Monday, July 15, 2024

Final Curtain


Final Curtain

I heard the Swan

Call my name…

A cry of pain

And forgotten lore

From a season of joy

Mixed with lonely horror

Of a life only lived

Watching others sorrow

And happiness borrowed

Play out on an empty stage.

It is time, my friends,

To drain the pen

For one last stroke

And say a fond farewell

For lives yet to tell

As this song chooses

To be sung sweetly

From a swan

On a distant shore

I have yet to explore…

“Parting is such sweet sorrow…”

Having high hopes

For a better tomorrow!

    Dennis Sparks

Monday, March 11, 2024

Port Authority—Imago Theatre—SE Portland

          The Pluck of the Irish

    This LIVE production, is written by Conor McPherson, directed by Jerry Mouawad  and produced by Carol Triffle.  It plays through March 24that Imago’s space, 17 SE 8th Ave. (off E. Burnside).  Street parking can be an issue, so come early.  Recommended for 16 and up.  For more information, contact them at or call 503-231-9581.

   What we see may not be what we get…but what we get may be what we deserve.  A random thought after seeing this play.  The mind/memories are a tricky thing.  When musing on the Past, what thoughts spring to mind which, of course, are only brief snippets of our history.  But why those, and why now…as we linger, perhaps, at a terminal waiting for the next transport?

    This play calls to mind some European shows, such as, No Exit, of a bygone era…or of one closer to home, Thornton Wilder’s, Our Town.  If given time to reminisce, “…what dreams may come?”  The sum total of our existence may not be earth-shattering, as we might anticipate…but like little cat paws upon an unbroken landscape, leaving not a trace behind.

    And so, we are left with three unconnected of three Irishmen at a terminal left to ponder and linger in thoughts of yesteryear.  I won’t go into the depths of their stories, for those should be absorbed by an audience’s virgin ears.  But you might consider your own biographies when listening to theirs.

    Kevin (Mikhail Duggan) has a rather uncommitted, carefree life, living at home with his parents until it is strongly suggested he needs to try and make it on his own.  So, he gets himself roommates of questionable types, except for Clare, who he’s a bit smitten with.  They carouse together with rock music being their common thread.  A life full of empty possibilities, until, toward the end, a long walk will awaken, perhaps too late, a more purposeful path appearing.

    Dermot (Matthew Sunderland), is a family man who has not found his niche in life yet.  And his meanderings down Life’s pathways, leads him to drug and alcohol as being just the right fit for him.  But, finally, the opportunity of a lifetime, a dream job, falls into his lap and he is on cloud nine, but his navigational skills are in need of repair.  Then truth and reality raise their ugly heads and it’s not a pretty road anymore.

    Joe (Tory Mitchell) is living at a Senior Center, whiling away in memoires, in the sunset of his life.  A harmless sort who has had a fine wife and kids but now only random memories invade his mundane existence.  That is, until a small package arrives with a photo and a note of a chance encounter he had left behind and it opens up a world of what-might-have-been for him.  A cruel footnote at the end of his journey, or a dream to hang his hat on?

    To me the stories themselves are not the only highlight of the production, but the way they were told, and the tellers, made a fulfilling couple of hours.  My friend remarked he thought they were talking directly to him, with their eyes on his, and I felt the same.  The intensity of those run-of-the-mill stories are what made them so compelling!  The combination of McPherson carefully crafted script, the astute direction of Mouawad and he the insightful performances of these three actors are very much worth your while!

    I recommend this production. If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.


Friday, March 8, 2024

Eleanor—Triangle Productions—NE Portland


“Something of Substance”

    This one-woman, live show, written by Mark St. Germain, and starring Margie Boule’, is directed by Donald Horn.  It is playing in their space at 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. (free parking lot next to the building) through March 23rd.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-239-5919.

Eleanor (Margie Boule’) was the real, first woman on earth (with apologies to Eve), in my opinion.  The amount of firsts in accomplishments for women she introduced, is unparoled.  I won’t go into them all because that will allow you to experience for yourselves this play, and discover the cornucopia of treasures she unleashed upon our country…and beyond.

