News & Notes: Big money, Oregon to Broadway, more!

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival nabs $3 million, the jazz fest announces its 2014 lineup, Oregon goes Broadway, more!

The Allen Elizabethan Theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival./T. Charles Erickson

The Allen Elizabethan Theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival./T. Charles Erickson

The weekend brightened up, but tickets are tickets, and Portlanders made their appointed rounds to the big shows downtown on Sunday. They were streaming into the symphony to hear the Schubert, the ballet for the first show in Kevin Irving’s tenure as artistic director, and Portland Center Stage for the matinee of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Of course, a nice drive toward Hood River was in order, too.

I spent my Sunday afternoon learning how to edit and create articles about the arts in Oregon on Wikipedia, which was great fun, even though I left the Park Blocks for the Crumpacker Library with a LITTLE reluctance. My guide was Jason Moore, and he’s intending to hold more of these work sessions in the future. Maybe we’ll see each other there! The arts news has been building up, though, and in we plunge.

portlandjazz 2The Portland Jazz Festival announced the core of its 2014 lineup Friday night at Dave Douglas’s gig at Jimmy Mak’s jazz club. The Blue Note-label-oriented event boasts some of contemporary jazz’s biggest names (Marsalis, Metheny, Portland native Esperanza Spalding) as well as critically acclaimed luminaries who too rarely venture Northwestward (Bobby Watson, Ahmad Jamal, Buster Williams), the return of Portland pianist/composer Darrell Grant’s Oregon history in music, “The Territory,” plus the legendary band that makes music as beautiful as its namesake: Oregon. But maybe we’re biased.

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The Oregon Shakespeare Festival renamed the Elizabethan Stage/Allen Pavilion after the Paul G. Allen Foundation donated $3 million to make it, simply, the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. That sounds like a good deal around: a cleaner name and money to fund the company to boot.

“OSF masterfully makes the classics relevant to new generations and introduces compelling contemporary work,” said Paul G. Allen. “OSF has been an Allen family tradition for many decades and we’re proud to support this exceptional theater group. Without a doubt it is one of the, if not the, top drama festivals in the country.”

The Allen foundation provided the lead gift for the construction of the Allen Pavilion in 1993, and the lead gift in 2002 for the construction of what is now the Thomas Theatre, though it passed on the naming opportunity.

The festival said the money will go into the company’s general fund.

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Two productions with Oregon connections have found their way to Broadway.

“A Night With Janis Joplin” premiered at Portland Center Stage in 2011, and it has opened on Broadway, with Mary Bridget Davies as Janis, and some good reviews in hand, including this one from the New York Times.

Lyndon Johnson (Jack Willis) makes his point with Hubert Humphrey (Peter Frechette)  in OSF's "All the Way"?Photo Jenny Graham

Lyndon Johnson (Jack Willis) makes his point with Hubert Humphrey (Peter Frechette) in OSF’s “All the Way”?Photo Jenny Graham

And Oregon Shakespeare Festival announced that the Robert Schenkkan drama, “All the Way,” one of the company’s American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle commissions, will transfer from American Repertory Theatre to Broadway. Of course, with “Breaking Bad”’s Bryan Cranston playing President Lyndon Johnson in the first few months after the assassination of JFK, the run at ART was sold out, and prospects are good for Broadway, too.

“At the Oregon Shakespeare Festival,” said OSF artistic director Bill Rauch, “we had a dream of creating work that spoke to the urgent issues of today by dramatizing moments of change in American history. The fact that Robert’s brilliant play, developed and premiered in Ashland and further developed at A.R.T., will be reaching even more audiences in New York is deeply meaningful and moving to all of us.”

“All The Way”  premiered at OSF in July 2012 and featured Jack Willis as Johnson, Peter Frechette as Hubert H. Humphrey and Kenajuan Bentley as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  OSF is currently developing Schenkkan’s The Great Society, which continues the Johnson story. The Great Society was commissioned by Seattle Repertory Theatre and will premiere at OSF July 23, 2014, also under the direction of Rauch.

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New York Times’ art critic Roberta Smith reviewed the 2013 Carnegie International  and ended her article with observations on Elizabeth Leach Gallery artist Dinh Q. Lê’s installation. “The exception is a display of 100 pencil and ink drawings made by North Vietnamese artists during the Vietnam War that the Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Le is presenting, accompanied by his poignant documentary about some who are still living. They speak for themselves on film, as do the quick, deft ink or pencil renderings of soldiers and civilians on the wall, which fuse Eastern and Western traditions with personal expression, functioning as document, artifact and art.”

annesiems 2The 2013 Carnegie International exhibition features work by 35 international artists, including Lê. The exhibition is on view now through March 16, 2014 at the Carnegie Art Museum in Pittsburgh, PA.

Meanwhile, now’s a good time to point out that Laura Russo Gallery artist Anne Siems’ artwork is featured on the covers of the Spanish-language editions of recent Nobel Prize for Literature’s Alice Munro’s work.

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