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‘Riverwind’ entertains Auburn audiences this weekend

By: Bruce Warren, Journal staff writer
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Get ready for a romantic drama that also features some humor as the final two performances of the musical “Riverwind” hit the Theatre Pamelot stage tonight and Saturday. “It’s kind of a romantic drama, but it’s also funny,” said director Brenda Lindley, who is also on the board for the Placer Community Theater. The Placer Community Theater is putting on the musical, but is utilizing the cozy atmosphere of the Theatre Pamelot on Wall Street in Auburn. Playgoers will be able to indulge in a cup of coffee or beverage, along with a gourmet dessert, all part of the $18 admission fee. Students and seniors get an added value, gaining admission for only $15. “Riverwind,” written in 1962 by John Jennings, centers around the relationships of three couples, who take a vacation along the Wabash River in Indiana. “They are each having relationship troubles of their own,” Lindley said. Lindley not only directs, but plays one of the characters, Virginia, who is involved with Burt, portrayed by her husband Erick Lindley. He has performed in many Placer Community Theater productions. While true-life relationships often do not have happy endings, the “Riverwind” relationships end on a positive note. “The beauty and tranquility of the inn solves all their problems in the end,” Brenda Lindley said. Maybe that’s because Mrs. Farrell, played by Jackie Clauson, owner of the Riverwind retreat, is so content. “I’m content in the simple things in life, like sewing and cleaning,” Clauson said in an interview this week. Clauson, an alto, sings three duets. Clauson’s favorite number is “A Woman Must Never Grow Old.” She sings the duet with the character Louise Summer, played by Dita Panter. Panter, who honed her singing career at Sacramento’s Music Circus, has performed in numerous productions such as “The Music Man,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Oliver,” “Maime,” “Sound of Music,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” “I get to sing it drunk,” Clauson said. “We’re drinking champagne in the early morning before breakfast.” Clauson’s character is the mother of young Jenny Ferrell (Courtney Conklin), who has a romantic relationship with John Stone, portrayed by Robert Davis. Davis, a junior at Placer High School, takes on his first role with the Placer Community Theater. However, it’s not Davis’ first play, having been in “Tom Sawyer,” “Night of January 16,” and “Damn Yankees,” at Meridian High School in Meridian, Idaho, where he won awards for Best New Actor and Monologue. He especially enjoys his role as John Stone, because “he’s very, very shy and I like it because I can do that.” In “Riverwind,” Davis gets to showcase his tenor voice during three songs. “He has as great voice,” Lindley said. “He plans on going to Amda American Music and Dramatic Academy in New York City.” “I Love Her Laughing Face” is Davis’ favorite “Riverwind” song. “People tell me I sing it very well,” he said. One “Riverwind” character, Dr. Fred Summer, has managed to evoke harsh reactions from one audience. Philip Jacques portrays the egocentric doctor. “I’m the heavy,” Jacques said. “I actually got booed in one performance. My character is such a self-absorbed egomaniac. For most of the play, Fred’s only concern is Fred.” Dr. Summer is a pipe-smoking oncologist, just passing through Riverwind on his way from Chicago. The character spent a night in the same Riverwind Cabin D 22 years ago with his wife, but does not recall the experience at first. Jacques, a baritone, sings two duets with Davis, and his favorite song is “Pardon Me While I Dance,” a waltzing number that he sings with character Jenny Farrell. “It shows the playful side of Dr. Fred,” Jacques said. Sherry Anderson is the “Riverwind” music director, is also owner of the Vocal Arts Academy, where she teaches private voice lessons. Auburnite Linda Wismar provides live piano accompaniment for the actors. Wismar participates in choral and instrumental music at her church. For the dance moves, Kat Sunlove and Layne Winklebeck handle the choreography. Sunlove has taught Broadway jazz classes for older women, while Winklebeck offers a lifetime of experience with musical theater. Handling assistant director duties is Mary Jane Mahoney. Lindley advises anyone interested in attending one of the final “Riverwind” performances to call in advance to make reservations. The Journal’s Bruce Warren can be reached at brucew@goldcountrymedia. com.