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Making a scene at Southridge

Photography studio donates $20,000 in backdrops to high school's theater department

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Emily Andrews, owner of  Emily Andrews Portrait Design studio in Beaverton, watches as students carry props from her studio to the Southridge High School theater department.A bunch of teenagers made off with some 19th-century steam-powered mechanisms and chunks of an Italian village.

But they weren’t thieves — they were theater students.

Emily Andrews Portrait Design in Beaverton donated a U-Haul truck’s worth of sets — worth about $20,000 — to the Southridge High School theater department last week. Southridge, in turn, will loan the sets out to other Beaverton School District drama programs.

“This is going to save us a lot of work and money,” said Jacob Schickedanz, a Southridge junior involved in theater productions.

“It’s really convenient,” added classmate Nathan Parrott. “We can spend our time making our shows better.”

Jim Fewer, Southridge’s theater director, plans to put some of the sets to immediate use for a fall production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” re-imagined with a steampunk setting.

“We’ve been looking for a set like this,” sophomore Elia Yocum said while fitting the large foam plastic pieces into the truck, an after-school exercise students described as being like a giant game of Jenga.

The Italian pieces should fit perfectly into a later production of George Herman’s “A Company of Wayward Saints,” and the variety of sets will also be put to use in classes such as Fewer’s stagecraft course, he said.

Fewer said the money saved on sets will help them and fellow theater departments put their limited budgets into costumes and other expenses.TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Emily Andrews, owner of  Emily Andrews Portrait Design studio in Beaverton, poses with students in Southridges Theater department, with props she donated to the school.

“I never look a gift horse in the mouth, so I always pay it forward,” he said.

Andrews said she has been collecting the pieces for years but is in the process of developing new settings at her studio, which includes a labyrinth of settings tucked into corners all over her Old Town grounds on Southwest Watson Street.

“I thought, “What a great opportunity to donate to the drama department,’” said Andrews, a Beaverton High School alum who often photographs students from district schools. “Photographers will pay big money for these.”