Jean Rogers Remembered Through the Arts


Jean Rogers

Local author Jean Rogers will be remembered Sunday for her contributions to Juneau’s arts community. The two-hour program will host musical performances and stories from the artists Jean supported during her life.

Jean Rogers is remembered for her children’s book, King Island Christmas, a true-story Rogers adapted from Alaskan artist Rie Munoz’s real-life experiences on the Bering Sea Island in the nineteen-fifties.

In the 1997, the story was made into a musical, first performed at Perseverance Theatre.  Nearly every Christmas season, musicians in Juneau bring the story to life. Now a group is taking Rogers’s story across the pond to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland.

Directed by Missouri Smith, King Island Christmas will be among thousands of performances at the Fringe Festival this August. To stand out, the production has been renamed Alaska’s King Island Christmas and dedicated to Rogers.

Because if it wasn’t for her excitement and enthusiasm about the story when Rie told her, it never would have happened. -Sharon Gaiptman, Alaska’s King Island Christmas Organizer

To raise enough money for the 40 cast members, group organizer Sharon Gaiptman proposed an internet “kickstarter campaign” with a goal of raising ten-thousand dollars. Before the month was over, more than 100 online donors contributed 11-thousand thousand dollars.

Fundraising efforts for the production have included bake sales, school dances, garage sales, dinners, and even a loan from True North Federal Credit Union. The last fundraising opportunity will be a weekend of performances called Christmas in July before the group leaves for Scotland.

Rachel Saunders has been performing in the King Island Christmas Chorus since 2001. The Fringe Festival will be her 5th  production.

When we’re up there singing to the audience, you just feel like you’re giving a gift to the community and we get so much more in return when we’re singing it.

The King Island Christmas Chorus will perform three numbers from the musical during Sunday’s memorial for Rogers including favorite, Agoodik Muktuk Salmon and Seal.

Roger’s daughter Sydney Fadaoff says donations from the memorial will go to Willoughby Arts Complex Fund in memory of Jean and George Rogers.

It was mom and dad’s dream for Juneau to have a performing arts center so I’m sure they would be very pleased to know that’s where the contributions will be going

“A celebration of life of Jean Rogers through the Arts” is Sunday, at 2pm at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

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