‘The Holler Sessions’ preview: jazz rant

A podcast interview with Seattle theater artist Frank Boyd, whose one-man show is a 'love letter to jazz' disguised as a radio broadcast

Podcast interview by DOUGLAS DETRICK

Editor’s note: Staged as a live jazz radio broadcast, Seattle-based actor/writer Frank Boyd’s one-maniac show The Holler Sessions is a portrait of a jazz-head(case) / radio DJ who evangelizes for the music in uproarious, often profane riffs. The show originated at Seattle’s On the Boards and went on to well-received performances in New York and beyond. In this podcast, ArtsWatch contributing writer Douglas Detrick, who’s executive director of Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, interviews Boyd about this production, which even includes some live music. Click on the embedded player below to hear the conversation.

Frank Boyd created and stars in “The Holler Sessions” at Artists Repertory Theatre.

The Holler Sessions runs at Artist’s Repertory Theatre this week only, March 8-11. Use the discount code HOLLER20 for $5 off your ticket at or by calling 503.241.1278.

Want to read more about Oregon jazz and theater? Support Oregon ArtsWatch!
Want to learn more about contemporary Oregon classical music? Check out Oregon ComposersWatch.

Death and the Maiden: still true

Preview: Ariel Dorfman's relentless 1990 play about the aftermath of torture and political repression gets another look from Bag&Baggage


It’s been nearly 30 years since the Argentinian-Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman wrote his groundbreaking political masterpiece, Death and the Maiden. But there are always lessons to be learned from history, and many of the themes and warnings in the work continue to ring true today.

The 1990 play focuses on the story of Paulina Salas, a former political prisoner in an unnamed country emerging from a totalitarian dictatorship. When she comes face to face with the man she believes was her captor, accusations of complicity, collusion, and guilt complicate one basic question – is she telling the truth?

And after a long wait, it’s opening Friday night in Hillsboro, with a pay-what-you-will preview on Thursday. Bag&Baggage’s founding artistic director, Scott Palmer, and associate artistic director, Cassie Greer, spoke for five years about putting on the production in Hillsboro. With a strong historical basis, a determined female protagonist, and a relevant political message, the play seems to fit the mold of what their professional resident theater company puts forth often – provocative and intense performances that challenge audiences. This also marks Greer’s first time solo directing a B&B production.

Mandana Khoshnevisan as Paulina and Nathan Dunkin as Gerardo. Casey Campbell Photography

“This is a story that is incredibly timely; it deals with social justice,” she said. “However, at the same time, there are no easy answers. We’re having the story told in a way that blurs all of the lines.”


Two Trains, hambone not included

PassinArt's revival of August Wilson's "Two Trains Running" delves into the destruction of a black neighborhood. Oh: it's warm and funny, too.

“I want my ham!” a fellow named Hambone shouts as he stands near the entrance of Memphis Lee’s diner in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. He pauses, gathers energy, then shouts again, louder and more intense this time, in a voice that could shatter steel: “I WANT MY HAM!

In Two Trains Running, PassinArt: A Theatre Company’s new revival at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center of August Wilson’s majestic and surprisingly funny 1990 play, Hambone’s been loudly wanting his ham every day for nine and a half years, since the shopkeeper across the street from the diner promised him one for some manual labor and then offered him a chicken instead, saying he hadn’t done the work well enough to earn the ham.

Hambone, played with brilliant physical intensity and attention to detail by Tim Golden, knows better: a deal’s a deal, and he carried out his end. So every morning he goes to the shopkeeper and demands his ham, and every morning the shopkeeper offers him a chicken instead, and every morning Hambone refuses the chicken and walks across the street to Memphis’ diner and shouts “I want my ham!,” and then sits down while the waitress, Risa, gets him a cup of coffee and maybe a bowl of soup.

We are a people made of rituals, and some rituals stick stronger than others.

