Artfully Edmonds: Kenmore’s As If Theater has roots in Edmonds

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As If Theatre founders, from left: Molly Hall, Cindy Giese French, and Amy Gentry. (Photo by Rolf Skrinde)

I think a case can be made that Edmonds isn’t just an arts community. It’s much more than that. It’s become an epicenter of arts activity that radiates out to other communities as well. I’ve recently written about Lynnwood’s upcoming The Art of Food and Wine show, organized in part by two long-time Artwalk Edmonds board members. Then there’s Alley Bell Music, whose studio began in Edmonds and has expanded to Lake Forest Park, Lake City and Lynnwood. That’s just two recent examples. I could go on.

Now comes word of a new theatre ensemble – As If Theatre Company.

As If is currently rehearsing in the basement of Edmonds’ Bank of America building. It’s comprised of veterans of the Driftwood Players and Phoenix Theatre, and is about to put on its inaugural show in Kenmore.

Decades of private investment in the arts in Edmonds is now paying off, not just in our new creative district, but throughout the north Puget Sound area.

It’s a bit like cellular division — in a community where art thrives, a positive impact is felt by everything around it. Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it doesn’t respect geographic boundaries.

When Amy Gentry, Molly Hall and Cindy Giese French got together to consider starting their own theatre company, they recognized that there was nothing between Woodinville and Edmonds. They set about to find a way to fix that.

Gentry is currently director of sales and marketing at Seattle’s ACT Theatre (you might remember her for her role as Annette in God of Carnage at the Phoenix). Hall has been a prolific local choreographer, also performing in countless productions – she played Lottie in Enchanted April at the Driftwood. Giese French has also performed in many Driftwood and Phoenix productions.

They came up with “as if” because it’s suggests an attitude that’s sometimes necessary in life. Behave “as if” you can accomplish something and lo and behold, you often do. “They say ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have.’ It’s the same idea — sometimes you have to ‘as if’ it,” quipped Gentry.

Surrounded by three breweries in Kenmore, the Kenmore Community Club — a favorite destination for dancing — seemed like a geographically ideal location. With a little initiative and ingenuity, As If has figured out how to transform it into a community theater.

They’ve picked a winner for their debut — Sarah Rulh’s The Clean House, directed by another long time Driftwood standout and former board president, Carissa Smit.

I took in Rulh’s In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) a couple of years ago. It was both hilarious and thought-provoking. If The Clean House is anything like it, As If can’t miss.

Here’s the synopsis:

Lane, a doctor, values order in every aspect of her life — her career, her house, her emotions, her relationships. Her live-in Brazilian maid Matilde finds cleaning makes her sad and yearns to be a stand-up comedian; Lane’s sister Virginia finds solace in cleaning and secretly takes over Matilde’s duties.

Cast of The Clean House, from left: Terry Boyd as Charles, Carolynne Wilcox as Ana, Cindy Giese French as Lane, Devika Bhagwat as Matilde and Amy Gentry as Virginia. (Photo by Rolf Skrinde)

When Lane’s husband, a surgeon, falls in love with a terminally-ill patient, everything that was clean and tidy for Lane is thrown into disarray, and she must turn to the women in her life to help sort out the mess.

Blending whimsical humor with wisdom and compassion, this romantic comedy about love, sex, death — and finding the perfect joke — proves that shared laughter can heal almost anything.

Why not go out and support a new theatre company in its infancy? It’s “as if” we’re witnessing the birth of the next Driftwood. You can say you were there for their very first production.

The Clean House
Feb. 8-24,
Thursday – Saturday 7:30 p.m.
Sunday 5 p.m.
(Special ASL performance Feb. 22)
Kenmore Community Club
7304 N.E. 175th St.
Kenmore

Learn more and buy tickets at asiftheatre.com

— By James Spangler

When not actively scheming about ways to promote the arts in Edmonds, James Spangler can be found (highly caffeinated) behind the counter of his bookstore on 4th Avenue.

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