Monday, October 28, 2013

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—theatrevertigo at the Shoe box Theatre—SE Portland

Multiple Me’s
This classic horror tale by Robert Louis Stevenson is adapted for the stage by Jeffrey Hatcher.  It is directed by Bobby Bermea and will be playing through November 23rd.  For further information go to their site at or call 503-306-0870.

This is one of the all-time, great, spooky stories and has been filmed many times.  The earlier versions are with John Barrymore, Fredrick March, and Spencer Tracy.  Jack Palance played him in a very successful TV presentation and there is, of course, the stage musical version with David Hasslehoff.  There is even two versions with Mr. Hyde as a handsome man, a B film with Paul Mantee, and Jerry Lewis’s The Nutty Professor (he won the well-deserved, French Academy Award for this).

The story concerns a well-respected medical man, Dr. Henry Jekyll (Mario Calcagno), during the late 1800’s, who believes that he can rid the evil side of a person from the good, by taking a potion he has devised.  He has his detractors, of course, represented by Dr. Carew (Tyler Ryan) who sees man as just a piece of meat in the end, on a gurney.

But Jekyll does have his supporters, via his friend, Utterson (Kerry Ryan), a lawyer, Enfield (R. David Wyllie) and a colleague, Dr. Lanyon (Brooke Calcagno).  But, although his experiment is somewhat successful, his secret self, Mr. Hyde (Heath Koerschgen), instead of being subdued, has began to dominate Jekyll’s personality.  Including, unfortunately, some rather messy murders, that the free-wielding Hyde has committed, including his rival, Dr. Carew, bringing the experiment to the attention on Scotland Yard and an Inspector (Tom Mounsey).

The only thing that seems to tame the beast, is love, in the form of Elizabeth (Karen Wennstrom).  Now Hyde has an ever greater desire to survive.  But, this only enrages the Jekyll-self and, in a twist, he becomes the aggressor, killing one of his dearest friends, so that the truth doesn’t become known, that he, himself, is actually Hyde.  Of course, only a tragic end can ensue and a monster is destroyed…in him, at least, but what of us?!

This is not an easy story to bring to the stage, for the obvious reason that both Jekyll and Hyde inhabit the same body and so some physical transformation should take place.  But, in this adaptation, Hyde is not only a separate role but is played by more than one actor, a clever idea.  Postulating, I believe, that man is not just two beings within but that there are multiple facets to a persona.  And, as theatrevertigo believes in cross-gender casting, female representatives as well.

Also, since Jekyll sees a human in terms of black and white, so the costuming (McKenna Twedt) of the play reflects that.  And the choice of presenting this tale in a small, intimate space is ideal, an in-your-face depiction of a tormented soul.  As Ms. Liptak, the House Manager, pointed out, “…it’s like you’re in a haunted house with scary things all around you.”  Very true.  A great Halloween treat…or trick.

Of course, we have our own version of this experiment, too, it’s call lobotomy.  The most famous example was JFK’s mentally-challenged sister, Rose, who, after it was performed, was little more that a walking vegetable.  Or, the actress, Francis Farmer, an eccentric performer, who was only a pale imitation of her former self after the operation.  Without passion we may be docile, tamed, but our essence seems to be missing as well.  We are who we are because of our complicated selves, not in spite of it.

Mario, as Jekyll, does an admirable job.  This is a complex role and he handles the transitions smoothly.  The unique characteristic he brings to the role is the fact that we, in the end, see the monster in Jekyll himself and not just Hyde.  Heath as the main embodiment of Hyde also give us a multi-layer character, not just a killer but an intense passion that can turn to love with the right person, something that Jekyll seems incapable of comprehending.  A role well-realized by this actor.

Most of the other actors play multiple roles giving good accounts of themselves.  Brooke, as always, is effective as the Scottish friend of Jekyll’s, Lanyon, trying to understand this complicated man.  Kerry, as his other friend, Utterson, gives us an intense performance.  And R. David does nicely as Enfield and the contrasting role of the private eye, Sanderson.  And Karen, as Hyde’s love, gives depth to this conflicted person.

Bermea, the Director, has done a remarkable job of playing such a complicated production with multiple locations (Scenic Designer, Megan Wilkerson) in such a small space and a cast of eight performing about twice as many roles.  But it works very well, as we never get confused as to where they are or who is who.  As to purpose, the director notes, “And now…let’s have some murder, some mayhem and no goddamn apologies!”

