Seventeen months after child-pornography charges against him were dismissed, Olympia theater mainstay Troy Arnold Fisher is finding his way in a new world.
Fisher’s new venture, Olympia Musical Theatre, is in the opening weekend of its first full-scale musical, “Songs for a New World.”
The song cycle by Jason Robert Brown examines moments of change and decision.
“It’s about any time when we stand on the precipice of doing something new in our lives,” Fisher said in an interview with The Olympian. “Every song is about coming to a moment in time where you’ve got to make a choice whether you are going to turn back or forge ahead and get to a new world.”
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And that does tie in to where he is in his own life. “It seemed like a really good piece because it speaks to change and starting fresh, starting new,” he said.
Fisher is hopeful, enthusiastic — and cautious. Attorney Denise Livingston, Olympia Musical Theatre’s chief financial officer, set up the Olympian’s interview with Fisher and accompanied him to it.
The show, with a cast of 13 ranging in age from 12 to young adult, tells a different story in each song, rather than having characters that continue throughout as in a traditional musical.
“When people ask me about the show, I quote them lyrics, because the lyrics are so potent,” Fisher said. “For instance, ‘It’s about one moment, the moment before it all becomes clear, and in that one moment, you start to believe that there’s nothing to fear. It’s about one second, and just when you’re on the verge of success, the sky starts to change, the wind starts to blow and you’re suddenly a stranger.’
“I find that I’m speaking in lyrics the longer I’m rehearsing the show,” he added. “Even to myself, I’m quoting lyrics.”
“Everything in the show is just so relatable,” said AnnElise Fishel, 17, a senior at Olympia High School and part of the cast. “You feel like it’s your story.
“In rehearsal, we really go into what each character is feeling. Doing the show is like therapy.”
Fisher offered this program to participants tuition free. Olympia Musical Theatre also offers a choir program, Kids in Concert, which Fisher originally pioneered at the now-closed Capital Playhouse, as well as private voice lessons.
In the fall, Fisher will direct an all-city high-school musical, “Evita,” also tuition free for participants.
He said he is looking for where he’s needed in the wake of the closure of Capital Playhouse, which auctioned off its belongings in March.
“There was a rush of people that moved in to try to take a piece of Capital Playhouse’s Kids at Play program,” he said. “I had been an integral part of that for 25 years, and I didn’t want to be in there picking over the bones of that program. I wanted to do something fresh and new.
“My vision for Olympia Musical Theatre is that hopefully we can fill a missing element in what is a really vibrant arts environment. One thing we don’t have right now is an all-ages community theater venue for musical theater.”
He isn’t sure what’s beyond “Evita” or whether he’ll offer tuition-based musicals in the future. “We have to feel out the market,” he said.
Fisher’s association with the playhouse ended when he was charged with possession of child pornography in July 2012. Police searched his computer for clues to his whereabouts after he went missing for three days; he was found disoriented and unable to account for his whereabouts. Fisher last year told The Olympian that the reason for his disappearance was a medical mystery; he did not respond when asked whether any more was known about what happened.
The last play in which he directed the music during the playhouse’s main season was “The Full Monty” in May 2012. He was also director and musical director of “The Wiz” and “Les Miserables” for the Kids at Play program that summer.
In the intervening years, he’s continued his theatrical involvement, playing piano for several local shows and directing “Forever Plaid” for the Elgin (Ore.) Opera House last fall. He never stopped directing Kids in Concert, the choir program he started with the playhouse (where it was known as Kids in Koncert) and has continued with Olympia Musical Theatre.
He’s also returned to his position as music director of the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation, which conducted an independent investigation of the charges against him.
After the charges against him were dismissed because police had no warrant to search his computer, Fisher had talked about a lawsuit against the city. He filed a claim for damages last summer but has not made any decision about pursuing a suit.
“I really don’t want to be in court,” he said. “What I want to do is what I’m doing. I want to live my life.”
Fisher said he appreciates the support he’s received from so many in the community, including strangers as well as longtime students such as Fishel.
“I did Capital Playhouse for 12 years, and I’ve known Troy since the beginning,” AnnElise said. “He’s a really awesome guy to work with.
“Theater is what he loves to do, and it’s awesome that he is able to do it and there are so many people who are supporting him to do this.”
Yet two years after his disappearance, Fisher still sees himself at a moment of decision — much like the moments in his new show.
“I want to do positive things,” he said. “I want to claim my new world. If it’s here, I will be thrilled, and if it has to be somewhere else, I believe I have the courage to step onto new ground.”