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Gladstone performer dances away with a Drammy

Who knew that a lively tale about the friendship between a frog and toad would be so popular? For anyone who attended the Drammy Awards ceremony in Portland on June 10, it soon became evident that the Oregon Children’s Theatre production of “A Year With Frog and Toad” was not only well-loved, but well-rewarded.

The show won seven Drammy Awards, and one of them went to Gladstone resident Haley Ward, who will be a junior at GHS next fall. She won early in the ceremony, picking up her award for Outstanding Achievement by a Young Performer.

by: PHOTO BY OWEN CAREY - Haley Ward, far right, warbles a song with fellow birds, Eric Little and Rebecca Teran, in 'A Year With Frog and Toad.'Noteworthy achievement

The Drammy Awards are “like the Tony Awards for Portland theater, for plays and musicals. It is a big deal in the community,” she said.

“It is a big achievement for me, as most of the awards go to adults, and there are only two categories for young people,” Ward said, adding that she was surprised by her win.

Two people who have worked with Ward, however, were not in the least surprised.

“Haley has an amazing attitude, is super positive and incredibly talented,” said Dani Baldwin, the director of “A Year With Frog and Toad.”

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Haley Ward shows off her Drammy Award, which she won for Outstanding Achievement by a Young Performer.Baldwin, the education director at OCT, added, “I am happy for her — she deserves it.

“Haley is one of our favorite kids. We met her over a year ago at our ‘Aida’ musical-in-a-week held at the Ainsworth House in Oregon City, and we anticipate working with her a lot in the near future,” said Chanda Hall, the artistic director of Staged! a Portland-based organization committed to working with young people and giving them professional training in musical theater and more.

“She is a one-in-a-million talent, but it is her personality that wins you over,” Hall said.

Sharpened skills

Ward started off working with Hall at Staged! in several productions and workshops, and then decided to audition for OCT.

She was cast in two shows, “Duck for President,” in 2012, and “A Year With Frog and Toad,” in 2013.

“When I worked on ‘Aida’ for Staged!, something clicked in me. And then at OCT I learned the depth of character development, working with four professionals on stage. I was not afraid to ask questions and there were no barriers between the adults and kids,” Ward said.

In “A Year With Frog and Toad,” Ward played two roles, Mouse and Lady Bird.

“The play is about two friends, Frog and Toad, and we follow them on their adventures. They have their ups and downs, and they have to prove their friendship as the play progresses,” she said.

Her two favorite scenes revolved around two songs, “Get a Load of Toad” and “Cookies.”

In the first, the characters tease Toad about looking funny in a bathing suit, and in the cookie scene, “Mouse is being logical, but at the same time feels love for Toad,” Ward said.

The best thing about the whole OCT experience was “how connected we were as a cast. Everyone is so professional, there were no weak links. Collectively we cared about each other, and Dani had a fantastic view of the show,” Ward said.

To keep her skills sharp during the summer, Ward attended an OCT “boot camp,” an intensive five-day workshop where she studied character development and learned about all the different careers available in the theater world.

High school days

Ward has plenty of activities to keep her busy at Gladstone High School, where she will be an officer for the junior class, is on the Gladstone Gladettes Dance Team, which took third place at state this past spring, is a member of the Gay/Straight Alliance and is in the school choir.

Sadly, there are no drama classes at GHS, since there is no drama teacher.

Two teachers in other departments are doing their best to fill that gap, however, Ward said.

Last year social studies teacher Jessica Voodre and music/choir teacher Jim Gent directed “A Very Potter Musical,” which Ward described as “a parody musical that was the biggest and best thing we have ever done.”

What shocked her the most about the production was the fact that she had no idea there were so many talented kids in the school.

As for her own future, Ward will continue to audition in Portland for a variety of shows and plans to continue her interest in drama in college.

But for now, she is happy to be part of the Portland-area theater community “where I am always surrounded by talent and by love.”

Gettin’ creative

Find out more about Oregon Children’s Theater at octc.org. The mission statement for the organization describes OCT as a place “to advance growth, development and creativity through exceptional theater experiences, presenting professional live theater for youth at a price affordable to schools and families. By introducing young people to the wonders of live theater, OCT enriches lives today while helping children develop a lifetime appreciation for the arts.”

Visit the Staged! website, at stagedpdx.org.

In addition to Haley Ward’s award for Outstanding Young Performer, “A Year With Frog and Toad” also picked up six other Drammy Awards for Scenic Design, Costume Design, Choreography, Outstanding Production, Musical Actor in a Supporting Role and Musical Actor in a Lead Role.




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