• OVOC Administration

With auditions for the community musical produced by OVOC rapidly approaching, Director Judy Johnston has been fielding questions about the audition process. She shared her comments with us for this article.

“The audition process is nerve wracking for everyone, including the people making the decisions. Although often a committee (vocal director, choreographer, stage manager, and producer) provides input, the director has the final say on the cast. Since OVOC produces musicals, more weight is given to the vocal audition. It functions as an elimination process regarding certain requirements of the roles.

“Fairness is our primary concern. Numbers are assigned to each candidate to assist in anonymity. The committee members agree on a scoring system and the criteria for the scores. These scores are recorded next to the numbers. Discussions regarding abilities are referred to by the numbers assigned and names of individuals are not known. Nevertheless, we recognize the danger of having prior experience of working with certain actors and the reality that objectivity may be extremely difficult.

“Each director functions differently and it is up to the director how auditions are to be run. I am honored to be the Director for Mamma Mia! Due to the fact that I have directed for OVOC for almost 30 years, I am aware that my objectivity may be questioned. To avoid any sense of unfairness, I have on occasion decided to defer to the judgment of the casting committee when deciding on certain parts. I have decided that it would be best that I do this for the major roles in Mamma Mia! The parts of Donna, Tanya, Rosie, Sam, Harry and Bill will be cast by the committee. The remaining roles will be cast by me. Additional tips and guidelines about auditions can be found at”


We wish to honor two wonderful, giving people who recently passed away. We treasure our OVOC family. Richard and Don will be deeply missed.


The way Marilyn Ries remembers it, one day in 1982 Mary Koch told her, “We need a producer for next year’s Gilbert and Sullivan show. You’re it.”

The way Koch (then OVOC board president) remembers it, Marilyn had arrived in the Okanogan a year earlier with impressive theater credentials. She’d been a volunteer with ACT (A Contemporary Theater) in Seattle. OVOC gained not only a devoted producer with Marilyn, but a dynamo team with husband Richard lending his organizational and carpentry skills.

“If he wanted to see me in spring, he had to be there,” Marilyn explains. The two worked together on 17 shows, retiring in 2001 with OVOC’s production of “The Wizard of Oz.” Now OVOC mourns with Marilyn the loss of Richard, who died in May 2019.

In the early ’80s, the Omak PAC was barely a dream, and shows were staged in the Omak Theater—the movie house on Main Street. Theater owners Mary and Larry Lassila allowed OVOC to tear out front row seats to accommodate a stage extension. With no backstage, actors exited the theater’s back door and traipsed across Apple Street to McNeil Floor Covering (now Indoor Tropics) for costume changes and makeup.

One of Marilyn’s favorite early shows was Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Sorcerer.” The entire set was carried onstage in a large crate and set up before an enthralled audience. Richard and Marilyn rarely appeared on stage, but Richard played the role of the Grand Inquisitor in “Man of La Mancha.” He had to stand on a platform 20 feet above the stage and point. He was grateful he had no lines, he claimed, because if he’d had to speak he would have tumbled off the platform.

In those fledgling days and shoestring budgets, Gilbert and Sullivan musicals were in the public domain and required no royalty payments. OVOC’s move to the PAC in 1990 coincided with an ambitious move to Broadway with “The Music Man.” While Marilyn didn’t produce that one, she was back in the hot seat with an elaborate production of “My Fair Lady” in 1991. It was a new world. For example, “the light cue in the old theater was ‘on’ or ‘off’ as opposed to a hundred or more cues in the PAC,” says Marilyn.

Post-retirement, “I feel glad I can just be an audience member now,” she says, “but I’m sad when I don’t know many of the cast [members]. I miss the camaraderie.”


OVOC honors the memory of the late Don Michelsen and acknowledges his generous contributions. In 1992, Don allowed us to store our stage set pieces in North Central Petroleum’s building, located in east Omak. He gradually conceded more and more space to our set building department as his business plans evolved. We could not have constructed and maintained the many set pieces for our productions without his gift of a safe, dry place to work in. Thank you to Don and Joan for their support all these years.

In this issue OVOC will feature members of the Orchestra and Chorus who have performed consistently over a long period of time and are still doing so. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers in our organization and are grateful. OVOC is particularly grateful to:


Patti came here from the San Francisco Bay area and has lived outside Tonasket for many years. She first performed in the Orchestra in 1982. She played the violin in elementary school and was thrilled to be able to join the Orchestra with minimal skills. Joe Curry agreed to teach her and her violinist skill improved over time. She joined for the sheer joy of having the opportunity to learn, to join an organization without having to audition and to be able to play fine music with like-minded musicians. She has especially appreciated how non-judgmental and encouraging the group of musicians in the Orchestra has been over the years. She started as 2nd violin and sat next to Flora Long, absorbing Flora’s talent, and eventually ended up playing first violin. We have seen her performing there for years, sometimes missing performances because she took time to raise a son and enjoy travelling with her husband George. She has also performed and assisted with Second Strings and credits Roz Nau as another of her fine teachers. Over the years at her home outside Tonasket she and her husband have hosted musical events for friends and neighbors which some of you readers may have attended. Patti considers it to be a privilege and honor to be an Orchestra musician and OVOC member.


