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Woodburn High School Theatre thrilled to re-open auditorium doors for the first time pre-pandemic days

PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn High School Theater members rehearse for the comedy 'Blithe Spirit,' which they will present over two weekends in November, 12-13 and 19-20.When a trio of Woodburn High School thespians were asked one question, their response sounded more like a unified choir.

The question put before seniors Emily Granados and Aaron Espinoza and junior Carmen Elsasser was "is it good to be back?" – following a year of pandemic distance learning, which included creative methods of distance acting.

The unified answer was "Yes!"

Was there anything they miss about the previous year "No!"PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn High School Theater students in Blithe Spirit, top, left to right, Carmen Elsasser, Aaron Espinoza, Emily  Granados; bottom, left to right, Sandra Montanez, Angelo Rios.

Espinoza did offer that it was kind of nice eating lunch any time he wanted rather than on a schedule.

On schedule for the three now, along with a host of other WHS actors, are rehearsals for Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit," which will be running two weekends, Nov. 12-13 and Nov. 19-20 at the WHS auditorium.

WHS theater director Caleb Thurston said the team of student artists at the high school are thrilled to re-open the auditorium doors for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. The students affirmed that.

"Absolutely, being here with a community," Espinoza said. "Being here physically, being here face to face."

Well, mask-to-make anyway, as safety protocols are in place, and Thurston said they will abide by them on production nights as well.

Granados said the human contact has been vital for her mental health, which she said suffered an insalubrious setback through the days and months of isolation. These actors are at the core extroverts, and human contact feeds their nature. Consequently, they are now as happy as castaways returned to society, and that may just play well into the Blithe performances.

Espinoza plays Charles Condomine, Granados plays his wife, Ruth, while Elsasser plays his dead wife, Elvira. Thurston said with this type of comedy, it's vital to have an audience for the actors to feed off. The play only uses seven actors, so he has two sets of actors playing the roles.

"That gives us more of a chance to have more of the group participating," Thurston said. "And with COVID (still a factor), if we lose someone because they have to isolate, we will have backups."PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn High School Theater Blue Cast members of the 'Blithe Spirit' fall production, clockwise from top left, Carola Torres, Caleb Larson, Kaelynn Ranice Carroll and Kimberly Herrera Ortiz.

Thurston said the comedy classic follows a cantankerous novelist suffering from the worst case of writer's block. Following a seance gone wrong, Charles discovers he is now haunted by the ghost of his late first wife, the clever and insistent Elvira.

A supernatural love triangle leads to "deadly" hilarious moments as Charles finds himself pushed to the limits in this dark comedy. Because of some dark humor, mild language and innuendo, this show is recommended for middle school age and older.

While school is back in session and performances are once again live, COVID-19 still poses potential risks and precautions. So, audiences will be required to wear a face covering, and groups will be socially distanced.

Seating is limited and reservations are recommended, though not required. Tickets are $5 for general admission. Woodburn School District employees are free. Tickets can be purchased from the box office starting thirty minutes before each performance.

WHS Presents:

What: Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit."

Who: Woodburn High School Theater

Showtimes: 7 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m, Saturday, Nov. 12-13, and Nov. 19-20; 2 p.m. Saturdays Nov. 13 and Nov. 20.

Note: The 2 p.m. show feature the "Blue Cast" and 7 p.m. the "Silver Cast." Double-casting ensures that more students have more opportunities to perform.

Tickets: $5 and can be purchased at the box office before each show. Free for Woodburn School District employees.

For information, or for group seating reservations, contact Caleb Thurston, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 503-980-6275.

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