Friday, May 7, 2021

IMAGO Theatre—"The Strange Case of Nick M.”—May 7th to the 16th, 2021

   






    



“Thanks for the Memories (?)”

     This radio play is written by Drew Pisarra, directed by Jerry Mouawad & produced by Carol Triffle (co-founders of Imago).  Music is by Clara & Robert Schumann and The Fucked Up Beat.  Piano compositions are performed by Eric Little and Chase Garber, and sound design by Myrrh Larsen.

     Memories are tricky things.  They have three components—Truth, Reality and…I forgot the third one.  Gotcha!...as that is the third one—foreign intervention, or perspective.  Ever remember something and then someone else chimes in with another version of the same incident?  Who is right?  Probably both parties, as memory is fluid and is influenced by the passage of time…as well as one’s own perspective.  The most prominent example may be Kurosaka’s immortal film, “Rashomon,” in which four people are involved in, or witness, a tragic event and the stories all vary, depending on the personalities/character of the individuals, begging the question then, what is the Truth/Reality of the situation?

     This story has something in common with the short, avant-garde play from yesteryear, “Krapps Last Tape,”  as well as Dr. Olver Sacks’ book, and subsequent film, of “Awakings.”

     As the tale goes, according to the smarmy Narrator (Danny Gray), Nick M. (Sean Doran) is a famous, classical concert pianist, who has developed the unique dis-ability of only remembering things for about 30 seconds…the ultimate in short-term memory.  And so, he is put under the care of a European doctor, Dr. Polina K. (Vanessa Hopkins) who has some rather unorthodox methods of curing his affliction.

     He is put in a controlled environment, in which all his actions are audibly recorded.  His wife, Betty (Nancy Campbell), is allowed to be his caretaker, as well as, perhaps, a memory-jogger for him.  And even his estranged daughter, Liz (Stephanie Woods), occasionally is allowed to drop in on him to see if she can shake his mind back into normal operation.  But the only thing that seems to work, is his music, which does give him some brief reprieve…“music soothes the savage beast,”maybe?

     Through all this kaleidoscope of knitting and stiching of the patchwork quilt of memories, is a solution found?  Ah, but that would be telling, wouldn’t it?  You’ll just have to hear for yourselves now, won’t you?

     This is definitely worth listening to, as the subject matter alone is monumental, and has no easy answer, if indeed there is one.   Mouawad (and Imago) are never ones for anything but provocative subject matter, and this is no exception.  It plays like a Christie mystery…intriguing, complex and thought-provoking…and in this Covid age of non-activity, might be just what one needs to stimulate those “little, gray cells,” again.

     The actors are all in fine voice, and color their performances so one can imagine the picture, but I do miss the visuals of Live theatre for the facial expressions and body language.  And the music by the Schumann’s, and performers of it, Little & Garber, add immensely to the success of this production.  I recommend it…definitely worth your time!

     For more information, go to  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-strange-case-of-nick-m-tickets-150602687693

                                                             DJS

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Zombie Dog

 

The Film That Never Was?!


Zombie Dog:  A Man’s Best…Fiend!—"U.N. Owen”—somewhere in Portland?

    This is a film review…of sorts.  My title for the producing company is my own and is from a quote of the villain’s name in Agatha Christie’s, Ten Little Indians or, And Then There Were None, meaning unknown.  The title of the film is the only written reference at the beginning or end of the film…no cast or crew list, nor any indication of a producing organization.


    This odd journey of mine, most of which needs to be kept under wraps, this is not as sinister as it sounds.  Sometimes the best publicity for an event is no publicity at all…just occasional leaks of a mysterious…whatever…out there.  And there is quite a precedent of such a campaign.

