Next Northwest Senior Theatre show is
‘Overture! Curtain! Lights!’
Beaverton pair among the 30-some seniors devoted to the stage
BY MIKEL KELLY
The Times, Apr 29, 2010
There’s no age limit on creativity.
That may be the No. 1 message of the Northwest Senior Theatre, a troupe of 30-some “mature” area singers,
dancers, actors, musicians and production people who get together a couple times a week to practice for two
major shows each year.
The next one up, titled “Overture! Curtain! Lights!”, is set for May 19, 20, 21 and 22 (all at 2 p.m.) at the
Alpenrose Dairy Opera House, 6149 S.W. Shattuck Road – for a donation of only $5.
There’s no better evidence that creativity is ageless than Beaverton couple, Ron and Sue Tenison.
Though they are among the younger members of the NWST family – he’s 65 and she’s 63 – they do embody the
“let’s put on a show” spirit of the group, which next year will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Sue is the performer of the two, a veteran of high school and college productions followed by singing with
Portland Chorale and the Sweet Adelines.
Ron, a retired science and computer science teacher who put in years at Catlin Gabel and then Linfield College,
gravitated to the whole thing quite naturally. “If I was ever going to see her, I was going to have to get involved
with the theater group,” he said with a smile.
“Ron works back stage,” said Betty Merrill, a member of the NWST board. “He does the lighting, and he’s our
photographer. He does whatever we need to put the show together.”
Sue is much more likely to be remembered by audiences, said Merrill, because she’s often on stage.
“We don’t have any stars in our group, but Sue is a stage performer, and she also does choreography,” said
“I’ve sung most of my life,” said Sue, explaining that she and Ron met in church in San Diego, where they
attended different high schools. “After I got married, I was busy starting my career and having kids,” she said.
A veteran of chorale singing groups and later the Sweet Adelines, Sue eventually heard about the Northwest
Senior Theatre, but that was before she was old enough to join.
“Once you hear a good a capella or barbershop group, you don’t turn back,” she said, adding that for a time her
work as a teacher in the Beaverton School District kept her from pursuing music too seriously.
“A year before I was due to retire, I saw another performance,” she said of the NWST. “It took me several months
to find a number,” she confessed, but once she did, she started attending the group’s rehearsals – “and I’ve
been here ever since.”
“This group is a lot of fun,” Sue said at a recent dress rehearsal at Caliroga Terrace in Northeast Portland,
where NWST gathers to rehearse every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. “We work really hard, but it’s worth it.”
This spring’s show is one of the more fun and silly ones the group has put on for some time, said Sue. “There
are only three serious love songs in the whole show.”
The 31 numbers listed (as of last month, anyway) included such exercises in silliness as “Skinnamarink,” “Bibbidi-
Bobbidi-Boo,” “Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats and Little Lamzy Divey,” “Jeepers Creepers” and “Anything You
Can” – along with some more conventional tunes from stage and screen.
Other local names on the NWST roster include Ray Beyer, artistic director, and his wife Irene, both of King City;
Don Bellairs, also of King city; Ralph Cox of Aloha; Myrl and Ray Svela of Cedar Mill; Gerry Warner of Raleigh
Hills; Jim Wingo of Tigard; and Don Wright of Garden Home.
For more information on Northwest Senior Theatre or tickets, call 503-251-4332 or visit
firstname.lastname@example.org. “Please do not call Alpenrose Dairy,” NWST urges on its website. “They are
not staffed to handle our calls and do not have the information you will want.
The group can also be reached the old-fashioned way, by dropping a line to Northwest Senior Theatre, P.O. Box
25264, Portland 97298.
JAIME VALDEZ / TIMES NEWSPAPERS
The Tappers kick off the second half of NWST’s spring show, “Overture! Curtain! Lights!”, due to open May 19 at the Alpenrose Dairy Opera House.
The Tappers are (from left) Gerry Warner, Myrl Svela, Mary Ann Rautio, Beth Furrer, Diana Woodruff, Irene Shirk and Carol McGilvra. Below, doing
the hokey pokey behind Beaverton’s Sue Tenison are (from left) Pat Medcalf, Myrl Svela and Don Wright, all Washington County residents.