Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cast Interview – Meet Angela Van Epps (Elma)

It was nice to have a few minutes with Angela Van Epps, a vibrant, talented actress who is cast in the role of "Elma" the waitress in WTC's  production of William Inge's  Bus Stop.  I know, it is cliché to say someone "lights up a room" when they enter; however, in the case of Angela, that is exactly my first impression of her. She is a cheerful,  smiling, and of course, experienced actress.

Dave:  Welcome to the Wilsonville Theater Company. We are pleased to have you among the gifted members of this cast.  Just coming off of Director Matt Russell's delightful production of White Christmas at the HART Theater in Hillsboro, you find yourself back on stage. This time at our Frog Pond Grange Hall.
Angela:  Thank you. I'm happy to be part of this play.

Dave:  Let's start with some background information. Where were you born and raised?

Angela: I was actually born in Hudson, Wisconsin, but never lived there.  I was raised in a small railroad  town, Litchfield, Minnesota. I'm a Minnesota girl, so I know all about being snowed in and being cold.
Dave:  What high school did you attend?

Angela:  Litchfield High School.
Dave:  Were you involved in theater in high school?

Angela:  Actually, in middle school.
Dave:  What was your first role in a school play?

Angela:  The first role was "Polynesia the Parrot" in Doctor Doolittle.  It was my first play, so I was very excited.
Dave:  How old were you?

Angela:  I was in the seventh grade.
Dave:  What about theater in high school?

Angela:  I did all the musicals and one-act plays in high school.
Dave:  What were some of the memorable roles in those plays?

Angela:  I got to do "Mrs. Molloy" in Hello Dolly! She was the hat-shop owner, so it was kind of a big deal. My first high school musical was Once Upon a Mattress, then Lady in Waiting. We did a really sweet act called Yellow Boat. It was about a boy who contracted AIDS, before they monitored donor blood. It was a very moving piece. It really opened the discussion of AIDS.

Dave:  Then on to college. Bethel University, same as your husband, Chase, right?
Angela:  Yes. I graduated in 2011. I received my BA degree in acting and directing.

Dave:   Were you more involved in directing or acting in college?
Angela:  Acting. But I did direct a bit. For some reason they call the degree "Acting and Directing."

Dave:  What was your first play at Bethel University?
Angela:  Brigadoon. The musical. I was a chorus girl. My first role there. You have to start small. (Laughing). My favorite role in college was when I was cast as "Viola"  in Twelfth Night,  and "Elvira" in Blythe Spirit.  That was a lot of fun.

Dave:  After college. Did you perform in community theater? That sort of thing?
Angela:  Not a lot. I lived in Minneapolis and did some acting at a local theater company called "Intergenerational Theater Productions." It was a program that included kids as well as senior citizens. Located in Eagan, Minnesota.  I played the "Queen of Hearts"  in Alice in Wonderland.

Dave: Have you had any vocal or dance training?
Angela:  Not very much. I took some dance in my undergrad. It was part of the courses.

Dave: So you pretty much stuck to acting, is that right?
Angela:  Yes. Except when I was in Australia. I did some physical theater work. I did two "study abroad" trips in Australia. After the first one, I fell in love with the country, so I went a second time.

Dave:  With whom were you affiliated in Australia?
Angela:  Wesley Institute. It's a little art school tucked away in one of the neighborhoods in Sydney.

Dave:  What theater did you do at Wesley?

Angela:  We did physical theater. Like created this massive puppet dragon. I was the 'heart' of the dragon. We also did a Hans Christian Anderson play called the Red Shoe. That included a lot of mask work. This was during the time I call the "Bethel Years.' Then after graduation I lived in Minneapolis for a year. Chase and I were married, then we moved to Blue Lake, California.

Dave:  What brought you to Blue Lake?
Angela:  I was reading about interesting places and was intrigued. It seemed to have all of the things I was interested in. I sent in my audition tape to enroll in Dell' Arte International, the North American Center for Actor-Creator Training. I was accepted for the one-year professional training program.

Dave:  Did you work outside the program while in Blue Lake?
Angela:  No. I was too involved in the training program. We started at 8:30 in the morning and studied until 5:30 in the evening. No time for anything else. Lots of rehearsing, because every Friday you had to do a performance class. They would give you something on Monday or Tuesday and had just a few days to put it all together. In addition to the training program, you were required to perform some volunteer work. I volunteered at the local library on Sundays.