Wrick Jones (left) as Memphis, Kenneth Dembo as Wolf, Cycerli Ash as Risa in PassinArt’s “Two Trains Running.” Photo: Jerry Foster

Two Trains Running, like all of Wilson’s cycle of plays about African American life in the 20th century, is filled with symbolism and metaphor and tall-tale exaggeration, and it’s structured so musically that you can almost imagine the cast singing it. Director William Earl Ray’s PassinArt actors play the thing a bit like a good blues band, delivering their lines in an array of timbres, tones, and speeds, from the quizzical uptick of veteran Wrick Jones’s Memphis to the mirthful jangle of Kenneth Dembo’s bookie Wolf to the deliberative modulations of Jerry Foster’s undertaker/real-estate player West. If Golden’s booming Hambone holds down the bass line, Jones’s rat-a-tat-tat in Memphis’ angry or exasperated moments provides the snares. James Dixon as the young just-out-of-prison swain Sterling is the slide trombone noodling around the staccato cornet jabs of Cycerli Ash’s Risa, who skitters away a little closer every time she hears that sound. On opening night Saturday director Ray was on book as the old-timer Holloway, having just taken over the role. His voice was still developing: keyboards, maybe, filling in the chords.


Stars rising: Clay and Ellis

La'Tevin Alexander Ellis is a star on the rise playing a star on the rise in Oregon Children's Theatre's "And in This Corner: Cassius Clay"

It’s pretty incredible to witness a star in the making – and that’s exactly what you’ll see at Oregon Children’s Theatre’s latest, And in this Corner: Cassius Clay – The Making of Muhammad Ali.

You wouldn’t be foolish to assume I am talking about Cassius himself, the someday Greatest, the future champ whom this magnificent play by Idris Goodwin is about. But, in fact, the star in the making you’ll witness is La’Tevin Alexander Ellis, the young actor who plays Cassius.

Ellis has all the right moves to play Cassius – from the innocence of the sweet 12-year-old boy who loves his mom and dad (Damaris Webb and Eric L. Island, both understated and letting Ellis’s star shine), his brother Rudy (Johnny Crawford), and his best friend Eddie (Charles Grant, another show-stopper); to the emerging fighter being trained by Joe Martin (Jared Mack); to the Olympic champion; to the activist.

Ellis (and Clay) triumphant. Photo: Owen Carey

This is the true-life coming-of-age tale you are expecting, of course: Yes, this boy who comes from such humble beginnings that his dad saved up for eight months to get him a bike, wins the Olympics. Yes, he grows up to become the greatest boxer of all time. But there’s much more to it. This isn’t a story about the making of a boxer so much as it is about the making of an activist. Spurred mostly be Eddie, Ellis’s Cassius grows from the cautious kid scared of the neighborhood bully, Corky (Gerrin Mitchell, hilarious and memorable in the role), to the man who will fight for himself and for those who cannot fight for themselves.

This is a history lesson about the civil rights era for today’s youth, who, especially in Portland, might be a bit sheltered or ignorant on topics of race, segregation, and discrimination. My own 5-year-old was troubled by the characters learning of and explaining the death of Emmett Till – as she should be. This is a production that will stimulate important conversations we should be having with our children: about history, racism, and privilege.

But this is also the vehicle for a truly great star performance in the title role, and Ellis delivers across the board: from his punches , jabs, and footwork to his swagger. Not many people can pull off lines like, “I don’t gotta act like I’m better. I AM better!” and make you both believe him and love him anyway. Ali could do that. So can La’Tevin Alexander Ellis.

His performance is helped by that supporting cast, with not a weak performance among them; a surprisingly simple set – just a boxing ring that becomes everything it needs to – by scenic designer Tal Sanders; and deft direction from co-directors Stan Foote (OCT’s artistic director) and Jerry Foster. The fight scenes also demonstrate the skill of boxing choreographer Damaris Webb (who also plays Cassius’s mother, Odessa).

In the relatively small space of the Winningstad Theatre, it all comes together for a production that’s larger than life – just like its star, and the one he’s portraying.


Oregon Children’s Theatre’s And in This Corner: Cassius Clay continues through March 25 in the Dolores Winningstad Theatre of Portland’5 Centers for the Arts. Ticket and schedule information here.


Read Bobby Bermea’s ArtsWatch profile, And In This Corner … La’Tevin Alexander Ellis.

DramaWatch Weekly: Crikey!

Blimey: Some Portland stages are getting all Irish on us. Plus a Magic Show, a White Hound of the North, and mom's brief scandalous affair

Fun linguistic facts: Did you know “blimey” is short for “blind me,” and “crikey” for “croak me?” And just like that, an expression of simple surprise becomes a murmured self-annihilation. Thank James Joyce for putting it to paper, and thank the Irish for their wry twist on the human condition, which, this month, we celebrate.

At least two companies seem to be making St. Patrick’s festivities official, mentioning “Irish Month” in promoting intimate Irish shows: Portland Story Theater’s Luck of the Irish and Readers Theater Repertory’s Lovers: Winners.

