Singing and dancing into 10 years
Linda Henderson has a saying she likes to use about Sherwood.
"You might trip and fall, but you will never hit the ground in this community," she said. "Someone will always be there to catch you."
Henderson is the co-founder and president of the board of directors for the Sherwood Foundation for the Arts (SFA), which is celebrating 10 years of bringing live theater to Sherwood, and supporting the arts in many forms around town.
Her belief in Sherwood — that it's a community of people who help each other — extends to the foundation. Henderson's fellow co-founder Shelly Lamb started the organization in 2008, because "the city was strapped and couldn't write grants for the arts, and we just kind of took off from there."
They started a tradition of producing a musical in Stella Olsen Park in 2009. The foundation presented "The Music Man" that first year, and Henderson remembered it as a group effort. She said that cast and crew members worked until the last minute to finish building the set, and that when one actress sat down on a railing during the first performance, they worried that she'd get wet paint on her dress.
"This theater, what we do here, is akin to survival," Henderson said. "You just figure out how to make things happen, because you don't have a choice, and there's so little time."
Though the work still happens up to the last minute, the foundation has evolved since that first show. A few years in, the organization hired Kristen Heller to be the stage director. Heller has a master's degree in theater, and took on "The Wizard of Oz" in 2011 with a few special effects, including a black-box projection screen that showed the pre-filmed tornado scene.
"It was insane, with all the pyrotechnics and everything, and we had this crew of people who were so...." Heller said, searching for the right word. "We just spitballed all these ideas and got together, and we came up with this amazing show. It was shocking that it happened, but after it happened I was like, 'This is good. This is really good.'"
This year's June musical will be "Hello, Dolly!"
Staging each musical outside is a challenge for the foundation. — Henderson said other local theater troupes simply won't do it — but it also adds a special something, said board member Christopher Flores.
"You're not going to see 'Hello, Dolly!' outside anywhere else," he said. "Just that atmosphere of doing it in an outdoor theater, it brings a new element to it."
For Henderson, reaching its 10th anniversary year is a major achievement for SFA, and a testament to the strength and talent found in Sherwood.
"What we do is really good," she said. "When we go to a show, I'm like '....this is really good.' I've had people tell me that this is better than anything we've seen in Portland or at Broadway Rose (in Tigard). Because we have a lot of talent."
IF you go
The Sherwood Foundation for the Arts will present "Hello, Dolly!" June 27 through 30 in Stella Olsen Park. To view showtime information and purchase tickets, visit http://sherwoodarts.org/events/.