By Jack Kintner
A century ago Blaine was a bustling, robust seaport – the state’s third busiest, behind Seattle and Tacoma. “Marina,” a musical conceived and written by Blaine resident Sandy Wolf and scored by Bellingham native Justin Melland, celebrates that rowdy, romantic era in a production slated for next May at Bellingham’s Mount Baker Theatre.
Locals will recognize many pieces of the musical’s historical setting: the Blaine branch of the Alaska Packers Association (APA) Salmon Cannery, now Semiahmoo Resort, still preserved at the Semiahmoo Resort and the APA museum on Semiahmoo spit.
Wolf has been working on the musical for many years. In 2012, an early version of the play won a spot in the New York Theatre Festival out of 300–400 scripts.
“We won a place in their developmental series and had three stage readings with audience feedback plus feedback from some of the pros there,” Wolf said. “We then did rewrites while in New York for the second and third stage readings.”
“Getting selected for the festival was a great thrill for me,” she said. “I was at Mallard Ice Cream in Bellingham when I got the email about being chosen. I jumped up and down and told everyone in line about it!”
Though the musical’s run is still months away, Wolf said the project is still looking for local actors and financial supporters.
“We are hoping for donors to help cover costs of school tours, rental of the theater, professional costume designers, the set, a full orchestra and paid actors in key roles,” she said.
Some lead roles have already been cast with professional actors. Wolf has had a long career in theater at the University of Alaska. Melland has become known in Hollywood, having written the score for the Oprah Winfrey Network show “Belief,” and the score for “Kill Team,” a short documentary that has been short-listed for an Academy Award.
Director Mark Kuntz is presenting “Marina” through his non-profit Bellingham TheatreWorks. Kuntz is also head of the theater department at Western Washington University and is well known for his past work at the Mount Baker Theatre.
TheatreWorks will stage two free matinées for Whatcom County public schools – Blaine will be sending 300 students down to see it – and follow that up with visits to school theater, English and history classes.
Tax deductible donations can be made to Bellingham TheatreWorks, a 501(c)(3). Tickets are already on sale and are available at mountbakertheatre.com.