The former will fill the Old Church to the brim with music and blarney for a 90-minute step-dancing, harping, fiddling variety and storytelling show.

The latter, a dramatic reading of Brian Friel’s Lovers: Winners, eavesdrops on two teenagers struggling to focus on studying for their exams, even as “an unforeseen event propels them into disgrace.” Ooooooo. (Call 971.266.3787 to make reservations. The Blackfish Gallery fills up fast.)

Oh! And it looks like fly-by-night micro-company Speculative Drama and Susurrations will soon debut an Irish-infused White Hound of the North at The Steep and Thorny Way to Heaven (reserve at

Of course, you can’t mention Irish Theater in Portland without checking in on Corrib. One may even wonder if, like serious partiers shun New Year’s Eve as “amateur night,” serious Irish folklorists snub St. Patty’s. Sure enough, looks like they’re laying low in the afterglow of Lifeboat, and in more ways than one, prepping Quietly for April. Two Irishmen meet in a Belfast bar 30 years after The Troubles to remember events and reconcile a rift.


Oh: And how about a little sleight-of-hand? Portland Center Stage opens Andrew Hinderaker’s “The Magic Play” this weekend on the Main Stage at The Armory. That’s Jack Bronis as “Another Musician” waving that giant Queen of Hearts. Photo: Patrick Weishampel/

What sort of affair is Our Mother’s Brief Affair? Sounds like a talkie on a park bench rather than a song-and-dance soiree. Triangle Productions opens it this weekend. Like Mother’s iconic Burberry trench coat, it sounds like a subdued character study in revealing, concealing, and putting on airs.


Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2018: The first round

The resignation of Bill Rauch focuses our attention on what he has achieved in Ashland in new productions of "Othello," "Henry V," "Sense and Sensibility" and "Destiny of Desire"

Your faithless correspondent has now spent a week dithering over all that this particular brainpan could usefully muster about opening weekend at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Hey, these observations and opinions don’t come ready-made! And maybe it’s harder when said correspondent finds that brainpan in sync with the productions under review and their devotion to the most basic act of theater: telling true stories by locating the humanity within them.

A certain melancholy is also involved, because the ground shifted beneath the Festival last month, when artistic director Bill Rauch announced that he was leaving next year to become the first artistic director of the Perelman Center in New York City. That news changed the context of the four weekend premieres of the 2018 OSF season. Suddenly, they became a sort of emblem of the changes that Rauch has brought to the festival—and to American theater in general—during his run at OSF, which began in 2007.

Rauch was ahead of the times at OSF, although he was also drawing on important changes initiated by previous artistic directors Henry Woronicz and Libby Appel. From the beginning he explicitly linked the festival to social change, both internally and onstage, embracing diversity, feminism and social justice, well ahead of other regional theater companies and even national equality movements—#blacklivesmatter, #metoo, #occupy. During his tenure accessibility projects flourished, sharpened their focus, and had a real effect on how the festival does business and what it puts onstage.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival. 2018. Henry V by William Shakespeare. Directed by Rosa Joshi. Scenic Design: Richard L. Hay. Costume Design: Sara Ryung Clement. Lighting Design: Geoff Korf. Composer and Sound Designer: Palmer Hefferan. Dramaturg: Amrita Ramanan. Voice and Text: David Carey. Research Dramaturg: Alan Armstrong. Choreography: Alice Gosti. Fight Director: U. Jonathan Toppo. Scenic Design Associate: Richard L. Anderson. Stage Manager: Jill Rendall. Photo: Jenny Graham.

Daniel Jose Molina completes the Prince Hal-Henry V trilogy this season at Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Photo by Jenny Graham

Given the backdrop of Rauch’s departure, the weekend emphasized Rauch’s approach. It highlighted the racism and misogyny in Othello, the consideration of leadership in Henry V, a deeply diverse cast enacting a 19th century novel (Sense and Sensibility), and the riotous celebration and send-up of telenovelas, Destiny of Desire. Taken together, they made a powerful aesthetic case for artistic diversity in all its forms: The audience directly benefits from Rauch’s inclusiveness, because the plays had a sharper edge, a more telling angle, and, ultimately, a deeper truth.

At least that’s how I saw those first four productions, with a little guidance from a panel discussion that featured the weekend’s four directors.

