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‘My Fair Lady’ cast members find family fun on stage

Lebanon Association for Theatre Arts presented its summer production of “My Fair Lady” last week, made up of a variety of cast members across Linn County.

Here’s a snapshot of some of Lebanon’s actors showing why they enjoy acting and that LAFTA is a family made up of families.

Davin and Moriah Dahlgren
Aside from a few school programs he was in while growing up, the closest Davin Dahlgren had ever been to acting was while he worked in radio for a short time during his 20s.

“I always liked to do character voices, but I never thought of doing anything like this,” he said.

Though he never gave acting any consideration in the past, Dahlgren has now performed in his second play for LAFTA this year. It’s his daughter’s fault.

Moriah Dahlgren, 13, went to LAFTA’s kids summer camp last year and liked it enough to go again this year.

“They teach you stage things like cheat out, which means you have to face the audience so you can’t have your back to the audience,” Moriah said. “They teach you to sing, and they practice your lines and blocking.”

Blocking is the term used for how the actors are positioned and where they move on stage.
“It looked like she was having so much fun that I decided to try it out,” Davin said.

Following Moriah’s first camp experience, Davin auditioned for and acted in his first play in LAFTA’s winter comedy, “Million Dollar Meatballs.” Due to a broken foot, Moriah didn’t join her dad on stage at that time, but the two got to play together in this summer’s production.

Moriah was part of the ensemble in “My Fair Lady” and also played a flower girl and a server, while Davin played a bartender and Lord Boxington.

Ryan and Kiara McWayne
Ryan McWayne got his bachelor’s degree in theater 19 years ago and spent a short time in Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, but soon decided to turn his sights on teaching. Following 11 years teaching in Scio, McWayne now teaches fifth grade at Cascades Elementary.

In 2013, two of McWaynes’ kids wanted to audition for LAFTA’s Christmas show, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” but his eldest boy was nervous at the audition, so he asked his dad to join him on stage.

The directors asked if McWayne was also auditioning, so he said, “sure,” although he’d been out of theater for a long time by then.

“We’ve done every Christmas show since then,” he said.

McWayne has been acting with LAFTA for nine years now, and it has remained a family affair.

“What’s great is my own kids have been in everything I’ve been in,” he said.

In “My Fair Lady,” McWayne played three roles, including part of the ensemble cast with his daughter Kiara, 12.

One of her first summer productions was “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” in which she played alongside her dad and two brothers.

“I really like acting and singing,” Kiara said. “Being on stage and having people watch and enjoy our shows always feels nice.”

However, she’s not sure if she’d participate in a production if her dad wasn’t in it with her, she said.

“He’s part of what makes it fun,” Kiara said.

Being in productions with his children is amazing, McWayne said.

“LAFTA itself, theater itself, is a family, and to be able to have my own family with my theater family, well we’re kept busy,” McWayne said.

If his children weren’t leaving for rehearsals every night with him, he’d feel guilty, he said.

“But bringing my kids along with me, it makes it a family affair. We sing the songs at home, we run lines at home; it makes it so worthwhile.”

He tries to convince his wife to join the stage with them, but for now she’s content being the support behind the actors in her family, he said.

Lorenz Bilbo
Although Lorenz Bilbo has done a lot of acting in his lifetime, he’s participated in only two plays through LAFTA during the six years he’s lived in Lebanon.

Bilbo does it to help a friend, Diane Allen, LAFTA board member and co-director of “My Fair Lady,” wherein Bilbo was part of the ensemble cast.

It’s because of his full-time job that Bilbo can’t take a more committed role in LAFTA productions, but he said acting is a “need” for him.

“I really love doing it; it’s just good for my emotional side, and of course it’s great to do for the community,” he said.

The emotional side taps into the family aspect of theater for him. His two boys played onstage with him in his first LAFTA performance in 2014’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”

“When you grow up doing theater, you dream about ‘someday I’d love to have a family, I’d love to do a show with my own children.’ So we had that moment,” he said.

His boys now reside in Arizona, but Bilbo still has his theater family here, he said.

“For me it’s very pleasurable to have these people that I love, and people that I really, really like and get to hang out with for the summer, get to rekindle friendships and all that,” Bilbo said.