I recommend this show but, because of the intensity, it probably would not be for young children.  If you do go, please tell them Dennis sent you.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Little One Theatrical - White Tiger Ent. - PRESS RELEASE - Auditions


White Tiger Enterprises, LLC [Little One Theatrical] in association with Balding Eagle Productions announces auditions for their NEW rock musical THIS CHILD
by Marc Keele and Vic Sorisio with Gregory E. Zschomler (directing).

The original workshop, big budget, operatic production will make its world-wide debut in spring of 2014 in the Portland/Vancouver market. All parts are profit-sharing works for hire. NON-EQUITY ONLY.


Jonathan: Father, Husband, Pastor, 25 to 35,  strong baritone or low tenor, good actor. Must demonstrate singing ability and show acting experience through resume.

Wife, Mother, 25 to 35, alto or low soprano, good actress. Must demonstrate singing ability and show acting experience through resume.

Child (6-8 years), good singer, good ballerina. Cute, able to act well. Must demonstrate singing and dance ability and show acting experience through resume.

Teen (14-16 years), excellent singer (soprano). Able to act well (show a variety of emotions). Must demonstrate singing ability and show acting experience through resume.

30-35, strong baritone, able to act and dance and grow a beard. Must demonstrate singing ability and show acting experience through resume.

Male Chorus:
three + strong singers, able to dance and act. Must demonstrate singing ability and have some acting experience.

Female Chorus:
three + excellent singers, excellent dancers, able to act. Must demonstrate singing and dance ability and have some acting experience. ONE of these positions will also serve as the show’s CHOREOGRAPHER.


(by appointment) will take place after Thanksgiving 2013. REHEARSALS will take place January-February, 2014. The SHOW RUN (two weeks) is expected to begin March 1, 2014.

Interested parties should contact Greg at 360.887.3297 (leave a message, you’ll be contacted for an appt.)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Magic Tree House: A Night in New Orleans—Oregon Children’s Theatre at the Newmark Theatre—downtown Portland

The King of Jazz

This musical is based on a book, from a series of children’s books on the Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne, called A Good Night For Ghosts.  The stage script/music is by Will Osborne, Murray Horwitz and the New Orleans legend, Alan Toussaint.  It is directed by Stan Foote (OCT’s Artistic Director), musical direction by Mont Chris Hubbard and choreography by Sara Mishler Martins.  It is playing through November 10th at the Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway.  For further information go to their site at or call 503-228-9571.

Louie Armstrong is certainly “The Man” when it comes to Jazz, Blues & Scat, especially New Orleans style.  I admit, I am a fan of this kind of music, so it can do no wrong, as far as I’m concerned.  Another excellent example of the flavor of this period is the great, old-style, cel-animated, 2009 flick by Disney called, The Princess and the Frog.

Having not read the books by Osborne, I can only surmise that they are about two teenagers that go on a series of adventures via a time machine, the Tree House, and influence, in some way, past events that might need prodding.  In this case, the magical vehicle takes our intrepid adventurers, Annie (Ashlee Waldbauer) and Jack (Thom Hilton) to 1915 New Orleans.  Their mission:  To inspire a fourteen-year-old, Dipper (Javon Carter), aka Louie Armstrong, to take up the trumpet and give the world his gift of music.

But, in this case, he has his family to support, delivering coal and working on the docks unloading bananas.  Although he loves music and food, especially Gumbo, he has no time for joining with his musical pals, Happy (Nate Golden), Big Nose (Isaiah Rosales), and Little Mac (Xavier B. Warner).  This trio becomes a kind of Greek Chorus for the show, commenting on and moving the story along.

But Dipper’s new-found friends help him in his jobs and continue to enforce the fact that he needs to turn his talents toward music.  He regards them as “potato-heads” (having no brains) and ignores their advice.  But they are finally beset by the pirate ghosts of Jean LeFitte (Daniel East) and his crew (Haley Ward) but are defeated by Annie’s enchanted trumpet. 

Annie and Jack are forced to show Dipper the book from the future (a no-no is most stories of this genre) on his important inclusion in music history.  They also reveal to him the keys roles that Afro-Americans have, and will play, in American culture.  Finally Dipper is convinced of the power of music and sets his sights on a musical career…and the rest, as they say, is history.

