By this time the city’s big December shows have pretty much announced their presence with authority, as the pitching phenom Ebby Calvin “Nuke” Laloosh liked to put it in the baseball movie Bull Durham: the Christmas Carols and Nutcrackers and Tuba Christmases and Singing Christmas Trees and Santaland Diaries and other seasonal spectacles have either settled comfortably into their runs or already come and gone.
Still, a few good things are yet to come. In Good Company, for instance, is both a bit of a risk and a bit of a lark for Northwest Dance Project, a troupe that concentrates on premieres and so has plenty of experience with risky business. The good company, in this case, is the dancers themselves – Kody Jauron, Elijah Labay, Lindsey McGill, Andrea Parson, Franco Nieto, Julia Radick, Ching Ching Wong – who have taken it on themselves to devise the dances and the program, which roams around Revolution Hall, the former East Side high school, with a whimsically academic theme. Music for the seven dances ranges from Puccini to surf legend Dick Dale. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
At most any art museum, one of the best things you can do is to pick a day to visit when you purposely go where the action isn’t – to those quieter corners away from the big shows and the big crowds, the places where all sorts of more private adventures might open up.
Right now at the Portland Art Museum, the action’s at Seeing Nature, the handsome selection of paintings from Paul Allen’s collection, which is worth a visit on its own. Among the quieter but rewarding attractions are two other temporary shows, both on view through March 13. Wyoming artist Shelby Shadwell’s Apex exhibition is a wonder of closely observed, minutely detailed, and grandly scaled drawings, with subjects ranging from cockroaches to portraits. In the Center for Contemporary Native Art, the show Thlatwa Thlatwa: Indigenous Currents features work by Oregon artists Greg Archuleta, Greg A. Robinson, and Sara Siestreem, each of whom brings traditional forms and practices forward into the present.
A few shows and events of note this week:
- Praetorius Christmas Vespers. A lot gets packed into this single evening from Portland Baroque Orchestra and Trinity Cathedral Choir, a celebration of the great composer and compiler Michael Praetorius: historically informed performers on vintage Renaissance instruments including sackbuts and theories; string orchestra; thirteen vocal soloists; all re-creating the sound of a seventeenth century Christmas Vespers service. The audience will even get a chance to sing some period Christmas carols. Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
- Celtic Crossing. Portland Revels’ twentieth-anniversary holiday show sets sail Thursday evening for eight performances through December 22 at St. Mary’s Academy downtown. This one’s an Irish celebration of the winter solstice, and will include all the singing, dancing, old-time instrumental music, and spectacle that have kept whole families of fans coming back for years. It, too, regularly gets the audience singing.
- Bellovoci Holiday Concert. While The Miracle Worker holds down center stage at Artists Rep, the company’s musical series moves down the street to Portland Piano Company, 711 N.W. 14th Avenue, for the debut engagements of this new vocal trio (Matthew Hayward, Norman Wilson, Tim Sunkel) singing arrangements of holiday standards by musical-theater vet Rick Lewis. Guest performers at each performance, Thursday through Sunday.
- Wanderlust Circus’s Christmas Carol. Yes, another Christmans Carol. No, not like the others. For instance, the terrific gypsy-style band 3 Leg Torso provides the music. And one of the performers, Vagabond Opera impresario Eric Stern, plays the Ghost of Hannukah Present. Others are acrobats, opera singers, veterans of Cirque du Soleil and Do Jump. Wanderlust is calling it a “circus revusical,” which has a ring (or even three rings) to it. Friday-Sunday evenings at Alberta Rose Theatre.
Orson Welles: magician, radical and ham. The Northwest Film Center’s continuing series “Orson Welles at 100” reveals, Marc Mohan writes for ArtsWatch, much of what made Welles tick and why he’s still near the top of the movie heap: “Even in something as hackneyed as the low-budget Black Magic, from 1949, he never condescends to the material.”
Farewell, my lovely: ZooZoo‘s final stand. “As Imago Theatre enters the final stand of its long-running hit filled with anthropomorphic critters of all sorts and sizes, Martha Ullman West writes a love letter in the form of a bittersweet farewell. Fireflies, penguins, anteaters, frogs, and all the rest, thanks for the memories. And audiences, get your tickets now, while you still can.
Viva’s Holiday: homespun home run? Christopher Corbell’s new opera about a stripper and her city (that would be Portland) draws an unusually diverse audience, Tristan Bliss writes. Will they return?
Portland State Opera: tasty amuse-bouches. Georges Bizet’s silly little Dr. Miracle (he was 18 when he wrote it) and Lee Hoiby’s delicious Bon Appetit (the only known opera about the irrepressible Julia Child) cooked up a tasty program, Angela Allen writes.
The Miracle Worker: resurrection time. “As we huddle in and batten down the hatches to celebrate the warmth of family and friends during the holidays,” Christa Morletti McIntyre writes of this shining revival, “Artists Repertory Theatre is producing a real-life miracle.”
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