Monday, July 25, 2022

Voiceover—Imago Theatre—SE Portland


“The Windmills of Your Mind”

    This World Premiere LIVE production is co-written, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mouawad and co-written by Drew Pisarra and produced by Carol Triffle.  It plays through July 30that Imago’s space, 17 SE 8th Ave. (off E. Burnside).  Parking can be an issue, so come early.  (Covid protocols in place…vaccine cards, masks required and spaced seating).  For more information, contact them at or 

 call 503-231-9581.

    Some inspirations for this production may be found in Lugi Pirandello’s, “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” in which unwritten or unfinished persona from a play seek out in a theatre, some author/creator to finish their story.  It also recalls from the age of Cinerama film-making, the movie, “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm,” in which Laurence Harvey, as one of the brothers, lies very ill in bed and is visited by all the little characters he has yet to create, begging him not to die, as that means they will never have lived. 

    And, one more reference, an excellent animated film by Pixar some years ago called, “Inside Out,” which illustrates how the many emotions within a person’s brain, all try to interact with each other, in order for an individual to connect with the outside world.  “What a Piece of Work is Man….”

    Existence is a complicated thing.  Just who are we, how did we come into being and just what is our purpose anyhow?!  We, according to one biblical source, have been given free will and reasoning powers, but what do we do with those “gifts,” if they actually do exist?  “Aye, there’s the rub….”

    In this incarnation of some of those dilemmas, eight characters appear on a bare stage:  Fiely Matias, Ariel Puls, Kellie Holway, Index Marcus, Isaac Ellingson, Jessica Curtiss, Emma Holland and Sean Bowie.  They are seemingly controlled by an entity called, Jackie.  He, at times, is their voice, always loud but definitely in charge for those moments.  Otherwise, they only can communicated with each other with a sort of telepathy, and we are able to hear them as ‘Voiceovers,” or a type of asides in theatre-speak.

    They do have one thing in common though, they are all dancers and, thus, express their feelings in stylized movement.  But are they truly expressing their emotions, or is someone else pulling their strings, like a puppeteer would?  And, if so, what to do about this grave situation?  But an even larger question teases our minds, as the audience is thrust into this proposition, too, and then this enigma grows ever wider.  Enter their world, if you dare…!

    Mouawad and Pisarra have charted us into uncertain waters with this presentation and whether we sink or swim is entirely up to us.  If to swim, it means we have to jerk our heads out of the electronic jungle of the internet highway, the all-knowing, all-seeing god for many of us, and actually examine, for ourselves, who and what we are…and what is real and not.  If to sink, it means, with eyes wide shut, drowning ourselves into the endless and contradictory by-ways made up of the cold, hard world of wily wires and condescending components.  This is a story of human development, in which Man may come up short but, at least, we must try!

    Mouawad has, once again, come up with a winner.  His direction, seemingly random, only means that he has lulled us into a deliberate slumber, only to startle us at the end (beginning?) when the alarm goes off!  And his cast is exceptional, each one creating a very specific individual.  And, choosing dance as their means of locomotion, gives their stories a fluidity that lures our imaginations out of the shadows and into working models of humankind, which should have always been in existence, anyway.  Bravo!

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


Monday, July 18, 2022

The Kiss—Lakewood Theatre Company—Lake Oswego


“’Hopefully’ Ever After”

    This world premiere musical is directed by Greg Tamblyn, story conceived and original script by Will Vinton, music and lyrics by David Pomeranz, book by Will Winton, Jesse Vinton and Greg Tamblyn (loosely based on “The Frog Prince” by the Brothers Grimm).    It is playing through August21st at their space, 368 S. State St. in Lake Oswego (free parking lot in the rear).  For more information on the show and Covid restrictions, go to their website or call 503-635-3901.

    “Fairy tales can come true, they can happen to you, when you’re young at heart….”  Ah, such a world as this do we need now.  Originally, these stories were written as cautionary tales for the youth of yore.  But now they are seen as beacons of Hope, in which nasty dragons are slain, evil witches are banished and lover conquers all, to lead to ending of “happily ever after,” sealed with a kiss.  Is all that still possibly?!  Time will tell….

    In this timeless tale, conceived by Will Vinton, the father of Claymation in Portland, this classic theme is reawakened.  Two neighboring kingdoms, each having a child born at the same time, a girl and a boy.  They grow up playing together as best friends.  But reality raises its ugly head (politics, jealousy, greed, arrogance, selfishness, et. al.) when they become adults and they must stifle childish thoughts and dreams.

    Eventually, Arro (Keaton Fields) and Ember (Sophie MacKay) grow apart and all hopes of uniting the two kingdoms by her father, King Gordo (Douglas Webster) are dashed as they go their separate ways.  Enter now a dragon that threatens their villages, and the king promises his daughter’s hand in marriage to he whoever slays this vile creature.

    The deed is dispatched by a mysterious knight, Raoul (Collin Carver), or so it seems, and suddenly Arro has disappeared, turned into a frog by a vengeful witch, Gladys (Emily Sahler), for reasons discovered later.  His only recourse out of this curse is to be kissed by a true love within three days.  And he does have some allies to help, in the form of woodland animals, Granny Racoon (Melissa Standley), Sheldon the Snail (Troy Sawyer) and Benny Beaver (Eric Zulu).  The conclusion is classic storytelling which, of course, you’ll have to see to discover.

    The songs (by Pomeranz) and dances (choreographed by Erin Shannon) are a pure joy and enhance the story, as well as fleshing out the characters.  And Tamblyn’s direction, a veteran of local theatre, is paramount in his casting and staging of this magical production. Some of my favorite numbers are “Club Mud,” a romp; “For the Good of All”, revealing; “Sugar Lips,” a hoot; “Humans,” fun: “Kill the Frog Toad,” an oily delight; and the romantic, “The Kiss.”

    Sahler is a seasoned performer and quite a belter and it shows.  Fields and Mackay have fine voices and Fields, in particular, shines in the dance numbers.  Webster is in fine form with his powerful voice.  Zulu, Standley, and Sawyer,as the forest critters, play well off each other in their comic timing.  And they have an amazing chorus, filling in the many supporting characters.  Among them is Quinn Boyd, as the young Ember, who shows promise in her well-crafted role.

    But there is a sneaky rat that tends to spoil this lovely brew of characters, as Carver tends to steal the show as the nefarious, nasty, no-good-nik villain of the piece.  His “cheesy” performance is an utter delight!  His background covers OCT and Triangle, where I’ve reviewed him before, and he is still charming the audiences. 

    And to each and all of us, may the message of this play, selflessness is the key to happiness and love, invade each our hearts, so that we may live in Peach and Harmony with Nature and each other, so that we may truly live “hopefully ever after!”

    I highly recommend this play.  If you do chose to see this play, please tell them Dennis sent you.