Dave:  Did you come to Portland right after Blue Lake?
Angela: Yes. Almost two years ago.

Dave:  Why Portland?
Angela:  We wanted someplace to live away from cold Minnesota. We had brought all of our worldly possessions to Blue Lake, so we were ready to settle somewhere. Chase had put in job applications in several cities and Trackers in Portland offered him a job. So, we moved up here.

Dave:  Trackers? Tell me about that.
Angela:  It’s a program for summer day camp for kids. They go hiking, archery, those sorts of summer camp things. He did that for the one summer.

Dave:  What does he do now?
Angela:  He is the Youth Pastor at East Woods Presbyterian Church, in Vancouver.

Dave:  And, what about you? What do you do here?
Angela:  I work in the library at Valley Catholic High School in Beaverton.

Dave:  What theater involvement have you had since you moved to Portland?
Angela:  After the intensive work at Dell' Arte, I had to have some time off, so to speak. Time for myself. I didn't perform at all until this past Fall. I was in Arsenic and Old Lace with the North End Players Theater Company. I played the role of "Elaine." After that, White Christmas, Directed by Matt Russell. I played "Rita." That was the first musical I had done since Brigadoon.

Dave:  I assume your work for Matt in White Christmas brought you here.
Angela:  Yes. I auditioned for "Elma" and got the part.

Dave:  That brings us up to date. What are your thoughts, opinions, regarding the play, Bus Stop?
Angela:  I first read it before the cast did a live reading. I thought, okay, it's alright. But when it was read by the cast, I really enjoyed it.  It's so layered, with things that are very funny, then times when it is sad. It brings out the truth in people. It's a fascinating story.

Dave:  What is it about the role that you like?
Angela:  I relate to "Elma" so well. Growing up in a small rural town, with its snowy Winters. I love the challenge of being on stage during the whole play, mostly observing and acting. I also love how "Elma" doesn't judge anyone. She treats everyone the same way. She's joyful and open.

Dave:  One last question. Why should people come to Wilsonville to see this play?
Angela:  It's good acting. Very good acting. Everyone is cast perfectly and we work so well together as a cast.

Dave:  What will the audience go away with after the performance?
Angela: They will wonder, 'What's next?' Where will these people go?

Dave:  Thank you very much. I appreciate you taking time away from the rehearsal so we can meet Angela Van Epps and "Elma."
 *Mark Putnam as "Lyman"
  Angela Van Epps as "Elma"
Dave DeHart
Wilsonville Theater Company.


Saturday, January 24, 2015


Three exclamation points is a bit much, however, I am excited to inform you that advance tickets for BUS STOP are now available on this website. Click on "tickets" at the upper right of this page and secure your seat for WTC's exceptional production of BUS STOP!


Cast Interviews:  Chase Van Epps, as "Bo"

