Lifestyle

Port Orchard premiere lands pint-sized movie stars

Child actors Valin Shinyei (left) and Michael Strusievici pose with actress Doris Roberts after a long day of shooting
Child actors Valin Shinyei (left) and Michael Strusievici pose with actress Doris Roberts after a long day of shooting 'Mrs. Miracle' in Vancouver.
— image credit: Mihai Strusievici

By design, the world premiere of Debbie Macomber’s “Mrs. Miracle” in Port Orchard will be less extravagant than its Hollywood counterparts. As a result, the movie stars attending the event will be smaller in stature.

Literally.

This week, organizers received confirmation that two child actors who play key parts in the movie will attend the Nov. 28 premiere as guests of honor.

The holiday movie, scheduled for broadcast on the Hallmark Channel on Dec. 5, centers around a widower (Dawson Creek's James Van Der Beek) with 6-year-old twins who is overwhelmed by life.

At his breaking point, a “heaven-sent housekeeper” (Doris Roberts) arrives, helping him to let go of his past and find new love.

For a movie trailer click here.

With Macomber’s support and intense lobbying by members of the Cedar Cove Committee, permission to show the movie one week before its broadcast was secured last month.

Organizers then scheduled a benefit screening and a black tie reception to raise money for local charities.

As part of the festivities, 8-year-old actors Michael Strusievici and Valin Shinyei, who portray Judd Webster and Jason Webster respectively, will attend the screening and the formal party that follows.

The young actors are both from Vancouver, B.C., where the movie was filmed this spring.

They will attend the event with their families.

The actors connected with Port Orchard because Strusievici’s mother was searching the Internet for information about the movie.

“We don’t get the Hallmark Channel in Canada,” said Mihai Strusievici, the actor’s father. “We will get a DVD eventually, but my wife couldn’t wait.”

The Strusievicis called Tak Shinyei, the other actor’s father, who in turn contacted event organizer Shannon Childs.

Afterwards, Childs extended the invitation for the actors and their families.

Childs also secured special permission from the state Liquor Control Board to allow the children to attend the evening reception.

The boys play fraternal twins, and Valin Shinei was cast due to his resemblance to Michael Strusievici, who was already in place.

The two actors have become friends but have different attitudes toward their craft, according to their parents.

Strusievici has been acting for four years and loves the attention.

Shinyei likes the work in front of the camera, but isn’t too fond of rehearsing or participating in publicity.

“He doesn’t like the attention,” Tak Shinyei says of his son. “He doesn’t think he deserves it.”

Their backgrounds also differ. Shinyei’s mother is a dancer and actress who appeared on “Doogie Houser M.D.” and the movie version of “Dudley Do-Right,” while Strusievici’s parents both work in technology.

In both cases, the parents were not the first people to see their sons’ acting talent, the opportunity was suggested by others due to their outgoing personalities and overall cuteness.

“Many people who met Michael suggested that we take him to auditions,” Mihai Strusievici said of his son. “We said to ourselves, ‘What do we have to lose?’ He’s been acting ever since.

“I work as an IT manager, but sometimes I feel like a taxi driver,” he joked.

The Nov. 28 event will begin with a 5:30 p.m. screening of the movie at the Orchard Cinema, followed by a reception at Kitsap Bank.

Tickets are $50, with proceeds benefiting the Port Orchard Library and the South Kitsap High School Band.

Childs hopes that the band will perform as part of the festivities.

The Port Orchard Chimes and Lights Festival occurs the following weekend, during which the Orchard Theater will screen the movie on a rotating basis for free.

For tickets and more information write marketing@kitsapbank.com.

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