The story may be slight but the theatrical/musical aspects of it, as an educational tool, are priceless.  And the amount of talent and energy embodied in this production are boundless!  The band, led by Hubbard, and on trumpet, Thomas Barber, are terrific.  And, once again, Martins shines as a Choreographer.  Some of her most recent triumphs have included Kiss of the Spider Woman at Triangle and her Drammy (and Sparkle Recognition) award winner for A Year in the Life of Frog and Toad with OCT.  I look forward to seeing more of this young lady’s steps in the future.

Waldbauer and Hilton are very pleasing as the adventurers.  Hilton playing the somewhat inept, nerdy pal and Waldbauer as the attractive and fearless leader of the duo.  They are a good match for Carter’s young Armstrong.  He is quite a find, as both his voice and acting, are very accomplished to perform this weighty role.  And the rest of the small cast do well in various roles to flesh out the story.  The numbers, “Gumbo,” “Heebie Jeebies,” “Music Everywhere,” and “Dream in my Heart” were my favorites.

But (once again) to prove my theory that there are no small roles, Haley Ward bursts with talent in her role in the ensemble.  She has a dance solo in “Music Everywhere” that is a standout.  And her singing, as the Gumbo cook, in the number, “Gumbo,” is also a treat.  She is also a Drammy (and Sparkle Recognition) award winner.  As my friend said (not knowing her past history), “She sure knows how to sell herself onstage.”  Amen.  Hopefully she will find a future project to further her enormous talent!

And Foote, as the director, keeps the setting simple to allow his performers to take center stage and carry the story.  He has done well with this magical cast, designers and crew in creating such a satisfying production.  Bravo!

I recommend this show.  It also showcases some very talented young performers who deserve encouragement.  If you do go, please tell them Dennis sent you.

The Outgoing Tide—CoHo Theatre—NW Portland

Who’s In Charge, Anyway?

This intense drama is written by Bruce Graham and directed by Stephanie Mulligan.  It is produced, with CoHo Productions, by Tobias Andersen, Jane Fellows and Stephanie Mulligan.  It is playing at their site at 2257 NW Raleigh St.  For more information go to or call 503-715-1114.

This play has much in common with ‘Night Mother and Whose Life Is It Anyway?  Those show dealt with a person ending their own life because of boredom or a major illness.  In this case the person is facing Alzheimer’s.  We all have to face the end of life at some point—no exceptions.  The question might be is, how do we handle it if we are aware of the preparation steps that lead to it?

Once upon a time…in the far-distant past, out of the eternal sea, came a creature that walked on two legs.  The animal matched the tide, living and dying, with the ebb and flow of the waters.  Arriving with the waves and leaving on…the outgoing tide.

An aging gentleman, Gunner (Tobias Andersen), is living the retired life comfortably at his home on Chesapeake Bay.  His wife, Peg (Jane Fellows), is with him, and his son, Jack (Gary Norman), is visiting indefinitely, as he’s now going through a divorce.  The only problem with this idyllic setting is that Gunner doesn’t recognize his son some of the time, forgets to puts his pants on, on occasion, is frustrated when he uses the microwave remote to watch TV, and repeats himself incessantly at times.

His wife is convinced that he should be placed in a personal care facility, where they are equipped to deal with people in his…condition.  But after visiting one of these places where, in the A Wing, patients are kept alive artificially, Gunner wants no part of it.  If the Grim Reaper is just around the corner for him, he has his own ideas of how he wants to meet him, and it has nothing to do with breathing tubes or Jello.

He has regrets, of course (who doesn’t), and wishes portions of life could be like a Mulligan, a sports term where, if you screw up a shot, you get to do it over again.  And he wants no loose ends, as he has all the paperwork in order, so that his family is taken care of.  With an extra benefit that, if he dies accidently, they will get twice the monies from his life insurance policy.

And so, it seems like a dignified end for him and his family.  But he needs his wife to give her blessing to this plan.  And, therein, lies the final dilemma.  The play shifts smoothly from present day to their past, so that the relationships can be even more fully explored.  But the end will still be the same, the only question remaining is, who will be steering the ship?

As you might expect, this is a very intense play but mixed with some surprising humor to lighten the load a bit.  It brings to question the very essence of one’s being.  And there are no easy answers.  Religion comes into play (Peg is Catholic) and so, sin is a factor to be weighed.  And, of course, the deep ties of a 50 year relationship must be considered.  Questions that, at some point, will ask us all to consider the responsibilities and consequences of our actions in life and, at the end, too.

