Artist profile: Crissy Ford takes on youth theater camp

Crissy Ford directs “Honk! Jr.” July 16-19 at Ferndale High School.
Crissy Ford directs “Honk! Jr.” July 16-19 at Ferndale High School. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Crissy Ford is tackling the awesome job of directing about 60 Ferndale-area students age 8 to 18 in “Honk! Jr.”, the first Ferndale Summer Youth Theater Camp production supported by the Ferndale Arts Commission. “Honk! Jr.” is a musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story of “The Ugly Duckling.”

The camp was free for the students through a grant from the commission with the hope of bringing together a core group of local theater participants to create a permanent Ferndale Community Theatre. For details about the program, go to cityofferndale.org and search Boards & Commissions, Arts Commission.

Here’s more about Ford and the production.

Question: Where were you born and raised?

Answer: I was born in Florida, but grew up in Southern California. My dad is a pastor there and my mom is a marriage and family therapist.

Q: Have you always enjoyed the arts?

A: My parents instilled in me a love for community service and also for music. They both attended the music school at Florida State University and I have always been surrounded by a lot of music in my extended family.

Q: What brought you to Whatcom County?

A: I moved to Ferndale with my husband and three sons about 11 years ago. He works at Cornwall Church of God as the children’s pastor.

Q: Do you have a day job?

A: I work part-time for the Ferndale School District and part-time at Find Your Fashion, a Ferndale clothing and consignment boutique.

Q: When did you start being active in the arts?

A: I have always participated in school, church and community theater since elementary school, and had the good fortune to attend private schools with thriving fine arts programs. Although I graduated with a degree in psychology, musical theater was a constant hobby. I especially loved directing youth choirs at my church and in my community.

When my kids started school at Skyline Elementary, the school was trying to maintain an after-school theater program that would be available to all the students regardless of income. I volunteered to help out and I was hooked. I had so much fun with the kids; I couldn’t believe people were letting me direct school musicals as if it were work.

After about five years and seven musicals there, I offered to fill in at the middle schools in Ferndale when their longtime director retired. Again, I was having a blast with the kids and working with a great team of parents and school staff. I have spent the last six years directing student musicals there and I am thoroughly enjoying myself.

Q: How did this summer camp happen?

A: This summer, the Ferndale Arts Commission received a generous grant to set up a youth theater camp, which they were able to offer free of charge to the youth of Ferndale. I applied for the position of director with my good friend and co-leader, Rachel Pringle.

Q: Who’s participating?

A: There are five student mentors helping us with the camp from Ferndale High School’s drama program who will be seniors next year. They are performing alongside the rest of the cast and taking responsibility for coaching and leading the younger students. The camp is three weeks long and culminates with four performances, July 16-18 at the Ferndale High School Auditorium. It’s about an hour and 15 minutes with no intermission and is completely appropriate for the whole family.

Our student musical performance is top-notch and the message of the show is offering love and acceptance to everyone regardless of our differences because, as the the frog tells the ugly duckling in the story, “Someone’s gonna love ya, warts and all!”

Q: What do you enjoy in your spare time?

A: I spend most of my free time with my family. I have two sons who are students at the University of Washington in Seattle and one son who will be a senior next year at Ferndale High School. We absolutely love the Northwest and our community here in Ferndale. We are in the process of building a house here and we’re looking forward to many more years enjoying all this fantastic area has to offer.

Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or margaret.bikman@bellinghamherald.com. Read her columns at bellinghamherald.com/behind-the-scenes.

“Honk! Jr.”

When: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, July 16-18; and 2 p.m. Saturday, July 18.

Where: Ferndale High School, 5380 Golden Eagle Drive.

Cost: $5 general, free for kids 5 and younger

Details: 360-384-0050.