Othello: The outsider

Rauch himself directed Othello, a tragedy that nearly always leaves me in emotional tatters. This production, with its cinematic use of projections, movement, set design, represented the regional theater machine operating at smoothest purr. Full of actors in full possession of their characters, reaching out to us in ways more deeply considered than we can imagine, and STILL, the indivisible core of Othello proved inescapable—its sheer ugliness, a description of humanity that should give us a fearful shudder every time we see it.

“The struggle is to find our common humanity in a story that is this ugly.” That, in the barest shorthand, is the seemingly impenetrable fog that every production of Othello must enter. It happens to be Rauch speaking … and passing on the accumulated practical wisdom of the theater world on this play.

And then you have a crushing thought: that Rauch completely understands that we in America are living inOthello, every day, outside the walls of the theater. How do we find our common humanity in a story, our story, that is this ugly? “A story that is this ugly.” And that is exactly why he decided to stage it.

So, the theater world thinks it can redeem Othello, all of its misogyny and racism and base motives, by finding the common humanity in the characters. How can it do that? After one of the longest questions in my long history of interviewing artists, Rauch answered, “pragmatic utopianism.” That was the answer to my impossible-to-reproduce question, and not to a question about how to make Othello something people could stand to sit through. But in some ways, it fits.

Danforth Comins, left, plays Iago with cunning restraint and bamboozles Chris Butler’s Othello in the process/ Photo by Jenny Graham

Ugly, by the way, is an understatement. The culture the play describes is racist and misogynistic, and the key carrier of both social diseases, Iago, successfully schemes to bring down the African hero (probably: Shakespeare call him the Moor, which might mean African via Spain). The unfolding details of this process lead to the play’s awful conclusion, a murder-suicide and a connected murder, that the audience witnesses with growing horror (even when we know what’s coming).

What did Rauch mean by pragmatic utopianism? Perhaps Othello supplies us with some clues.

Design Integration: The festival has invariably looked great since my first visit in the early 1980s, and it has learned to take those design values and integrate them with the text and its interpretation in ever deeper ways. This Othello features a savvy and luscious projection system that manages both to move us around the Mediterranean, from Venice to Cyprus, and simulate sunsets and rainstorms. And the set, apparently simple, allows Rauch to keep the rather small company in seemingly constant motion around the stage and up a long ramp that plays many roles itself. As a result, the play never settles into static talking heads taking their turn with the text. We never get stuck on the evil.

As Amy Kim Waschke’s Emilia looks on, Othello (Chris Butler) stalks Desdemona (Alejandra Escalante) in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s “Othello”/Photo by Jenny Graham

Focus on story: The story, ugly as it is, is the center of the production, and decisions by the actors onstage always feed that story. Even what seem like idiosyncratic choices—Iago wandering into the audience for his evil soliloquies, for example—work inside the context of the story as Rauch and company are telling it. Danforth Comins’ Iago benefits from this, becoming a character in a story instead of a representation of Evil Incarnate. Not that we sympathize with him, of course.

When you emphasize story, the one truly heroic moment of the play—Emilia’s resistance to her husband Iago and defense of Desdemona to Othello—stands out. And Amy Kim Waschke as Emilia becomes a heroine in the process. Is there redemption in Othello? If there is, it can only arrive through Emilia and her sacrifice. Desdemona’s steadfast love of her husband, Othello, is not quite enough by itself.

Finding the humanity: Deliberately searching for the humanity in the story led Rauch and his Othello, Chris Butler, to give Othello an African diaspora accent—Sudanese, the program notes say. This emphasizes Othello’s outsider position. He is separated from the rest of the characters by race and country of origin, and the accent signals that. It’s also musical: Butler uses it to explore a wide range of vocalizations, timbres, octaves. That’s another way he stands out in this crowd, and from most of the stentorian baritones who usually speak Othello to us. We understand him a little better, perhaps, and like Iago, he’s humanized in the process.

We may still want to scream out to him from our seat: Don’t believe Iago! But then, we feel the same thing every day in an America that increasingly feels like a Shakespearean tragedy.

This production of Othello makes an excellent introduction to this difficult play, but even if you’ve seen other Othellos, even great ones (Derrick Lee Weeden’s version for OSF in 1999 with Anthony Heald as Iago, for example), I’m guessing that this one will seem fresh to you, lead you to new considerations.

Henry V: Completing the cycle

All of the directors at one of OSF’s opening weekend public events mentioned “humanity” at one time or another. I have to admit, it’s not my favorite word. You could spend a human lifetime trying to figure out what it means, what constitutes humanity and what constitutes “non-humanity.” And “inhumanity” seems to be a constant companion to “humanity”—do we want the nose of that conceptual camel to slip inside our fragile tent? As the wind howls outside?

