Beaverton High to Broadway - and then back again
Not everybody who wanders is lost.
Shoshana Bean began her theatrical career in Portland, and at Beaverton High School. She wended her way from there through Cincinnati, then Broadway, then L.A. And on March 21, she returns to her alma mater for a big-band show at Beaverton High School.
The Broadway star will appear at 7:30 pm. Wednesday, March 21, at Beaverton High, 13000 S.W. Second St. All ticket sales will go to benefit the school's performing arts department. Tickets are available at www.shoshanabean.com.
Bean was born in Olympia, Wash., and moved to the Portland area at age 9. She attended Raleigh Hills Elementary School and Whitford Middle School before venturing to BHS. And she cut her teeth in professional theater companies around Portland, including a performance of Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Park with George" in 1987 at age 10.
"That laid the foundation for the trajectory of my life. Truly," she told The Times.
She also did "Evita" in Portland and, at Beaverton High, "Hello Dolly" and "Me and My Girl."
In New York City, she quickly found her place on the stage, first appearing in an off-Broadway revival of "Godspell." She was an original cast member of the Broadway hit "Hairspray."
But "Wicked" might be her claim to fame.
Idina Menzel made a household name for herself as the original, green-hued young witch, Elphaba, in the musical adaption of the novel based on "The Wizard of Oz." Bean was the first actress to replace Menzel, taking over the iconic role in 2004.
She later reprised the role in a 2006 national tour.
Her other shows have included "Peepshow," "Dear John Mayer," and "Beaches."
Los Angeles is more like the Portland metro area than, say, New York, she said. It's part of the reason she settled there.
"I love coming home," she said of this region. "To go to Trader Joe's and load up my backseat with groceries; to go hiking. Oh man. I love coming here. I love the area and the food and the coffee... the coffee! We don't have Dutch Bros.! Are you kidding!"
She'll be at Beaverton High School for two days, setting up the show, and has requested student volunteers. That's because her high school director, James Erickson, insisted that students do it all, from painting sets to designing props to cleaning up backstage. "I'm going to get the chance to interact with the students a lot," she said. "It's important that they see all that goes into a concert of this size."
And if, by magic, she should run into a 16-year-old Shoshana? What would she tell her younger self?
"I would definitely say: Slow down. Blink and you'll miss it. Look around. Enjoy the moments," Bean said. "Exactly who you are, and the toolbox you have, will go into making you the performer you'll be. I'd tell her: Trust yourself. And open your heart a little sooner."
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