    And this was not from some flamboyant, rich kid from a Hyde Park family called the Roosevelts, two of which, Teddy and Franklin, would become president, serving six terms between them.  No, she was a simple, awkward girl, who her mom confided in her that she was homely.  But, despite all that, as she played with her fifth cousin, Franklin, as a child, she would eventually rise up and, with strong objections from his mother, Sarah, become the First Lady.  No mean feat when women had just recently been given the right to vote.

    So, with little to do of worth, she carved out her own path and became a voice for the underprivileged, the disenfranchised, “the huddle masses, yearning to be free.”  But she was disillusioned with marriage (via her husband’s mistresses) and so she had her own set of “admirers.”  She became a friend of the troops overseas when she visited.  She found her voice and spoke her mind at political and social rallies.  And to this day, many other First Ladies have emulated her stance and have truly become the Power behind the Power.

    And to think this is all pulled off by another treasure, of the stage that is, Margie Boule.’  Yes, one person carries the burden of this indominable woman, plus playing the parts of a dozen or so other characters over a number of years, including Churchill, Sarah Roosevelt, FDR, et. al.  My favorite of them was Lewis (or Louis), the erasable, campaign manager, who was perhaps her guiding spirit through the murky depths of the political game.

    Boule’ does this with such simplicity that it flows much like a beloved relative relating a very personal story just to you alone.  A storyteller of the first kind, relatable to all.  She is, of the stage, equal in stature to the person she is playing.  I can’t imagine anyone else doing this role…and with such grace and humor and longing, too, perhaps.  Kudos of the highest order to you, Ms. Boule’...long may your banner wave!

    And Horn is a treasure, too, as he (and I’ve said this before) always manages to entertain, inform, and educate an audience with his offerings.  I have rarely missed a production of his (and this is one of his finest, (as well as hers) and am quite a devoted follower.  The almost two-hour play with one woman is mesmerizing but, again, when you consider the geniuses involved with it, it is not surprising!

    I highly recommend this show.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.


Sunday, December 10, 2023

ZooZoo—Imago Theatre—SE Portland


“A World of Pure Imagination”

        This award-winning, delightful show for the whole family is conceived, designed   directed and produced by Jerry Mouawad and Carol Triffle, with original music by Katie Griesar.  It plays through January1st, 2024at Imago’s space, 17 SE 8th Ave. (off E. Burnside).  Parking can be an issue, so plan your time accordingly.  Recommended for ages 4 and up.  For more information, contact them at or call 503-231-9581.

    Most of us live in the world of Reality (sketchy as it is right now).  But Artists visit the world of Reality only as a tourist.  We have a strong relationship with the world of Imagination, and are willing to share it, as needed, to give Mankind a boost (which is very much in demand right now, I believe).  And Imago is at the top of the list, in my opinion, for creating such an atmosphere, as in this extraordinary production of this magical show, ZooZoo!

    A warning, though, some patrons have been licked by anteaters, sat on by penguins and jostled by polar bears in these productions, so if this offends you, might choose to stay away, or get your mind-set readjusted.  The play is wordless from beginning to end and set on an essentially bare stage.  But the actors, music, lighting, costumes, and sounds, plus your own imagination will transport you to lands of wonder.

    Yes, you will meet products of the animal world:  zebras, polar bears, anteaters, cats, penguins, frogs and hippos…all displaying/portraying various attitudes, some almost human-like.  But you will also be introduced to an alternate universe in habited by bugeyes, a paper bag (plus animal inside), larvabatics, windbags and paper…all needing to express themselves. And, amazingly, they do get their point across.  This is perhaps a evolutionary/revolutionary/revealing/cautionary tale for us mere mortals to drink in, swill around in our gullets and be transported to that world of pure imagination in which one may release their inner child!

    And what is most amazing is that all these creatures are enacted, danced with athletic abandoned by just 5 actors:  Mark Mullaney, Kaician Kitko, Laura Loy, Isaac Ellingson, and John Mikhail Duggan—all brilliant!  The creature designs/costumes by Triffle& Mouawad is beyond words in their presentation, a work of art unto itself.  And Griesar’s music/sound runs the garment of genres, all perfectly in sync with the action.  And the lightning by Mouawad, plus Jeff Forbes and Chris Balo, creates the tangible atmosphere in which they play.  All in all, Mouawad &Triffle have created a masterpiece in which one can wile away a couple of hours in the soothing cacophony of endless possibilities!

