Columns & Blogs

Behind the meal scene at theater guild’s ‘August: Osage County’

Actors in Bellingham Theatre Guild’s production of “August: Osage County” await their dinner, compliments of one of Bellingham’s restaurants. The play runs April 22-May 8.
Actors in Bellingham Theatre Guild’s production of “August: Osage County” await their dinner, compliments of one of Bellingham’s restaurants. The play runs April 22-May 8. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Marla Bronstein, who is directing “August: Osage County,” opening Friday, April 22, at Bellingham Theatre Guild, shared one of the ways she uses her connections in Bellingham to make the show sparkle.

During one of the major scenes, the family gathers around a table for dinner.

“I have been in shows where there is a dinner scene, and the actors are expected to enjoy the meal that usually consists of a bread item made to look like meat loaf, instant mashed potatoes, and string beans. The actors eat it, and pretend to enjoy it — for every performance. It’s brutal.”

So when she thought about the scene and what the 11 actors would eat, she had to consider what it would cost to feed 11 people, with varying food dislikes and sensitivities, for 12 performances.

Bronstein contacted about three dozen local food businesses, letting them know about the show and inviting them to prepare the main meal or make a $50 sponsorship contribution for an evening’s performance. In exchange, they would have their business logo printed in the program and posted on the guild’s website and Facebook page, and their business would be thanked during the house manager’s welcome speech that evening. They also would receive two passes to opening weekend.

To Bronstein’s surprise, four restaurants said “yes” within 24 hours. By the time the 11th business owner contacted her, every performance night was covered by a dinner sponsor and it was still a month before opening night.

The cast will enjoy meals prepared by Bayou on Bay, Zachary Dean’s Family Italian, Cio Thyme, Jalapeños, Luna’s Bistro, and Cosmos Bistro. Chef Christie Fox of Evolve Chocolate Truffles is making chicken and dumplings for opening night. Bellingham Grocery Outlet provided a gift card for groceries to supplement the dinners, and Alice’s Pies will provide the dessert treat for most performances.

“The generosity and community spirit of local businesses never ceases to amaze me,” says Bronstein. “I am honored and happy to be part of it.”

Downtown sculptures turning heads

If you’ve been strolling downtown Bellingham lately, you’ve probably noticed some cool new public art.

It’s part of International Sculpture Day, Sunday, April 24; and Sculpture Northwest and the City of Bellingham will present the downtown exhibition’s official opening at 2 p.m. with a reception at Sculpture Northwest Gallery, 203 Prospect St., Suite 101, followed by a reception at Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall, two doors down.

Street reaction has been quite positive, says George Drake, a mover and shaker for the event, which is now in its second year and is promoted worldwide by the International Sculpture Center in New Jersey. Sculpture Northwest is the prime sponsor of activities in this corner of Washington.

Standing on the north side of Cornwall Avenue a recent afternoon in front of the Dragon River Chinese Restaurant someone noticed, from a block away, the yellow “Giant Mailbox” by David Kitts in front of the Bellingham Bar and Grill. Drake heard the passer-by comment “What’s that?” He jokingly told them it was a mail box but for airmail only. “Cool, man, cool,” was the response, says Drake, as they laughed and kept on walking in that direction. Drake later watched passers-by take photos of themselves under the mailbox.

The sculptures will be displayed until April 2017.

Among the other venues in our state that will be celebrating International Sculpture Day: the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner; the Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park on Camano Island; and the San Juan Island Art Museum in Friday Harbor.

Whatcom Art Guild Market moving

Phyllis Howard, who heads up Whatcom Art Guild’s Market, which has been located for several years in the lower level of the Waldron Building in Fairhaven, is happy about the market’s move down the street to 1103 11th St., near Avenue Bread. An open house is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 23, with a grand opening noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 24.

Forty-five artists who live in Whatcom, Skagit, or Island county are members of the cooperative who exhibit their work on a rotating basis. They agree the new location provides greater viability and foot traffic. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Details: 360-738-8564, and Facebook.

Bellingham Alumni Band performs at WCC

The Bellingham Alumni Band’s spring concert fund-raising will be 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Whatcom Community College’s Syre Center, 237 W. Kellogg Road. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Skip Williams, who plays clarinet in the band, says the band sponsors scholarships to assist graduating high school students who are pursuing studies in music and, in partnership with Bellingham Schools Foundation and Whatcom Educational Credit Union, supports the music education program in Bellingham School Districtby providing grants to music teachers enabling them to repair instruments and purchase sheet music and supplies.

The Bellingham High School Alumni Band was formed in 1998 while the school was closed for renovation to honor the 60-year history of Bellingham High School’s music program and to honor the many teachers and students who have participated in this program throughout the years. The original focus of the band was to play and march in parades such as the Ski To Sea (Blossom Time) in Bellingham.

In 2012, the band decided to stop marching in local parades and became a concert band. The requirement for being a Bellingham High School alumnus was removed, making the band more community-focused. Even though there are Bellingham High School graduates remaining in the band, the band draws members from many communities in Whatcom County as well as Skagit County and beyond. It is now solely a concert band, directed by Frank Kuhl, that aims to increase the musical experience and skills of the participants. The band performs at the Veterans Day ceremonies at City Hall and Memorial Day ceremonies in Whatcom County; and performs an annual outdoor concert at Birch Bay State Park, plus a winter holiday concert at Bellingham Cruise Terminal.

Margaret Bikman: 360-715-2273,, @bhamentertainme