The only reason I do this is to wear fake eyelashes," Sandy Palmer, co-producer of the widely acclaimed Moisture Festival, told me. "I love to costume." And the Moisture Festival gives her plenty of opportunities to model her vintage clothes and wigs.
"I'm not a natural actress," she claimed. When it comes to performing, "keep in mind," Sandy reminds fellow producers Ron Bailey, Tim Furst, Simon Neale and Maque da Vis, "I barely know what I'm doing."
As the only woman and the youngest performer, Sandy admitted she has a lot to learn about stage-managing and directing the 130 performers that form 70 acts featured during this year's festival.
Nearly five years ago, four veteran performers envisioned the Moisture Festival and sought a fifth with experience in details and administration. Sandy believes Simon hesitated to volunteer her.
"The workload is so huge," she admitted. She's glad he hesitated, though. "I do feel like I'm listened to and respected" in all aspects of the show, but "when it comes to the business sides of things, they defer to me."
Sandy juggles publicity and promotion, and she's started exploring grants.
As they stage their fourth festival, Sandy can show they "attract culturally significant performers." Sandy delegates what she can, including work on sponsorships, but "my main goal is not to let anyone down.
"We've really worked hard to do the right things," Sandy said about management of the festival, "to do things professionally."
They've garnered sponsorships from Fremont and Seattle businesses, and they welcome more. "We are going to have a buzz," she knows, but as to attracting the corporate deep pockets, "it's hard to describe" the festival. Corporations, especially those with headquarters located elsewhere, can't appreciate the festival or how wide its appeal has grown.
"It's not something you can communicate with words," Sandy conceded.
Plays and songs are written to be performed, but they can be read. No expression, written or verbal, truly captures the magic of this comedy/varieté spectacular. The Moisture Festival has no equal for what it brings audiences, and in that lies much of its charm.
Originally from Milwaukee, Sandy moved to Seattle in June 2001 from Chicago where she had worked in event planning for a cable station. She followed her boyfriend, Skip Swenson, when he relocated here for a job.
"If I had my choice, I'd sing," she said, and her desire to perform introduced her to artists here and through them, to Simon and his troupe, the Fremont Players. Sandy instantly connected. "Being silly and having fun is part of the show," Sandy said of Fremont Player panto performances. "It's not professional actress-ing."
Sandy works full-time for Puget Sound Energy as a marketing manager on conservation programs. "I like having busy weekends and something to do after work," she said. "If I don't have something fun to work on, I get bored."
So she volunteers on the festival, with Cirque de Flambé and with helping to build a disco for the Solstice Parade: "I only want to spend so much time as a blob on the couch."
"I really, really enjoy singing," Sandy reiterates often. This year, she's added dance to her repertoire. Last summer, she learned to tap dance with flaming batons for Cirque, and it gave her courage to try more.
As she learns a dance routine for the festival's burlesque show, Sandy promises, "I'm going to practice as hard as I can!"
Throughout the festival she'll also don disguises aplenty that make her entirely unrecognizable, although she's always the girl who smiles and makes everyone look good - on stage and off.
A HELPFUL PRESENCE
Simon describes Sandy as "not only cute, but very helpful."
She never shrinks from new challenges. This year, in addition to use of Hale's Palladium, a converted warehouse, for the majority of their shows - except for burlesque shows on Friday, March 23, and Saturday, March 24, at ACT Theatre - Hale's Ales Brewery & Pub gave festival organizers space for an office. Literally, it was space, and Moisture Festival producers built an office there.
Sandy proudly pointed out, "I helped Simon insulate."
"It's a good-enough experience," Sandy said, "and audiences here have been so fun" that more and more performers want to participate. Organizers had a tough time giving each performer the amount of exposure they want: "It's a nice problem to have," she said.
If you want to experience the Moisture Festival and try to spot Sandy, you have until April 1. Information on tickets and programs is available at www.moisturefestival.com.
"It's so worth it," Sandy said of her dedication to bringing Moisture to Fremont. "Everybody's a comedian," she said, and she means it literally, "so we laugh and have fun!"
Kirby Lindsay lives, works and recreates in Fremont. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.