The Andelana was a 4-masted bark which sank in Tacoma Harbor in 1899. A bark is a sailing ship of three or more masts. The Andelana with her 4 masts had a record of sailing difficulty in stormy seas because it was top heavy. When the ship was empty of cargo or ballast it was even more vulnerable. According to sources, the ship was anchored in preparation to take on a large shipment of wheat bound for Europe, so all the hatches were open. It was built by R. Williamson & Son, Workington, England, in 1889 for the Andelana Sailing Ship Company, Ltd., of Liverpool, England. According to sources, the ship was lying at anchor in Tacoma in preparation of a large shipment of wheat bound for Europe. It capsized and sank in 200 feet of water. The ship was empty of cargo or ballast. There were reports that some hands jumped ship on arrival. The ship sank quickly with all hands on board.
Below deck the 17 member crew and captain were locked down for the night. A sudden squall swept across Commencement Bay with Wind gusts of 40 mph. The Andelana capsized and quickly sank in 200 feet of water. All souls were lost. Despite long efforts to bring the ship to the surface, the Andelana still remains on the bottom of the harbor.
Playwright Roger Iverson was commissioned by the artistic leadership of Dukesbay Theater to write a play about this tragic event. His play is packed with interesting facts about the Andelana and her loss in Tacoma harbor 124 years ago. But the world premiere play is more than the factual details. Iverson brings to life the humanity of these sailors and their captain. In his playwright notes he tells us “these men beckoned me to create a story that honors them.” And so, he did. While the Puget Sound never allowed these souls to resurface, Roger Iverson, Aya Hashiguchi Clark and Director Randy Clark have brought the story of these men and their ill-fated ship into our consciousness in vivid and moving detail. Randy and his wife Aya believe in “Promoting independent theatre in Tacoma, and providing a voice to artists of all ethnicities.” The Andelana was a ship with a multicultural past that slowly reveals itself in a haunting journey.
We were welcomed at the theater by Aya Hashiguchi Clark and went upstairs where we were blown away by the wonderful set and stage. Jennifer York was the Scenic Painter with Set Construction by Hector Juarez and Niclas Olson. Jennifer York is quite often both a director and scenic artist.
We took our seats and were in awe. We were roughly two or three feet from what looked like the deck of the ship. The floor was painted to resemble decking. The eye for attention was excellent. We looked down what seemed like the entire length seeing the interior sides from our seats to the bridge, the mast, and the sails which seemed to move in the breeze. There were benches for the crew to sit and talk, eat, and drink. Please, note the keg of rum with a ready dipper.
The addition of a small desk and witness chair allowed us to leave the ship and receive testimony about the cause of the catastrophe. Niclas Olson created the sound design of a high sea adventure and eerie foreshadowing of doom. The Andelana was a ship with a multicultural past that slowly reveals itself in a haunting journey.
Dukesbay Theatre has assembled a seaworthy cast. There is a striking duo of two of the youngest members of the crew – Asante Hayes (Richard) and Trevor Owens (Buck). The two enjoy joking about their work load and their worries regarding the ship’s future. Asante Hayes is at the beginning of a promising leading man career. He delivers a compelling performance that drives the storyline. His sidekick, Buck, is reluctant to go ashore to run errands for the Captain because of a painful toothache. But Hayes’ Richard loans Buck a good luck charm and wishes him well as he leaves the ship. Hayes and Owen provide a good portion of the humor and heart of the play.
We first saw Trevor Owens at Tacoma Little Theatre’s Rock of Ages. Like a true rock and roll star, Buck gets the girl, Christina, played merrily by Christine Choate. It was good to see Tim Takechi (Yang/Tze). His last performance at Dukesbay was in “Waltz of the Toreadors”, which had been our first visit to Dukesbay. We loved him in “The Ghost Train” and “Yellow Fever” at CenterStage in Federal Way. Another Dukesbay actor from Dr. Jekyll alum was W. Scott Pinkston (Charles/Burley); he last performed at CenterStage in “The Hatmaker’s Wife.” His ability to create physical characterization for both his characters was admirable. Ejay Amor (Brown) did an excellent job as a young crew member who is keenly aware of the difference between facts and superstition when it comes to the lore of the ship.
Director Randy Clark wore several hats on opening night. There was a minor problem. Ben Stahl was ill and could not appear, which was a shame. Peg and I enjoyed him in the CenterStage performances of “Tartuffe”, “The Ghost Train”, “The Oregon Trail” as well as “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” at Dukesbay earlier this year. Director Randy Clark filled in for Ben at the last minute. Randy rarely looked at his notes and never interrupt the flow.
Another Dr. Jekyll from Dukesbay was W. Scott Pinkston who last performed at CenterStage in The Hatmaker’s Wife.
Trevor Owens (Buck) we first saw at Tacoma Little Theatre in Rock of Ages. Like a true rock and roll star, Buck gets the girl, Christina (Christine).
Two new faces were Asante Hays (Richard) and Ejay Amor (Brown). They both did an excellent job and we look forward to seeing them again at Dukesbay as well as other local productions. The whole crew was a joy to see.
“Andelana” runs through November 19th. Tickets are a bargain . . . a real bargain at only $15.
For more information, please visit – https://dukesbay.org/shows/