Dave:  Thank  for taking the time out of rehearsal for this interview. First, let's talk about your background. Where were you born and raised?
Chase:  I was born in Powell, Wyoming. Up in the northwest corner of the state near Montana and Yellowstone.  I lived there most of my life. In fact, my mother still lives in the house where I was raised. It's a beautiful place. Big skies, hiking in the mountains.
Dave:   In your role as "Bo" in Bus Stop, you play a cowboy in pursuit of Cherie.  Are there a lot  of cowboys in Powell, Wyoming?
Chase:  Not really. We have our fair share of cowboys I guess, but mostly farmers. It's a big farm community…sugar beets and soybeans.
Dave:  Were you involved in theater while living there?
Chase:  Oh yes. All the way back to second grade. I actually started in theater while in elementary school participating in traveling shows put on by the Missoula Children's Theater Company. They would have two adults, usually husband and wife, and they'd travel with sets, props and visit small towns. They would hold auditions on a Monday for elementary school students. As many as 30 or 40 elementary children would show up.  I continued on in theater in middle-school and high school, Powell High School. (Go Panthers! )
Dave:  What was the first play you were in?
Chase:  Beauty Lou and the Country Beast for Missoula Children's Theater. I played the chicken!
Dave:  What involvement  did you have in theater in high school?
Chase:  Quite a bit. It was an interesting experience, since I had four different directors in four different years. Some of my favorites include, Christmas Carol, where I played the face and voice of Jacob Marley in the door. Then the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come; Alibis as Justin the butler. That was a lot of fun. and The Curious Savage.
Dave:  What was your first leading role?
Chase:  I really didn't have a leading role, per se. This role of "Bo" I guess would be the first.
Dave:  Where did you attend college?
Chase:  Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Go Royals!) I received my B.A. degree in theology and biblical studies. I met my wife, Angela there. She plays the role of Elma in this play, Bus Stop.
Dave:  Were you in the theater in college?
Chase:  Not so much. I took a step back from theater. But after meeting Angela there, she kind of roped me into some of her projects.  So I helped.
Dave: What about after college?
Chase:  Since graduating, I loved supporting my wife in many shows, including a brief part in Æthem Theater Company's original works, Before. After. Never.  Bus Stop feels like the first real role for me in a long time. I'm loving it!
Dave:  What did you do after college?
Chase:  Angela and I married and moved to Northern California, where I had the privilege of being a "house husband"  while she was studying physical training and theater.
Dave:  When did you move to Portland?
Chase:  Almost two years ago. Angela had been looking around for theater roles; this is her third play. When she auditioned for Bus Stop, she said, "You should really try out for a part."  So, I said, sure, why not. I went to the reading, and now I'm Bo!
Dave:  What is about this Bus Stop that intrigues you?
Chase:  I love the space, the characters, the actors and hanging out with the theater group. The Frog Pond Grange is so cool. The characters clash in the small space, ideal for the setting of Bus Stop. The interaction between the characters works so well on the small stage on  a lot of levels.
Dave:  Bus Stop, the play, is different than the film, where it showcased Marilyn Monroe's comedic strengths. The play is much more dramatic, darker, dealing with the characters' personal demons…loneliness, search for a meaningful relationship. What is it about your role of "Bo" that you like?
Chase:  I like his innocence, his loudness. I come from a very loud and boisterous family, which makes it a lot easier for me to play this part. I like him being the center of attention, filling the room. You know, "Here I am! Love me or hate me, but here I am!"
Dave:  Why should people come to see WTC's production of Bus Stop?
Chase:  Because it's fun and very entertaining.  You're going to find the truth in all the characters. Most of all, it’s just plain fun and meaningful. It has everything, intrigue, romance and drama. The audience will connect with the characters.
Dave:  Thank you Chase. I wish we had more time. The audience is going to really enjoy seeing your performance as "Bo." I'll let you get back to rehearsal. I think Director Matt Russell has something special planned for the cast.
WTC's Bus Stop performances will be on February 20,21,27,28, March 6 and 7 at the Frog Pond Grange in Wilsonville. So, mark your calendars and be prepared to be thoroughly entertained.
For more information, email  WTC at:
Dave DeHart
Wilsonville Theater Company