Peg hails from Richland Washington. As a young girl she enjoyed and loved singing with family and in her high school chorus, including in a quartet. She sang in a chorus while in Nursing School at Sacred Heart School of Nursing and in the Pullman/Moscow Chorale. She worked as nurse and ended up teaching at Omak High School, now retired. She joined OVOC in 1979 in one of OVOC’s Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas and joined the chorus in 1985. Peg joined the Chorus for the joy of singing . The other big reason, and why she has stayed involved for so long, is that singing with this group has been and is one of her biggest stress relievers and she loves to sing in harmony. She says there is nothing better than the sound of a group of folks singing together in harmony.

Over the years her involvement as an OVOC member and volunteer has included roles in musicals produced by OVOC, her favorites being in Music Man as Ewart Dunlop in the quartet and the Sound of Music as the housekeeper Frau Schmidt. Her largest role and also the funniest, was in Bye Bye Birdie as Mae Pederson performing “A Mother Doesn’t Matter Anymore”. She performed a reprise of this in the OPAC’s 25th anniversary show. After a short hiatus Peg is back in the Chorus singing tenor with her tenor partner Karen Schimpf, who is very happy to have her back. Peg also regularly volunteers her time to help at OVOC events and fund raisers.


Howard joined the Chorus in 1982 because he has always loved choral music. He comes from a musical family. He was born in Oroville WA, and his family has lived there for many generations. Music was very important while growing up, with much singing around the piano. He sang in the high school choir, went to Allstate in 1974, then the concert choir at WA State. He has led church choirs since he was 13 years old, and with his brothers and his wife Nancy, has helped out with weddings and funerals. In 1981 Bach Fest in Chelan started and they needed more singers. A community group of singers had been started in the North Okanogan County. Howard joined, and they went to help out at Bach Fest. The group of community singers then morphed into the Okanogan Valley Chorus we know today, with rehearsals in Tonasket for many years. in Tonasket for many years. Howard and his family continued to sing at Bach Fest. Over the years he has performed many solos in the OVOC Chorus, singing as a bass. Eventually he joined the Orchestra as percussionist, along with his wife and two daughters, Heather and Monica. Howard is a busy man with full time work and family. The main reason for staying with the Chorus and the Orchestra is that both are great for busy folks. “The Chorus and the Orchestra offer the perfect amount of commitment, with enough time off, to produce a quality program of fine music.”


Norm Weddle was born and raised in Tonasket, graduating from Tonasket High School in 1961. Norm attended the University of La Verne, finishing his music education degree at Washington State University in 1968. Norm taught music for 24 years in public schools in the Okanogan Valley including Omak, Tonasket, Oroville, and Republic, retiring in 2001. He joined the Chorus in 1984, happy to find a place to be able to continue singing in a choral setting after being able to sing and travel with choral groups while in college. Norm was the choral director for OVOC in the late 80’s and continued to sing with the choir as his schedule allowed. 5 to 6 years ago Norm joined the orchestra, filling in a shortage of trumpets for the New World Symphony. Norm has continued to fill in the gaps for the orchestra, switching to upright bass for the past two years as the group did not have any bass players. He was always interested in playing bass and decided that after singing bass for the past 50 years he should be able read along and he bought a bass. Although bowing technique has provided a challenge for him, Norm has excelled at filling in the bass parts for the orchestra, all while continuing to sing bass with the choir. Norm sings and performs piano, pipe organ, or guitar with groups outside of OVOC, in addition to tuning and maintaining a church pipe organ. He estimates that he has sung for over 350 funerals or weddings in the past 50 years that he has been performing. Norm has spent a lifetime educating and giving back to this community with the gift of music, and he continues to be a valuable member of OVOC’s Orchestra and Choir.

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Music for Life

We believe that music enriches lives. We believe that live performance of music is essential to the elevation of the human spirit. We have kept our ticket prices the same for 20 years, hoping that everyone who wants to cultivate a love of music can afford to attend. Yet, costs have a way of increasing each season, making this more and more difficult to maintain. We ask for your help. Add your name to our long list of supporters listed on our programs and join those who actively seek the joy of bringing live music performance to the Okanogan Valley! Donations

Bronze $25 Ruby $250

Silver $50 Emerald $500

Gold $100 Platinum $1000+


We appeal to businesses or individuals who seek a prime promotional opportunity! Sponsor a concert or a performance of the musical for $1,000 and you will receive full page ads in programs, a large poster of thanks in the lobby, complementary tickets and much more. Contact for more information.

TOTAL ENCLOSED $____________

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OVOC, P O Box 1636, Omak, WA 98841

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  • OVOC Administration

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

Our Costume Shop has rentals all year around! Our amazing costume designers Susan Graves and Bonnie Wristen open the doors to the public on Thursdays during our WINTER HOURS: 10am-3pm.

However, from Dec. 13-Jan. 9th we'll be open BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Regular winter hours will resume after that. Contact Susan Graves for inquiries: 509-429-7786.