FGHS student makes directorial debut while Hobbit is popular

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - (Left to right) Iris Cebula playing Ori, Malachi Skjeie playing Bilbo, Mark Putnam playing Gandalf and Steven Rice playing Dwalin practice for the opening of the Hobbit this Friday. Adam Borrego has been hooked on community theater since he played the jackal in Theatre in the Grove’s production of “The Jungle Book” about 10 years ago.

After acting, stage managing, and running sound systems and spotlights, the Forest Grove High School senior is now sitting in the director’s chair.

Borrego is making his directorial debut with a story he’s loved even longer than theater: “The Hobbit.”

When Jeanna VanDyke — a TITG board member who had worked with Borrego on previous productions — offered him the position, he accepted.

The play follows Bilbo Baggins, a comfortably well-off hobbit who loves adventure stories but doesn’t necessarily want to leave the comfort of his home. But his love of a good story convinces him to head out with Gandalf the Wizard and 11 ragged dwarfs to recover the lost treasure of the Lonely Mountain, which is guarded by a dragon.

Like Bilbo, Borrego was nervous at the thought of a new adventure, but “the more I considered the possibility, the more it dawned on me that this was something that I really wanted to do.”

A true lover of “The Hobbit” book but not a fan of the movies directed by Peter Jackson, Borrego is directing Patricia Gray’s adaption of the play to focus on Bilbo’s character, physiognomies, habits and personal journey instead of the broader scope of his world depicted in the films. Borrego wants “The Hobbit” he puts on stage to reflect the comfort he felt as a child when he spent the afternoon reading in his room while eating Triscuts.

“I want the production to have that warm feeling that’s completely absent from the movies,” Borrego said. “It’s a classic, timeless tale,” and was originally written by J.R.R. Tolkien as a children’s book.

The recent release of “The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug” movie will likely draw attention to the local play, “but I’m not sure if people will like or dislike that we’re doing it differently,” Borrego said. “I guess we’ll see.”

The most challenging part of being a first-time director, Borrego said, was the casting. Fifty actors auditioned, but there were only 24 roles to fill. “There are so many ways you can cast a show,” he said. “I had to make my decisions and go with it.”

Borrego also plays the violin in Pacific University’s community orchestra and has drawn upon his skills in multiple artistic mediums to direct the show’s musical numbers.

Like the orchestra, Borrego likes “the cumulative working together of a lot of people toward a single goal” in theater productions.

Although he wants to continue playing the violin and being involved in theater, he doesn’t think he’ll earn bachelor’s degrees in either one. “I’m not pretty enough to be an actor,” Borrego joked. “And that’s too much (tuition) money for something you can learn in other ways — through doing.”

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