Arts and Entertainment

‘Trails’ touches on love, loss and living

Dane Stokinger (Mike), Joshua Carter (Seth) and Kirsten deLohr Helland (Amy).  - Photo by Jay Koh, property of Village Theatre.
Dane Stokinger (Mike), Joshua Carter (Seth) and Kirsten deLohr Helland (Amy).
— image credit: Photo by Jay Koh, property of Village Theatre.

Village Theatre’s new musical “Trails,” isn’t your typical piece of performance art.

From the jump, the idea of building an entire show around a hike is daunting; how in the heck are you going to keep that that schtick going for nearly two hours? Add to the mix a plot involving cancer, the trials and tribulations of growing up and a series of secrets waiting to be revealed, and you’ve got a full plate.

That’s why the show - an original work from Christy Hall, Jeff Thomson and Jordan Mann - is such an impressive feat.

On the surface, ‘Trails’ is fairly straightforward: two thirty-something friends, Seth (played by Joshua Carter) and Mike (played by Dane Stokinger), reunite following the death of Seth’s mom, and decide to accomplish a goal they talked about as children: hiking the 2,181 mile trail that winds through the eastern United States.

Joined on the trail by their childhood partner in adventure, Amy (played by Kirsten deLohr Helland), the story moves between present day and flashbacks from the past - scenes that come to life from the pages of Seth’s adventure journal - as the friends spend six months in the woods.

Driven by a number of original, Appalachian-inspired tunes - and the colorful characters they meet along the way -  the story presents the audience with various ups and downs, as the friends traverse the winding path of both the treacherous trail, and their lives.

Though the story is heavy at times, the supporting cast of Virgil (John Patrick Lowrie), Momma Harley (Bobby Kotula) and Faith (Sarah Rose Davis) - all of whom double as trail guides - prove a welcome dose of comic relief.

Specifically, Kotula’s turn as Momma Harley is both hilarious and heartwarming. Kotula plays the role of carefree flower child effortlessly, as Momma Harley helps Seth to addresses the many ways he is lost both on the trail and in his life. And Kotula’s soaring take on original song “The Road Is My Home,” proves one of the most memorable musical moments of the production.

Other highlights from the score include “Pennsylvania Nights,” “Purgatory Blues,” and “Stories in the Sky” - all of which pull tenderly at heartstrings as more plot is revealed.

While based on the east coast, ‘Trails’ is familiar. From the costumes - flannel shirts, muddy jeans and North Face jackets - to the 18-foot high mountain on stage, it just feels like home.

It’s too early to tell if this musical could stand-up on a bigger stage, but the meesgae of finding oneself - through the experiences you have on the trail of life - is one that is sure to stand the test of time.

‘Trails’ plays through April 21 at the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front Street North, Issaquah. For more information and tickets, or call the Box Office at 425-392-2202.


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