    A final note, the performance I witness had about 50% of its audience being young children and they were totally captive by this magical world with its odd creatures, voicing their pleasure at every turn and embracing the creatures as if they were old friends.  And what was even more remarkable, I noticed the adults/parents of these young minds, being caught up, too, in the wonders of those moments, because they saw, just for a few moments, what it was like to be an innocent again and what a mind-freeing experience that is!

    I very highly recommend this production for All age, If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.


Monday, November 6, 2023

Murder at Gray Gables—Gray Gables Estate—SE Portland


To Die For

    The Engagement Party—a dark comedy, murder mystery, dinner-theatre is playing at Gray Gables Estate, 3009 SE Chestnut Street, Portland, OR 97267.  It is written by Doug Sellers, produced by Jennifer Berryhill and directed by Meghan Daaboul.

For more details on the show/experience/ food visit the Eventbrite page:

    This venue for a theatre experience may be new to some.  Food and drinks are served in a restaurant-like atmosphere, while actors perform around  (and sometimes) with you to enact a story.  In this case, two feuding, rich families in which, at some point, one of the guests is murdered and it is up to you, and a detective, Bronson (the author, Doug Sellers), to solve the crime.

    The plot is more complicated than it needs to be, but the relationships (and food) are delicious!  The Swanson’s (Bride’s family) and the Danner’s (Groom’s family) will verbally duke it out, revealing and unveiling the worst in humankind.  Dysfunctional doesn’t begin to describe the tongue-lashing mayhem that will ensure.

    Bride, Elizabeth (Meghan Daaboul), with her fiancĂ©, Mark (Dirk Foley), seem to be above the fray, but when things get touchy, even the lovebirds can begin pecking at the seams of the family trees.  Harvey (Jeff Brosy), Elizabeth’s father, has a special gift for the intended, or are his intentions barbed with deceit?  Francine (Francine Raften), the Bride’s mother (and Harvey’s ex-wife)is a brassy, outspoke she-wolf, but are her bites worse than her howls?  And Kinnedy (Caralynn Rose), Harvey’s child-bride, seems in love with fashion and status and not much else.

    Robert (Michael Rouches), Mark’s father, is obsessed with property stolen from him and schemes to get it back.  Gloria (Amber Green), Mark’s mother, is family-oriented, as long as it benefits “her” family.  Kevin (Brick Andrews), Mark’s brother, is a playboy through and through, no matters who it hurts.  And Amy (Erin Bickler), maid-of-honor, is flirty and flighty, both in body and mind.  And then there is that pesky Bronson (Sellers), snooping about, possibly for his own ends.  And so you have it, a perfect storm, a witch’s brew “to die for!”

    To say the least, these are not nice people but, at least, they’re entertaining for an evening, but not someone you’d want for your next-door neighbor…or do you have neighbors like this?!

    The actors all fit their roles to a T.  In particular, Daaboul, Raften and Sellers.  And director, Daaboul, keeps the pace moving even through the more clunky moments in the script.  The food was very good and healthy, and the atmosphere perfect for this type of play.

    I recommend this show.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.



Monday, October 23, 2023

SPIdER—Young Professionals Company—NE Portland


“Oh, What A Web We Weave”

    The Y/P Company of the Oregon Children’s Theatre presents this topical drama of our times, by Madeleine Adriance and directed by Matthew B. Zrebski.  It is playing at the Curious Comedy Annex Theater (parking in the rear and on the street), 5225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., through November5th(for more information on the play and tickets, go to their website at or call 503-228-9571.

    Picture, if you will, a Creation, a world, left to it own devices, to reinvent itself at will, over and over again, into endless strands of a web.  And, let’s say circumstances, allowed this kinetic web to pause in its meanderings by, let’s say, a Virus, forcing the creatures to take a hard look at themselves.  And from that portrait, many tales erupt, some for good, some not…a cautionary tale at best. With  Social Media as its “god,” with a “Web” to connect the dots.

    These mini-stories are a microcosm of our world, of course, stories of isolation/loneliness; bravery and love; death and new life; hesitant love with a dream; loss and pain; hope and despair, et. al. and, perhaps, a “rage at the dying of the light. ”Enacted by an ensemble of very talented young people:  Aidan Colvin, Dylan Mojo, Elijah Tinker, Ava Anderson, Olivia Chesire, and Emma Lombard, embodying about a dozen plus characters.