Stephanie has certainly picked the right cast for this show.  I can’t imagine anyone else in these roles, as they seem so real and complete.  She has done a nice job of balancing the humor with the darker moments, and keeping the setting simple, so that the story/characters take center stage.  This is a production for the Ages!

Norman, as the son, puts us in the middle of this conflict, as he is.  You can experience his frustration with the events, and see him struggle with both side of the arguments presented.  Not an easy role to navigate but he does it wonderfully.

And, so to, with Fellows, as the loving wife, afraid to let go, for understandably personal reasons, as well as religious convictions.  Her finely layered performance offers us a very complex and conflicted character.  Beautifully done, Jane.

And Tobias, what can you say about an icon of the Portland theatre scene for many years?!  He confided to me, when he accepted this role that it might be the best role he had come across as an actor.  And, to add to that, he is certainly the best actor to interpret it.  You rail at his Gunner, laugh with him, feel for him and, at the end, root for him.  He is, in a word, splendid and, may the ripples he has created over the years in this sea of art, continue to be a part of his incoming tide for many moons to come!

I highly recommend this show but be aware of the intense subject matter.  The night I saw it, it received a well-deserved standing ovation but there were a lot of tears and hugging after the house light went up, too.  If you do choose to see it, tell them Dennis sent you.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Submission—defunkt theatre at the Backdoor Theater—SE Portland

"…A Little Bit Racist…"
This intense drama is written by Jeff Talbott and directed by Andrew Klaus-Vineyard.  It plays at the Backdoor theater space, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd. and is produced by the defunkt theatre.  It runs through November 16th.  Go to their site at for more information.

That phrase immediately comes to mind from the musical, Avenue Q, from a song that has the line, “Everyone’s a little bit racist sometimes…,” when attempting to describe one of the points of this searing drama.  We all have our biases, that’s obvious, but some of us our extremists in our views and attempt to enforce them on others.  An Extremist’s viewpoint on anything is a breeding ground for Intolerance.  Wars have been fought over such issues.

Religion, sexual orientation, the color of one’s skin and even one’s chosen career can be a cause for being abused, shunned and/or brought up for ridicule.  Not so long ago, many bars had signs on their doors stating, “No Dogs or Actors Allowed!”  Anything is fair game in the mouth of a bigot. 

And even innocuous words/phrases like “Being American” or “Normality” or “Freedom” can be up to scrutiny.  Perception of the World, of Life, is in the eye of the beholder.  And Woe to those who don’t perceive it as they do.

The story concerns Danny (Matthew Kern), a gay playwright, who has spent five years writing a script.  But, being white, he is reluctant to enter it into a contest, as the subject matter is about Afro-Americans attempting to break out of the Projects and find a better life for themselves.  His good friend, Trevor (Matthew Dieckman), hails it as a work of art.

Buoyed by this praise, he lets his partner, Pete (Bjorn Anderson) read it and he is equally enthusiastic.  It is entered in the prestigious Humana Festival and wins.   So Danny hires an Afro-American actress, Emile (Andrea White), to pose as the author. 

At first the relationships are harmonious but complications arise as Danny’s project seems obsessive, and Pete feels their relationship slipping away.  It is said the “Art is a cruel mistress.”  Also, Trevor and Emile become “an item,” which further muddies the waters.

As Emile takes the author role personally, Danny feels alienated from his own work.  And, as in many volatile situations, the relationships quickly spiral downhill, until raw nerves are exposed and prejudices come to the forefront.  Needless to say, everything does not end well for all concerned and lives are changed forever.

This is a no-holds barred production and is extremely expressive in exposing the inner turmoil and torture of haunted and, perhaps, hunted souls.  It shows us, without apology, what we are capable of in our darkest moments.  It is bringing to light what is hidden or unknown in, perhaps, all of us.  It is holding up a mirror to ourselves, then turning it inside out.

This play is very frank in its language and adult situations, and intense to the extreme.  So, be warned, it may not be for everybody.  But, that being said, it is also powerfully portrayed by some very accomplished actors.  The ending is a bit muddy but, perhaps, it is written that way, acknowledging that Life oft-times does not neatly tie up all things.

