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Director brings enthusiasm to ‘Oz’

There’s a young director with a ton of enthusiasm at the helm of this year’s Okanogan Valley Orchestra and Chorus production of “The Wizard of Oz.” Janelle Cutuli, 25, of Brewster, brings a variety of experiences to the region’s annual spring production May 2-4 and May 9-11 in the Omak Performing Arts Center, 20 S. Cedar St. “She’s got some exciting ideas for capturing the mystery and awe of Oz,” longtime organization director and set and lighting designer Judy Johnston said Monday. “Janelle has been just absolutely wonderful to work with,” stage manager Carrie Zachow said. “She’s a fresh face to the production team. It’s great to work with someone with such a passion for theater. She’s doing great.” The organization seeks directors each year, with each providing a list of plays they would like to direct. Cutuli submitted “The Wizard of Oz” and “Cinderella,” which could not be done since it’s still on Broadway. “She’s done a wonderful job,” producer Kim Harriman said. “This dovetails nicely into what she wants to do for a living.” Cutuli opted to do a play based on the movie, with characters with which she and others are familiar. There also is a 1940s play based on the book, but there are major differences. For instance, Dorothy wears silver slippers and not ruby slippers as in the movie. “I wanted to take on the challenge of creating that sense of wonder that I had seen in the movie and trying to recreate that on the stage,” said Cutuli, who also loves the show’s music. This year’s play includes a Jitterbug scene that was cut from the movie. “I think we are doing really well,” Cutuli said of practices that have gone on for several weeks. “I am really excited for everybody to see it. I think we have a really great cast.” Cutuli’s first stage opportunity came when she was 8 years old and played Sprintze, one of Tevye’s young daughters, in “Fiddler on the Roof.” She worked the set for “South Pacific” two years ago. “I got a part when I was very young, and I so loved being on the stage,” she said. “It’s quite a rush. Being in that community, being with other people that are acting and being in plays gave me a lot of excitement and enjoyment.” Cutuli, a graduate of Brewster High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in education with an endorsement in theater from Western Washington University in Bellingham. Shows are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays.

Ballots due Tuesday

Special election ballots are due Tuesday for a handful of issues in Okanogan and Douglas counties. Okanogan County sent out 5,659 ballots and 2,452 were returned as of Friday afternoon. The Douglas County Auditor’s Office mailed 847 ballots, because the only two items are for Fire District No. 15 and the Bridgeport School District. As of Friday afternoon, 358 ballots had been returned. Douglas-Okanogan County Fire District No. 15 is asking voters to continue its emergency medical service levy for another six years at the same rate, 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The cities of Pateros and Brewster are asking voters to approve EMS levies for the same amount, but that money will be given directly to EMS. The ballot notes that each city still has a contract for EMS services with Fire District 15 even if the measures are defeated. EMS is primarily funded through property taxes and private payments, EMS Director Tonya Vallance said. The levy “basically guarantees 24/7 coverage for the patrons in the area,” Vallance said in a previous interview. “Once the tone goes off, the taxpayer switch – for lack of a better word – kind of goes off, and the individual is paying for it then.” Okanogan and Douglas counties’ ballots also includes a request from the Bridgeport School District for a $3.9 million, 20-year bond issue to rebuild a portion of the elementary school that is comprised of portable buildings. Per property owner, the measure breaks down to about $1.84 per $1,000 of assessed value. The portables were intended to be temporary when they were installed in 1977 and have since become leaky and moldy, Superintendent Scott Sattler said. Electrical wiring and other safety issues also have become a concern, aside from the need for more space for a growing student population. Tearing down the portables would make way for 16 classrooms, a music room, computer lab, an improved playground and multi-purpose room, as well as an updated kitchen to provide breakfast and lunch for all 820 students district-wide. The entire project is estimated to cost about $8.5 million, but the state would contribute $4.6 million of that. This is the second attempt for Bridgeport to pass the bond request. Voters turned it down in the Feb. 11 special election. Although 54 percent of voters supported it, bond issues need a supermajority of more than 60 percent to pass. In the Methow Valley, voters living within the school district will decide whether to create the Methow Valley Recreation District. It would be a junior taxing district within Okanogan County, allowing it to collect a portion of property tax revenues for operations. The district’s purpose would be to not only seek funding for new recreational opportunities and projects in the Methow Valley, but help provide funding for already existing facilities such as the Wagner Memorial Pool in Twisp and the Winthrop Ice and Sports Rink. Thirteen candidates have thrown their hats in the ring to fill five commissioner seats on the recreation board, if it is created. They are Don Fitzpatrick Jr. and Julie Palm, Position No. 1; Christine Holm and Kevin Van Bueren, Position No. 2; Brent Walker, Steven Stacy and Camden Shaw, Position No. 3; Mike Fort, Bart Bradshaw and Kristin Devin, Position No. 4; and Paula Stokes, John Northcott and Julie Muyllaert, Position No. 5.

