Monday, August 15, 2016

Preview: The Magical Music of Disney—Chapel Theater at Milepost 5—NE Portland


PREVIEW: Dreams Really Do Come True”
This is the inaugural production of the newly formed Portland Musical Theater Company performing in the Chapel Theater at Milepost 5, 8155 NE Oregon St., opening Saturday, October 8th through October 29th (7 pm evening shows and 2 pm matinees).  The company is founded by, and this revue directed by, Deanna Maio.  For more information, go to their site at www.portlandmusicaltheater.org or call 971-225-SHOW (7469).

And now, for your reading pleasure, a glimpse behind the mind of an amazing young lady, the creator of this company, Deanna Maio.  I first met Deanna when I reviewed a musical revue she directed and performed in, in Newberg, a few months ago.  Since then, she has been my companion on numerous occasions to many of the plays being produced in Portland, mainly musicals, so that she can observe some of the fine musical talents in the Portland area.  She has confessed to me on many occasions that she feels she has been blessed because of all the terrific people she has met while forming this company.  But, I’ve got a secret for you, much of this success is due to the remarkable business savvy, organizational skills, and knowledge and talent she herself has in the musical arts.

But this does not just come out of thin air.  I am a firm believer in encouraging artistic talent from a young age, as we all need mentors/idols in this field.  Maio admits that she was bitten by the bug at an early age, dancing and singing at home and being cast in school plays.  Her mother, grandmother, school friends and some teachers were all very encouraging in her carving out her niche in the musical fields.  After she graduated from high school, “Within two years I was invited to work at Glacier National Park through American Cabaret Theater in Indianapolis in an original revue and my life was made. I was in the show each night, the wig mistress, the costume mistress, the dance captain and vocal coach…basically I did everything but play in the band. It was my first professional job and it was the best time of my life…until now.

We all have influences/idols in our lives.  Hers were “…Gene Kelly, Ann Miller and Gregory Hines, and Paula Abdul.  I was a dancer in my heart and mind…a dancer who could sing and act. As the years passed I would become an actor that could sing and dance and now would identify as a singer that can act and dance….or better yet I'd say I was an entertainer. I knew ‘this was it’ for me very early on.”  I have also encouraged, over the years, young talent in the artistic fields because I know how much of this is missing in traditional, education institutions.  Thank God for private schools such as Oregon Children’s Theatre, especially their Young Professionals Company, run by Dani Baldwin, and the Northwest Children’s Theatre, run by Sarah Jane Hardy.  Both excellent training grounds for Youth, as well presenting entertaining productions.

As I’ve alluded to, she’s a shaker and mover.  Once the germ of an idea for a company was planted, it went ballistic.  As she explains it, “When I was approached to create and direct a revue in 2016 for Chehalem Players Repertory I fell in love with creating and directing…the very day that we closed that show I got home and within a few hours I thought to myself… ‘I can't wait another year to do that,’ and I immediately got started on Portland Musical Theater Company. Within 48 hours we had a name, logo, website, and all of our paperwork filed with the state and IRS.”  Whew!  I told you she is a dynamo!  I have created and ran theatre companies myself, so know the amount of time, dedication and perseverance it takes to create a company and season.  Forget about any personal life you may want or, more precisely, this becomes your personal, as well as business, life.  And to think she teaches and has a regular job as well.  Wonder Woman!

But it’s not just work that keeps you going in these fields, it’s the inspiration, the dream.  And so it begs the question, what is the motivating force that drives one to create something new?  She wanted to house it on the East side of Portland because that has been her home for over 15 years and she feels this area is underdeveloped artistically.  But there is often a humanitarian good, as well, for artistic folk.  She explains, “We are committed to two fundamental truths. Each of us is special and has unique gifts to contribute to the world and we're more alike and connected than we realize. I believe musical theater, because it's more popular and more attended than non-musical theater and it includes music (which is a 'common' language for all people) would be better positioned to make the impact in our community…and it's been my love for 37 years.”

But love of an art form, although a noble reason for being involved, is not going to sustain itself.  It needs someone who is not only creative but has a business background, which Maio has.  “…I have run a successful business for 8 years as a solo entrepreneur and helped hundreds of other business owners around the world be successful. This business management and marketing expertise is a definite asset to Portland Musical Theater Company…We believe and come from a place of abundance, partnership and run our company like a business...a business that is meant to support our community and make it better.

Deanna’s long-term goals may be pretty ambitious but, knowing her, definitely achievable.  And she will need partners along the way because she feels that kind of collaboration is a way to create win-win situations within the community.  Here are some nuggets from here well-spring of desires.

  • Secure a budget to produce traditional "book musicals" while still remaining true to our roots with producing one revue each season. 
  • Gain sponsorships and partnerships with organizations and individuals who want to create a win-win by sharing Portland Musical Theater Company with their community and donating to our programs. 
  • Paying minimum wage or better for all rehearsals and performances by season 4. It's a stretch but definitely possible.
  • Finding a permanent location we can call our home with a performance space, rehearsal space, offices and classrooms. 
  • To be known for producing quality entertainment that's accessible and attractive to the Portland community and to have our audience numbers reflect that.

Believe me, she will achieve this, I have no doubt.

“To dream the [possible] dream” to have a thriving company with performers, teachers, tech. staff, designers and a full season of plays.  That is what the Dream will look like down the road.  And, ultimately, to make audiences happy, “…become a sanctuary or refuge where people can get away from it all, if only for just a little while.”  Amen to that.  And this opening show should do that as it encompasses over 50 songs from Disney musicals in 90 minutes.  She also suggests that children (and adults) are welcome to costume themselves as their favorite Disney characters, too.  This revue not only stretches over years of his amazing films but also expands the positive aspects of one’s imagination and, perhaps, for you to take home a little bit of that magic to put into good use in this current, chaotic environment!

Knowing her and the subject matter, I can easily highly recommend this production!  Don’t hesitate to check out her website and, as soon as possible, get your tickets to this show because the theatre seats under 100 people so will easily be a sell-out sooner than later.  Parking in this area can be a challenge, as it is in a neighborhood with homes, so I recommend you plan your time accordingly and, if possible, carpool or take public transports.  If you do choose to see it, as always, please tell them Dennis sent you.