It’s 1908 in Blaine, Washington. Marina is the owner of a local restaurant, trying to cope with a recent heartbreak and a new love interest while racist ideals are being spread throughout the country.
Based on a true story, Bellingham TheatreWorks performs the musical “Marina,” a love story that takes viewers back in time to a dark era in the U.S.
Western professor and Bellingham TheatreWorks Artistic Director Mark Kuntz directed the musical, which premiered Thursday, May 21. He said he was drawn to the play because of what it represents.
“[It] deals with issues that I’m really passionate about; issues of women's rights, issues of racism and underrepresented populations. … They're right in the middle of this play,” Kuntz said. “And it’s really a wonderful love story.”
The play involves several members from the community, including a handful of Western students, Kuntz said. There are students in the play, working on set design and in the orchestra.
Senior theater major Sam Schultz, who plays Christopher in the musical, said a lot of people working on the show are Western faculty.
“[Marina] is a weird conglomeration of a professional theater company at a professional theater with academic involvement,” Schultz said.
Schultz got the role as a boy trying to prove himself in the rough and manly environment of Alaska fishing. Since Schultz is playing a young man, his beard had to go.
“I have to be baby-faced,” Schultz said. “It’ll grow back.”
Schultz said his audition was very standard. “I went in, sang the song, did my monologue and they asked me a couple questions,” Schultz said.
Nicholas Kim, a Western graduate and current post-baccalaureate student for choral music education, plays the lovesick Emilio. Emilio is a cannery engineer who falls in love with his boss’s daughter, Angelina.
Kim’s audition process was a little different than others who are in the play. Kuntz sought out Kim to play the part of Emilio. He added that he knew he had the role since winter quarter, but they didn’t start rehearsing until right before the play.
“[Kuntz] does a 10-day rehearsal process,” Kim said. This means about a month before they started rehearsal, cast members were given the script and music, and were expected to be ready to do a run through on the first day of rehearsal, Kim said.
The set design began in an aircraft hangar, months before the play began. The cast met there for most of the rehearsals.
Since the Mount Baker Theatre was only hosting the play, the theater wasn’t available for rehearsal space as well, Kim said. “I don’t know how we got the aircraft hangar, but the set was built [there]. It’s been really fun, and it felt like we were on the set for a movie.”
Before the play premiered, the set was brought by cast and crew members to Mount Baker Theatre and was set up so the cast could do final rehearsals where they would be performing.
The cast’s first official run through of the play occurred Wednesday, May 20, one day before the play’s premiere.
The Mount Baker Theatre was chosen as the location because it adds to the local element, Kuntz said. “The historic nature of the play inside of a historic theater seemed like the right fit.”
The Mount Baker Theatre was built in 1927 and is considered an architectural treasure by the National Historic Landmark Register.
Bellingham TheatreWorks seeks out local talent and is interested in supporting local artists, Kuntz said.
“It would be cool to see something so local make it,” Kim said. “People should come to the show because of how much local talent is involved in this, and the story itself is worth seeing.”
Performances will continue from May 22-23 at 8:00PM.