Great works are created through much time, teamwork, and effort.

Ten months ago, Eileen Voiland took to the stage at Wine Social as the narrator in a musical showcase of her production, then called Up First Hill.

The performance was a debut for much of the work. It is based on Voiland’s mother, Catherine, growing up in Seattle and raising a family in Richland. The ‘real Catherine’ just turned 101 years old, right here in the Tri-Cities.

Several songs from the play were performed in sets, with context provided by Voiland in between, in order to give the audience a taste of the show. Since then, the production has grown through the efforts of the Lyric Works team, and has been officially slated for its stage debut. 

Auditions will be held in late March for The Sunny Hours, as it is now called.

Musical progress after showcase

Not long after the showcase, a table read was conducted using the full script. This led to the addition of G. Quinley and Friends to the production team, bringing in the minds of experienced locals Ginny Quinley, Justin Raffa, and John Tuttle. Quinley says there’s been nonstop work since the showcase.

The script has undergone extensive rewriting, polishing and enhancing the storyline. The music has been edited as well, with the help of Nancy Erickson Lamont.

“Eileen is amazing, because a play is your baby, and not everyone is open to feedback when they write something,” Quinley told me in an interview. “Those who are, usually get the better product in the end, because collaboration just makes everything better.”

There is much collaboration in this project, as it is more than just a stage performance; it’s a multimedia experience. The stage will be adorned with period-appropriate projections, and several scenes are filmed.

The script was fully-finished a few months ago, and the team is now preparing for auditions and performances.

The Sunny Hours auditions, performances

There are a variety of roles in The Sunny Hours, more so than most productions, according to Quinley. There are no pre-cast roles, so the production team will be looking for someone to fill each of the following roles:


  • Catherine (Age 90, willing to cast considerably younger)
  • Ella (Age 50–60)
  • Young Catherine (Age 20–30)


  • Three male students (Age 18–25)
  • Three female students (Age 18–25)
  • Three Jesuit fathers
  • Young Gene (Age 20–30)
  • Annie (Age 50–60)


  • Four youths (Ages 11–16)
  • About six adults to play various roles

Not all of the roles include singing parts, but those auditioning are asked to prepare a Broadway selection up to 90 seconds long, and bring with them printed sheet music or a pre-recorded track. Additionally, wear non-restrictive clothing for dance auditions. Some roles are film-only.

Auditions will be held at the Arts Center Task Force Building at 704 Symons Street on March 29 at 6pm and March 30 at 11am. Callbacks will be on Sunday, March 31 at 2pm.

Once roles are cast, there will be a readthrough and some early musical practice in April and May. Rehearsals will begin in June, primarily on weekends.

The Sunny Hours will be at the Academy of Children’s Theatre at 213 Wellsian Way. Opening night is August 1, with shows at 7pm on August 1–3, and a 2pm matinee show on August 3 and 4.

Voiland told me she is “so pleased” the production will be staged in her hometown.

Karlee Van De Venter is a full-time reporter at the Tri-City Herald who contributes Arts and Entertainment coverage for Tumbleweird. Through a co-publication agreement, this content may also appear in the Herald.