    The events, intriguing as they are, can be a bit confusing, trying to keep straight.  But they do hit home, I’m sure, at some junction, with everyone in the audience.  One must ask, how is the author, Adriance, connect with all these varied stories, as she has certainly honed in on some basic truths of human nature and “attention must be paid.”  Bravo!  As well as to the director, Zrebski, a veteran of directing at Y/P, who has kept the staging to a bare minimum to flesh out the story and challenge the actors to fill it with their talent!

    This is not for everyone (ages 14 and up recommended) but this play, as with all the productions of Y/P (Artistic Director, Dani Baldwin), the youth are given a broad canvas to explore, vent, evolve and grow in this rapidly moving transition to adulthood.  They have a safe haven, a repertory period, to decide their own paths for the future.  If you want to see truths of who our young people of toady are, and what they’re going through, look no further than Baldwin and her intrepid band of Youth, demanding to be heard.  It doesn’t get any better than this, folks!  Bravo!

    I highly recommend this show.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.


Monday, October 9, 2023

My Bedroom is an Installation—Imago Theatre—SE Portland


Photo by Kyle Delamarter

“The Illusion of Reality”

     This Premiere, dark comedy, is written by Jerry Mouawad and Drew Pisarra, and directed and designed by Mouawad, and produced by Carol Triffle.  It plays through October 22nd at Imago’s space, 17 SE 8th Ave. (off E. Burnside).  Parking can be an issue, so plan your time accordingly.  Recommended for 16 and up.  For more information, contact them at or call 


    The above quote is from Tennessee Williams, speaking about plays.  And, if you add Mr. Shakespeare to that thought process, “All the world’s a stage…” and we are simply actors upon it.  So, are we actually in a play ourselves and, thus, an illusion?!  And, perhaps, add to that perspective, the writer of “Zorba, the Greek” espouses, that everybody needs a little madness…to keep us sane (yikes!).  Keep those thoughts in mind as you experience this play.

    Once Upon a Time, in this dark, underbelly per-version of a, perhaps, apocalyptic, fairy-tale, there reposed on a myriad of mattresses, a princess called “Cynthia” (Anne Sorce), who was an insomniac (not because of a pea at the bottom of her bed, but a symbolic time-bomb). 

    Her “castle” was littered with boxes, as if she had just moved in (or was just to move out?).  Among her “belongings” was also a mute servant (more a like a ghostly image of her soul), named Solo (Sam Gordon)…a confidant, protector, instigator, and a little puppet of seemingly Eastern European origin, a gypsy (voiced by Sorce and designed & carved by Mouawad), called Whip.

    These three will rail against the elements together, in a cacophony of sounds and gestures, to discover the reason for their being here and, perhaps, the author of their plight, as she senses she is being…watched, and that this might be an experiment, an “installation” for someone else’s amusement.  But, if that’s the case, and one is looking out into the Void, it must perchance mean, the Void is looking at you!  (A perfect Halloween tale, perhaps).

    As you can see, I can’t really tell you the plot, as it would be a Spoiler, if I did.  These are only my perceptions.  It is more important that you decide for yourselves the meaning.  But the play is peppered with Shakespearean overtones, I believe, such as, The Tempest and King Lear.  Also, aspects of Pirandello and the great English playwrights, Pinter, and Beckett, as the search for the meaning of Life…and Death.

    Mouawad (and his pen pal, Pisarra) have created a tunnel of words and images to boggle the mind and disturb the soul.  The pathway is not meant to lead you to answers or home, but only to more questions, which will then open up venues for your own windmills of your mind.  As always, Mouawad (and Triffle) productions are, indeed, the leading edge of innovative theatre!

    Sorce is amazing in the dual (voiced) role of Cynthia and Whip.  My friend remarked, how can she keep all that straight in her head.  The simple(?) answer is that she is the best of the breed of actors, which all artists aspire to!...Bravo!

    And Gordon is a brilliant mimist/dancer/clown and adds miles to the fluidity of the production.  Mouawad’s Whip is a work of Art!  And the sound design, by Kyle Delamarter, is jarring, sounding at times like a rat gnawing his way out of a box.

    I highly recommend this show.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.