Monday, November 18, 2019

Tenderly—Portland Musical Theater Company—SE Portland



          What Price Success?!

    This two-character musical is based on the life of Rosemary Clooney.  It is written by Janet Yates and Mark Friedman and is directed and choreographed by Sharon Mann with musical direction and Producer, Deanna Maio.  It is playing at the Odd Fellows Lodge, 10282 SE Main St. in Milwaukee, OR, through November 24th.  For more information, go to their site at www.portlandmusicaltheater.org

    Wanna be a superstar?  Hope you’ve got your Will in order then, as the price often seems to be an untimely death, preceded by broken marriages, abuse of alcohol, and an unhealthy mixture of pills.  Clooney eventually did clean herself up but seems to be an exception, not the rule.  And, with opioids constantly in the news now, this is a very timely story to tell.

    To be honest, I knew very little about Clooney.  I knew she was a jazz singer, was married to Jose Ferrer, was the aunt of George Clooney and starred in the classic film, White Christmas…and that’s it.  But Maio and company has opened our eyes, not only to her talent but the uglier side of what it costs to get there.
The setting is very clever, as most of it takes place in a Doctor Monk’s (Mace Archer) office, a psychiatrist who was her therapist for many months after she was committed to a hospital after Clooney’s (Deanna Maio) nervous breakdown.  While there she recalls, in a flashback format of scenes and songs (all other roles are played by Archer), her years leading up to this junction.

    She enacts the painful times when her mother abandoned the family, and her father was absent most of the time, being raised essentially by her Grandmother.  But there were some happy memories with her sister, Betty, and how they broke into show biz together on the radio, and on tour in the Big Band era.  And then came a recording contract, but it was for just Rosie, not her sister, and so the rest of the entertainment journeys was hers to forge alone.

    She did meet and marry the fiery-tempered, great actor, Jose Ferrer and they had children, but his abuse of alcohol and flings with other women finally broke them up.  She did have some great buds in Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby but it was not enough to save her from the bouts of depression and self-doubt.  She finally adopted pills as her buffer and, before last stop before bottom, met Dr. monk and began the road to recovery.

    All her famous songs are here, too:  Hey, There; Sisters; Count Your Blessings; Paper Moon; Come on-A My House; Tenderly; and, one of my favorites, Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair.  All these tunes well presented by Maio and often joined in by Archer.  Mann has done an amazing job of taking a simple stage and transforming it, with two perfect actors, into a tale of hope and warning of the price of success.

    Archer has an extremely difficult role of playing Clooney’s husbands, lovers, mother and sister, and some famous stars and he does it, transforming in a flash to these characters and yet not trying to imitate them but play their essence.  Great job!

    And with Maio, it also has been a long journey, being privy myself to the last four years, when her company began as a dream and now is a successful reality.  Not only is she an accomplished jazz singer herself, having also directed and performed in musical revues and directed youth in showcases, but can now add enacting a very juicy role, that of a star’s descent into madness, for her crowning glory.  She is magnificent and more then once I got choked up myself while watching her.  She is a star in the same magnitude of Clooney but has the smarts to avoid Clooney’s pitfalls.  “May She Live Long and Prosper!”

    I highly recommend this production, as the performances are not to be missed.  But get your tickets Now as the last weekend is selling out fast.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Friday, November 15, 2019

Soul’d—Vanport Mosaic—N. Portland



                 Soul Credit

    This engaging piece of American History is conceived and directed by Damaris Webb and written by Webb and The Project, also a co-producer.  The ensemble cast consists of La’Tevin Alexander, Catherine Braxton, Tyharra Cozier, Sydney Jackson, Shareen Jacobs and Salim Sanchez.  A companion piece to this presentation is the short documentary, Root Shocked, produced by Cecilia Brown.  It is playing at the IFCC space, 5340 N. Interstate Ave., through November 24th. For more information, go to their site at www.vanportmosaic.org

    We, the People…Perfect Union…Freedom for all…Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…words of our Founders.  Are any of them present nowadays in their purest form?  To be honest—No.  Changes that have evolved since then, “We, the People,” are now the servants of the President, not he of us.  Freedom for all has actually never been fully instituted.  Our “Union” is scattered, shattered and split, at best.  And Pursuits of any kind for All People have long since flown out the window.  In short, we are a nation of Immigrants (except Native Americans) who have never learned to get along!

    And so, now we are faced with a unique example of this in the “white-bred” Oregon, especially Portland.  We here seem to be repeating and echoing the treatment of a race that were kidnapped from their native countries and had to perform as forced laborers for the white, landowners’ pleasure.  With great restrain, African-Americans have had to endure over hundreds of years the insults, lynching’s, mis-carriages of justice, lack of human rights, etc.  But now it is time for the tide to change and, although we may not be able to completely right the wrongs of the Past, at least we can listen, with open hearts and minds, with a resolve to not repeat those mistakes.  “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

    This ensemble traces some of the humiliations that they and their ancestry faced, much of the facts are brought out in their version of a game show, mouthing in no uncertain terms, how they feel, based on true examples from our Past.  I won’t go into details because some of it is quite startling and should be witnessed by an audience first-hand.  The short documentary that follows does give one some hope for, perhaps, a better tomorrow.  But, as said, all this really needs to be witnessed on an individual basis and then translated to our everyday lives.  Our Founders sensed a Hope for this American experiment.  Let us not let ourselves down.

    I highly recommend this production.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Monday, November 11, 2019

Disney’s Frozen, Jr.—Eastside Theater Company—Gresham, OR


           Cold Hands/Warm Heart


    This Young folks version of the classic animated Disney musical has book by Jennifer Lee and music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez, is directed by Josh Johnson, choreographed by Sarah Rose and musical direction by Kelsey Hoeffel.  It is playing at the Springwater Church space, 3445 SE Hillyard Rd. in Gresham, through November 17th.  For more information, go to their site at www.EastsideTheater.com or call 971-231-5032.

    This is based on one of Disney’s best animated films, which is based on Hans Christen Anderson’s, The Snow Queen.  It also has more than a passing nod to C. S. Lewis’s classic books of Narnia, both concerning a White Witch trying to prevent summer from occurring.  If you’re not familiar with these stories, shame on you!

    In the current situation of global warming and the MeToo Movement, this is very relevant material in three ways.  The first being, in this case, a land that is warming too fast according to scientists (who should know).  The second being the emergence of two strong female characters, who had no need of men trying to control them.  And the third being, the almost lost art of utilizing the imagination, where anything is possible. 

    And, in this case, a fourth element could be added, the Young (1st thru 12th grade exclusively) who portrayed all the roles.  This is probably the most important, as recent incidents have the Youth of our world speaking out against gun violence, environmental concerns and human rights, as opposed to most whining government leaders sitting on their hands on these important issues.    But, maybe, that’s important, too, as it is said that, “a child shall lead them!”