    During prohibition, there were Speakeasy’s, which were establishments hidden away that served alcohol, but the only way you could find them, was through a trusted somebody, who knew somebody, who knew the location and password and which the newbie was sworn to secrecy.  Some years ago, I was taken to such a place in Portland that followed this formula…an elevator in a downtown parking lot, down an unidentified hallway, to a bare door that had a small, sliding window in it.  Low lighting and good food but with no publicity or contact info given…quite a clever idea, I must say.

    There is also a theatre in Portland in which, as a reviewer, I must sign a release to not reveal its actual location.  And, the Indie film of some years ago, The Blair Witch Project, claimed the film that was shown, was of actual tapes of a group of students researching a legendary witch, and the group was never seen again.  Actually, it was a group of college students that made the low-budget film and because of the phony pre-release story, made millions internationally.  And so such marketing can work wonders.

    An acquaintance of mine broached me with a similar request, to review a film but not to give away the location or any info on it (since none was on the screen, that went without saying).  The reason for such a request, besides the obvious marketing stunt, was because they wanted publicity but more of a grass roots or underground sort, and felt I was a man that would keep the secret, as well.  They are not mistaken.

    The style of the film is similar to Film Noir, with dimly lit sets, flashbacks, voice-over narrative, B&W, and dark subject matter.  And since this doesn’t appear to have expensive production values, also lends well to this genre.  It resembles the film of a graphic novel, Sin City, which employs the same values.  Also, has a kinship with the movies of Val Lewton, a low-budget filmmaker of the 40’s famous for atmospheric films, notably, the famous, Cat People.

    The film begins with a small-town, newspaper reporter, from a different era, typing out a story late at night, and his voice narrating the flashbacks of what led to this moment.  It seems that an unusual number of killings have been happening, in which the victims have been found with mutilations resembling attacks by a wild animal…notably a wolf or large dog(s).

As the story goes, it is discovered that the town dump on the outskirts has had some odd canisters dumped there, with the letters A&O Enterprises stenciled on them, and a greenish fluid leaking out.  It also seems a pack of wild dogs have been seen lurking about, scavenging for food in this dump.  And, to add to the confusion, a hermit is known to make his home there and may know secrets best kept under wraps.  Add some men-in-black, an industrious cub reporter and a money-bags, who owns a mysterious factory in town, and you have the makings of a pretty good, but typical, thriller.

What is unusual about this flick, is the “motives” for these deaths (or assassinations).  Also, the fact that you rarely see the “villains” in question, rely more on shadows, glowing eyes, and pretty good sound effects and mood music to enhance the suspense (ala, Lewton’s style).  Obviously, I can’t tell you the outcome but will give you a hint…best be kind to animals, as the alternative could be deadly!

    Again, the sparse sets, low-lighting, B&W and relatively unknown cast points to an Indie film, but with an unusual plot outcome, with some above-average writing (ala, Roger Corman’s Poe classics) and an inventive marketing campaign, this could succeed in time.  There are precedents for this type (as mentioned above) as an Indie film made in the 70’s, The Witch Who Came From The Sea, deemed too controversial for the 70’s (deals frankly with incest and sex abuse of a child), when it was made, and thought to have been destroyed, a “new” copy of the film was “discovered” this century.  So, manipulating an art form, to gain attention to their product, has been known to be profitable, as well as garnered a certain amount of respect for its artistic merits, as well.  Personally, I wish them well!

--DJS


Friday, August 28, 2020

2019 - 2020 Sparkle Recognition




As I See It ...

Dennis Sparks

 Once again, I have accumulated what I believe are unique, artistic achievements for the Season (the empty space represent the theatres that would have been there had it not been for the recent crisis) and awarded each of them a Sparkle Recognition mention.  But, as you will note, unlike other award lists, I do not pick a “winner,” nor is my list confined to necessarily “5 nominees” in each category.  My list contains as many, or as few, as I deem “special” or “unique” in some way(s).


