DramaWatch Weekly: A space adventure, or a bagel brunch?

What are you up to this week? Any family coming to town? What do you eat and not eat these days? And what theater might you and your familial crew wish to see?

At The Armory this weekend, Mojada closes and the holiday spirit gets crackling between A Christmas Memory and Winter Song, a double header that would seem the sentimental alternative to the barn-burning Scrooge-buster Twist Your Dickens. A Christmas Memory revives a Truman Capote short story about a young boy with an unlikely best friend, an elderly female cousin who matches his emotional maturity and assists him in his games and schemes, including their darling caper of secretly making presents for their other relatives. (Say it with me: “Awwwwwww!”)

“Winter Song” at The Armory: Mont Chris Hubbard (left), Merideth Kaye Clark, and Leif Norby. Photo: Patrick Weishampel/blankeye, courtesy Portland Center Stage at The Armory

Winter Song is a warmhearted holiday song revue performed by Portland’s premier Joni Mitchell cover artist Meredith Kaye Clarke (Snuggle in and go “Ahhhh.”) This show gets a head start on Dickens, but once both get going, ushers might as well leave signs in the lobby to sort attendees: “Humbugs, main house; saps downstairs.”

Though DramaWatch’s domain is formally theater and performance, and ArtsWatch has other sections for dance and music, this is the time of year when the disciplines most inextricably mesh. Various versions of The Nutcracker—about to cover the city like a dusting of powdered sugar—are dance, but also theater. White Album Christmas, which opens this week and turns 10 this year, is variety, but also obviously music. Suffice to say, those with a taste for the dramatic should be watching all platforms at this time of year. You never know which performance category will yield some seasonal stage magic.

All right. In a non-holiday but equally perennial theme, The End of the World, Deep End Theater presents Star Boy, “The ultimate improvised space western,” this weekend through December 9. Bit of a wild card, but here’s my best guess based on a couple of faces that pop out from the 12-member cast (namely, actor/educator Nicole Accuardi and Deep End founder/improv master Domeka Parker). Expect a Mad Max/The Martian-like survival scenario with comedy stylings salvaged from two of Portland’s most dearly missed small theater co’s, Action/Adventure and Post5. Suppose that the story structure is set and the dialogue improvised each night, a la A/A’s various series (Mars One, Sidekicks, Falls of the Band and House). Imagine scene transitions are sketch-like and tight (Parker’s coached at least one SNL cast member) and comedy is no-holds-barred, (Accuardi’s been in Post5’s Spectravagasm and clown shows, and starred in Milagro’s irreverent Learn to be Latina). Also—hang onto your headshots, stage moms—it looks like we might in for another stage baby! An infant, Accuardi’s, graces the poster. Will this baby be the youngest to hit Portland stages since a six-monther cameoed at A/A? The flexibility of an improv show would accommodate any crying and diaper contingencies. Star Boy, welcome to this big, crazy world.

If comedy sounds good this weekend but a space western sounds stressful, you could Sunday brunch it at Siren, where the Girls Gone Mild standup showcase will be serving mimosas, muffins, and bagels with their wholesome (though hopefully not milquetoast) jokes. For something in between those wild and mild extremes, check out Curious Comedy’s improv Showdown, the Holiday Edition —their regularly recurring improv troupe competition, but with a snowman on the poster.

In a move of celestial proportion, God drops by for a chat at Triangle Productions, where David Javerbaum’s An Act of God opens Friday. Javerbaum spent four years as head writer on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and was Emmy-nominated (he’s won 11) for his writing for David Letterman, so if anyone can put words in God’s mouth, he might be the one.

Norman Wilson playing God. Triangle Productions photo

Meanwhile, as usual, ArtsWatch writers have been on the beat, covering shows you missed or have yet to see. TJ Acena took the plunge into Hand2Mouth’s fourth-wall-demolishing Psychic Utopia, where it sounds like even with a fresh premise (communes), and new energy (collaboration with writer Andrea Stolowitz), Hand2Mouth remain the benevolent manipulators we know and love. When they were playing coaches, they were throwing you the ball. Now that they’re playing cult leaders, they’re gazing into your eyes and asking how you find fulfillment. Psychic Utopia continues through December 2. And in case you missed it, Brett Campbell has given Boom Arts’ recent bicycle musical Spin a thorough going-over, connecting some far-flung dots: women’s suffrage, Arcade Fire, corporate branding and Toronto’s bad-boy mayor.

Eat, drink, and be merry, give thanks where it’s due, and leave the drama on the stages.

One Response. Have your say.

  1. Lynne Duddy says:

    Despite the singing and the overdone Alabama accent, the rendition of Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory,” was beautifully executed. The pianist was extremely talented and his version of Brubeck’s “Take Five” was a joy to hear. The sign idea is spot on… too bad because a dash of edginess and swapping the order of the show opening with a great deal less singing and closing with the Capote piece would have made this a lot less “sappy” and PCS might have had a real winner on their hands.

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