    The story concerns two sisters, Elsa (Ana Grayce Krachinski) and Anna (Ava Marie Horton), who grew up together as friends but had to be separated at a young age because of an accident caused by Elsa, using her magic powers indiscriminately and causing harm to Anna.  (The youngest Elsa is performed by Abby Levy and Ava Grant and the youngest Anna is Claire Horton and Evie Bertsch—the middle Elsa is Lilly Anderson and Anna is Ellen Horton and Sidra Cohen-Mallon…it’s not indicated who played these roles on Sunday night but I assume the Hortons, since the adult Anna was played by a Horton, too.)

    Princess Elsa is gloved for her young life because of her magic contained within her hands and, in time, this causes an estrangement between sisters.  Then their parents die and Elsa, the eldest, is crowned Queen but, feeling rejected, she escapes to form her own kingdom of ice.  Meanwhile, Princess Anna has met a young prince, Hans (Simeon Johnson), who she is smitten with.  But she chooses to go off and find her sister.  Also, along the way she befriends Olaf (puppet controlled by Joseph Kassing), a goofy snowman; Kristoff (Ethan Golden), an honest woodsman, and his trusty, reindeer companion, Sven (Anneliza Bates), who will aid her in her quest.  To see how it all turns out, you’ll just have to attend the play.

    The famous songs, For the First Time in Forever, Love is an Open Door, In Summer, and, of course, Let It Go, are all there and beautifully rendered, as are some pretty elaborate dance pieces, well executed, with the chorus, by Rose.  And Johnson has done an amazing job with a large cast of youth, blocking some pretty intricate scenes and keeping everything under control, as well as moving the show along at a brisk pace.  The music could be toned down a bit as it, on occasion, overpowers the singing.

    Also, the costumes by Liz Bertsch, Tracey Hugo and Jeannette VanOrsow were a huge asset, as were some neat video projections (Adam Bertsch) and set pieces (Chris Dick), which also aided in the production’s success.  It is not clear who did the designs for Olaf or Sven (his jaw needs a bit of WD-40, though) but they were very well done.

    And there was not a weak link in the entire cast, everyone pulling their weight and giving it their all.  I especially liked the youngest Horton (I believe), as Anna, as well as the Duke (Alex Hugo) and Oaken (Ezra Johnson), very animated.  Kassing was a gas, giving life to Olaf.  But the show rests mainly on Elsa & Anna and Krachinski & Horton were perfect.  Elsa’s key song, Let It Go, almost blew the roof off the building—terrific.  And Horton’s, Anna, was not only very vigorous in enacting the role but also managed to musically give depth to her songs.  Both young ladies have a future in musical theatre if that is their goal!

    This young troop is well worth watching (next up Willy Wonka… and Shrek), as this production proves that talent and heart go a long way in creating magic onstage.  This production ranks with any musical I’ve seen by more mature companies!  I highly recommend this show.  It only plays for one more weekend, so don’t miss it!.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS


Saturday, November 9, 2019

La Ruta—Artists Rep—SE Portland


         The Invisibles


    This searing story is written by Isaac Gomez and directed by Da’maso Rodriguez.  It is playing at the Hampton Opera Center, 211 SE Caruthers St., through December 1st.  For more information, go to their site at www.artistsrep.org

“The long and lonely road
Creeps back upon us again,
Leaving their dead behind,
Under the shifting sands
Of time.”
 (anonymous traveler)

    And so, alien families are thwarted at our border from escaping poverty and abuse from their own countrymen and government.  Any reasonably intelligent person would tell you this does not stop the problem.  Human Rights would dictate that we help.  The solution would be to work within their borders to aid in stamping out evil and corruption so they can, once again, be proud of their native land and could live in peace.  Instead, our Ignorance trumps theirs and we stand around and watch as the world crumbles around us.  An old saying, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!”

    This story is based on real people in a time not too long ago…and still continues today, but it is really an age-old story, universal tale of abuse of women by men, to put it simply.  The rise of the MeToo Movement and incidents of Youth standing up for their rights, gives hope for better Tomorrows.

    I can’t go into much detail of the story, as it would mute the shock value the audience should experience.  But, I will narrow in on one story, of a caring mother’s, Yolanda (Christi Miles), search for her naïve, teenage daughter, Brenda (Marissa Sanchez), in a world ruled by Men…on the streets, in factories, and in positions of authority.  These women, these mother’s,  including the harsh, Zaide (Patricia Alvitez) and the activist, Marisela (Diana Burbano), work in a garment factory with Brenda and her new best friend, Ivonne (Naiya Amilcar).  In a flash, on a social outing, Brenda disappears, and her mother peels layers away from the core, like an onion, tearing the eyes (and tearing the heart), to discover the truth of what happened to her dear child on one fateful day.  This tale is carefully modulated in Spanish songs by a narrator/singer, Desamaya (Fabi Reyna).  To be honest, this may not be for everyone, so you have been warned, but it will also open a lot of eyes and ears and hearts to the plights of the Forgotten, the Invisibles.

    Rodriguez and Gomez have presented us, in an artistic way, with a message for the Future, that if we don’t correct the systemic problems of the Past, we are bound to repeat them.  The music (Rodolfo Ortega) and songs (Fabi Reyna) add much to the intense feeling of the tale.  And the actors are super, especially Miles and Amilcar in one heart-rendering, gut-wrenching scene toward the end, when the truth finally comes to light.

    I highly recommend this play but, as suggested, it’s pretty brutal in the telling.  One hint, plan your time well because, if you don’t get there before the train crosses the rails, you are in for at least a 20-minute delay.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS


Sunday, October 27, 2019

DNA—OCT’s Young Professionals Company—NE Portland


      Lost & Found…and Lost Again


    DNA is a mystery/thriller by Brit author, Dennis Kelly, directed by Zoe Rudman and performed by Dani Baldwin’s teen ensemble.  For more information on her and the company, check this link out:  https://www.orartswatch.org/dani-baldwin-forges-her-own-path/
It is playing at Oregon Children’s Theatre’s studio space, 1939 NE Sandy Blvd., through November 10th.  For more information on the show, go to their site at www.octc.org/yp-company

    This has shades of Lord of the Flies and Picnic at Hanging Rock, as they both concern students from a private, uniformed academy, just at the point of losing their childhood innocence and walking on the darker side of maturity.  These lads and lasses are use to playing games and having fun…until it become deadly.  It’s a grand story but doesn’t reflect the Youth I now see emerging, as the current breed is more mature than the crop of whiny politicians that are running this world…as the young make their voices heard for human rights, gun control and environmental concerns and so, I salute them.  But, again, this is just great spooky storytelling in a genre I love.

    These ten teens embark on a dangerous journey in which no one who survives will emerge unscathed (I may get names and faces mixed up, as they all wear uniforms and seem to blur together at times, which may be part of the point of the story).  At the beginning, Lea (Sylvia Grosvold), an animated lady, has a running monologue with her friend, Phil (Jasper Warhus), a bit of a loner, who all but ignores her.

