Watts was one of the founding members of the Willapa Players, which incorporated as a non-profit organization at the time of the first production of “My Three Angels” in 1958. At the Hannan Playhouse’s website, Watts noted: “This current production will be my ‘swan song’. I was 30 when I first performed in ‘My Three Angels’, and at 86 it is time to quit.”
The play opens Friday, June 13, at 7:30 p.m. Performances also are scheduled on Saturday, June 14, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, June 15, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Thursday, June 19, 7:30 p.m. Some dates and times were changed to accommodate a cast member’s family emergency.
Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for seniors (over 65) and students (through college). Tickets are available at South Bend Pharmacy, Just A Haircut, Everyone’s Video and More, The Pitchwood, and at the door. Hannan Playhouse is located at 518 8th Street, across from the 8th Street Park in Raymond.
It is appropriate that Watts is ending his nearly 60-year career with this particular play. When the Players performed it in 1958, Watts was one of the three “angels”. This time, Watts is co-directing the production with his longtime friend, Jim White.
In January 2013, Watts and his wife, LaRayne, shared their experiences with the local community theater organization in an interview with The Herald.
Watts’ family moved from Jackson, Mississippi, to Clatskanie, Oregon, during World War II. His first experience in drama was in a senior class play at Clatskanie High School in 1945. “The play called for a New York detective,” he recalled. “We had to change our location because at that time I had ‘a Mississippi dialect you could cut with a knife, honey’,” he emphasized with a Southern accent and a smile.
After moving to Raymond where he held jobs in accounting for the next 30 years, Watts became involved with the Willapa Players in late 1956. The group had formed during an adult education class at Raymond High School. They chose “You Can’t Take It With You” for the fall production; Watts had a non-speaking appearance as a cop at the end of the play.
Watts’ involvement soon included directing. Bob Hannan was directing “Dangerous Corner” when somebody backed out of the cast. “Bob had to take over the part, so I came in as assistant director,” Jim said in 2013.
During his career with The Willapa Players, Watts has been involved in nearly 60 productions, 34 as an actor and 24 as a director. His wife, LaRayne, also has a lengthy association with the Players also both in acting and directing.
Watts is particularly proud for having brought Shakespeare to the local stage in 1996 with “Taming of the Shrew”. Although Watts’ all-time favorite drama, “A Midnight Summer’s Dream”, took place at the Hannan Playhouse, his favorite role – as Emile in “South Pacific” – took place in a Grayland Players production. He also performed two musicals with the Grays Harbor Civic Choir – “Most Happy Fella” and “Finian’s Rainbow”.
The longtime actor and director and his wife are strong advocates of community theater.
“Generally, if you’re talking to a group of people, the word ‘community’ is synonymous with amateur or less talent,” Jim said. “That’s so far from the truth. People who have been in community theater for a long time are usually in there because they are talented, because they can get parts, or because they get good at lights or one of those things. It’s an act of love.”
“My Three Angels” cast and crew hope to share that love by celebrating Watts’ long career here. You can join them in the celebration by attending one or more of the performances.