Drum circle planned for Friday night

Cultural Center events include entertainment and educational topics

The Community Cultural Center, 411 S. Western Ave., will host several educational and entertainment events during the coming weeks.

United Powwow set for May 3

American Indian drummers and dancers will gather May 3 for the 26th annual United Powwow at the Omak Tribal Longhouse on Mission Road east of town. The free event is open to the public. The theme is “Families Closing the GAP: Graduate, Attendance and Participate,” with support coming from the Colville Confederated Tribes K-12 Youth and Attendance Program. Students and families will be honored for attending school. A plaque dedication is planned in memory of Christine Quintasket, whose pen name was Mourning Dove. Quintasket, a Colville tribal member, was the first American Indian woman to publish a novel. A symposium celebrating her accomplishments was last fall in Omak-Okanogan. The powwow’s first grand entry will begin at 1 p.m., with dinner following at 5 p.m., and an evening grand entry at 7 p.m. Soy Redthunder will be the emcee and Dan Nanamkin will be the arena director. A United Powwow queen and princess will also be selected for the 2014-15 year. All drummers and dancers are welcome, and host drums will be chosen at each session. The drug- and alcohol-free event is supported by the Wenatchee Valley College at Omak Red Road Association and the Omak School District Salish language class.

‘Willy Wonka Jr.’ is in May

The Merc Playhouse Children’s Musical Theater will present “Willy Wonka Jr.” on May 9-18 at the theater, 101 S. Glover St. The show is based on the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” by Roald Dahl. Curtain times are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Admission will be charged. A “pay what you can” performance will be at 7 p.m. May 15. The cast features 33 Methow Valley children, costumes, lights and sound by Liberty Bell High students, and set pieces by the Liberty Bell High School construction, welding and art classes.

Tonasket auxiliary offers Easter egg hunt

A Tonasket-area Easter egg hunt is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday at the school complex, 35 state Highway 20.

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Omak dancers perform at Disneyland

Lorrie Fraley-Wilson Dance Studios takes dancers to California to perform on Disneyland stage

McMorris Rodgers announces Congressional Art Competition

Ferry County students encouraged to enter art competition

Omak students stage Neil Simon comedy

The high school Drama Club will present Neil Simon’s comedy “Fools” on April 11, 12, 18 and 19.

Pre-show dinner benefits seniors

A spaghetti feed is planned for 4-6:30 p.m. Saturday prior to the Omak Drama Club presentation of Neil Simon’s “Fools.”

Deadline nears for Trashion Show

Would-be designers have until May 1 to sign up to create a design for Confluence Gallery and Art Center’s annual Trashion Show.

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Teens knock out top country hits

Drew Jaeger relied on songs made popular by The Platters and Vince Gill en route to claiming his second straight Washington State Nashville Country Star title Saturday.

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Davis leads Chronicle 'Basketball Frenzy' contest

Reilly Davis of Omak finds himself in front of the Basketball Frenzy as the NCAA men’s tournament heads into the third and final week of play.

Fiber crafts program slated for fairgrounds

Residents can learn about weaving, knitting, crocheting and other fiber arts May 17.

Moody to perform Saturday in Tonasket

Ruth Moody to perform Saturday in Tonasket at Community Cultural Center

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