I do not believe you can compare, for instance, one actor’s performance in a play against another actor’s role in a totally different part and play.  Nor do I understand why there has to be only 5 nominees in category.  For example, I pick a person for a uniqueness that they seem to have, both as a creator and in the role/job they are performing.  That is not to say that there were not a wealth of fine artistic achievements done.  There were.  But these particular individuals and/or productions moved me in special, unforgettable ways.

 




Granted, this is my take alone on the shows this season and, I’m sure, you will note, doesn’t agree with most award lists of “nominees/winners.”  Also, it doesn’t encompass all the fine theatres that exist in the Northwest.  All the theatres I do include, have invited me to review their shows.  And, being only one person, I can only review so many at a time.


And, I do not restrict in any way, the people/companies that I review or are included in my Sparkle list.  The list includes schools, professional theatres, semi-professional, community, et. al. in the Greater Portland area and as far South as OSF in Ashland, OR.  In my opinion a good performance/production is simply good, no matter its pedigree

 

I unashamedly admit that I am a supporter of the Arts, having over 40 years myself in all aspects of it.  I attend a production expecting it to be good and, if it falls short, in my opinion, I try to be constructive in my criticism.  Also, you will note in my reviews, that I tend not to spend a lot of time describing the plot but, instead, try to give a flavor of the piece.  I, also, try to make comparisons to similar venues or historical, philosophical or personal histories of the times to, hopefully, enlighten the audience, as to what they may be seeing/experiencing.

 

Some of the most unique plays in the shortened 19/20 Season (Sept. 1st-Mar. 8th (plus one) were Frozen Jr. & Willy Wonka… from the Eastside Theater Co.; Blood Brothers from Triangle!; Jungle Book from NWCT; Hamlet from Speculative Drama; DNA from OCT’s Young Professionals Co.; Darius Pierce as James X from Corrib; Smell of the Kill from Twilight; Jekyll & Hyde from Experience Theatre; Clockwork Orange from Bag & Baggage; Tenderly at Portland Musical Theater Co., especially, Deanna Maio as Rosemary Clooney; and Maya Caulfield as The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus (a virtual performance in July) from OCT.

 

 

(Some personal observations regarding recognizing the Arts:  The Media gives a lot of attention to current events, sports and weather, etc. but almost none that focuses on the Arts.  Likewise, many land/building owners seem to be following that lead in downgrading the Arts and raising prices that, I’m sure they realize, Art groups cannot afford with their extremely limited budgets. 

Also, parking is a problem in many parts of town where theatre spaces reside and it would behoove a business or religious institution to reach out and offer their parking lots when they are not in operation.  So, please, if you are one of these organizations or know one, go the extra mile and give this precious commodity, the Arts, a chance to survive!)

My blog now has over 450,000 views, which is not too shabby in the seven+ years and over 700 reviews.  I have also been asked to join the American Theatre Critics’ Organization.   And other champions around the Arts are an unending gratitude to my electronic muse, Jennifer, for creating my blog and Dave for maintaining it.  A special “shout-out,” too, to Ronnie Lacroute and the WillaKenzie Estate, who may be the most priceless supporter local theatre has!  And when theatres/artists put links to my reviews on their sites, it only enhances the readership and, hopefully, your audiences.  In case you’d rather scan the list to find your own company, the theatres (right-hand column) are listed alphabetically (more or less). 

 


 So, without any further exposition, may we have the envelopes please . . 

 

Outstanding Productions -- Musical

Play

Theatre

 

 

 

 

Frozen, Jr.

Eastside Theater Company

Willy Wonka

Eastside Theater Company

The Rocky Horror Show

Lakewood Theatre Company

 

 

In the Heights

Portland Center Stage

West Side Story

Stumptown Stages

 

 

Blood Brothers

Triangle Productions!

Me…Jane

Young Professionals Company (OCT)

 

Outstanding Directors – Musical

 

Director

Play

Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josh Johnson

Frozen, Jr.

