Magenta Theater aims to raise its profile

‘Evening With Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra’ to generate funds for sign

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter



If You Go

• What: “An Evening with Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra”

 When: 7:30 p.m. July 21-22

• Where: Magenta Theater, 1108 Main St., Vancouver

 Tickets: $35. VIP tickets, meet Linda Michelet at 6:30 p.m.: $50

• To learn more

Somewhere out there, maybe in between the devil and the deep blue sea, is Vancouver’s homegrown Magenta Theater.

Loyal fans know where it is: just to the left of The Source Climbing Center, which boasts big, impressive lettering on a big, impressive facade. But telling patrons to find the theater by looking for the towering sign on the business next door is not ideal. Magenta’s volunteers worry that their anonymous-looking storefront, which hides a large performance space and room for an audience of 150, remains a secret kept too well.

Something for everyone

Too many people still don’t know, they say, that downtown Vancouver has its own busy, vital community theater that hosts a full season of people-pleasing comedies, mysteries and musicals — plus improv comedy, “Black Chair” dramatic readings, live storytelling events and the occasional special concert.

“We’ve been in our new location for more than a year, but we get feedback all the time about how hard it is for new patrons to find us” without some pretty huge letters over Magenta’s door, founder and artistic director Jaynie Roberts said.

Ideally, those letters would be on a old-fashioned, lit-up, marquee-type sign. It could be a basic reader board, according to Magenta publicist Francine Raften, or it could be something grander that extends over the street, like the Kiggins Theatre’s marquee. Either way, it needs to be extremely noticeable.

Hard to picture another big marquee over Vancouver’s Main Street? Then picture this: coming to town to raise money for the estimated $15,000 project are legendary lounge singers Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra. Or, as they’re known to local friends, Linda Lee Michelet and John Gilmore.

Michelet is a 20-year veteran of Portland hotel venues like the Benson and the Heathman. She’s the leader of the eight-piece Linda Michelet Big Band, a group of top-flight Portland players — and she was recently seen on the Magenta stage acting the part of Almina Clare in the spring comedy “Waiting in the Wings.”

Paying Michelet’s band for this show is sponsor The Herbery. “On its face it does seem like an odd partnering,” Raften said, “but baby boomers make up a huge segment of the cannabis market, so I approached The Herbery about sponsorship, thinking it made more sense than not, and they were thankfully very receptive.”

John Gilmore is a singer, pianist and bandleader who hails from Los Angeles, where his father, Voyle, worked as Frank Sinatra’s record producer in the mid-1950s. Gilmore, who won a first-place Frank Sinatra Award for his vocals while a music major at the University of California-Los Angeles, learned lots of insider anecdotes from his dad about Sinatra — which he loves to share.

This intimate “Evening With Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra” will feature the original Quincy Jones arrangements of Peggy Lee tunes like “Fever,” “I’m a Woman,” “It’s a Good Day” and “Is That All There Is?” The Frank Sinatra material is taken from his famous 1966 “Sinatra at the Sands” record, featuring favorites like “My Kind of Town,” “Come Dance with Me,” “New York, New York” and “Summer Wind.”