Actors pay tribute to Harry Chapin in song and in deed

POULSBO — Theatrical works often have the power to move audiences, and this month the Poulsbo Players say their newest work has also inspired the entire theatre.

POULSBO — Theatrical works often have the power to move audiences, and this month the Poulsbo Players say their newest work has also inspired the entire theatre.

As a theatre that strives to produce thoughtful and unusual shows, members knew their first-ever musical couldn’t be the same old “Hello Dolly” or “Music Man.” Producer Al Gunby said he was looking for a show “with meat to it” and he found it in “Lies & Legends: The Musical Stories of Harry Chapin,” which will open at the Jewel Box Theatre Oct. 25.

“This show carries a great deal of dramatic weight,” Gunby said. “(Chapin) has become almost a cult figure, there are more than 1,000 web sites dedicated to him on the Internet, so obviously he has a strong following.”

And as the cast of five started working out the steps and the notes, Gunby said theatre members began working out a plan. Chapin, perhaps best known for his songs “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Cat’s in the Cradle,” was known both inside and outside of the musical arena for his tireless work for humanitarian causes. Gunby said Chapin’s biggest effort was his fight against world hunger.

In the spirit of Chapin, Jewel Box is asking everyone who attends a showing of “Lies & Legends” Oct. 25 through Nov. 23 to bring a non-perishable food item. All donations collected during the run will be given to Poulsbo’s Fishline Food Bank.

“We knew we had to do this particularly with his interest in community issues and specifically in hunger,” Gunby explained.

This is not the first time that the two-year-old theatre has held a benefit for local causes. Following the Sept. 11 tragedy last year, the theatre hastily scratched its planned opening of “Skyscraper” for fear it would hit too close to home and opted to instead present “Love Letters.” The proceeds from those shows were donated to the local chapter of the Red Cross.

“We felt so good about it that we said ‘Let’s do something like this again, something to help the community,’” Gunby said of the theatre’s decision to hold its second benefit.

Theatre supporters recently kicked off a campaign of their own to raise the $400,000 needed to pay off the theatre’s construction debt and buy necessary equipment. But despite their own financial needs, Gunby said the urge to give back is strong among the Poulsbo Players, and he suspects it always will be.

“This is really the essence of what we should be doing,” Gunby explained. “If we hoarded every dollar, and we certainly have good reason to, we’d not be a good member of the community.”

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