Friday, September 20, 2019

Darcelle: That’s No Lady—Triangle Productions! in Lincoln Hall at PSU—SW Portland


        Two by Two…Bi-Two, et. al.


    This original, world premiere musical, has book & lyrics by Donnie, with additional lyrics and music by Jonathan Quesenberry, Rody Ortega, Jeff Sanders, Marv & Rindy Ross, Wesley Bowers and Storm Large.  It is directed by Brandon Wolley, choreography by Sara Mishler Martins, music direction/pianist by Scott Bradner and produced by Donald Horn.  It is playing at PSU’s Lincoln Hall, 1620 SW Park St., through October 5th.  For more information, go to their site at www.trianglepro.org

    The True Beauty of Mankind, as well as Nature, is its Diversity.  What a boring world it would be if Everybody and Everything was the same.  And so, we embark Together on a Great Adventure, proving that we All have a place in this Creation Experiment conceiving, among other things, that one entity is Not Superior to another, and that humans can act humanely toward all living things. A Fantastic…Dream, isn’t it?!

    Walter Cole, aka, Darcelle, is a living legend in this part of the world, and part of his life is exhibited in this poignant musical by Donald Horn.  It traces the life of Cole (Kevin C. Loomis) from his first conception of a drag show at his modest tavern, as he was taken under the wing of a local drag performer, Tina (Jeff George), who saw the makings of Darcelle under the exterior of Walter Cole, married with two children, but the female persona was itching to get out.
And then he had the fateful meeting with Roxy (James Sharinghousen), who would become his life-long lover, partner and friend.  Together, with the “Ringmaster” of the shows, Mitchell (Chris Bartell) they would create what is now a legendary landmark in Portland history, Darcelle XV, not just for the Gay and Trans audiences, but also for Straights, in which barriers could be lowered and individuals could relate and laugh and cry together with each other, as just human beings.

    Along this long journey together, there would be joy and sadness, music and laughter, illness and loss, but always with a positive message toward creating a better world, where all inhabitants are truly treated as equals…a Nobel aim.  There are familiar songs and routines from his shows, the most amazing one from “Chicago,” with some extraordinary dancing from George and Sharinghousen.  And there are the famous comic monologues by Darcelle, well delivered by Loomis.  Then there are some very personal, original songs, from Horn & Company, about his life, that blend seamlessly into the show, including, the revealing “Aunt Lil,” the powerful, “Yes, I Am,” and the touching, “Every Show is a Love Song.” 

    A personal note, my sister, mother and I would go to Darcelle’s as often as possible during the 90’s, whenever my sister was in town, and enjoyed the inclusiveness of the performances.  My Mom was picked out of the audience a couple of times by Darcelle and she would remark afterwards that she felt special because of it (to be honest, I don’t think Mom ever got the notion that Darcelle was anything but a Lady, and who were we to dispel her image, as she saw the generous soul of the performer…and a lesson, perhaps, for all of us to be learned, I think).

    Horn has done his usual outstanding job in producing this production, and his friendship with Cole certainly is an asset to the songs and story he wrote.  A fitting tribute to an icon of the Northwest.  Loomis is touching as Cole, as he also narrates the story.  Sharinghousen is always an asset to the many productions he has done at Triangle and OCT, as he does here.  A very poignant portrait of a loving companion.  Bartell adds more than ample support in his role, as the no-nonsense manager.  And George is terrific, especially in the dance numbers.  Bradner adds color, as the music man and Martins is an amazing choreographer.  All in all, an outstanding show, fit for the Big Apple, I think!

    I highly recommend this show, but get tickets early, as they are going fast.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS



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