Arts and Entertainment

The quintessential rags to riches

Christopher Dolan as the actor. - Courtesy photo
Christopher Dolan as the actor.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Nineteen-year-old hometown thespian Christopher Dolan calls Bremerton’s Changing Scene Theatre Northwest home.

He’s had a hand in more than 13 shows at the creative black box tucked away on the east side off of State Route 303. Even on the day of his high school graduation, he rushed off from the ceremony before even receiving his diploma to run tech for a Changing Scene production.

He said he still hasn’t gone back to pick up that diploma, but over the past two years he’s gotten a whole other kind of degree at the CSTN. He’s played all the parts at Changing Scene and abroad, ranging from back-of-the-house business to leading roles to task-mastering as assistant director and even full-on directing a one-act short during CSTN’s 2006 Summerplay festival.

February 15 will be another kind of graduation for Dolan — his full-length directorial debut. Curtains are at 8 p.m.

The play is “Pygmalion,” written by the ardent Irishman George Bernard Shaw.

It’s a somewhat foreign title for a familiar story, that of Eliza Doolittle (played by Anna Reihl) — a low-class flower girl who becomes the object of a wager between two high-society gentlemen over whether she can be refined into a prim and proper lady.

Shaw’s “Pygmalion” refers to an ancient myth of a Greek king who fell in love with the statue of a woman which he created, but many people may recognize the story from “My Fair Lady” the 1954 Broadway musical which was based on Shaw’s script.

It makes one wonder if perhaps there are two upper-level people at Changing Scene right now, playing Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering, making bets on whether or not the actor Dolan will be successful as a director.

“I think I’m really an actor at heart,” Dolan said on the matter. “But being an actor at heart can bring a different perspective to directing.”

Dolan has gotten creative and intensive in the director’s chair with his adaptation of this play. He’s presided over not only the adaptation of the script and the casting of the characters but also behind-the-scenes lighting and sound tech in addition to the directorial duties of getting each cast member in character.

And, thanks to Changing Scene’s imagination, these aren’t your average cast of characters.

“Each character is going to be from a different decade — from the 1920s to 2020,” Dolan explained this version of the classic tale.

The original intent — sparked by Shaw repeatedly referring to Eliza as a cockney “flower girl” in the script — was to set the entire play in the 1960s. But instead, Dolan and crew decided to keep just Liza in the '60s while giving each character a different generational feel through costuming, dialect, music and more.

“I guess that is part of the fun of the show,” Dolan said, “trying to figure out which character is from which decade.”

Another enjoyable part of the show is likely to be seeing this widely told story spoken through Shaw’s original script. The Irish playwright is highly regarded and largely remembered for his comedy, which he used in part to raise awareness of serious social issues in 20th-century Europe.

Shaw is the only person in history to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar. He won the 1925 Nobel Prize for his contributions to literature and a 1938 Oscar for his work on the film “Pygmalion.”

“Pygmalion” written by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Christopher Dolan, premieres at 8 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Changing Scene Theatre Northwest, 5889 State Highway 303 NE, just north of the Outback Steak House in East Bremerton. The show will run through March 8 with curtains at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 6 p.m. Sundays.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, students and military and $8 for kids under 12. Reservations recommended. Info: www.changingscenenorthwest.org or call (360) 792-8601.

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