Renton is known for its airplanes, coal mining past and as the final resting place of Jimi Hendrix.
But dig a little deeper, and there’s so much more.
Arts, cinema and theatre play a role in dozens of downtown events. Mainstay players have filled the marquees with big-name plays such as Grease, Annie and Guys & Dolls for 25 years, while others are just getting started (like at the Renton FilmFrenzy for her short film, “School of Dolls”).
Michele Bettinger and Aaron Buckner burst onto the Renton arts scene in 2008, as “Aunt Dottie's Sing-Along Cabaret” when they booked their first show at Renton Civic Theatre.
They started with a repertoire of 24 songs and a slightly structured improv show. Since then they’ve expanded to more than 100 songs and every show is truly one-of-a-kind.
“We’re a cross between Ed Sullivan and Pee Wee’s Playhouse,” Bettinger said.
Each curtain call brings with it a fundraiser so Bettinger and Buckner can give back to their community.
This Sunday they’ll celebrate four years at a special anniversary show at none other than their home stage, Renton Civic Theatre. A portion of ticket sale will benefit CryOut, a Renton nonprofit that empowers youth through the creative arts.
“It’s a good match because they are all about getting kids interested in the arts,” she said.
The child of a ballet teacher, Bettinger had no interest in the fine arts. Instead, she got her start during a two-week stint on “Romper Room.”
“I wanted to be just like Ginger Grant from Gilligan’s Island,” she said.
Bettinger continued her acting in school plays until she convince a friend to go with her to a casting call for “Bus Stop” at the bygone Valley Community Players. In 1988 she auditioned for Disney MGM. A few months later, Disney called and said she had had a job. Ten days later she was on a plane to Florida. That’s where she stayed until 1996, and where she met her real-life husband.
And then a hurricane dropped a tree on her house, among several other signs that maybe it was time to return to Washington state.
“This is time. I don’t want to live through another hurricane,” she said of her thoughts at the time.
But enough about the actor — the audience will see Aunt Dottie and her nephew Aaron on stage Sunday.
“She’s that crazy aunt that everybody has,” Bettinger said.
Aunt Dottie not only has her own show, she has a Facebook and Twitter account, too.
And don’t forget her persona and make-belive husband, Leonard!
Fourth Anniversary Show:
Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 2 p.m.
Renton Civic Theatre, 507 S 3rd St.
BOX OFFICE 425-226-5529