Woodstock-based musical runs Feb. 21-22 at Kennewick High

By Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 12, 2014 

If you're a child of the radical '60s, then you know about the Woodstock Music & Art Fair of 1969.

The who's who of rock 'n' roll performed that weekend, minus The Doors, of course.

Rumor has it, the infamous Doors, led by the even more infamous Jim Morrison, refused to attend Woodstock because Morrison didn't like outdoor concerts or hangin' with hippies.

But that didn't stop almost a half-million hippie music lovers from camping at a rainy 600-acre dairy farm in upstate New York for three days of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

The Woodstock music is as iconic as ever, and with that in mind, Kennewick High music instructor Debi Eng decided to create a musical based on the Woodstock festival.

"The Woodstock Project is the name of our show," Eng said. "I have arranged 19 songs for the show, and it will feature drama in it as well. After doing a successful original musical at Chiawana (in 2011), featuring the music of The Beatles, I knew I wanted to do something like that again."

The story follows Lil' Missy, played by Chelsea Dalsbo, who has to give a report on Woodstock, so she asks her grandfather, played by Charles Eaton, for help. Turns out, gramps was at Woodstock working as a roadie for one of the bands and gives Missy the inside scoop about what happened.

Eaton, a 76-year-old Richland resident, remembers well the Woodstock era. But he identifies more with the Beat Generation, a cultural and literary movement of the 1950s. Though his hair since gone gray, he still wears it long and pulled back in a ponytail.

"The sad face is that I was too old for Woodstock," Eaton said. "By the time (it was happening), I was a poor graduate student with a wife and two kids living in Greenwich Village (in NYC). I sewed my wild oats 10 years earlier at the end of the Beat Generation in the Village."

Eaton decided to accept Eng's invitation to be a part of The Woodstock Project because of her reputation as a talented artist.

"I would do anything for Debi," Eaton said. "She is one of the most amazing artists in this region. Where else do you find a teacher who writes a complete musical theater piece specifically for the students at hand?"

The show features an eight-piece orchestra that includes keyboards, guitar, electric bass, percussion, drums, sax and trumpet. Kennewick High drama teacher Dennis Larsen wrote the script for the musical.

The Woodstock Project curtain time is 7 p.m. Feb. 21-22 with a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 22. Tickets are $10 and available at The Music Machine in downtown Kennewick or at the door.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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