    Jan (Aleena Yee), a serious sort, and her best bud, Mark (London Mahaley), also a serious dude, discover their schoolmate, Addie (Tessa Lignore), a bit of a social misfit, has fallen, or was pushed, into a deep hole and, I suppose, they fear they might be suspected.  So, they decide to manufacture DNA evidence that will implicate someone else, perhaps a transient.  And so, Cathy (Makenna Markman), a silly but dangerous girl, goes about doing the dirty work that must be done, and the entire group, consisting of Reggie (Claire Voilleque’), Danny (Josh Bransford), John (Kieran Gettel-Gilmartin), and Brian (Sam Majors), all conspire to create a false crime and criminal, and it works better than expected until…well, you’ll just have to see for yourselves, won’t you?!

    This is rather an ingenious plot that even Christie would be proud of.  And Rudman has chosen her cast well and keeps the setting simple (just some crates that are moved around to create different settings).  This way the acting and script are the center of the action.  This is a mature subject so be advised, it may not be for everybody.

    These roles are not typical “kids” roles, as they are all very complex characters.  And the casting of these specific actors is uncanny, as I couldn’t see anyone else in these roles.  And, I seriously doubt, any other group could do justice to the characters, as these ten young folks do.  The silent on, the frightened one, the misfit one, the silly one, the chatty one, the serious one, the lonely one, the crying one, the bossy one and the aware one…all form a dangerous liaison.  All were excellent but my eyes/ears kept wandering back to Grosvold, as her character had to bounce from one extreme to another, again and again, and not be predictable, and she did this admirably.

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

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Brothers Paranormal—Mediarites’ Theatre Diaspora—NW Portland


                                          Smoke & Mirrors?


    This compelling ghost story is written by Prince Gomolvilas and directed by Catherine Ming T’ien Duffly.  It is playing at the CoHo Productions space, 2257 NW Raleigh St., through November 16th  (parking is a challenge in this area, so plan your time accordingly).  For more information, go to their site at www.cohoproductions.org

    Storytelling is a unique art.  It certainly can entertain and be an expression of feelings.  And there are many mediums for storytelling, not only books, but films as well.  And they sometimes can educate, too, on the sly, if necessary.  Rod Serling (Twilight Zone) and Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) found a way through Fantasy/Sci-Fi to address sensitive, social issues, too, like prejudice, abuse, gender concerns, et. al., face-on in these areas, without being censored, and the public at large was being educated, as well as entertained.  Such sly dogs they were.  (Not unlike W. C. Fields favorite expression of irritation on the screen, “Godfrey Daniels!,” which was slipped smoothly by the censors, since it really meant…well, you figure it out.)

    In a way, Gomolvilas does the same thing here, as did Serling & Roddenberry.  On the surface, it is a grand ghost story.  But, underneath the clever mystery, the play addressed such issues as mental illness, severe cultural shock, suicide, gambling addictions, alcoholism, etc.  In essence, it is not unlike a bedtime story you might read to your child at night, in which are fun images presented but with an underlying moral message to be gleaned, too.  So, sit back, relax (but not too much) and be entertained and educated by an expert storyteller.

    I can only give you a thumb-nail sketch of the plot because of the unique twists in the story.  Enter Delia (Andrea White), a woman who insists she has been visited by an invisible, malevolent spirit (in appearance, think The Grudge or The Ring films from Japan), Jai (Melissa Magaña), who wishes Delia harm for some reason.  Her flamboyant husband, Felix (Jasper Howard), has other ideas as to the haunting. 

    Max (Samson Syharath, also co-producer with Dmae Roberts), a ghost-hunter, with his brother, Visarut (Lidet Viravong), who believe there is something seriously amiss.  They also consult their sensitive mother, Tasanee (Elaine Low), for aid in understanding and, hopefully, ridding this house of the evil entity.  More I cannot tell you, as the plot has many twists and turns which an audience should discover.  But, just know, that not everything is as it appears.

    This has all the earmarks to someday be a film.  There are also some very clever “special effects” concerning the spirit’s antics.  Duffly has chosen her cast well and successfully brings out all the subplots of these characters that the author has created.  In other words, it’s just not another spooky thriller, but has a lot of depth underlying it.

    Magaña certainly must have some dance and movement training, as she is very agile and effective.  White and Howard work well together, showing the love between them and applauding the differences.  Low is very powerful as the representative of the old-world values and the conflicts of trying to adapt to new ones.  Viravong, as the older, more technically savvy of the brothers, is appropriately restrained, as he also tries to navigate this complex world.  And Syharath is always a joy to watch onstage.  In this incarnation, he grapples with the many complex issues that confront his  ever-changing and challenging ideas and beliefs.

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


Monday, October 21, 2019

Me…Jane—Oregon Children’s Theatre—Downtown Portland


         Mistress of the Jungle


    This lively, informative musical is adapted for the stage by Patrick McDonnell and Aaron Posner, with music and lyrics by Andy Mitton, based on a book by McDonnell, and directed by Marcella Crowson, choreographed by Megan Smith and with music direction by Mak Kastelic.  It is playing at the Newmark Space, 1111 SW Broadway, through November 17th.  For more information, go to their site at www.octc.org or call 503-228-9571.

    My only exposure to exotic animals is with the Tarzan movies of the 40’s and 50’s, and the TV show Disneyland, with his Nature documentaries.  But I do understand dogs through my own recognizance, as I had a pet one at an early age and, being somewhat a misfit kid, I felt he was the only one who understood me…he was my best friend!  Since then I’ve had about a half dozen dogs in my adult life…and they were always by best buds.

    As reflected in this play, too, I was always told not to get too attached to them, as they were simply “dumb animals and had no real feelings.”  But let me tell you of an incident with my dog when I was a young man.  A friend of mine was a heavy smoker and, as a joke one day, let my pet sniff a cigarette, unlit…unlit, mind you….  He sniffed at it for a moment, then with one quick swipe of his paw, broke it in two.  Now, who’s the dumb one?!

    In this tale of the young life of Jane Goodall (Aida Valentine) in England, her favorite toy was a stuffed chimp named, Jubilee and her friend, her dog, Rusty (Breydon Little *, acting & Mak Kastelic, singing).  She tells her understanding Mum (Hillary Hoover), of her desires to go to Africa and live among the wild animals.  But their strait-laced neighbors, Mr. Crouch (Heath Hyun Houghton) and his wife (Paige Rogers), try to convince young Jane that climbing trees, talking to animals and dressing in jeans, with dreams of living in Africa, are not becoming what a young lady should be aiming for.  But her Mum, who has seen her drawings and journals, supports her all the way.

    She has studied the chickens in their yard and the squirrels in the woods and discovers, with patient watching, that one can learn a great deal from animals, “if you have eyes to see and ears to hear.”  She knows that the predominant theory from scientists is to observe animals in laboratory settings and make determinations about them.  But she is of no such mind.  She is made of “stardust,” as Carl Sagan might say, and follows, like Dr. Hawkins would propose, to “be brave, be curious and be determined.”  And so, her destiny is forged for her.  And today she has changed the face of natural history…may she “live long and prosper!”