Klaus-Vineyard has steered his cast well into “trouble waters” and has allowed them to explode on this small stage.  He has explored all the nooks and crannies of the psyche and let the pieces fall where they may.  One may say that he and his cast, I’m sure, have delved deep into themselves to bring us such a searing portrait of our society.  (I particularly liked the projections on the floor to explain the settings.)

Anderson is very believable as a man in love with an artist, who is obsessed/possessed by his Art.  A neatly tailored performance of a complex man.  Dieckman is also good in the  unenviable role of the best friend/lover of parties involved.  His dilemma is understandable as he vainly tries to please all parties.  A tough role but nicely done.

But the highest kudos go to White and Kern.  Matthew, as the writer, comes across in the early stages of the story as an appealing, polite person.  But, as the layers are stripped away, we see the pained, angry young man beneath.  An explosive and powerful performance! 

And White is his equal as the Afro-American lady, fighting for her rights as a woman, artist, and person of color.  She is also close companions with pain and secrets and, as an actor, in a performance to be reckoned with onstage.  An amazing, young lady and worth following in future endeavors!

I recommend this play.  If you do go, please tell them Dennis sent you.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Arsenic and Old Lace—Love Street Playhouse—Woodland, WA

The Murderous Maids of Brooklyn

This classic comedy was written by Joseph Kesselring and is directed by Melinda Leuthold (Love St.’s Artistic Director).  It will be playing at their space, 126 Love St. in Woodland, through October 27th.  For more information go to

This is one of the best spoofs of the mystery genre.  It was originally presented on Broadway with Boris Karloff in one of the key roles.  Later it was transferred to the screen with Cary Grant mugging horribly in the leading role and Raymond Massey playing the Karloff role.  A television version restored Karloff to his original role, with Bob Crane (Hogan’s Heroes) playing the hero.  It is a popular play to do in community theatres and was presented here, in all its glory, to a full house.

The story concerns Mortimer Brewster (David Roberts), a New York theatre critic, who frequently visits his maiden aunts, Abby (Melissa Haviv) and Martha (Lexy Dillon), in his childhood home in Brooklyn, which is set next to a graveyard.  He is engaged to the girl-next-door, Elaine (Melissa Schurman). 


Monday, October 7, 2013

James and the Giant Peach—NW Children’s Theatre—NW Portland

The Low Creatures

This classic story by British writer Roland Dahl and adapted for the stage by Richard R. George is directed by Sarah Jane Hardy (NWCT’s Artistic Director) and John Ellingson.  It plays through October 27th at their site at 1819 NW Everett St.  For more information go to or call 503-222-4480.

The lowest of the creatures may occupy the highest of the spaces.  Environmentally, the centipedes, spiders, earthworms, grasshoppers and ladybugs are important additions to our cycle of life on earth.  Not only that, but the costumes were created from odds and ends that would normally be discarded.  Bravo to NWCT for involving themselves in educating children and adults alike in these important endeavors.

Dahl was a famous British writer and his classic story is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Willy Wonka… in the two film versions—Wilder’s being the best by far).  This story, like Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, has adult overtones as well.  Both title characters are transported to a magical land where they learn some important lessons about the world in which we all live, imaginary and real.

The adaptation by George is good to a point but falls short of the book’s power.  The couple of songs, although well performed by John Ellingson and company, don’t really have the impact they should.  This is not the fault of this company’s production, which is very satisfying, but of the stage adaption.

The story is of James (Jonathan Pen) being orphaned at an early age, as his parents (Leif Schmit and Stephanie Roessler) were killed by a charging Rhino.  He is then raised by his maiden aunts, Sponge (Melanie Moseley) and Spiker (Tai Sammons), who are less than friendly toward him.  He is a slave for them and that’s an end to it. 

But enter an old man (Joshua James Hooper) who entrusts him to take care of a bag of very valuable insects, which James  promptly loses and they escape onto a nearby peach tree.  One peach on this tree grows to such an enormous size that the aunts charge money to see it.  James discovers a way into the peach, partly for the adventure and party to escape his demonic wardens. 

Subsequently the peach falls from the tree, rolls downhill and crushes his two aunts and makes its way to the sea.  Inside, James is awakened to a world he never knew, in which he meets a multi-limbed Centipede (John Ellingson), a vivacious ladybug (Madeleine Delaplane), a curvaceous spider (Annie Willis), a wise-old grasshopper (Zero Feeney) and a pessimistic earthworm (Sam Burns).  These will be his teachers, as he theirs.  They impress upon him the importance of their existence and he becomes their rescuer.

