Bellingham playwright and musician Mike Rostron has written a new work, "Evermore," a sci-fi rock musical set more than a thousand years in the future. The play is performed at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 9-11, at Lincoln Theatre, 712 S. First St., in Mount Vernon; and at 8 p.m. May 17 and 18 at Whatcom Community College's Syre Theatre.
Bellingham's Christopher Key directs. Details: freekeyproductions.com.
Question: Have you always enjoyed the performing arts?
Answer: I was raised in a small town near Eugene, Ore., by a mother who was passionate about literature and music. A single woman raising four children in the 1960s on a meager teacher's salary, she somehow managed to find money for concerts, books and cultural events. For a time our living room had no furniture, but we owned a piano and nice stereo!
I studied anthropology and English literature at the University of Oregon and attended graduate school for a time at Western Washington University in the 1980s, my first acquaintance with Bellingham. My wife and I spent 20 years in Alaska before moving here with our two daughters in 2002.
Q: What's your day job?
A: I have a small construction business with a partner, which wanes and waxes depending on the economy and our enthusiasm level. I play in the local band Salvadore Dali Llama, and love to sail our boat, Galena.
Q: How did you become involving in music and theater?
A: I was lucky to have exceptional high school teachers who encouraged our creative experiments, even when such ventures were risky; such as the time several of us decided to publish an alternative newspaper. The anti-war sentiments (rudely expressed!) of that effort got our school investigated by a law enforcement agency.
I first became involved in the performing arts as a musician in various bands, starting with a polka ensemble when I was about 12, followed by a string of folk and rock bands, and culminating with my present band. I have been performing with members of SDL on and off since the mid-seventies. The band includes Jim Nelson, my longtime friend and songwriting partner.
It has always seemed to me the theater and rock communities could both benefit from more interaction. This current production, "Evermore," combines both, and is a dream come true for me.
Q: What inspired this production and what might audiences expect?
A: The obscure little novel "Engine Summer," inspired this play, but through a very curious and circuitous route. The author, John Crowley, is not well known, but his most popular novel, "Little, Big," is listed in Harold Bloom's Western Canon, and deservedly so.
Several years ago, Jim and I began writing songs inspired by this and other science fiction works. In 2011, we realized we had a song cycle suitable for a musical. It remained for me to write the script and for Jim and me to arrange and adapt the music for the theater.
We also used one song by my daughter, Lesley Rostron. We had worked with director/producer Christopher Key in the Bellingham Theatre Guild's production of "Guys & Dolls" and knew he also enjoyed science fiction.
Christopher has assembled a fantastic cast and crew; all 26 are experienced, creative and daring artists who wanted to be part of this original show. The five leading roles are played by Michael Harris, Vanessa Mills, Dave Duncan, Sonia Alexis and Alan Peet.
Choreography is by Mija Bishop, and Russ Nelson designed our sets. We promise an energetic and thought-provoking show featuring a full rock ensemble, a large cast, much singing and dancing, and a love story with a strange twist.
Q: What's next from you?
A: I would say writing is more a matter of compulsion than fun. The real delight comes from the interaction with artists and audiences during the rehearsals and performances. I love having a role as a member of the Evermore Band! I have a couple of novels in the queue, but this is my first musical. It has been a wonderful and somewhat daunting experience.
Another musical script is lurking on my computer, nagging to be completed. Jim and I plan to partner again on songs for that work. Of course, putting a show like this together takes a lot of effort and time by many, but if all goes well, we hope to bring you more productions in the future!