    This is all so well and simply presented that it is suitable for all ages to understand, including us dense adults, who choose to watch Mother Nature and the wonderful creations of her labors, be slowly destroyed by our greed and stupidity, and fail, unlike animals, to live in harmony with each other! 
Crowson has chosen well her cast, as most play many roles, and she presents this nostalgic world with simplicity.  (I wish I could tell you the songs, but they were not listed in the programs.  Suffice to say, they all fit the story nicely with a talented group to present them.)  Houghton & Rogers were very animated, and I loved the tap-dancing number of the chickens.  Hoover has a terrific voice.  And Valentine is a very charming young performer doing justice to an outstanding individual.

    But the man of the hour was * Little, as he was a last minute replace for a sick actor and he was amazing!  I, myself, have been in such a position as an actor and it’s nerve-racking to say the least.  But he is a trooper and is quite good onstage, so hope he is given more opportunities to do so in the future.

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

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Baltimore Waltz—Profile Theatre—SE Portland


         “Dream Within a Dream”


    This off-beat, dark comedy is written by award-winning playwright, Paula Vogel and is directed by Josh Hecht.  It is playing at the Imago space, 17 SE 8th Ave. (off Burnside), until November 3rd (parking is a challenge in this area, so plan your time accordingly).  For more information, go to their site at www.profiletheatre.org or call 503- 242-0080.

    Tennessee Williams may have said it best about theatre (and, possibly, Life, too) that it is not reality that is being created, but the illusion of reality.  We all see Life through our own perceptions and it may not be as others see it.  We fill our world with our dreams, experiences, hopes, regrets…as we navigate through this Journey, this brief flame, called Life.  And, so it is, too, with Anna, in this flicker of an adventure in her normally mundane existence.

    Anna (Jen Rowe) is a schoolteacher and leads a pretty drab life.  Her best friend all her life is her gay brother, Carl (Dan Kitrosser), a librarian in the children’s section.  One day he is summarily fired for being a little too “pink” for the Board’s liking.  And so, he invites his sister to travel the world with him, now that he has some time to explore.

    Well, it just so happened that Anna has gotten some bad news from her doctor (Joshua J. Weinstein), that she has a deadly disease and only has a short time to live, so she opens her eyes to the possibilities of a life not realized and decides to take the plunge.  There is also a slim chance that a certain European scientist might have a magic solution to cure what ails her.  And so, they depart.

    It is a whirlwind adventure and she eats and screws her way across Europe with her faithful brother along as a companion.  But he seems engaged in some sort of mysterious plot that involves, perhaps smuggling, with his favorite stuffed bunny, Jo-Jo.  Intrigue and suspicion are now included in their adventure.  The conclusion will rock your world and so, ‘nuf said.

    Rowe is amazing in her multi-faceted character of Anna and she squeezes every last nuisance out of it.  She is always a delight to watch onstage.  Kitrosser is fun to observe in his complicated relationship with his sister.  And Weinstein is excellent in his many incarnations he presents onstage, from a shy bellhop, to a mad doctor, to a slimly security agent, to a mysterious spy, et. al.  He is quite the chameleon.  And Hecht is a marvel at keeping up the pace and taking us through multiple locations without losing the thread of the story.

    I do have one nit to pick with the story itself.  The ending, as I said, is a bit of a shocker, but I don’t think it fits the premise of the tale that Anna presents.  Without giving anything away, if one’s dreams of a final journey with a lifelong best friend, then it should have been more inclusive of that friendship as the basis, which does not happen here.  So, I think you should see it and judge for yourself.  Also, there is full male nudity (I feel unnecessary) in this production.

    I recommend the production for the terrific acting and set but the story, I feel, falls short of its expectations.  If you do see it, please let them know you heard it from me.
--DJS

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Smokefall—Defunkt Theatre—SE Portland



          “Past Saving”

    This dark chronicle, of a family history, is written by Noah Haidle and directed by Patrick Walsh.  It is playing at their space, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd. (in back of the Common Ground Coffee Shop) through November 16th.  (Parking is a challenge in this area, so plan your time accordingly.)  For more information, go to their site at www.defunkttheatre.com

    Relationships are never easy and family dynamics can be a bitch to handle.  But, from “womb to tomb,” you have no choice but to just deal with it.  This odd story, part dark fairy tale set in an alternate reality, and part romance (of sorts), gives us a glimpse into the psyche of one family over several years.  It has a lot in common with Tennessee Williams and his play, The Glass Menagerie as, in both stories, there is the father who “fell in love with long distance…trying to find in motion what was lost in space.”  And there is the shy or, in this case, mainly silent sister, and a narrator (Footnote) that has prior knowledge of the family and moves the story along, filling in the blanks as it goes, as well as some lovely poetic prose in the storytelling of both authors.

    The matriarch of the family is Violet (Brooke Calcagno), who is pregnant with twin boys as the story opens, with Footnote (Matthew Kern) giving us the lowdown on their history.  She lives in her father’s house, the Colonel (Chris Porter), who’s memory is failing him, and her daughter, Beauty (Jessica Hillenbrand), who chooses to eat paper, paint, dirt, etc., anything but food, and has chosen not to speak because she decided she simply had no more to say.  And, finally, there is Dan (Joe Von Appen), the husband, who will soon be a bleep in the family tree, due to his absence…this is the first Act.

    The second act is a wee more bizarre, as we get the perspective of the twins (Kern & Von Appen, again) in the womb, as they discuss the pros and cons of actually being born and facing an uncertain future.  The third act presents Beauty, now speaking, and eating normal food, connecting with one of the twins, John (Porter, again), her brother, on his birthday and meeting his son, Samuel (Kern, again).  Yes, a bit confusing but also very compelling and they do manage to tie up the ends together.  It is one family’s journey but there are elements within it that seem familiar to me, as it will, I’m sure, to others.

    The story grows on you, as does the style, and being an intimate setting, it feels even more personal.  Walsh has taken on what must have seemed like an impossible task at the beginning and molded it into quite an engaging piece of theatre.  And his cast pick is amazing, as I couldn’t image anyone else in these roles.  Porter is a stalwart of local theatre and is at his best here.  Von Appen does well, especially as the reluctant twin.  Calcagno has been too long absent from the stage and it’s good to see her back and just as strong.  Hilllenbrand is excellent as the young girl who blossoms before your eyes and becomes a determined woman.  And Kern, again, brandishes his acting chops and is powerful in more than one demanding role here.  Kudos to all!

    I recommend this play.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Friday, October 18, 2019

Amor Anejo—Milagro—SE Portland



             “A Tale as Old as Time”

    This original play, concerning the classic stories surrounding the traditional Mexican Day of the Dead, is conceived and directed by Elizabeth Huffman at their space, 525 SE Stark St., through November 10th  (parking is a challenge in this area, so plan your time accordingly.)  For more information, go to their site at www.milagro.org or call 503-236-7253.