Riding the waves as a way to travel is not so bad, unless you are pursued by sharks, willing to eat their through the peach to savor the small morsels inside.  But, a plan to snag some seagulls and have them fly the peach across the sea, works for a time, until they encounter the cloud men who blast them with cold and thunder and they are forced to cut their losses and descend post haste.  The peach is skewered onto the spire of the Empire State building and they are all rescued and go on to greater glories.

The real magic of this production is in the ingenious costumes and make-up (Jen LaMastra and John Ellingson).  They are absolutely stunning!  The intricate details in designing and constructing these marvelous creations is nothing short of a masterpiece.  Not only are the costumes/make-up of the insects fantastic but also the two aunts, one with a plastered sardonic smile and the other puffed-up like a hot air balloon.  My only questions would be how in the heck did they walk in these in these contrivances and how long did it take for them to transform themselves physically.  Bravo to all the miracle-workers!

Ellingson is in fine form to perform the two songs but, as mentioned, they are lacking in the writing end.  He reminds me, in an acting-comedic style, to a young Paul Lynde.  Delaplane is wonderful as the eccentric ladybug, emulating, perhaps, a young Angela Landsbury.  Willis is a fitting, as the slithering spider, a young Mary Tyler Moore, maybe.  Burns is appropriately morass, as the pouting, myopic worm, akin to a young Arnold Stang.  And Feeney is super as the clever old grasshopper, cloning a young Robin Williams.

Sammons and Moseley are deliciously devilish as the two Aunts.  Pen is a delight as James, presenting fittingly the downtrodden hero.  And Annika Cutler as the Narrator is very articulate and clean in her delivery, keeping the story moving and filling in the blanks.  These two youngest performers of the troupe definitely show promise for a possible future career in the performing arts.

Hardy and Ellingson have done a nice job of giving each of the characters a very distinct personality and easily and simply transporting the story from one locale to another.  It should be mentioned that these two individuals also teach at the school, which is worth looking into as an exciting avenue to building character and confidence in our Youth.

I recommend this show, especially for the excellent costumes and make-up, and the amazing performances of the actors.  If you do go, please tell them Dennis sent you.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Detroit—Portland Playhouse—NE Portland

Suburban Nightmare

This comedy-drama is written by Lisa D’Amour and directed by Brian Weaver (P/P’s Artistic Director).   It is playing at their space at 602 NE Prescott St. (parking on 6th St. at the King School lot, two blocks North of the theatre).  For more information go to their site at or call 503-488-5822.

“Walls make good neighbors,” as the poet, Robert Frost, once said.  It is obvious fairly quickly in this story that this advice is ignored.  We see what we want to see, or expect to see, but rarely what actually is.  This may take place in the suburbs in Detroit but it is really Any City, USA.  And the two couples we follow may resemble people you know and, if being honest by looking in the mirror, just might be a portion of ourselves.

Ben (Jason Rouse) had just recently been laid off from his job.  He decides to try a business of his own doing financial advice for others on the Web.  He’s a stay-at-home, couch potato with dreams of grandeur.  His wife, Mary (Brooke Totman), brings home the bacon and is a bit of a lush.  She has dreams, too, but of a home in the woods with Nature, and this stifling atmosphere of suburban life might be literally driving her to drink or madness (whichever comes first).

Enter into this mundane Eden, Kenny (Victor Mack) and his wife, Sharon (Kelly Tallent), the new, next-door neighbors.  They are just recently out of a substance abuse treatment center and are looking to rebuild their lives.  Kenny seems to be an energetic, street-savvy individual looking for fun.  And Sharon may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer intellectually, but is a straight-talker and raw and organic is her manner.

At first, these two couples offer tentative gestures toward each other to finding common ground for a relationship.  They seem to be worlds apart on the social and financial scale.  Ben and Mary are fairly well off and Kenny and Sharon have almost nothing in their house.  Sharon has a potty mouth and their neighbors are somewhat more refined.  But as they break bread (and furniture) with each other and drink and shares dreams (some rather bizarre) they form a tenuous bond.

