Bits 'n' Pieces: Vancouver actress plays mom of ‘sit-down’ dancer

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In her latest role, Vancouver actress Lisamarie Harrison plays the mother of a special needs child who dances from her wheelchair.

“Recognition,” a one-act musical written by Portland playwright Chris Tabor, is based on his experience with a mixed-ability dance company and his interaction with the parents of wheelchair-bound or “sit-down” dancers.

“This play is unlike anything I’ve ever done,” Harrison said. “It’s a story about reconnecting with yourself and realizing what’s important in your life.”

Laura Elizabeth Mathens, the young actress and singer who plays Harrison’s daughter, is in a wheelchair in real life and drives from Eugene, Ore., to Portland daily for rehearsals. The cast also includes a corps de ballet from Portland Youth Ballet and a choir from the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir.

As a child, Harrison, 46, starred in living-room productions for her family. At Portland’s David Douglas High School, she caught the theater bug and has been immersed in that world ever since.

Today, the Fisher’s Landing actress juggles a busy schedule acting, dancing and singing in productions throughout the Vancouver-Portland area. She recently choreographed the Clark College production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Harrison just ended a five-week run in “Pump Boys and Dinettes: A Country Music Revue” at the Broadway Rose Theater in Tigard, Ore. Later this spring, she will perform in “Goldilocks” with the Lakewood Theater Company in Lake Oswego, Ore., and “Steel Magnolias” with the Circle Theater Project in Portland.

Performances of “Recognition” will be 7 p.m. March 23-24 and 2 p.m. March 24-25 in Lincoln Performance Hall at Portland State University, 1620 S.W. Park Ave., Portland. Adults $30, students and seniors $25; groups larger than eight receive a 20 percent discount. Tickets: 503-725-4612, tickets@pdx.edu or www.ticketmaster.com. Information about the play at stage1productions.org.

— Susan Parrish

Young singers win scholarships, spots in concert

The Vancouver USA Singers have chosen to award Emily Bryan, a senior at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics; Ian McDaniel, a junior at Skyview High School; and Jana Vanderploeg, a senior at Cedar Tree Classical Christian School, scholarships based on their performance at a recent audition.

Bryan comes from a musical theater background, but her passion has always been singing. “I really love them both, but I like being able to express myself by creating my own music,” she said. In addition to singing, Bryan has studied the cello since age 5 and hopes to use the scholarship to support her senior project of experimenting with her voice accompanied by an electric cello.

McDaniel has been a member of the Skyview Vocal Jazz Choir for the past three years. “I really love jazz music … Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole are my idols,” he said. McDaniel will use his scholarship for his upcoming exchange trip to Germany. He eventually hopes to study international politics, though he said, “I’ll always love to sing.”

Vanderploeg has participated in choir and drama classes for more than seven years, along with practicing her singing with her five sisters, and hopes to continue studying music in college.

Bryan will receive $250, and both McDaniel and Vanderploeg will receive $125 to go toward education. In addition to the scholarships, all three will perform during the Vancouver USA Singers’ upcoming concert. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. March 24 and 3 p.m. March 25 at Fort Vancouver High School, 5700 E. 18th St., Vancouver. Tickets are $15, $10 for students and seniors. Call 360-666-9489 or visit http://vancouversingers.org.

— Ashley Swanson

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.