But still, in everyday language we understand the word: It’s what binds us, gives us a glimpse into the interior life of others (and our own interiors, for that matter), helps us find a basis for tolerance, if not agreement. And though it sounds, yes, remote and conceptual, we use it to describe the most basic of human experience: love and loss; birth, maturity, aging and death; need and compassion.

When Rauch and the other directors talked about finding humanity in the plays, they were mostly talking about the rehearsal room, where the actors attempted make the deepest possible connection with their characters as they understood them, a process (if you’re playing Iago, say, or Othello) that can be harrowing.

Henry V (Daniel José Molina, center) disguises himself as he interacts with his soldiers (left to right: Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Robert Vincent Frank) on the eve of battle. Photo by Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Henry V director Rosa Joshi discovered that for her assignment, “a lot of the humanity walked into the room.” The rehearsal room. At the beginning of Henry V we learn that Falstaff, one of Shakespeare’s greatest inventions, has died, and his little band of followers, who had laughed, riposted and drunk with him in Henry IV, Parts One and Two, are saddened by the news. When that happens in THIS production, which features mostly the same cast, it happens to be true in real life: G. Valmont Thomas, who played Falstaff in the two parts of Henry IV last season and had been part of the festival company for 14 season, died on December 18 last year. You can imagine the feeling the actors who worked with Thomas last year have when they learn in the play that Falstaff has died.

That’s not the only example. During the past two years, festival regulars have been able to follow Shakespeare’s story of Prince Hal, through his rowdy early days, to his moment of truth as the throne room beckons, and finally to the field of Agincourt with a small band of brothers as the might of medieval French cavalry approaches. At the same time, they have watched the growing power of a young actor, Daniel Jose Molina, as he has taken on these signature roles. That’s one of the pleasures of a repertory theater company, which can keep a company of actors together through cycles such as this one.

As King, Molina is assured, at least outwardly, but Shakespeare gives him doubts—about himself and his decisions, about the invasion of France he is undertaking, about his men. Because the play is in the smaller Thomas Theatre, we see those struggles, too, sometimes a few feet away, and then his recovery from them, how they come to define his personality as a leader. “In a democracy,” Joshi said, “we have to think about the personalities of our leaders.” Molina’s Henry V becomes a man worthy of following right in front of our eyes.

My two favorite things about his production:

Natural delivery: When Molina delivers the famous lines in the play, specifically the “we few, we happy few, we band of brothers” speech, they seem to erupt from him spontaneously, even a little haltingly. He’s not trying to give the most rousing Crispin’s Day speech possible; he’s trying to give the most honest one he can deliver. And its effect is all the greater for Molina’s approach.

Richard Hay’s moving, interlocking box set: Hay has been designing sets at the festival for 61 years. One year when I wrote for The Oregonian, I spent most of the review talking about his winsome way with stage design. This one is modular and so original that maybe Ikea should take note, signaling scene changes and reminding us that we are in the present time, watching a play written in at the turn of the 17th century about events that took place in 1415 (Shakespeare enhanced the drama by condensing events). Those boxes participate so much in the action that they almost become characters.

“Unless your classical play is speaking to our audience today, I don’t know why you are doing it,” Joshi, a founding member of Seattle’s upstart crow collective, which actively traffics in classical plays, said during the panel. This Henry V is a personal tale of the development of an English king, but, Shakespeare being Shakespeare, it forces us to consider the cost of warfare. The English triumphed at Agincourt, sure, but Henry died soon afterward, and after another 30 years or so of misadventure in France, the stage had been set for the War of the Roses in England. Shakespeare ends with an epilogue:

“Henry the Sixth, in infant bands crowned king/Of France and England, did this king succeed,/Whose state so many had the managing/That they lost France and made his England bleed,/Which oft our stage hath shown—and, for their sake,/In your fair minds let this acceptance take.” Exit

Sense and Sensibility: Underneath the pain

Maybe you’ve read Sense and Sensibility or maybe you know about the Dashwoods from the 1995 film version, directed by Ang Lee, and starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant, as amiable a group of actors as you’ll find in all of Devonshire, where the female vector of the Dashwoods has relocated after the death of Mr. Dashwood and his replacement as pater familias by his weak son, who sends the women packing from the family estate at the urging of his wife. See? You read a little Jane Austen and suddenly your sentence length triples!