Eastside Theater Company

Liz Bertsch

Willy Wonka

Eastside Theater Company

John Oules

The Rocky Horror Show

Lakewood Theatre Company

 

 

 

May Adrelas

In the Heights

Portland Center Stage

Patrick Nims

West Side Story

Stumptown Stages

 

 

 

Don Horn

Blood Brothers

Triangle Productions!

 

 

 

 

Outstanding Choreographers

 

Choreographer

Play

Theatre

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

Sarah Rose

Frozen, jr.

Eastside Theater Company

Sarah Rose

Willy Wonka

Eastside Theater Company

Kevin Paul Clark

The Rocky Horror Show

Lakewood Theatre Company

Anita Menon

The Jungle Book

NW Children’s Theatre

 

 

 

William Carlos Angulo

In the Heights

Portland Center Stage

 

 

 

Christopher George Patterson

West Side Story

Stumptown Stages

That Was No Lady

Sara Mishler Martins

Triangle Productions!

 

Outstanding Musical Directors

 

Musical Director

Play

Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelsey Hoeffel

Frozen, Jr.

Eastside Theater Company

Josh Johnson

Willy Wonka

Eastside Theater Company

Darcy White

The Rocky Horror Show

Lakewood Theatre Company

 

 

 

Eugenio A. Vargas

In the Heights

Portland Center Stage

 

 

 

Adam Joseph Young

West Side Story

Stumptown Stages

Scott Bradner

That Was No Lady

Triangle Productions!

 

 

 

Outstanding Ensembles – Musical

Play

Theatre

 

 

Frozen, Jr.

Eastside theater Company

Willy Wonka

Eastside Theater Company

The Rocky Horror Show

Lakewood Theatre Company

 

 

In the Heights

Portland Center Stage

 

 

 

 

The Bell Ringer

Symphont North

 

 

West Side Story

Stumptown Stages

That Was No Lady

Triangle Productions!

Scrooge In Rouge

Triangle Productions!

Me…Jane

Young Professionals Company (OCT)

 

Outstanding Performances in a Leading Role, Male – Musical

Actor

Role

Play

Theatre

 

 

 

 

Simeon Johnson

Willy Wonka

Willy Wonka

Eastside Theater Company

Noah Feldmann-Parks

Charlie

Willy Wonka

 Eastside Theater Company

Sean Ryan Lamb

John McClane

Die Hard, the musical parody

Funhouse Lounge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delphon “DJ” Curtis, Jr.

Hedwig

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Portland Center Stage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shawn Rogers

Narrator

Blood Brothers

Triangle Productions!

Tyler Hendrix

Mickey

Blood Brothers

Triangle Productions!

Richard Stone

Edward

Blood Brothers

Triangle Productions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outstanding Performances in a Leading Roll, Female – Musical

Actor

Role

Play

Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

Ana Grayce Krachinski

Elsa

Frozen, Jr.

Eastside Theater Company

Ava Marie Horton

Anna

Frozen, Jr.

Eastside theater Company

Landy Lamb

Hans Gruber

Die Hard, the musical parody

Funhouse Lounge

Kate Faye Cummings

Holly Gennero

Die Hard, the musical parody

Funhouse Lounge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gowri Ganesh

Mowgli

The Jungle Book

NW Children’s Theatre

 

 

 

 

Margie Boule’

Donna

Mamma Mia!

Stumptown Stages

 

 

 

 

Caitlin Brooke

Mrs. Johnstone

Blood Brothers

Triangle Productions!

Lisamarie Harrison

Mrs. Lyons

Blood Brothers

Triangle Productions

 

Outstanding Performances in a Supporting Role, Male – Musical

Actor

Role

Play

Theatre

Alex Hugo

Weselton

Frozen, Jr.

Eastside Theater Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outstanding Performances in a Supporting Role, Female – Musical

Actor

Role

Play

Theatre

Claire Horton

Young Anna

Frozen, Jr.

