Village Theatre original ‘Trails’ debuts

March 12, 2013

By David Hayes

When Village Theatre announces a new season, tucked in among the productions is usually something original that will have audiences eager to be the first to experience.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of other recent original musicals with their roots in Issaquah, such as “Next to Normal” and “Million Dollar Quartet,” comes “Trails,” opening March 14.

By Mike Hipple/Village Theatre Joshua Carter (left), in the role of Seth, and Dane Stokinger as Mike, appear in the Village Theatre production of ‘Trails.’

By Mike Hipple/Village Theatre
Joshua Carter (left), in the role of Seth, and Dane Stokinger as Mike, appear in the Village Theatre production of ‘Trails.’

“Trails” debuted with its first reading during Village Theatre’s 2011 season’s Festival of New Musicals.

The tale is of two childhood buddies (played by Village Theatre alum Dane Stokinger and Joshua Carter) now in their 30s, who put their friendship to the test while fulfilling a promise that takes them on a hike along the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail.

To bring life to the writing of Christy Hall, Jordan Mann and Jeff Thomson, Village Theatre tapped into regional talents and plucked out Eric Ankrim.

A stage actor since 2003, Ankrim recently shifted focus to the director’s role. He comes to Issaquah hot off successfully helming the first off-Broadway production of “Elf” at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre.

Ankrim said it’s a big challenge creating a musical from scratch, yet is brimming with opportunities.

“Everyone wants it to be so good,” he said. “Every moment has five or six options to solve a challenge. At the start, you literally have every opportunity at your fingertips.”

Unlike a traditional Broadway standard production that comes with its own set of tried and tested guidelines, Ankrim said working on something this new allows for more discussion to take place.

One of the areas that brought Ankrim and his crew to uncharted territory was the set design. Village Theatre’s designers have built a unique set for “Trails.” Ankrim said it’s literally a mini mountain on a stage.

“Actors’ heads will be over 18 feet off the ground,” he said. “They’ll be just a few feet from the lights. We’ve really maximized every square inch of the stage to give the feeling of being on the Appalachian Trail on their quest.”

Ankrim said “Trials” should appeal to a wide section of Village Theatre’s audience.

“Regular subscribers will love its story telling and songs,” he said. “The younger crowd in their 20s or 30s will be able to identify with the theme of what happens when you’re finally forced to try to become an adult.

“It’s unapologetic in its emotional ambition,” he added. “I’d say it’s most like ‘Next to Normal,’ another Village Theatre original. It’s got a big story, with heartbreak, characters having to deal with love and loss.”

Ankrim added the music has a pop-folk sound in its musical sensibility. He can see “Trails” easily being the next “Next to Normal.”

“It’s a well-crafted and well-executed show with material that stands well on its own, that other regular theaters would be satisfied to produce,” he said.

If you go ‘Trails’

  • March 14 to April 21
  • Issaquah Village Theatre
  • 303 Front St. N.
  • Tickets are $22-$63
  • Call the box office at 392-2202


village theatre 2013-14 season
Sept. 12 to Oct. 20
A spirited tongue-in-cheek comedy based on the movie starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly, this musical-on-wheels melds ancient mythology with the world of disco as a Greek muse descends from Mount Olympus to inspire the creation of the world’s first roller disco. A surprise hit on Broadway, “Xanadu” features the memorable tunes “I’m Alive,” “Suddenly” and “Magic.”

‘Les Misérables’
Jan. 10 to Feb. 2, 2014
“Les Misérables” remains the world’s longest running musical, seen onstage by more than 60 million people, winning 96 international awards. In this first local professional production in the Pacific Northwest, watch love play out as revolution consumes the streets of Paris to unforgettable songs such as “I Dreamed a Dream” and “One Day More.”

‘The Foreigner’
Jan. 23 to March 2, 2014
To achieve a little peace and quiet, Charlie decides to masquerade as an exotic foreigner who can’t speak English when he arrives at a fishing lodge in Georgia. However, people say the darndest things when they think no one is listening, turning a serene getaway suddenly into a mecca of drama and intrigue. “The Foreigner” is an award-winning comedic farce audiences find scrupulously clever and outrageously funny.

‘The Tutor’
March 20 to April 27, 2014
Another new musical comedy comes to the Village Theatre stage with “The Tutor.” The tale follows an aspiring novelist who slaves over his novel in the morning and tutors rich kids in the afternoon to pay the bills. When his characters start developing attitudes of their own, he discovers his muse in a sullen, 16-year-old from the Upper Eastside, who just might have the key to his success. Set to a fun and energetic pop score, you won’t help but smile at this family drama filled with creative angst and romantic blunders.

‘Funny Girl’
May 15 to July 6, 2014
Whether you’ve known and loved Fanny Brice for years or are just seeing her for the first time, “Funny Girl” follows celebrated Vaudeville star through the glamour and glitz of the Ziegfeld Follies. You’ll be tapping your toes to favorite songs like “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “People” and “You Are Woman, I Am Man.”


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