Monday, February 13, 2023

The Mad Ones—Young Professionals Company—NW Portland

Time Is Fleeting

    The Y/P Company of the Oregon Children’s Theatre presents this musical by Kait Kerrigan and directed by Andrea White (recommended for folks 14 and up).  It is playing at the CoHo Theatre space, 2257 NW Raleigh St., through Feb.26th (only street parking, so plan your time accordingly).  For more information on tickets and Covid restrictions, go to their website at or call 503-228-9571.

    We all need a little madness in our lives to keep us sane (espoused by Zorba, The Greek)!  Although the title for this show comes from the “Beat Generation”  of the 50’s, via Jack Kerouac’s,  On the Road book with his bud, Neil Cassidy (note there is a good film about this era called, Young Cassidy, with Rod Taylor as the title character and Nick Nolte as Kerouac.  Other good films about Youth are, Rebel Without a Cause and Eighth Grade).  But “madness,” aka Youth, is indeed, fleeting as high school senior, Sam (Ava Horton) is about to find out.

    She is also the Every-Woman of this tale.  Does it relate to me and resonate with the audience…oh, my, Yes!  Amazingly, it covers all the bases of the teen years, leading up to “the dark at the top of the stairs,” adulthood.  Her mother, Beverly (Kerie Darner), wants her to go to an ivy-league college and becomes someone important.  Her best friend, Kelly (Leah Wick), wants her to just run away and explore the world with her.  And her boyfriend, Adam (Sidra Cohen-Mallon) wants her to just be with him.

    All these forces, coupled with one’s own growing pains and teenage angst, seem to be puling he apart.  And what does Sam want…probably, all of the above, as it would make others happy…but her hopes and dreams (unrealized, unarticulated, unimagined) would be mingled with the dust, if she followed that course.  And her purpose in life, gone with the wind.  And how does this concern us?  It Is Us!

     will not ruin the story by giving away incidents, but know that each of you will recognized yourself within it.  It is told in music and  song (unfortunately, a list of them was not in the program, but the anthem that stands out is “Freedom”) which beautifully mirrors the story.  Credit must be also given to the musical director, Addison De Santis, choreographer, Eri Zinke and set designer, Samie Jo Pfeifer, who all lend to the simple majesty of the story.  And many kudos to the writer, Kerrigan, who bring it all home for me, and the director, White, who has led this intrepid team with dignity and insight.

    And the cast—Wow—not a false note in them.  Cohen-Mallon, the epitome of the boy-next-door, who just want to do the right thing; Darner, as the parent, who truly wants her daughter to be happy; Wick, as the flighty best friend, terrific in voice and depth of character; and Horton, a star in the making (I reviewed her as Anna in, Frozen, Jr., with the East Side Theater, and she was great there, too) blances the unenviable task of making her an individual, and yet universal, and rides that tightrope perfectly, both in song and acting.  Bravo to all the fine, young artists and to Y/P under the tutelage of the multi-talented, Dani Baldwin!

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




Friday, February 3, 2023

Me and Tammy—Triangle Productions—NE Portland


Photo by David Kinder

The Art of Becoming…

    This one-act play with music about Tammy Wynette, is written by Donnie and directed by Donald Horn.  It is playing at their space at 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. (free parking lot next to the building) through February 18th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-239-5919.  (Masks still required because of Covid).

    “What a piece of work is Man….”  We are all, according to the Bard of Avon et. al., made up of multiple components and all seeking, in one way or another, our purpose in this world...why are we here?!  When we reach the Golden Years, what is our legacy…what are our regrets…our triumphs…and, if we had it to do all over again, what, if anything, would we change?!

    These questions and more are all contained in this short, beautifully, and subtly constructed show, by Horn.  It occurs on the night Tammy Wynette (Danielle Valentine), famous country-western singer/writer, has died in 1998 of a heart attack at 55.  But she seems to have one more mission to complete before her passage to her Eden beyond…to see that her story is told.

    And so she appears to a local drag queen, John (Jeremy Anderson-Sloan), whose specialty happens to be impersonating…you guessed it…the immoral, Tammy.  She tells of her roots, of working the cotton fields, waiting on tables, beautician, etc. and of her failed, many marriages and kids who missed having a “normal” mom around to raise them, and the abuse she endured and addictions she had.  But then there we her successes in music, most notably “Stand By Your Man.”

    And Valentine does Tammy proud, with the renditions of many of her songs.  Some of my favorites are her opening number, the caressingly presented (like flowing down a lazy river) of, “You and Me.”  And “Bedtime Stories” is touching, and the heart-felt, “Dear Daughters,” which will bring a tear to even the most stalwart of us.  She can also belt, too, when called for.  A lovely performance!

    And Anderson-Sloan rings out a couple numbers him self in a rich voice and even does a duet with her.  The most striking thing about the style of the production, is that it is captivating, not because it comes on as a brassy, typical show-biz presentation, but precisely because, it doesn’t!  You feel as if you might be in an intimate setting with these two, as they gently weave tales in songs and stories of lives lived.  Much credit must go to Horn, in his company’s 33 season, and I only wish him another 33 years of success, like this one!

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