Powerful ‘Trails’ is a journey worth taking

March 19, 2013

By David Hayes

Life is a journey. The consequences of choices we make and events that occur determine the paths we travel. Rarely is the objective the journey’s finish, rather it’s growing from the experiences along the way.

Such is the metaphor examined in Village Theatre’s original musical, “Trails.”

By John Pai/Village Theatre Dane Stokinger (left), as Mike, and Joshua Carter, as Seth, as joined by the rest of the ‘Trails’ cast for the ensemble number ‘Blaze a Trail.’

By John Pai/Village Theatre
Dane Stokinger (left), as Mike, and Joshua Carter, as Seth, as joined by the rest of the ‘Trails’ cast for the ensemble number ‘Blaze a Trail.’

It’s a simple tale of two 30-something friends, Seth and Mike, fulfilling a childhood promise to hike the Appalachian Trail while they confront love, loss and growing up.

The tale unfolds between the present day and flashbacks to their childhood. Joshua Carter, as Seth, and Dane Stokinger, as Mike, are joined by their ever faithful, third Musketeer Amy, Kirsten deLohr Helland. She’s the rudder that steers the trio’s growing friendship from childhood’s imaginary adventures to life’s realities into adulthood. There are some harsh lessons learned along the way as the boys deal with absent parents, undying devotion to family and unrequited love.

(In full disclosure, the tugging of emotional heartstrings may have affected me more than the average theater patron, as I have just recently lost a family member to cancer. This made, for me at least, Seth’s own dilemma dealing with his mother’s ill health and eventual death more poignant.) It helps that through song and drama is a tale the viewer will care about, as layer after layer is peeled from the friends’ lives.

Each actor does well, whether sharing the stage, belting out pop-folk tunes like “Blaze a Trail” and “Pennsylvania Nights” or during quieter, solo moments, such as Amy’s “Miles of Time.”

Even the background actors in the roles of trail guides get their own moments, adding life lessons for Seth and Mike along their journey. Sara Rose Davis is fine as Faith, but most memorable were John Patrick Lowrie’s baritone voice as fellow hiker Virgil singing the “Purgatory Blues” and Bobbi Kotula’s carefree flowerchild Momma Harley belting out “The Road is My Home.” Their appearances bring welcome changes of pace as Mike and Seth spend months on their journey along the entire Appalachian Trail.

A special nod of recognition needs to go to the production team that constructed the final star of the show — the mountain set. The action carries the actors up, over and around the 18-foot high setting, at times literally placing them inches from the lights. I’ve never seen actors concentrate so hard to hit their marks, be it during dialogue or song. I imagine they’ll grow more comfortable as the season progresses.

There are moments throughout “Trails” when you’ll realize you’re watching something special unfold. This should prove to be a journey Issaquah audiences will relish.

 

If you go

‘Trails’

  • Francis J. Gaudette Theater
  • 303 Front St. N.
  • March 14 to April 21
  • Tickets are $47 to $63
  • 392-2202
  • www.villagetheatre.org

 

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