Ye gods and little fishes, we’ll put a stop to that right now…

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival. 2018. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Adapted by Kate Hamill. Directed by Hana S. Sharif. Scenic Design: Collette Pollard. Costume Design: Fabio Toblini. Lighting Design: Rui Rita. Composer and Sound Design: Justin Ellington. Dramaturg: Lydia G. Garcia. Voice and Text Director: Robert Ramirez. Choreographer: Jaclyn Miller. Assistant Choreographer: Valerie Rachelle. Fight Director: U. Jonathan Toppo. Photo: Jenny Graham.

A diverse cast gives “Sense and Sensibility” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival a sharper edge/Photo by Jenny Graham

The stage version here is by Kate Hamill, who has made it her personal project to adapt and write plays with great parts for women. And sometimes she plays those parts herself (she originated the role of Marianne in Sense and Sensibility). I think this is called DIY. But if you go expecting a Sense and Sensibility that’s just loaded with posh British accents and an adorable cast of standard-issue white actors, well, you’re in the wrong part of Devon. It’s still a comedy, but with a cast diverse in race, ethnic origin, size, and definition of “adorable”: Suddenly the edge is a little sharper, the casual cruelty heightened, the morality tale metamorphosed into a critique of oligarchic manners and mores in Austenland. If it all doesn’t turn you into a feminist and an #occupier, well, you’re just not trying hard enough!

“Part of our job is to get underneath the text, underneath the words, underneath the pain,” director Hana S. Sharif said, about theater in general, but it applies to this Sense and Sensibility, too. Not that you should abandon hope, all ye who enter here: This is a comedy, and it ends happily, but not without the pain that Sharif, the artistic director at Baltimore Center Stage, mentioned.

Destiny of Desire: Addicted to telenovelas

Two billion earthlings of the persuasion homo sapiens watch telenovelas. Which is to say, in effect, that two billion of your fellow humans are addicted to telenovelas, a television form that resembles the American soap, except that it isn’t open-ended. The telenovela is usually wrapped up in one year, so while it’s longer than a mini-series, it’s shorter than Days of Our Lives.

Sebastian Jose Castillo (Eduardo Enrikez, left) and Pilar Esperanza Castillo (Esperanza America) share a romantic encounter. Sister Sonia (Catherine Castellanos) provides musical accompaniment in “Destiny of Desire”/Photo by Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

I bring this up because Destiny of Desire is a staged send-up of the telenovela invented by playwright Karen Zacarias, and having watched it, I can understand why they are so popular. Director José Luis Valenzuela told us that he had never watched a telenovela before he directed Destiny of Desire the first time. He started researching. He continued to research. And before he was done, he had watched 450 hours of telenovelas. “I wanted to learn the trick,” he shrugged as the audience laughed. There’s research, after all, and then there is addiction.

Destiny of Desire has all the elements of telenovela except the length: It runs an exciting 2 hours and thirty minutes of preposterous melodrama, more preposterous plot twists, children switched at birth, illnesses whose courses fit the ever-shifting plot, threats, stage violence, passion, more passion, love at first sight, yet more passion, multiple attempts to suppress all that passion by perfect stage villains, and… singing, most excellent singing by Ella Saldana North and Experaza America and Eduardo Enrikez!

Surely, that’s all you need to know? Outside of Oklahoma!, this is likely to be the hardest ticket to secure at the festival this year. It’s that much fun.

Letter from Seattle: Miranda’s rights

Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway phenomenon "Hamilton" sucks up most of the theatrical air in Seattle. And it's headed for Portland.


SEATTLE — An assortment of plays and musicals is on the boards in Seattle at the moment. But the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Broadway juggernaut Hamilton is upstaging them all.

Hamilton-mania ignited here a year before the national touring production of the Broadway behemoth hit town. And last autumn, hopefuls scrambled for scarce single tickets to the Paramount Theatre engagement, which runs here through March 18. It then heads south to open a stand at Portland’s Keller Auditorium on March 20.

“Hamilton” hits the road: bowling ’em over in Seattle, heading for Portland. Photo: Joan Marcus

Some latecomer Seattle fans are now willing to fork over double, triple the face value ($179) for a seat on ticket resale sites like and Others pin their hopes on the show’s daily lottery, which offers a limited number of $10 seats to the lucky few for each performance. (The situation is unlikely to be different in Portland. Tickets for the 24-show run, through April 8, were swooped up months ago, and the same $10 daily lottery is available.)