‘It’s kind of like a family. We all end up wearing more than one hat to make it work.’
— Cindy Flood
founder Peninsula Association of Performing Artists
’She Loves Me.’
Peninsula Association of Performing Artists.
Fort Columbia Theater, Chinook.
Opens 7 p.m. Friday, July 7. Runs Friday & Saturday nights, July 7-Aug. 6, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Tickets: online at papatheater.org or at Okie’s Sentry Market in Ocean Park; adults $17, children $7.
Discover Pass (park entry) not required for performances.
Presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.
By PATRICK WEBB
For Brooke Flood, the theater phrase “waiting in the wings” has broader meanings.
As assistant director working with longtime Peninsula arts leader Barbara Poulshock, Flood has embraced many leadership duties as the Peninsula Association of Performing Artists’ latest production nears its opening curtain.
Their partnership is natural. Flood began taking piano lessons from Poulshock when she was six and her mentor has watched her grow up while embracing the arts.
Now 25, and having earned her theater degree at George Fox University in Newberg, Ore., Flood has returned to her hometown to start a family and continue working with PAPA, which her mother Cindy founded.
“I have to do it because Barbara keeps saying it’s her last show,” said Brooke Flood. “If I can get as much knowledge from her as possible, it will work out.”
Poulshock is 90. Although she has mentioned stepping back for quite a while, this time she seems to mean it. This could be her last show at the helm for PAPA. The group was formed about 10 years ago and she has directed all but a couple of its annual musicals.
In Chinook, during a break from rehearsing the musical “She Loves Me,” Poulshock munches on a snack while Brooke Flood, stage manager Hope Bellinger and Cindy Flood, guiding light for the group, gather around her table to express excitement for the upcoming show at the Fort Columbia Theater.
Poulshock appears solid in her commitment when pushed to confirm whether it is really her last.
“I have not told them yet, but it is,” she says with apparent seriousness.
Cindy Flood masks a worried look and chimes in: “We have heard that before!”
“OK,” Poulshock says, her expression unreadable. “Well, it depends.”
The conversation is interrupted by a question about costumes and the moment is lost.
In fact, practical issues are a higher priority because costume ladies Angela Grote and JoAnne Webster are working to perfect the 1930s styles as the July 7 opening night nears.
“She Loves Me” is a musical comedy written by the same team that created “Fiddler on the Roof.”
The work is based on the 1937 play “Parfumerie” by Hungarian writer Mikos Laszlo. This was adapted as a movie, “The Shop Around the Corner” in 1940, starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. Nine years later, Judy Garland and Van Johnson took the leads in the musical version, “In the Good Old Summertime.” In 1998, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan starred in a third movie, “You’ve Got Mail.”
The stage version, set in Budapest, featured a book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Jerry Bock. It made its debut on Broadway in 1963 and London the following year, with revivals in the 1990s and in 2016.
The story follows two constantly feuding shop workers, Georg, played by Ron Thompson, and Amalia, a role in which Bellinger and Kristen Gadzik are double cast, appearing on alternate performances.
Both characters seek romance by writing to an anonymous lonely hearts pen pal — without knowing it is the other. The plot is tangled when their boss, played by PAPA stalwart Richard Babikoff, has romantic complications of his own.
There’s another love interest featuring a character played by Cindy Flood. “I play a dumb blonde. I’m usually the witch, so this is fun,” said Flood, PAPA board president. Her husband, Gary Flood, adds his voice to the show. Other cast members include Ike Lynn, Jonathan Cole, Bryan Foster, Kira Roby, Jane Schussman, Sandy Nielson and Haley Wilson.
Cindy Flood said the PAPA board considers options for their family-friendly shows based, in part, on who might be available to act, sing and dance. They viewed tapes of the newest Broadway revival and an earlier British production and were hooked. “We love the show,” she said. “Everyone thinks it was a good choice.”
Daughter Brooke had sung in the chorus of “She Loves Me” as a freshman at George Fox so she was familiar with what it would take to bring it to Fort Columbia’s tight stage, drawing on her double major which included training in technical theater. “I think it’s just delightful,” Brooke Flood said. “It’s not easy, at all. It’s challenging. It’s not ‘just another love story.’”
Poulshock, who taught music at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, admires its almost operatic complexity, comparing some vocal passages to the clever word-play of Gilbert and Sullivan. “The main songs have as much depth as opera arias and it all has exquisite melodies,” she said, commending cast members for mastering the songs. “They all need to have agility in their singing voices. It’s such beautiful music — it’s a piece of art, that’s what it is”
Bellinger is a freshman at George Fox, studying theater, with a goal of becoming a teacher. She, too, learned piano and more from Poulshock from age 6 and up and is a PAPA regular. While she shares her mentor’s enthusiasm for the quality of the material, the 19-year-old’s approach is more practical. “It’s like the writer has said, ‘Let’s do really fast, high songs — and have them running around at the same time!’”
Recruiting the onstage and offstage team demonstrates the area’s interconnectedness. Poulshock’s other major musical leadership commitment has been the Bayside Singers, whose ranks include Schussman and Nielson.
The production’s core group comes from those linked to the 33-acre Flood Farm, a Long Beach Peninsula operation where the Floods raise beef and train German shepherd puppies and where Cindy Flood, who worked in dance in suburban Los Angeles, operated a dance studio. Lynn, Gadzik and Wilson all have ties to the farm.
“It’s kind of like a family. We all end up wearing more than one hat to make it work,’ said Cindy Flood, who choreographed the show with Lynn. “You have to be passionate.”
Glenn Ripley is in charge of lights and sound (wife Penny handles tickets) and Grace Scarborough is supervising props. Help has come from other sources: Vintage Hardware in Astoria has contributed items and The Trading Post in Ocean Park is lending an antique cash register. It is so heavy that the counter on which it sits had to be strengthened.
Brooke Flood juggles multiple responsibilities, having given birth to son William earlier this year. As well as contributing graphic arts skills for promotional materials, she designed the versatile set and built it with her partner, Billy Phillips. Audience members will watch it change for six different scenes.
Throughout an hour-long rehearsal in which she addresses actors singly and in groups, liaises with Poulshock on her preferences, and assists Grote select costumes, the smile never leaves Flood’s face.
“The only reason we do this is so we, as a little community of friends, can bring joy to a larger community — while we are bringing joy to our own lives. I think that’s why we do this.”