Education, Scene & Heard

Mr. Fantasy – Holbrook unveils a fanciful, fun play at the Opal Center

The younger cast members: Royal Staff members, (back row, left to right) June Smith (Royal Chief Engineer/Lynx), Iylah Molyneaux (Messenger Girl Ava/Deer), Ian Miller (King Winifred’s Soldier/Lion), Raven Foraker (Head Steward/Deer); (front row) Zoe Goings (Messenger Girl Ella/Parrot), Rose Smith (Yvette, Queen Zinnia’s Lady in Waiting/Bunny) and Monica Venice (Molly, Queen Ada’s Lady in Waiting/Black Cat). Photo provided/Opal Center

COTTAGE GROVE – Rise of the Queens opened on Friday, Feb. 29, at the Opal Center for Arts and Education in Cottage Grove.
The whimsical musical is one of three in a series written by local talent, Hal Holbrook. Holbrook also directed, produced, wrote and performed the original music for this production.
Rise of the Queens is a fantasy featuring fanciful animal characters from medieval times.
”I had read aloud the manuscript to a fifth-grade class and afterward told them I had some images of characters to show them and have them vote on their favorite style,” said Holbrook, a former elementary school librarian. ”When I put up on the overhead projector the image of the King (a ram) and Messenger Boy (a rabbit), the kids’ vocal reaction was the positive vote so that’s how it became a fantasy with animal characters.”
The musical begins with the mysterious disappearance of Royal Kings Ruper/Ram (Ivan DelSol) and Winiferd/Bear (Matthew Molyneaux.)
Their Royal Queens, Ada/Antalope (Carmen Dowell) and Zinnia/Zebra (Shanti Rios) decide to run the kingdom in their absence. In the meantime the Royal staff does all it can to assist in the hunt for the Kings, songs and dances included.
Especially delightful were the Royal fisherman/Beaver (Brittnay Dreier), Messenger Girl Ella/Parrot (Zoe Goings), Royal Chef/Cat (Sheila Ghelfi), Yvette, Queen Zinnia’s in Waiting/Bunny (Rose Smith, who almost stole the show there for a minute.)
Roses go to Elizabeth Eller, Raven Foraker, MacKenzie Jarvas, Ian Miller, Iylah Molyneaux, Ricky Orendortf, Betsy Smith, June Smith, Monica Venice and Justin Watt for stellar performances.
Opal Center is a community theater group that wears many different hats but with passion and heart. Costumes, sets, lights and sound were well done. Kudos to Carmen Dowell/Virginia Nelson (set design, costumes and props); Shanti Rios (choreography); Ivan DelSol (light design); and Bill Dowell (sound & light operator).
Opening night is not always the smoothest but the cast and crew did such a good job of taking the audience on a magical tour.
For a fun-filled, family oriented evening (or matinee) Rise of the Queens will fit the bill. Playing for three more dates, make sure and get your tickets and plan to have a laugh or two.

Remaining performances
When: Fri. March 6 – 7 p.m., Sat. March 7 – 7 p.m. and Sun. March 8 – 2 p.m.
Where: Opal Center for Arts & Education 513 East Main Street, Cottage Grove, OR 97424
Tickets: Rise of The Queens are available at:, at the Box Office, or The Crafty Mercantile, 517 East Main Street.



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos