Friday, December 12, 2014

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs—Oregon Children’s Theatre—NE Portland

Piggy Power…or not?

OCT’s Young Professionals Company is presenting this play at their school site at 1939 NE Sandy Blvd.  The musical is adapted for the stage by Robert Kauzlaric, Paul Gilvary and William Rush from a book of the same name by Jon Sciezka and Lane Smith.  It is directed by James Sharinghousen and is playing through December 20th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-228-9571.

It is a well-known adage that the History of a War is written by the Victors.  The same can be said of fairy tales.  Are they not related by the heroes or survivors of a tale?  Some recent plays have attempted to partly vindicate the villains in some of these stories, like Wicked, with the evil witch, or Frozen, and the Snow Queen.  Which begs the question, do we ever know what truly happens in any given circumstance?  Just look at recent events and the ensuring riots.  As long as we have to deal with He said/She said scenarios, real Justice may never be meted out.

And so, in a very roundabout way, this story is concerned with the same issues.  I’m sure we all know the tale of how the Big, Bad, Wolf huffed and puffed his way through two houses, one of straw and one of sticks, of some neighborhood…“hams” and failed on the third house, which was made of brick.  The story never does speak of him actually eating the porkers but, I guess, it is implied, or why would he blow down their residences.  Of course, this is all told from the Pigs or Victims point of view, those cute, chubby, little creatures, and the ugly, hairy beast with big teeth is pictured as the bad guy.

Well, in this musical reimagining, Alexander T. Wolf (Joshua Harding) may be the actual victim, as the town is run by swine and, being an outsider, he feels he is being picked upon because of the prejudice of the majority.  Nevertheless, he is brought to trial, which has all the appearances of being rigged.  The Judge, Prudence (Piper Tuor), is a pigster from birth but does like a good tune now and then, which the wolf can supply with pizzazz.  And the D.A., Julia (Hannah Lauren Wilson), obviously against him, pulls all sorts of sly tricks out of her sty.

And a bevy of witnesses, a doctor, a neighbor and the actual brick house pig, himself, Maxwell (all played by Kallan Dana) swear that this is the culprit responsible for the death of two of Pigslvania’s citizens.  His only ally seems to be Lillian (Christina DePinto), a roving reporter, covering the trial.  The story the wolf tells has a similar ring as to the facts, but his motives seem to be quite different than the ones implied.  And so it is up to the Jury (the audience) to decide his Fate.  More I cannot tell you, as it would give away too much of the plot, but the theme seems to be, as I mentioned earlier, Truth is in the Eye of the Beholder.

The music/songs do have a catchy, upbeat sound, some rock & roll, a ballad and a touch, perhaps, of Rocky Horror….  The music direction by Eric Nordin and choreography by Ashlee Waldbauer add a great deal to the liveliness and quick pace of the show.  And the director, Sharinghousen, has chosen his cast well and has them animated and focused every moment of the play.  He, himself, is a fine actor, having performed in former OCT and Triangle productions.

The cast are all first-rate and make some exhausting work look easy.  And they are all top performers musically as well.  I marvel at Dana and the variety of characters she portrays, some in quick succession of each other.  Tuor, as the bouncy judge, is quite fun to watch, as she oozes her juicy corruptness.  Harding gives us a rather down-to-earth wolf with a terrific talent for song.  DePinto, as the reporter, is fascinating to watch, as she flits from one side of the fence to the other, giving us various perspectives to consider.  And Wilson is a gem, as the smart but devious attorney, willing to try any trick, legal or otherwise, to win the case.

A side note, I have know some of the performers over the last couple of years from Young Professionals, and have been very impressed with their talent.  Madeleine Delaplane is now at Cornish studying theatre and she was in a featured role in a local film called, Nightbumpers.  Haley Ward and Madison Wray I have touted more than once in OCT’s shows.  And Ward and Thom Hilton are cast in a radio Christmas drama that will be aired during the Season on KXL.  And Wilson, I believe, was also in a rather good, Indie film called, The Void.

I point up all this to highlight just some of the extremely talented young people we have in this area.  And since the public school system all but ignores sponsoring the Arts, it is good to know that Oregon Children’s Theatre (Dani Baldwin, Education Director) and NW Children’s Theatre (Sarah Jane Hardy, Artistic Director), are all dedicated to see that talent-will-out in our Young and they are both excellent at providing the training and experience in putting those talents to work.  They need and deserve all the support we can give them!
I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis send you.

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