted out 'You Haven't Seen the Last of Me.'

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Alaina-Rose Mckinnon of Ballet Foreset Grove wears ruby red slippers for her dance tribute to 'Dorothy of Oz.'

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Sarah Hampton, a sophomore at Forest Grove High School, sings 'I Dreamed a Dream' from 'Les Miserables,' accompanied by her mother, Alisa Hampton, an Intel employee and pianist.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Caleb Richardson, 7, plays 'The Happy Farmer' on the piano from memory and draws a strong audience response.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Hailey New provides the night's only jazz music with her dance routine to 'That Man.'

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Dusti Arab and Noah Stolley (on guitar) sing 'Lack of Armor.' Taylor-Meade staff had to open a whole new row near the back of the auditorium when a large contigent of Stolley's Gaston supporters arrived at the last minute.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Regan Petersen, Stephanie Cadd and Paige Coppedge sport exotic costumes and flowing ribbons in an acrobatic dance to 'Make a Wish.'

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