    This story, and its many incarnations, truly does go back in time to the Aztecs.  Most notably, the Greeks picked up on it with their stories of everlasting love of a man who was compelled to go across the river Styx to the Underworld to find his beloved.  Even recent films have reflected this theme, with Robin Williams in What Dreams May Come and the recent, animated musical, the excellent, Coco.

    Enduring Love comes in many forms and definitions.  As one poet describes it, Do not see out Love, for Love, if it finds you worth, will guide your course.  Tis true, but my favorite expression is Love is in the Eye of the Beholder.  This is the appropriate time for this story, as the Day of the Dead is fast approaching, which is remembering our loved ones by creating a personal shrine of some sort so that they can visit the earth and be honored by family and friends.

    In this tale, Hector (Richardo Vazquez) and his true love from childhood, Rosalita (Yolanda Porter) spend many happy years together when, at 84, Rosalita dies.  She was a scientist and, therefore, did not believe in the afterlife.  He, on the other hand, is an artist, painting only portraits of her which he refuses to sell, and does believe in another world after death.  But, in order to honor his dead wife’s beliefs, he discards his own notions and pretends that she is still alive and just gone for a while.

    In the after life she is visited by various spirits, all stressing that for them to be together in this afterlife, he must except the fact that she is dead and in this existence after mortal death.  So, the ensemble of spirits, Bombons (Laura DiMare, Yesenia Lopez, Carlos Manzano and Johnnie Torres) go about playing out characters in his memory to convince him that she is dead but present in the after world.  And they must do all this by the Feast of the Day of the Dead or the door between his world and hers will be closed forever.  Can Love conquer?  You’ll just have to see it to find out, won’t you?!

    This ia a lovely re-telling and re-imagining of this “tale as old as time.”  The set is very versatile and the ensemble cast even more so.  They are excellent in re-creating various family member and friends from their lives, as well as the various incarnations of the spirits themselves.  Huffman has done an amazing job of finding just the right cast, as well as simplifying the settings so that the story and characters take center stage.  There are moments of dance, humor, song, music, tragedy…all aspects of a person’s life, so easily identifiable to everyone.  (One omission, though, I would have liked to know in the credits, the artist of the paintings, as they are quite good.)

    I recommend this play.   If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Monday, October 14, 2019

A Clockwork Orange—Bag & Baggage—Hillsboro, OR



        “To Be or Not to Be…” Free


    This classic novel from yesteryear by Anthony Burgess has been adapted by the author for the stage and is directed by the Artistic Director of B&B, Cassie Greer and choreographed by Mandana Khoshnevisan.  It is playing at their own space, The Vault Theatre, 350 E. Main St. in downtown Hillsboro, through October 27th.  For more information, go to their site at www.bagnbaggage.org or call 503-345-9590.

    What to do…what to do…when faced with the above dilemma?  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  But with choosing Freedom, that comes with responsibility, and not just for yourself but for others, as well and Nature.  Or, to live in a world where everything is decided for you, even what you believe or think, or what is good or what is evil (via Orwell’s 1984).  But, whatever you decide, it involves…Choice.  Ah, “there’s the rub.”

    Alex (Aaron Cooper Swor), in this futuristic society (or alternate universe) in London, is the leader of a gang, the Droog’s, consisting of George (Ty Hendrix), Pete (Abrar Haque) and Dim (Eric St. Cyr), who terrorize the city streets and its citizens, including one F. Alexander (Robert Durante), the future author of this novel.  Alex has been warned by his teacher, Mr. Deltoid (TS McCormick), that he must chang his ways or risk going to prison, if his antics turn deadly.  And, sure enough, one night on a home invasion, an old lady dies, and so it is reform time for ole Alex.

    In prison, he comes across a holier-than-thou Chaplin (Joey Copsey), who tries his best to “save Brother Alex,” who plays along for a while, as he’s heard of a program where, if he resorts to certain tests by the powers-that-be, he can gain his freedom.  And so, with the permission of the chameleon, Minister of the Interior (James Luster), and the administrator of the tests, Dr. Brodsky (Andrew Beck), they proceed.  In essence, the tests consist of brainwashing, so that he is revolted by thoughts of violence (as well as any kind of passion, as well).  But society (and the author) are not so easily appeased and so we are faced with, perhaps, being safe but stupid, or being free but uncertain.  The Choice is Ours!

    This is a highly inventive production by Greer and her choreographer, as many stylized dances and movements, as well as music are present, and songs.  The innovative lighting (Jim Ricks-White), versatile set (Tyler Buswell) and bland costumes (Melissa Heller), all add to the dark magic of the production.  And many kudos to the cast, who play a variety of roles, as they are quite marvelous!  And Swor, as the lead character, is amazing in a difficult role.

    Greer has tackled what would have appeared to be an impossible dream and has created rainbows for us to enjoy and ponder.  She is a tremendous actor in her own right, as well as the artistic creator of literary classics.  “May she live long and prosper!”

    I highly recommend this play.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Sunday, October 13, 2019

West Side Story—Stumptown Stages—downtown Portland



         The Story of Color…a Study in Black & White

    This classic musical reworking of Shakespeare’s Romer & Juliet, West Side Story, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, is directed by Patrick Nims, choreographed by Christopher George Patterson and music direction by Adam Joseph Young, is playing at the Winningstad Theatre, 1111 Broadway, through October 27th.  For more information, go to their site at www.stumptownstages.org

    Although written over 50 years ago, the source material is a few hundred years older and yet, it seems, nothing much has changed.  Prejudice, Intolerance, and Discrimination raises their ugly heads wherever differences are noticed…whether in religion, sexual orientation, politics views, gender, cultural, color, etc.  “When will we ever learn…”  It is interesting to note that the few adults in the story are either fops or fools…the parents are never seen…leaving the POV and mechanics of the tale solely in the hands of the Youth.

    As the plot goes, the time is in the slums of NYC in the ‘50’s and is pretty much ruled by gangs, in this case the Sharks (the Puerto Ricans) and the Jets (Whites). Tony (Alexander Trull), one of the original founders of the Jets, is trying to go “legit,” has a job at Doc’s (Mark Pierce) drug store and is no longer an active member of the street gang, now led by Riff (Jacob Robert).  But his old pal has explained that they are finally going to have it out with the rival gang, the Sharks, led by Bernardo (Jordon Waters), and he needs Tony to come to the dance at the gym tonight, as moral support.  Tony agrees.

    But, as Fate would have it, Maria (Tina Mascaro), Bernardo’s sister, is also at the dance and these two “star-crossed lovers” are immediately smitten with each other.  Of course, in their euphoric state, they do not see any color barriers that can’t be overcome.  But it seems the world is “too much with [them],” as Anita (Kayah Alexander Franklin), Bernardo’s main squeeze, tries to emphasize.  Also, the police, under the command of Lt. Shrank (Jeremy Southard) and his trusty puppet, Officer Krupke (Darin MacLeod), have it in for all these punks, especially the P.R.’s.  Suffice to say, the cards are stacked against them and the timeclock ticking toward the inevitable showdown.  A turf war does break out with tragic results.  I can’t tell you the rest without spoiling it for some, but it does follow reasonably closely the Bard’s play.  One note, though, who is it at the end, who puts a shawl around the shoulders of Maria (an innocent, Latino)?  It’s Baby John (Jackson Wells), also an innocent (a White).  Can this be a sign of a more hopeful Future.  Let’s hope so.

