Friday, April 6, 2018

Don’t Stop Me Now—Live On Stage—NW Portland

The Agony of Success

     Don’t Stop Me Now:  The Freddie Mercury Experience is a one-woman songfest created and performed by Courtney Freed and directed by Isaac Lamb.  It is playing at the CoHo space, 2257 NW Raleigh St. (parking is a challenge in this area so plan your time accordingly) through April 8th.  For more information, go ot their site at

     As Mercury and Freed seem to be strongly influenced by their Muses, as am I as a writer.  So, I will allow my Muse to express herself through me:  As I ponder the aftermath of this cabaret-style journey of artists searching for Love, Peace, Acceptance, Freedom, I am reminded of a Jules Phiffer (sp.?) cartoon of many years ago which has the first panel,  a lonely little man staring out and saying, I live in a house… and, as the scenario continues on through several panels, growing in words to living in a neighborhood…in a city…on a planet…etc. until it is just a series of dots/stars filling up the panel and the last caption reads, “…and if you love me, you’ll find me!”  That cartoon seems to possibly fit a message in this play.  Your take-away may be entirely different, which is as it should be.

     The jazz/blues setting of a type of speak-easy, perhaps, is wholly fitting for the atmosphere of this remarkable tragic story to be shared.  And it is supported by an equally remarkable band consisting of musical director/conductor/piano by David Saffert, with able support from Tom Goicoechea on drums, Bernardo Gomez on bass and the multi-talented Josh Gilbert on sax, flute and ukulele.  Some pretty complicate light cues are a huge asset to this production by designer, Jennifer Lin.  And Lamb is no stranger to music, either, as he is a very accomplished performer himself, as just witnessed in Portland Playhouse’s musical, “Scarlet.” 

     But the main attraction is Freed herself, who is a whirlwind of excitement as she travels through more than a dozen songs of Mercury’s, lead singer of Queen, as he travels, through Freed’s extraordinary vocal range, the “road[s] not taken.”  He seemed to have experienced it all, drugs, booze, and sex with multiple partners of both genders.  And his musical talents never wavered but seemed to grow with these experiences.  The tragic end was from Aids but his legend and legacy only grew and Freed is an amazing translator of this.  But was he running toward something, or away, or both?  And, as any great artist would do, I’m sure Freed has reached deep within herself, her own story, and dipped her artistic pallet infused with her own blood, to enact the “…Mercury Experience.”  To do justice to her I would check out her websites and to get the full range of her talents and, of course, see this show.

     Also, as an added bonus, I got the rose she threw to the audience which I will treasure, as a token for my Muse to keep on writing.  Obviously, I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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