Meet the real Stu from musical ‘Stu for Silverton’
A talk with Stu Rasmussen, transgender mayor of Silverton, Ore. — who happens to be the subject of “Stu for Silverton,” a new musical about his life by Intiman Theatre.
Seattle Times theater critic
Why agree to let Intiman Theatre produce a musical based on your unconventional life? Stu Rasmussen says his stamp of approval was mostly about civic boosterism.
The mayor of the rural town of Silverton, Ore., and likely the first — or only — openly transgender mayor in the U.S., Rasmussen and his longtime female partner, Victoria Sage, visited Seattle recently to attend the opening of the new musical. Written by Peter Duchan and composed by the pop musician Breedlove, “Stu for Silverton” is based loosely on Rasmussen’s transition from businessman in guy garb to public servant in spike heels.
The show closes with a newsworthy scene from 2008, when Silverton residents drove anti-gay pickets from Westboro Baptist Church out of town with a cross-dressing counterprotest.
Rasmussen tears up a little when he recalls that show of support. “I don’t think of the show as my story so much as a Silverton story and a human-nature story,” noted the dry-witted mayor, who is in his mid-60s, and was wearing his red hair long and casual women’s clothing.
“It’s about being true to yourself, and having others appreciate you for what you are.”
Rasmussen runs the local movie house and founded the first cable-TV company in Silverton. Though the musical depicts his mayoral campaign as his first political race, he first served on the town’s City Council, and also its library board.
“If you don’t involve yourself in politics, you’re destined to be governed by your inferiors,” Rasmussen cracked wryly.
He’s now in his second term as mayor and, he cracks, “probably one of two tourist attractions in town.” (The other is the botanical park, The Oregon Garden.) And Rasmussen is easy to meet with: There’s no mayor’s office, so he holds court in a local coffee shop.
“I’m one of the most accessible mayors in the country,” he declares. And also one of the most dedicated shoppers. After being interviewed, he and Sage went off to check out Seattle thrift shops. “He has a thing for clothes,” Sage said. “And don’t get him started on shoes.”
Misha Berson: firstname.lastname@example.org