    This is one of those plays where an actor needs not only their acting chops but also great singing voices, some super dance skills and even acrobatics to succeed.  And Nims has them in great multitudes here, as he leads them, along with Patterson, down the yellow-brick road over the rainbow.  And the difficult score, led by Young, is amazing.  The Designers, too, Costume (Margaret Louise Chapman), Scenic (Demetri Pavlatos), Sound (Rory Breshears) and Lighting (Harrison Moye), all should hare in this musical’s terrific success.

    And, wow, are there some outstanding dancers in the Gym scene, the Rumble, the opening and many more, blending Jazz, Ballet and Modern styles to the mix.  And the songs from operatic to ballad-like, demanding special voices.  Both Trull & Mascaro were perfect in rendering of Maria and Tonight, especially.  And one final kudo, to Allison Parker, as Anybody’s, the tomboy of the Jets, as she has some pipes on her that were thrilling when she sang, Somewhere, during the Dream Ballet number.  Wow!  She’s also a product of OCT’s Young Professionals Company, so am not surprised as to how good an actor and singer she is becoming.  She has quite a future on stage if she desires it.

    A couple of final observations:  The movie version (a multiple-award winner), swapped a couple of numbers from the play version, added males to the America number and cut some sequences which, I believe, is a better version overall of the play itself. 

    Also, my friend Dave and I were chatting after the play and trying to decide why/how kids go wrong as they mature.  Are they “hard-wired” for hatred and violence?  I don’t believe so.  There is a song in South Pacific called, Carefully Taught, where it espouses that children are “…carefully taught to hate and to fear” because, as children, they are pure Innocence, wanting to believe in Tolerance, Magic and Kindness but are slowly, expertly brainwashed by adult behaviors to a darker side of Life.  But it seems that the Youth are finally voicing their concerns, as they rise up against gun violence, global warming and hatred and inequities against minorities and women.  They put adult politicians to shame and, in our Young’s actions, there appears to be a silver lining into our current cloudy atmosphere.  “Somewhere a Place for Us…”  Go For It!

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

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A View from the Bridge—Fuse Theatre Ensemble—NW Portland


              A World Apart

     This classic Arthur Miller drama is directed, choreographed and designed by Rusty Newton Tennant and Sara Fay Goldman.  It is playing at 2516 NW 29th Ave. (in the heart of the Industrial area of NW Portland) through October 27th. (Note, this is not an easy place to find, so plan your time accordingly.  Also, wear warm clothes, as the theatre area is not heated, except for a few portable heaters.)  For more information, go to their site at www.boxofficetickets.com or contact Rusty at rusty.fuse@gmail.com or call 214-504-6350.

    Although this was written many years ago, it has a scary timeliness for today’s world.  It touches on issues of immigration, relationships, family dynamics, cultural differences, human values, and the nature of love.  It skirts issues also found in Come Back, Little Sheba; West Side Story; On the Waterfront and even ancient Greek tragedies.  It is the tale of two worlds colliding and the cost of when one entity will not change or evolve.

    Many cultures, when they immigrate to this country, take with them the burden/responsibility of an extended family.  And so it is with Eddie (Ernie Lijoi), from Italy but now an American Longshoreman, working on the docks & warehouses in NYC.  He lives in the slums in Brooklyn, with a teenage girl, his “daughter,” Catherine (Jacquelle Davis), who he has an unnatural jealousy of, and her “Aunt,” Beatrice (Adriana Gantzer), who has an interest in him, as the lines of true relations are blurred.

    Eddie’s good friend is Alfieri (Michael J. Teuffel ), a lawyer, who advises Eddie on legal rights.  But Eddie has been known to harbor illegals from the “old country” in his flat, as he is doing now with Marco (Eric Viale), who is married with family back home, and his brother, Rodolpho (Justin Charles), a single man looking to see what this new world has to offer.  A Chorus (akin to old Greek plays), Alexander Buckner and John Mulholland, play various other roles, as needed.

    The shifting of identities or roles from a male-dominated world to one in which women have more freedom and choices, is part of the dilemma Eddie faces.  His confusion, anger, frustration and unbending macho persona may be his downfall.  You’ll just have to see it to witness how these many layers unfold.  Through it all, though, one may glean for themselves the message as to the need for tolerance and kindness in a a global society, seemingly hell-bent on destroying itself.  But Hope, as in this story, “springs eternal,” and it’s embedded with our Youth, which seems to be up the task of evolving us toward a better Tomorrow.

    Tennant and Goldman have done an amazing job of creating a moving and memorable play in simple surroundings, so that the emphasis is on the story and characters.  And they have chosen their cast very well, as they are all suited perfectly for their roles, especially, Lijoi, as his character lumbers uncertainly in a strange, new world.

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

Monday, October 7, 2019

Macbeth—Portland Center Stage at The Armory—Pearl District


         “Toil and Trouble”


   This classic horror story by Shakespeare, with edited script for the stage by Lee Sunday Evans and original music by Heather Christian, is directed by Adriana Baer.  It is playing in PCS’s “black box” theatre, at 128 NW 11th Ave., through November 24th.  For more information, go to their site at www.pcs.org or call 503-445-3700.

    This is an appropriate tale for the Halloween Season by the Bard of Avon.  It is a ghost story, a tale of revenge (served hot, not cold, in this case) and reflects the early times when nations were being forged, in this case, Scotland.  And they say, if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are bound to repeat them.  But, in today’s world climate, it looks like repetition is the rage of the day, as lying, conquering nations, murder, suppression, etc. is still rampant in most countries.

    In this case, the story is not as unique as the style in which it’s presented.  It is played on an essentially bare stage by three female actors:  Lauren Bloom Hanover (Macbeth, Witch, et. al.), Dana Green (Banquo, MacDuff, Witch, et. al.) and Chantal DeGroat (Lady Macbeth, Witch, et. al.), all quite amazing.  (If I got the names with the wrong characters, forgive me, as their bio photos look nothing like the actual characters).

    The story starts out with two noblemen, Banque and Macbeth encountering the “three weird sisters” (witches) who give them some startling prophesies, disguised in sing-song rhyme, which proves to be deadly accurate.  Macbeth is to eventually reach kingship but at the cost of many bloody deeds and some dear friends and family.  And it seems his wife is even more determined than he.  It all boils down to the fact that the Macbeth’s have no heir to rule the kingdom after them and so all other possible usurpers, who do, must be eliminated.  “Absolute Power Corrupts—Absolutely!”  (We seem to be seeing plenty of those same roadmaps being forged, both here and abroad, now.)

