Arts and Entertainment

New faces light up in Enchanted April | Slideshow

Learning she had landed a lead role in an upcoming play at the Whidbey Playhouse, Coqui Herken didn’t know how to react.

“At first, you’re really excited you got the part,” Herken said. “Then you realize what you’ve taken on, and you start to panic.”

Herken is not only tackling her first leading role when “Enchanted April” begins at the Whidbey Playhouse Friday, June 6, it’s her first speaking part of any production.

She has sung as part of a small chorus in past plays, but never had speaking lines.

“She’s absolutely wonderful,” director Julia Locke said.

Herken is one of four performers in the eight-person cast who will make their Whidbey Playhouse acting debuts Friday.

Stephen Williams, who plays her husband in the play, is on stage for the first time, yet appears to be somewhat of a natural.

“I’m blown away by his performance,” Locke said. “He has a perfect sense of comic timing.”

The new faces will make up most of the major roles in a cast that also includes veteran playhouse performers.

Another newcomer to the Oak Harbor playhouse is Emily Boyle, who takes center stage along with Herken as the central figures in the romantic comedy written by Matthew Barber that was turned into a Broadway play.

The setting is 1922 in London, England with two married women looking to get away for a month and rent an Italian villa to pamper themselves and reinvigorate their lives.

Herken and Boyle play the parts of the two main characters, Lotty Wilton and Rose Arnott, who second-guess their decision initially but wind up happy with their choices as they encounter surprises along the way.

In the director’s notes, Locke describes “Enchanted April” as a “transforming journey from misery, disappointment and mourning to rebirth of adventure, inspiration and love.”

The play runs from June 6-22 and is the final show of the 2013-14 season at the Whidbey Playhouse.

The new season will start Sept. 5 with “The Odd Couple (Female Version).”

“It’s a lovely little play,” Locke said of “Enchanted April.”

Locke raves about the lighting, sound effects and work done on the set, particularly in the second act when the stage is transformed into a grand Italian villa, decorated with purple wisteria.

However, one of the biggest transformations was the way in which the actors spoke.

Locke wanted to hear clear English accents, but would only allow it in the show if they were convincing.

“We conducted all of the rehearsals in English accents,” she said.

“I watched a lot of Downton Abbey,” Herken said.

Some found that once they started, it was hard to turn off the accent.

For Boyle, whose parents are from England, it was a matter of turning it back on.

“I had it when I was a little girl,” she said. “Other little kids made fun of me, so I changed it pretty quickly.”

Boyle, a Dallas native, and Williams, from Baton Rouge, La., are both sonar technicians at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

It was Boyle’s prodding that got Williams to give acting a shot.

Cori Siggens, a longtime actress, is glad he and the rest of the young newcomers did.

“They are terrific,” Siggens said. “They are young and energetic and terrific to work with.”


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