Strangely, it is Sharon that seems to be the connecting force between all of them.  Whatever layers exist within individuals, she has a way of peeling them back until just the raw nerve is exposed.  Eventually Sharon and Mary forge forward on a futile camping trip and Ben and Kenny decide to venture into male bonding in an equally futile trip to titty-bars.  When reunited, they fire up their relationship, quite literally, and life is never the same for them again.  I won’t be a spoiler and give away the ending but another neighbor, Frank (Blaine Palmer) attempts to shed some light on the subject.

This is a powerful show with some of the best acting I’ve seen.  The main four characters are so good you can’t imagine them being anybody else offstage.  And that is probably the best compliment you can offer an actor.  They are totally immersed in their roles and their energy must be so high that I’m sure they’re exhausted when they finally dissolve into the “real” world after the show.

Rouse is super in creating for us a complex person in which you can laugh with but also fell sorry for.  Totman is amazing at keeping us guessing as to what her persona will reveal about her next.  Mack has already shown his acting chops to good form over the past years and is equally good here at attempting to create a balance between four diverse worlds.  And Tallent is extraordinary as the icebreaker, the unrelenting, driving force that splits apart this berg, sailor-mouth and all, to reveal the cold splinters beneath.  She is a talent, indeed, to be reckoned with!

Weaver is certainly a master at putting the numerous pieces together to form this uneasy union.  His attention to detail, his ability to keep the audience guessing and his perceptive ability to guide his actors through such slippery, emotional slopes is what theatre is all about.  And the sound (Rodolfo Ortega) and the scenic/lighting effects (Daniel Meeker), even to birds and dogs adding chorus in the background, to the smell of smoke at a decisive moment, are quite impressive!

I highly recommend this production, especially for the acting.  It does, as mentioned, have some swearing, so be advised.  If you do choose to see it, tell them Dennis sent you.

Varsity Cheerleader Werewolves Live From Outer Space—at Post Theatre—NE Portland

A Foxy Invasion

This is a reprise of the show that was originally presented at the Funhouse Lounge several months ago.  It is written and directed by Steve Coker of Stageworks Ink. and presented at the Post5 Theatre space at 900 NE 81st Ave.  It plays through October 12th.  For more information go to

This is a wonderful homage to the classic B, B&W, Sci-Fi/Horror films from the 40’s and 50’s.  Personally I am a fan of this gene.  And it includes all the elements of this era, sadly, for the most part, gone.  It has teenagers in peril (as in The Faculty) and a mysterious meteor from space (like in The Blob).  And a new girl in town, Staci (Tasha Danner) and her father, the Deputy Sheriff (Greg Skelton)).

Of course, being the new kid in town, means being harassed/bullied by her peers which are, as you might suspect, cheerleaders (Corinn DeWaard, Shannel Williams & Megan McCarthy), led by Courtney (Jamie Langton).  She also, being green, doesn’t realize that the stud who hooks up with her, Troy (Sean Lamb), is spoken for by Courtney.  Of course, Troy has an admirer (Wynee Hu) but he doesn’t know she’s even alive.

In short order, they come across a crashed object in a farmer’s field (War of the Worlds) and it is filled with…ah, cute puppies, so cute they just want to eat them up.  At the last minute Staci is rescued by the bad boy in town, Dean (Illya Torres).  Needless to say these foxy felines cause much havoc with the town-folks.

But, have no fear, the Crimson Tide (possibly, Flash Gordon) is near and comes to the rescue.  They are good aliens sworn to protect Earth and humankind.  A battle ensues and good triumphs over evil…sort of.  And Hu gets her man…literally.

This is a wonderfully fun production and masterly written and directed by Coker.  He certainly knows the genres that this story is emulating and is also able to direct his cast in the double-takes and tongue-in-cheek style of delivery that it demands.  May he live long and prosper (Star Trek). 

Applause to all the cast.  And the cheerleaders were foxy in appearance and wolfishly sensual in dance.  Courtney, especially, was appealing.  She can nibble on my ear, anytime.  And Cheshire, the cat, is a true find and may go on to beat Morris as the most famous feline in history.

Danner was very appealing and fit the heroine role to a tee.  And Torres was equally convincing in his anti-hero guise.  This is definitely a two drink show.  Coker has also done a great show that depicts the film noir, detective genre, too, and made it into a musical, Dex, the Paranormal Detective.  If you see him at the show, twist his arm to revive this great play of his.  See my reviews of the original and Dex… on this blog.

I do recommend this show but it is definitely adult in nature.  And if you go to his website, you might find a way to get two dollars off on a ticket.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.