Kitsap Forest Theater is a natural outdoor amphitheater just outside of Bremerton, Wash. It's been run by the Mountaineers for 93 years, and sits on a 640-acre forest preserve.
100 years ago it was all rhododendrons. That was the initial attraction to the area. Some of the people who are Mountaineers began to come and stay every year and they began to do shows, performances and concerts, and eventually that developed into an annual theatrical production.
The shows have been continuously running since then, except for a couple of years during World War II. Over that time, this forest has grown up, and created a natural amphitheater, surrounded by Douglas fir and red cedar and big leaf maple. There are rhododendrons on the stage.
Tod Harrick is playing the Tin Man in the Kitsap Forest Theater’s upcoming production of "Wizard of Oz." He and his daughters; Jasmine, who is playing Dorothy; and Eliana, who is playing the coroner; have been performing at the theater for about 6 years, and to him, it never gets old.
“Well, not to be trite, but you know and one of the slogans of the places that it's theater in a magical place, and I feel that every time we come here. There's the sound of the spring. There's the way that the performance space just naturally flows into an old-growth forest that is the epitome of what I think of as the Pacific Northwest. So anybody that comes here to see a show that's the thing that blows everybody away,” he says.
It isn’t just the visual beauty that you get when you come to the Kitsap Forest Theater, it’s the sounds and smells too, Harrick says.
“You've got cedar; you've got fur; you've got the rhododendrons … It’s the sound. Right now, there are songbirds. We have eagles; we have owls. There's the rush of the creek. The wind in the trees — oh this is amazing. It'll impact the show. Sometimes nature will do the most amazing thing … and you're going to carry with you the rest of your life. That's what we get here.”
The Kitsap Forest Theater will be performing "Wizard of Oz" every Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. through June 18.