Arts & Entertainment Education

Good For You: Gig Harbor grad stars in PLU opera; Students make the grades

Posted on January 24th, 2022 By:

Keast playing starring role in ‘Julius Caesar’

Arthur Keast, a 2018 Peninsula School District Student of Distinction in Music, will be performing the title role in Handel’s opera, “Julius Caesar,” on Jan. 27 and 29 at Pacific Lutheran University. Keast, the son of Paul and Rumi Keast of Gig Harbor, is a senior majoring in Music in Vocal Performance and minoring in Business. Through PLU, he has participated in eight operas.

“Julius Caesar” was planned for the 2020 season, but was canceled because of the pandemic. In the spring of 2021, students began rehearsing outside and performed a smaller-scale opera, Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus,” without an audience that was livestreamed. Keast kept learning the Caesar arias without expecting it would come back. By the time he auditioned last fall, he had learned eight of the nine. PLU Opera will present this grand opera in front of a live audience for the first time in two years, at the Karen Hille Phillip Performing Arts Center.

Arthur Keast performs the title role in “Julius Caesar” during dress rehearsal Thursday. Photo courtesy of Caitlyn Babcock

The opera will be performed in Italian, with subtitles. “Julius Caesar” is Handel’s most popular opera, based on historical facts about him, Cleopatra, Ptolemy and Pompey. Full of action, fantastic characterization and beautiful Baroque music, it is a semi-serious, semi-comic, semi-romantic adventure story.

Keast took four years of choir classes with Wayne Lackman — Meistersingers and jazz choirs for three years — at Gig Harbor High School. He sang the national anthem at his class’s graduation ceremony. He has performed more than 100 solo concerts in venues such as retirement communities since then. He entertains seniors with oldies songs such as Frank Sinatra or Bobby Darin, and introduces a couple of classical pieces, including Caesar arias.

The show runs Jan. 27-30 with Keast performing on the 27th and 29th. It begins at 7:30 the first three nights and at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $17 for adults, $10 for seniors and military, and $5 for ages 18 and under. Go to for the livestream and to for more information. Guests must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the start time, except for those younger than 12. Masks must be worn throughout the performance.

Local students recognized for college grades

Caitlyn Gorman of Gig Harbor is among the students named to Emerson College’s Dean’s List for the Fall 2021 semester. The requirement to make Dean’s List is a grade point average of 3.7 or higher for that semester. Gorman is majoring in Theatre Education and Performance and is a member of the Class of 2023. Emerson is in Boston.

Emma Holland of Gig Harbor was named to the Deans List (3.5 or above) and Hannah Park of Gig Harbor was named to the Presidents List (4.0) during the Fall 2021 term at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Wheaton College (Ill.) student Josiah Gilbert of Gig Harbor was named to the Dean’s List for the Fall 2021 semester, achieving a 3.5 grade point average or higher.

Kendall Norman of Gig Harbor was named to Southern New Hampshire University’s Fall 2021 President’s List by earning a grade point average of 3.7  or above. The school is in Manchester.

Amanda Milledge of Gig Harbor earned a place on the Spokane Community College Honor Roll for Fall Quarter 2021 with a grade point average of 3.0 or above.