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GHS junior to appear in OCT musical

Haley Ward remembers reading the “Magic Tree House” books when she was young, and now the Gladstone High School junior is bringing the story to life as a cast member of the Oregon Children’s Theatre production of “Magic Tree House: A Night in New Orleans.”

The musical opens on Oct. 19 in Portland’s Newmark Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway, and continues Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 10.

“I love the music in the show. No matter how many rehearsals I attend, I never get tired of the music. It strikes a chord in my heart. I also think that it’s super great to be playing multiple roles in this show. I love the challenge as an actress and, just like the rest of the cast, am ready to take it head on,” Ward said.

When director Stan Foote asked Ward to be in the cast, he told her he was not offering her a big role, but that he would find places to show off her talent.

“Haley plays the ukulele, tap dances, does some scat singing, and some low-down blues singing. She is so talented, and we are using everything she has,” Foote said.

As artistic director of the OCT, he and the other staff members are always looking for young people with a good work ethic, who are fun to be around and who will grow up to be good human beings.

“That Haley is talented is great, but she is such a good person, always comes to rehearsals ready to work, and is always trying to improve,” Foote said.

Ward added, “On this show I have been so fortunate and thankful for the opportunity to work with the likes of Stan Foote, Sara Mishler Martins, the choreographer, Mont Chris Hubbard, the music director, and the jazz band.”

Ward also has been cast in the OCT spring show, “Fancy Nancy,” as Bree, Nancy’s BFF, which is also directed by Foote.

“I look forward to this season with extreme excitement and anticipation to perform my heart out,” she said.

Ward was previously in OCT’s “Duck for President” and “A Year With Frog and Toad,” for which she received a Portland Drammy Award for Outstanding Young Performer. She also is an OCT Young Professional. When she isn’t performing on stage, she can be seen dancing on her high school dance team, The Gladettes, writing songs and jamming on her ukulele.

For more information about the Oregon Children’s Theatre production of “Magic Tree House: A Night in New Orleans,” including times, dates and ticket prices, visit octc.org or call 503-467-0539.

The production, suitable for children age 4 and up, takes the audience on a journey with intrepid explorers Jack and Annie back in time to 1915 New Orleans, where they have been given a new task: find 14-year-old Louis Armstrong and convince him that he’ll not only be able to earn a living by playing music, but that he eventually will become the “King of Jazz.”  With original music composed by R&B legend Allen Toussaint and performed by a live jazz ensemble, the musical brings the adventure of wildly popular “Magic Tree House” books to life.




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