Who they are: the scoop on 7 Dilettantes

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The choreographer

Rachael Gerlach, 29, is part Mary Poppins and part Rambo. The psychosocial rehabilitation specialist teaches schoolchildren who have mental or emotional disorders how to interact with others and in social situations. It isn't uncommon for her to be hit, bitten, kicked or spit on.

"I knew that I wanted to be there for the kids who were struggling," said Gerlach, bullied in middle and high school. "Who didn't have anybody. Who didn't feel like they were being helped."

Dance and theater were always her safe places, she said, "the places I could go and not be judged and not be bullied."

Gerlach didn't know anybody when she moved to Idaho, but a co-worker involved with the Dilettantes told her: You should come sing and dance and have fun. Gerlach is the choreographer and a highlighted dancer in "Jekyll and Hyde," her third Dilettantes production.

The ensemble player

Rehearsals allow Kristin Morgan, 27, to escape motherhood for a few hours a night — while her husband sacrifices his basketball league games and tournaments to stay with the children.

Before she was a stay-at-home mother of two — with one on the way — Morgan rode horses, scuba dived and was a Latin dance instructor. Now she teaches private voice lessons. Shortly after moving to Twin Falls from Boise two years ago, she started looking for a community theater group to join.

A friend introduced her to the Dilettantes, and she played Gertrude McFuzz in "Seussical the Musical" last year. She's an ensemble member for "Jekyll and Hyde" and sits on the Dilettantes board.

Morgan's first role: "Lion" in "The Wizard of Oz," while in seventh grade outside Chicago.

The actress

At 5, Sarah Manning starred in her first Dilettantes show playing Gretl von Trapp in "The Sound of Music." She acted alongside her father, playing Captain von Trapp, and two older brothers.

While Manning grew up in Twin Falls, her family was heavily involved in community theater. On road trips the family played "Les Miserables" and "Phantom of the Opera" soundtracks instead of the radio.

Now 27, Manning plays Emma Carew, Jekyll's fiancee, in "Jekyll and Hyde," her sixth Dilettantes show.

"I really enjoy being on stage," the downtown barber said, "sharing my talents and singing as a different person or character."

The new guy

Duel Newberry was in the audience, mesmerized, the last time Garth "Dusty" Blackburn starred in"Jekyll and Hyde," in 2009.

"I always thought about the show ever since," Newberry said. "It was that good."

The show inspired the 16-year-old's desire to become an actor someday. Eight years later, the 24-year-old weatherization technician had never pursed acting, but the dream was still alive. He auditioned for the same show and was cast in the ensemble. He didn't know anyone at first but is starting to make friends and feel like he belongs.

The confidante

Ivan Hardcastle — who plays John Utterson, lawyer and confidante of Dr. Henry Jekyll — grew up in Rupert surrounded by art. His mother taught art classes and still does. Hardcastle drew when he was younger, but now he channels his creative energy into woodworking, theater and his job as an occupational therapist with Primary Therapy Source.

Hardcastle, 36, works mostly with children with autism, Down syndrome and other developmental delays.

"They are complex little puzzles," he said. "It's a challenge, and it's so rewarding to see them grow."

Hardcastle chose occupational therapy for its creative aspect.

"I love to play games and be spontaneous and fairly energetic," he said. "I can use that to my advantage when working with kids, and they respond well."

The other woman

There were five years in Johanna Stagge's life when she couldn't devote her time to theater; she was a mother of two boys, going to school online and working full time.

Life is still busy. But she finds opportunities to run, kayak and spend weekends with her husband of 19 years.

Stagge, 40, is senior director of primary care for St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center. She works with all the primary care clinics in the Magic Valley and is responsible for daily operations, implementing health care reforms, and improving care and customer service.

After moving to Twin Falls in 2005, she quickly got involved with Dilettantes and still has friends from the first show. In this one, she plays Lucy Harris, the main attraction at a seedy nightclub.

The star

You could say Garth "Dusty" Blackburn's career landed in his lap. A personality test said he should be a nurse, so he left retail management to become one.

"It was hard," Blackburn said. "It was a total rewiring."

His first clinical was nerve-wracking, and he struggled to learn medical terminology. But Blackburn approached nursing the way he approached retail: It's about providing quality service to the client — or patient.

Blackburn, 41, has been a St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center nurse for 10 years and recently transitioned into a new role as a liaison between the hospital's clinical side and the IT department. He helped implement the hospital's single-health-record system.

He travels for work but still finds time to play Jekyll and Edward Hyde. In late February, he drove through a snowstorm in a minivan and arrived at rehearsal with seconds to spare.

—Tetona Dunlap

 

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