Eastside Theater Company

Dancers

Animals

The Jungle Book

NW Children’s Theatre

 

 

 

 

Allison Parker

Anybodys

West Side Story

Stumptown Stages

Lisamarie Harrison

Tanya

Mamma Mia!

Stumptown Stages

Elizabeth Hadley

Rosie

Mamma Mia!

Stumptown Stages

Hannah Wilson

Linda

Blood Brothers

Triangle Productions!

 

Outstanding Productions – Non-Musical

Play

Theatre

1984

Artists Rep

Indecent

Artistss Rep/Profile Theatre

A Clockwork Orange

Bag & Baggage

 

 

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Experience Theatre Project

Special K

Imago Theatre

 

 

The Journal of Ben Uchida:  Citizen 13559

Oregon Children’s Theatre

The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus

Oregon Children’s Theatre

Peter and the Starcatcher

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Macbeth

Portland Center Stage

Sweat

Profile Theatre

Hamlet

Speculative Drama

The Miracle Worker

Twilight Theater Company

 

 

DNA

Young Professionals Co. (OCT)

 

Outstanding Directors – Non-Musical

 

Director

Play

Theatre

Damaso Rodriguez

1984

Artists Rep

Josh Hecht

Indecent

Artists Rep/Profile Theatre

 

 

 

Cassie Greer

A Clockwork Orange

Bag & Baggage

 

 

 

Alisa Stewart

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. hyde

Experience Theatre Project

Jerry Mouawad

Special K

Imago Theatre

 

 

 

Dmae Roberts

The Journal of Ben Uchida:  Citizen 13559

Oregon Children’s Theatre

Lavina Jadhwani

Peter and the Starcatcher

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Adriana Baer

Macbeth

Portland Center Stage

Christopher Acebo

Sweat

Profile Theatre

Myrrh Larsen

Hamlet

Speculative Drama

Doreen Lundberg

The Miracle Worker

Twilight Theater Company

 

 

 

Zoe Rudman

DNA

Young Professionals Company

 

 

Outstanding Ensembles – Non-Musical            

Play

Theatre

1984

Artists Rep

Indecent

Artists Rep/Profile Theatre

School Girls…

Artists Rep & Portland Center Stage

A Clockwork Orange

Bag & Baggage

Eclipsed

Corrib Theatre

 

 

Smokefall

Defunkt Theatre

Bliss

Defunkt Theatre

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Experience Theatre Project

A View from the Bridge

Fuse Theatre

Special K

Imago Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amor Anejo

Milagro

 

 

The Journal of Ben Uchida:  Citizen  13559

Oregon Children’s Theatre

Peter and the Starcatcher

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Copper Children

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

 

 

Pipeline

Portland Playhouse

Sweat

Profile Theatre

 

 

 

 

Soul’d

Vanport Mosaic

DNA

Young Professionals Company (OCT)

 

Outstanding Performances in a Leading Role, Male – Non-Musical

Actor

Role

Play

Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heath Koerschgen

Pale

Burn This

Asylum Theatre

Michael J. Teufel

Larry

Burn This

Asylum Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Mounsey

Norm

Found Dog Ribbon Dance

CoHo Productions

Darius Pierce

James

James X

Corrib Theatre

 

 

 

 

Paul Angelo

Roat

Wait Until Dark

Lakewood Theatre Company

 

 

 

 

James Ryen

Black Stache

Peter and the Starcatcher

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Daniel T. Parker

Bottom

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Isabella Buckner

Hamlet

Hamlet

Speculative Drama

Michael Mendelson

Scrooge

A Christmas Carol

Portland Playhouse

Joshua J. Weinstein

Third Man, et. al.

The Baltimore Waltz

Profile Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outstanding Performances in a Leading Role, Female – Non-Musical

Actor

Role

Play

Theatre

Briana Ratterman

Anna

Burn This

AsylumTheatre

 

 

 

 

Beth Thompson

Norma

Found Dog Ribbon Dance

CoHo Productions

Maya Caulfield

Girl, et. al.