    This is a slimmed-down but very powerful account of one of the Bard’s best plays.  Being that it gets to the heart of the play, “the fault…is not in our stars but in ourselves” and so we, not the fates or gods, create our own undoing.  If the world fails, it is not Nature’s fault, as their mandate is to live in harmony for the benefit of all.  But Greed, Ego and Ambition (the play seems to be saying) are our downfall…and so it seems to haunt even our current state.

    These ladies had to, in essence, memorize the entire play, as quick changes of character and important cues were dependent on these talents.  DeGroat’s mad scene as his wife was pitiful and powerful; Green’s heartfelt horror at hearing the news of her family’s slaughter, was gut-retching; and Hanover’s steadfast resolve in the face of impossible odds, was strangely captivating.  And Baer as the champion of this whole apocalypse was admirable.

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


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sparkle Recognition 2018 - 2019



As I See It ...
Dennis Sparks

Once again, I have accumulated what I believe are unique, artistic achievements for the Season (September 1st, 2018 to August 31st, 2019) and awarded each of them a Sparkle Recognition mention in the list of about 100 shows I personally review in a Season.  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.

Also, 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 productions for this period are:   Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Hairspray, totally captivating and thoroughly entertaining production.
Also, note-worthy are OCT’s Young Professionals with Shiver and Good Kids, both very provocative and inventive.  And, very clever and powerful was Crave’s Red in presentation, direction, choreography and acting.  Another favorite was Experience Theater Project’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray in its direction, adaptation and especially actor in the title role.  And, finally, Twilight’s How I Learned To Drive in lead actors, and directing….and many others are listed below.  In short, a very good year for the performing arts!


(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 400,000 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
Ordinary Days
Broadway Rose
Into the Woods
Broadway Rose
Matilda
Lakewood Theatre Company
Hairspray
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Jesus Christ Superstar
Stumptown Stages
Hair
Staged!
Marat/Sade
Twilight Theater Company
Shiver
Young Professionals Company (OCT)

Outstanding Directors – Musical

Director
Play
Theatre
Isaac Lamb
Ordinary Days
Broadway Rose
Jessica Wallenfels
Into the Woods
Broadway Rose
Paul Angelo
Matilda
Lakewood Theatre Company
Christopher Liam Moore
Hairspray
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
James Charles
Jesus Christ Superstar
Stumptown Stages
Katie McLoughlin
Hair
Staged!
Dorinda Toner
Marat/Sade
Twilight Theater Company
Matthew B. Zrebski
Shiver
Young Professionals Company (OCT)

Outstanding Choreographers

Choreographer
Play
Theatre
Jessica Wallenfels
Into the Woods
Broadway Rose
Rachael Singer
From the Ruby Lounge
Berk Theatre
Rachael Singer
Red (non-musical)
Crave Theatre
Jorie Jones
Matilda
Lakewood Theatre Company
Jaclyn Miller
Hairspray
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Diana Schultz
Hair
Staged!
Christopher George Patterson
Jesus Christ
Superstar
Stumptown Stages

Outstanding Musical Directors

Musical Director
Play
Theatre
Eric Nordin
Ordinary Days
Broadway Rose
Eric Nordin
Into the Woods
Broadway Rose
Andrew Bray
Matilda
Lakewood Theatre Company
Gregg Coffin
Hairspray
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Andrew Bray
Hair
Staged!
Adam Young
Jesus Christ Superstar
Stumptown Stages



Outstanding Ensembles – Musical
Play
Theatre
Ordinary Days
Broadway Rose
From the Ruby Lounge
Berk Theatre
Matilda
Lakewood Theatre Company
Hairspray
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Not Another Christmas Letter!
Portland Musical Theater Company
There’s No Business Like Show Business
Portland Musical Theater Company
Hair
Staged!
Jesus Christ Superstar
Stumptown Stages
Shiver
Young Professionals Company (OCT)

Outstanding Performances in a Leading Role, Male – Musical
Actor
Role
Play
Theatre
Eric Michael Little
The Baker
Into the Woods
Broadway Rose
Danielle Valentine
Mr. Wormwood
Matinlda
Lakewood Theatre Company
Daniel T. Parker
Edna
Hairspray
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Morgan Mallory
Jesus
Jesus Christ Superstar
Stumptown Stages
Gabriel Lawson
Judas
Jesus Christ Superstar
Stumptown Stages
Jarvis Sam
Jimmy Early
Dreamgirls
Stumptown Stages
Gary Wayne Cash
Scrooge
A Christmas Carol
Stumptown Stages
Jeff Gibberson
Herald
Marat/Sade
Twilight Theater Co.
John Brunner
Dick
Whiskey Dixie…
Whiskey Dixie Musical


Outstanding Performances in a Leading Roll, Female – Musical
Actor
Role
Play
Theatre
Erin Tamblyn
The Witch

Into the Woods
Broadway Rose
Cora Craver
Matilda
Matilda
Lakewood Theatre Company
Andy Lindberg
Miss Trunchbull
Matilda
Lakewood Theatre Company
Katy Geraghty
Tracy
Hairspray
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Hannah Sapitan
Mary
Jesus Christ Superstar
Stumptown Stages
Julianne Johnson
Effie
Dreamgirls
Stumptown Stages
Amanda Richards
Whiskey
Whiskey Dixie…
Whiskey Dixie Musical

Outstanding Performances in a Supporting Role, Male – Musical
Actor
Role
Play
Theatre
David Kelly
Wilbur
Hairspray
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Bruce R. Kyte
Pilate
Jesus Christ Superstar
Stumptown Stages
Steve Coker
Herod
Jesus Christ Superstar
Stumptown Stages
Collin Carver
Miss West Coast
Pageant
Triangle Productions!

Outstanding Performances in a Supporting Role, Female – Musical
Actor
Role
Play
Theatre
Greta Oglesby
Motormouth
Hairspray
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Kelly Stewart
Ghost of Christmas Past
A Christmas Carol
Stumptown Stages
Brandie Sylfae
Trish
Whiskey Dixie…
Whiskey Dixie Musical

Outstanding Productions – Non-Musical
Play
Theatre
Speed-the-Plow
Asylum Theatre
Red
Crave Theatre
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Experience Theatre Project
Wolf at the Door
Milagro
Equus
Twilight Theater Company
How I Learned To Drive
Twilight Theater Company
Good Kids
Young Professionals Company (OCT)

Outstanding Directors – Non-Musical

Director
Play
Theatre
William (Bill) Earl Ray
Skeleton Crew
Artists Rep
Don Alder
Speed-the-Plow
Asylum Theatre
Sarah Andrews
Red
Crave Theatre
Alisa Stewart
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Experience Theatre Project
Rebecca Martinez
Wolf at the Door
Milagro
Tobias Andersen
Equus
Twilight Theater Company
Dorinda Toner
How I Learned To Drive
Twilight Theater Company


