From a rural commune to Broadway | The story of Noah Racey

It’s a theatrical experience that is decades in the making.

Noah Racey — Broadway performer, singer, dancer, writer and educator — is bringing “Mountain Grove” to the Orcas Center main stage. It’s a show that tells the story of his childhood through spoken word, tap dancing and music.

“It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done because it’s me and my experience,” Racey said. “To perform an evening in front of an audience and telling your story are two entirely different things. I’ve learned so much about writing for theatre and writing for a playable moment — you can’t tell the audience how to feel.”

The performances, which run 90 minutes, are on March 31 and April 1 at 7 p.m. and April 2 at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $59 and are available at

Racey is joined by director Dick Scanlan, pianist Ross Patterson and percussionist Jason Yudoff in “Mountain Grove.” For the Orcas production, OC Artist Director Jake Perrine will be creating sound and lights. Racey and Scanlan first met while participating in the Broadway production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and became friends and collaborators.

“For me, it began with just writing. I love words and I love to write. I came to Dick a few times with a few different ideas for shows. He’s always been so warm-hearted and welcoming,” Racey said. “I finally came to him with one piece, and he said, ‘you know you always come to be with these ideas but we end up talking about your life. Tell me more about that.’ So I told him about growing up on a hippie commune. That is how I started writing in earnest about that path.”

Racey and his sisters, who spent part of their youth on Orcas Island, moved with their parents to Southern Oregon in the early 1970s and lived for four years in a hippie commune. “Mountain Grove” is told from his perspective as a child navigating between extreme freedom and the desire for safety.

“I was very struck with how specific and unusual his story is and also how universal,” Scanlan said. “The show is very funny and it has dark moments.”

The two began working on the production in 2017 in New York and performed it there in 2018. Three years later, they picked it up again, collaborating with Patterson and Yudoff to create a contemporary jazz score.

“Noah moves so beautifully, we knew there’d be music,” Scanlan said. “In addition to storytelling, Noah is a very acclaimed and wildly gifted tap dancer. He uses rhythm to help the story the way a drummer might. It’s not a guy sitting in a chair telling you a story — it’s very theatrical.”

Racey, Scanlan, Patterson and Yudoff will be spending two weeks at Orcas Center as Artists in Residency. They are offering acting, directing and singing workshops to the public. The registration fee is $100 for each workshop at and the participant size is limited to six. However, if you want to view the process without participating, you can get an audience ticket for $15.

Song Interpretation with Noah Racey

Tuesday, March 21: 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Racey is an award-winning actor, creator and educator. He is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and has numerous Broadway credits. He is currently Head of Musical Theatre at Colorado State University and the Associate Artistic Director of OpenStage Theatre. Work on your favorite song with Racey and accompanist Ross Patterson. Enrich your personal connection to the songs you sing, cultivate a fuller understanding of how you approach your interpretation, and identify and utilize skills to help you create a journey through your piece that is uniquely and powerfully yours.

Voice Acting/Voice Over with Jason Yudoff

Wednesday, March 22; 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Get tips and feedback from professional voice actor Yudoff, a New York based artist with 25 years’ experience in the recording booth, on how to read scripts with authenticity, understand delivery and emotional storytelling, as well as identify different genres and where your voiceover style fits. Come record spots and listen to fellow artists refine their skills. Bring your own material for feedback and instruction or pick some new copy and brush up on your cold reading skills. A collaborative, interactive environment offering insight into all areas of the voiceover process.

Directing with Dick Scanlan

Thursday, March 23, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Scanlan is a writer/director who has worked on Broadway and around the world, including the book and lyrics to the Tony Award-winning musical, “Thoroughly Modern Millie. This workshop will help you gain professional insight into understanding characters, working with actors, choosing projects, and other aspects of the directing process.