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Introducing Lindsey Bruno (Cherie)
It seems Wilsonville Theater Company continues to get its lion's share of talented performers. Lindsey Bruno, who is in rehearsal for the role of "Cherie" (many will remember Marilyn Monroe in the film's version of William Inge's play, Bus Stop) comes to WTC with a wealth of experience in the entertainment industry. Actress, singer, dancer, like many of WTC's recent talent, Lindsey offers a fresh, as well as thoughtful portrayal of the lonely, oft-pursued ingénue. I was lucky enough to sideline Lindsey for a brief interview prior to rehearsal.
Dave:  Lindsey, thanks for taking the time to do this. Let's start off with some background. Where were you born and raised?
Lindsey:  I'm from Los Angeles, specifically Chatsworth, in the northwest corner of San Fernando Valley. I lived there until two years ago when I moved up here. Went to elementary, high school and college in the San Fernando area.
Dave:  Living in L.A. you were most likely influenced by the entertainment industry. Tell me about that.
Lindsey:  Oh yes! I grew up in it. Started doing tap and ballet when I was four. I didn't have anyone in my immediate family in the industry, but an aunt was one of the key makeup artists for Two and Half Men.  I have a cousin who is a big producer in reality television. A lot of the people I knew were in the entertainment industry.  I was involved in the theater in elementary school; however, in high school I really became interested in theater. I started doing tech; however, a quarter of the way through the show I wanted to be on stage! I had a high school friend, Blake McIver. He was in the film, The Little Rascals, and other films. His mom was a 'Golden Girl' dancer on the Dean Martin Show and his father was a vice president of Columbia Pictures. So, they took me under their wing and I became their little protégé. Blake and his parents would put on spectacular shows in my high school.
Dave:  What high school was it?
Lindsey: Los Angeles Baptist High School, in the San Fernando Valley. It doesn't exist any longer.
Dave:  What was your first high school play?
Lindsey:  We did revues, so there were several short plays. I was an ensemble member in Music Man and an understudy in Aida.  The next year I got to play Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Then, Maria in Westside Story.
Dave: After high school, I assume you went on to college.
Lindsey:  Yes, I went to Moorpark Community College of Arts. It was in Thousand Oaks, in the Camarillo area. I received an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts with focus on theater. Did several plays there; including a witch in Macbeth. Then we did a big Beatles revue. Of course, lots of acting classes. Then I went on to Biola University where I received my B.A. degree in speech and drama.
Dave:  Were you in a lot of plays at Biola?
Lindsey:  No. I didn't do a lot of plays because I was more interested in film.
Dave:   Were you taking singing and dancing lessons at that time?
Lindsey:  Not a lot. I was focusing on acting. I co-wrote and starred in a sitcom pilot called Jersey Sweethearts. It was before Jersey Shores even came out, so we thought, man, they stole our name! The concept was: I Love Lucy meets the Sopranos. It was a single camera sitcom that we submitted to the Film Academy of Arts and Science festival. This was a blast---my most memorable college project.
Dave:  When did you graduate and what did you do afterward?
Lindsey:  Graduated in 2010. Then did a smattering of films. Did a lot of background work. I was featured in background in a show called, Awkward. Then I was in Saving Mr. Banks, a film with Tom Hanks. That was right before I moved up here. That was fun. Part of it was filmed in front of Gruaman's Chinese Theater. They shut down Hollywood Boulevard from 9:00 pm to 3:00am. It was awesome.
Dave:  What happened after that?
Lindsey:  I was featured on the TV show, Grimm, up here. Then I was in Journey Theater Arts Group production of Shrek. It’s a children's theater company in Vancouver and Portland where I now work as an instructor and director.
Dave:  What was your next performance?
Lindsey:  White Christmas at the HART Theater in Hillsboro, directed by Matt Russell, who is directing WTC's Bus Stop.
Dave:  I saw you in "White Christmas." You were exceptional. That production at HART was so well done. The people who went with me gave it an excellent review. This brings me to the next question. How did you become involved in Bus Stop?
Lindsey:  Matt Russell let everyone in the cast know about the auditions for Bus Stop. So, I auditioned and got the role of Cherie.
Dave:  What is it about Bus Stop that really intrigued you?
Lindsey:  One of the main themes in the show is 'loneliness.' How that theme manifests itself with certain people and how it makes people go kind of crazy. (Laughing) For me, I resonate a lot with the feeling that 'Cherie' has with her interactions with men. She's waiting to really connect with someone who respects and loves her for who she is. Not just for what they can get out of her. Not just for sex, or fun to be around, arm-candy. A lot of actresses experience that.  More like a commodity than a person. I admire how Cherie deals with this. She may be in love with 'Bo" but is afraid to admit it.
Dave:  Last question:  Why should theater goers come to see WTC's Bus Stop?
Lindsey:  We have an incredible cast. Every single member connects with the show and takes their parts seriously. We are all working our tails off to present something that is truthful, moving and compelling. I hope that the audience will see change in themselves, how they feel about other people's issues.
Dave:  Thank you, Lindsey, for taking so much time to discuss your experience and your insights on your role in Bus Stop. I wish you great success. Now, I'll let you go back to rehearsal.

WTC's Bus Stop  performances will be on February 20,21,27,28,  March 6 and 7 at the Frog Pond Grange in Wilsonville. So, mark your calendars and be prepared to be thoroughly entertained.
Dave DeHart
Wilsonville Theater Company