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Hail to Thee, My Oregon!

Bob Welch & Friends returns to the Hult

Former Register-Guard columnist Bob Welch spins his popular Oregon stories for a live audience, Nov. 5-6.

“I had a great ride for 24 years and I wanted to find a way to say thank you,” Welch says. 

Enter live theater. 

“It’s a celebration of our state in stories, songs, images and, of course, s’mores,” Welch says.

An Oregon native, Welch is clearly smitten.

“I love that you can start at sea level, and end the day at the summit of the Sisters,” Welch says. “Oregonians have a passion for the state’s natural beauty. We have that in common. This is our home.” 

Welch’s career encouraged him to explore Oregon’s scenic vistas. And retirement has persuaded him to share those stories in a new setting. 

“I like to try new things,” Welch says. “And to ask myself, ‘Could I do this?’ Thanks to amazing support staff, people like Judy, we did it.” 

Welch’s director, Judy Wenger, is a 30-year teaching veteran, who’s directed countless productions for kids. 

“I’d have to say that the big difference in normal directing, and working with Bob, is that it’s his material. He’s the expert,” Wenger says. “In trusting me, he listens to what I have to say — And if he questions what I have to say, I taught middle school. I’m used to questions.” 

So what can audiences expect?

“This is no travelogue,” Welch says. “It’s a romp across the state, east to west, that we hope will have people laughing, reflecting and falling in love all over again with this beautiful place.”

Cellist-guitarist Dale Bradley, violinist-violist Lisa McWhorter and pianist-cellist Peter Norland, along with comedic poet David Perham, join Welch onstage.

 The show features photography by Stan Newman, Jason Friesen, Laren and JerriLynn Woolley, Jorma Meriaho and Eric Valentine, as well as a video piece by Ryan Welch.

And, as if it couldn’t get any cozier, quilts by Jennifer Rabner, Sally Welch and the Something to Crow About quilt shop will decorate the stage. 

Last year’s inaugural production played to a sold-out house. This year, they’ve added a performance. 

And yes, there will be free s’mores at intermission. 

Catch “Bob Welch & Friends” 7:30 pm Thursday and Friday, Nov. 5-6, at the Hult Center; $27-$35; group discounts (10 or more tickets) are available for $29.75 and $23, respectively. Tickets for college age and below are $15. Tickets are available at hultcenter.org, by phone at 682-5000 or at the Hult Center box office.