Outstanding Ensembles – Non-Musical               
Play
Theatre
Small Mouth Sounds
Artists Rep
It’s a Wonderful Life
Artists Rep
Hurl
Corrib Theatre
Jesus Hopped the A Train
CoHo Productions
zoozoo
Imago Theatre
Leonard Cohen Is Dead
Imago Theatre
Pebble
Imago Theatre
Church and State
Lyon Theatre
Tiger Be Still
Lyon Theatre
¡alebrijes!...
Milagro
Wolf at the Door
Milagro
Crossing Mnisose
Portland Center Stage
Escaped Alone
Shaking-the-Tree
A Dark Night Full of Stars
Theatre Vertigo
Good Kids
Young Professionals Company (OCT)

Outstanding Performances in a Leading Role, Male – Non-Musical
Actor
Role
Play
Theatre
Darius Pierce
Ned
Small Mouth Sounds
Artists Rep
Michael Mendelson
“Everybody”
Everybody
Artists Rep
Christopher Imbrosciano
Richard
Teenage Dick
Artists Rep
Michael Mendelson
Torvald
A Doll’s House, Part 2
Artists Rep
Jason Maniccia
Gould
Speed-the-Plow
Asylum Theatre
Lawrence Siulagi
Sidney
Deathtrap
Bag & Baggage Productions
Andrew Beck
Clifford
Deathtrap
Bag & Baggage Productions
Phillip J. Berns
Peter
Peter/Wendy
Bag & Baggage Productions
Joshua J. Weinstein
Torch
Beirut
Beirut Theatre
Todd Van Voris
Grant
Pontypool
CoHo Productions
Katherine Grant-Suttie
Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Experience Theatre Project
Allen Nause
Henry Drummond
Inherit the Wind
Lakewood Theatre Company
Todd Van Voris
Matthew Harrison Brady
Inherit the Wind
Lakewood Theatre Company
Gerry Birnbach
James
Dealing With Clair
Public Citizen Theatre
Nick Ferrucci
Young Man
Arlington
Third Rail
James Sharinghousen
Casey
The Legend of Georgia McBride
Triangle Productions!
Skye McLaren Walton
Alan
Equus
Twilight
Theater Company
Michael J. Teufel
Uncle Peck
How I Learned To Drive
Twilight Theater Company




Outstanding Performances in a Leading Role, Female – Non-Musical
Actor
Role
Play
Theatre
Mamie Colombero
Blue
Beirut
Beirut Theatre
Alexandria Casteele
Jane
Four Last Things
Corrib Theatre
Dana Green
Sugar
Tiny Beautiful Things
Portland Center Stage
Megan Skye Hale
Ariel
The Tempest
Steep & Thorny Way to Heaven
Rebecca Lingfelter
Isla
Arlington
Third Rail
Adria Malcolm
Li’l Bit
How I Learned To Drive
Twilight Theater Company

Outstanding Performances in a Supporting Role, Male – Non-Musical
Actor
Role
Play
Theatre
Danny Bruno
Fox
Speed-the-Plow
Asylum Theatre
Norman Wilson
Nick
Bell, Book & Candle
Bag & Baggage
Fredrick Williams-T’Kara
Miss Tracy/Bobby
The Legend of Georgia McBride
Triangle Productions!
Colin Kane
Rexy/Jason
The Legend of Georgia McBride
Triangle Productions!

Outstanding Performances in a Supporting Role, Female – Non-Musical
Actor
Role
Play
Theatre
Mandana Khoshnevisan
Helga
Deathtrap
Bag & Baggage
Kymberli Colbourne
Miss Holroyd
Bell, Book & Candle
Bag & Baggage
Vana O’Brien
Anne
A Doll’s House, Part 2
Artist Rep
Barbie Wu
Emmy
A Doll’s House, Part 2
Artists Rep
Lauren Modica
Mrs. Jennings
Sense & Sensibility
Portland Center Stage
Jane Bement Geesman
Judy
In the Wake
Profile Theatre
Jamie M. Rea
Amy
In the Wake
Profile Theatre
Kayla Hanson
Young Woman
Arlington
Third Rail




Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role, Male – Small Cast (one to three people)
Actor
Role
Play
Theatre
Jon Gennari
Travis
Care of Trees
enso theatre ensemble
Heath Koerschgen
Josh, et. al.
Jason and the Argonauts
Oregon Children’s Theatre
James Sharinghousen
Andy, et. al.
Jason and the Argonauts
Oregon Children’s Theatre
Michael O’Connell
Guy
Wakey Wakey
Portland Playhouse

Outstanding Performances in a Leading Role, Female – Small Cast (one to two people)
Actor
Role
Play
Theatre
Merideth Kaye Clark
Em
Tonight Nothing
CoHo Productions
Katherine Murphy Lewis
Kaye
Tonight Nothing
CoHo Productions
Sara Hennessy
Sonya
How to Keep an Alien
Corrib Theatre
Amy Katrina Bryan
Stage Manager
How to Keep an Alien
Corrib Theatre
Maia McCarthy
Mark
Red
Crave Theatre
Kylie Jenifer Rose
Ken
Red
Crave Theatre
Megan Gotz
Georgia
Care of Trees
enso theatre ensemble
Helen Raptis
Sue
I’ll Eat You Last
Triangle Productions!
Margie Boule’
Gov. Ann Richards
Ann
Triangle Productions!
Daria Eliuk
Cindy Lou Who
Who’s Holiday!
Triangle Productions!

Outstanding Technical Designers – Scenic/Lighting/Sound/Music

Designer
Play
Theatre
SETS


Tyler Buswell (scenic)
Dial M for Murder
Bag & Baggage Productions
Tyler Buswell (scenic)
Deathtrap
Bag & Baggage Productions
Jim Ricks-White (scenic)
Peter/Wendy
Bag & Baggage Productions
Tyler Buswell (scenic) & Gabriel Costales (lighting)
Much Ado About Nothing
Bag & Baggage Productions
Sundance Wilson Henry (scenic)
The Diary of Anne Frank
Battle Ground Drama Club
Jennifer Lin (scenic)
Pontypool
CoHo Productions
Rusty Tennant (scenic)
Jesus Hopped the A Train
CoHo Productions
Tyler Buswell (set)
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Experience Theatre Project
Emily Wilken (scenic design)
Wolf at the Door
Milagro
Palmer Hefferan (music composer)
As You Like It
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
John McDermott (scenic)
Sense & Sensibility
Portland Center Stage

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

Designer
Play
Theatre
Portrait by Raziah Roushan
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Experience Theatre Project
Carol Triffle & Jerry Mouawad  (costumes/masks)
Zoozoo
Imago Theatre
Children Chorus/Dancers
Matilda
Lakewood Theatre Company
Mindy Escobar-Leanse (puppets)
¡alebrijes!...
Milagro
Susan Tsu (costumes)
Hairspray
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Helen Q. Huang (costumes)
Alice in Wonderland
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Margaret Louise Chapman (costumes)
A Christmas Carol
Stumptown Stages
Costumes—Donald Horn
The Legend of Georgia McBride
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