Bits 'n' Pieces: King’s Way student ready for ‘Magic’ ride

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For Ashlee Waldbauer, it’s the challenge that will drive her on the big stage for her Oregon Children’s Theatre debut.

“I’m really nervous just to get out there, on a stage that big. I’m really excited to be challenged,” she said, which fits perfectly with her role as Dorothy Ann in the stage production “The Magic School Bus Live: The Climate Challenge.”

The show features the classic characters of Ms. Frizzle, Wanda, Ralphie, and the other students of Walkerville Elementary as they take a magical field trip around the globe to take a closer look at the science of climate change. Waldbauer describes her character as the serious student of the group, who loves to learn and be challenged, qualities Waldbauer herself admires. Though she also has a soft spot for another character.

“I love Wanda, she’s just so energetic. Though she’s not the brightest, she just has fun and is really funny.”

Currently a ninth-grader at King’s Way Christian High School, Waldbauer discovered a love for singing when she was 5 years old. It wasn’t until she was 8 that she tried out for theater.

“I wanted to try something new, and playing sports just got old for me,” she said.

Waldbauer first performed in the musical “Godspell” and spent the next seven years enjoying the challenge of stage performances.

“I could do it every day. I do enjoy singing more, since acting comes a little bit harder for me. Though acting is a bit more fun to watch,” Waldbauer said.

Catch Waldbauer with the rest of the cast in “The Magic School Bus Live: The Climate Challenge,” Jan. 22 through Feb. 19 at the Newmark Theatre in Portland. Tickets are $16-$30 and $13-$26 for children. Call 503-228-9571 or visit http://www.octc.org.

— Ashley Swanson

Washougal couple grateful for park ranger’s service

Del and Carolee Allen of Washougal decided to celebrate New Year’s by taking a snowshoeing trip to Mount Rainier National Park.

The two, along with four friends, found themselves in the park on the day that ranger Margaret Anderson was shot and killed. Not only that, they happened to pass Anderson’s vehicle a matter of minutes before suspect Benjamin Colton Barnes flew past a checkpoint, starting the ordeal, Del Allen said.

“We were probably the last people to see her alive,” he said.

The Allens wound up spending several hours barricaded in the Jackson Visitor’s Center with several other park guests. Eventually a police SWAT team showed up, secured the building and organized an evacuation, Allen said. Allen and his friends were escorted out of the park around 3:45 a.m. Jan. 2.

A week later the two received an invitation to Anderson’s memorial service from Park Superintendent Randy King. The service drove home the point that the ranger could have saved their lives, Allen said.

He thinks things could have been different if his group went to the visitor’s center a few minutes later, or if Barnes went through a few minutes earlier.

“He very well could have shot the parking lot up,” he said.

To work through the “What if? games” Allen wrote a detailed recollection of the events to share with friends and family.

“I suppose it’s therapeutic too,” he said. “A lot of people say writing it all out or talking it out is good therapy.”

— Paul Suarez

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Ruth Zschomler, 360-735-4530, or email ruth.zschomler@columbian.com.