The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus

Oregon Children’s Theatre

 

 

 

 

Taylor Jean Grady

Susan

Wait Until Dark

Lakewood Theatre Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valerie Asbell

Annie

The Miracle Worker

Twilight Theater Company

Olivia Holmstedt

Helen

The Miracle Worker

Twilight Theater Company

 

Outstanding Performances in a Supporting Role, Male – Non-Musical

Actor

Role

Play

Theatre

Jason Manioccia

Burton

Burn This

Asylum Theatre

 

 

 

 

Chris Porter

Colonel/Johnny

Smokefall

Defunkt Theatre

Mathew Kern

Footnote, et. al.

Smokefall

Defunkt Theatre

Myia Johnson

Laertes

Hamlet

Speculative Drama

Olivia Gray

Horatio

Hamlet

Speculative Drama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outstanding Performances in a Supporting Role, Female – Non-Musical

Actor

Role

Play

Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Hillenbrand

Beauty

Smokefall

Defunkt Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Megan Skye Hale

Ophelia

Hamlet

Speculative Drama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role, Male – Small Cast (one to three people)

Actor

Role

Play

Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mace Archer

Doctor

Tenderly

Portland Musical Theater Company

 

 

 

 

Jay Randall Horenstein

Morty

Life…

Triang;e Productions!

 

Outstanding Performances in a Leading Role, Female – Small Cast (one to two people)

Actor

Role

Play

Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lauren Bloom Hanover

Macbeth, et. al.

Macbeth

Portland Center Stage

Chantal DeGroat

Lady Macbeth, et. al.

Macbeth

Portland Center Stage

Dana Green

MacDuff, et. al.

Macbeth

Portland Center stage

Deanna Maio

Rosemary Clooney

Tenderly

Portland Musical Theater Company

Wendy Westerwelle

Ruth

Life…

Triangle Productions!

 

 

 

 

Deone Jennings

Nicky

The Smell of the Kill

Twilight Theater

Myhraliza Aala

Debra

The Smell of the Kill

Twilight Theater

Sydney Winbush

Molly

The Smell of the Kill

Twilight Theater

 

Outstanding Technical Designers – Scenic/Lighting/Sound/Music

 

Designer

Play

Theatre

SETS

 

 

Peter Ksander

Indecent

Artists Rep/Profile Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex Meyer (set)

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Experience Theatre Project

Kyra Sanford (scenic design)

Amor Anejo

Milagro

Mariana Sanchez (scenic design)

The Copper Children

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Tim Mackabee (scenic)

In the Heights

Portland Center Stage

Robert J. Aguilar (lighting)

In the Heights

Portland Center Stage

Daniel Meeker (Scenic & Lighting Design)

The Baltimore Waltz

Profile Theatre

Peter Ksander

Sweat

Profile Theatre

 

Outstanding Designers – Costumes/Props/Make-up/Combat, et. al.

 

Designer

Play

Theatre

 

 

 

Liz Bertsch, Tracey Hugo & Jeannette Van Orsow—costumes

Frozen, Jr.

Eastside Theater Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Eggers

The Jungle Book

NW Children’s Theatre

Maya Caulfield—props/set design

The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus

Oregon Children’s Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Israel Reynoso (costumes)

In the Heights

Portland Center Stage

 

 

 

Costumes—Jeff Hinshaw, Darcelle XV

That Was No Lady

Triangle Productions!

Don Horn—Costumes

Scrooge In Rouge

Triangle Productions!

 

 

Special Recognition

 

Ronni Lacroute

For her generous support of theatre in this area—you are special!

Willakenzie Estate!

Jennifer Larson-Cody

For having faith in me, thank you—you are my electronic muse!

My Blog Creator & Manager

David Hudkins

Good friend and current blog manager

Blog Manager