'Orcas Tonight' show inspires book

Two former island residents, Gail Brown and Colleen Schuerlein, have published a book titled "Let’s Put on a Show: A Guide to Fun and Fundraising."

In the early 1980s, Gail and Colleen produced, wrote, directed, and performed in variety shows called “Orcas Tonight,” based on the Johnny Carson classic, “The Tonight Show.” Their book details what they did, what they learned, and gives step-by-step advice to those looking to raise funds for local organizations.

The book is a rich history of shows produced by Orcas people who love drama, music, and art. Using interviews with long-time islanders like Velma Doty, Tim Ransom, Abby Rueb, and Thelma McTavish, they explore the many local productions that provided entertainment on an isolated island in the days before cable television and, at the same time, raised funds for a multitude of local projects. From the shows produced by June Schulberg in the 1940s and '50s to benefit The March of Dimes, to the recent “Orcas Idol” competition to raise funds for the Orcas Island Prevention Partnership, the experiences of these dedicated thespians provide the foundation of a book dedicated to demonstrating “how to do it” for communities everywhere by “puttin’ on a show.”

The “Orcas Tonight” shows raised funds to help build the beautiful Orcas Center for the Arts, an idea conceived by Margaret Exton, a beloved English teacher who had a vision for a place inviting and open to kids, and great for theater presentations.

The book will be available for direct purchase at Darvill’s Book Store, The Orcas Center for the Arts, and

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