LO's Katie Carlsen, Jason Marick lend talents to unique artists company

Two years ago Stephen Marc Beaudoin had never heard of PHAME Academy.

He only knew that the choir from this company of artists he had never heard of was set to perform at a benefit he was producing with Thomas Lauderdale of Pink Martini.

'Thomas and I were producing 'Songs for Haiti' for Mercy Corps at the Aladdin Theater,' Beaudoin said. 'I kept hearing voices about the PHAME choir, and those voices were so persistent.

'They blew me away. They got many standing ovations. I knew I would have to get involved.'

Indeed, Beaudoin did. He is now PHAME's executive director.

'I have one of the best jobs around,' he said. 'I think what we do is remarkable, even life altering. It's exciting! Every day is an adventure. It's a great deal of fun.'

PHAME (it stands for Pacific Honored Artists, Musicians and Entertainers) Academy does much more than send out its choir to standing ovations. It is a Portland-based artists group for adults with developmental disabilities like autism and Down syndrome. With the talents of these students, art reaches a new level of inspiration.

Founded in 1984 by Carol Stady, PHAME members have been showcasing their talents across the Portland Metro region for years - Clackamas, Clark, Multnomah and Washington counties. And this month they are ready to go again with the 'H is for Honored Tour,' March 14-22.

As Beaudoin said, 'Our students have access to expressivity parts of the brain that no one else has access to.

'We want there to be as few barriers to participate in the arts as possible. Outside of PHAME our students do not have a huge number of avenues for creativity.'

Two Lake Oswego residents are a big reason why PHAME is so successful - Jason Marick and Katie Carlsen.

Marick has been with PHAME from day one. He is multi-talented, a ham, quick with the quip and simply a fun guy to have around.

'I read an article about Carol Stady,' said Judy Marick, Marick's' mother. 'Jason loved to act and pretend, so I called her as she was getting ready to start PHAME. We've stuck with her ever since.'

Marick's performing career began with a bang.

'Their first play was 'The Little Drummer Boy,'' Marick said. 'I was the star.'

As could be expected, Marick's forte is comedy. He has been influenced by everything from The Three Stooges to 'Three's Company.'

'I saw Jason play the king in 'Once Upon a Mattress,'' Beaudoin said. 'That part has no lines because the king is mute, but I was amazed at how much comic juice Jason was able to squeeze out of it with all of his pantomime. He can really do slapstick comedy. Jason is a very fantastic comic actor.'

'I can do tragedy too,' noted Marick.

Carlsen was a mere 8 years old when she made her PHAME debut in 'Cinderella' in 1993.

'Katie was a Cinderella fan, big time,' said her mother Rosemary Carlsen. 'She wouldn't have missed it for anything.'

At that point, mom decided Carlsen should retire. But she came back at age 21 after she finished the transitional program at Lake Oswego High School. She has gone on to shine in plays like 'Grease' (Rosemary Carlsen said, 'She played a cheerleader. It was a perfect role for her.')

Carlsen has done some unusual gigs along the way. Like playing her harmonica before the Portland City Council, certainly a group that could use some harmony. It should be mentioned that Carlsen also holds down three jobs.

Carlsen said, 'PHAME has helped me do my best at acting, singing, learning to work with others and making friends. I love my friends.'

Certainly, Marick and Carlsen are experienced performers. Marick, with 27 years under his belt, has gone on PHAME tours to France, Belgium, Canada and other countries.

But with 'H is for Honored Tour,' Marick, Carlsen and the other PHAME troupers will be doing something different, something remarkable even for PHAME. Usually PHAME tours concentrate on one aspect of talent, like acting or singing. This time, PHAME is doing it all.

'It will be the whole kit and caboodle,' promised Beaudoin. 'Dancers, artists, musicians, everything.'

Portland Metro area audiences should get ready to stand, cheer and be inspired.

For more about PHAME and its new tour, go to its site at . The 'H is for Honored Tour' will culminate on March 22 at PHAME's favorite theater, the Aladdin Theater in Portland.

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