FAMILY

Coast through summer: theater, music, visual art along the beach

Entertainment along the Oregon Coast includes old-time melodramas, jazz performances and art celebrating birds.

Hot, sunny days make it prime viewing season for the art and entertainment nature offers along the Oregon Coast. But when the sand, wind and occasional rain get to be too much, beachgoers can find plenty of manmade amusements. Summer on the coast brings theater performances, gallery shows and music.

Not every stage welcomes cheers, boos and popcorn-throwing, but that’s how The Astor Street Opry Company defines audience participation during their performances of Shanghaied in Astoria. Given this is their 34th season presenting the play, they must be doing something right. In their words, it’s live, award-winning, family friendly, historical and hysterical; part vaudeville, part soap opera and an entertaining look at cultural folklore on the Columbia River. The story, directed this year by Ashley Mundel, centers on the “shanghaiing” of the play’s hero and his daring rescue in melodramatic style. It runs at 7 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, July 12 through Sept. 1. Tickets range from $10 to $20. Get the details here.

The Astor Street Opry Company is presenting its 34th season of “Shanghaied in Astoria.”

“Saxophonist to the stars” Patrick Lamb takes the stage at the Coaster Theatre Playhouse in Cannon Beach at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15, as part of the Tom Drumheller Summer Series. Lamb’s last three singles have made the national Billboard Charts, and he was recently inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. He’s toured with Smokey Robinson, Esperanza Spalding, Gino Vannelli, Bobby Caldwell, Jeff Lorber Fusion, among others, and is now touring solo.

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Summer concerts: from opera to outlaw country

Performances in Yamhill County offer something for all musical tastes

Now that the sound and fury of the Fourth of July is behind us, let’s talk live music. There’s an abundance of it in Yamhill County this summer, literally anything you yearn for: pop, blues, 70s dance rock, Latin jazz, gypsy jazz, Celtic, soul, Scottish, blues, bluegrass, folk, retro, Louisiana zydeco from the Pacific Northwest … see what I’m saying? If you live here, you don’t need to head to Portland for outdoor summer concerts, and if you live in Portland, you might check out this list to ensure that your trip to wine country aligns with great music.

Before we get to lawn-chair summer fare, let’s zero in on opera. McMinnville’s music scene this month has an 800-pound gorilla, the Aquilon Music Festival, an ambitious project organized by Anton Belov. Linfield College, where Belov has taught 11 years, serves as the center ring in an event that features two fully staged operas and a multitude of lectures, recitals, and concerts, including some at area wineries.

Portland Opera’s Opera a la Cart will serve up operatic specials du jour at Ponzi Vineyards and Argyle Winery this summer. Photo: Jonathan Ley.

Belov has assembled an impressive team of opera pros from around the United States., and many names will be familiar to aficionados: Daniel Helfgot, Byron Schenkman, Barbara Day Turner and Richard Zeller.

But many may not be — the more than 30 young artists Belov invited who are poised at the dawn of their musical careers. Some are local, while others are from beyond Oregon and have already appeared on the boards in the U.S., Europe and South America.

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DanceWatch Weekly: Easy breezy

This week's dance line-up is led by students and the returning alumni of The Portland Ballet and Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe

It’s a feel-good, easy breezy weekend of dance here in Portland. The air is sweet, the sun is out, and the roses are in bloom. A welcome respite considering… everything. This weekend I give you permission to step away from your electronic devices and join the living in celebration of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” with dance.

The weekend’s offerings include: Up Close with students and the returning alumni of The Portland Ballet; Wakily, an end-of -the-year performance by the dancers of Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe; and a rendering of the comedic ballet Coppélia, performed live by the Bolshoi Ballet in movie theaters near you.

Me? I’m headed to the forest. The Willamette National Forest to be exact. It’s where Breitenbush Hot Springs is and where I’ll be for four days this week dancing with Portland dance artists Meshi Chavez and Winky Wheeler in their yearly Dance Camp retreat. It’s a chance to find new connections with my dancer self, in a new place, and mix with new people and new ideas. I’m looking forward to this fresh experience and I’ll let you know how it went, in next week’s DanceWatch.

Performances this week

The Portland Ballet, studio dress rehearsal,15th anniversary alumni show. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.

Up Close
The Portland Ballet
June 8-10
The Portland Ballet Studio Theatre, 6250 SW Capitol Hwy
In an intimate studio setting, The Portland Ballet’s Career Track Program students will perform alongside nine returning TPB alumni who are now dancing in professional companies and college programs across the country.

The program includes new ballets by TPB faculty member Michelle Davis and alumna Carolina MacDonald (currently dancing with Nevada Ballet), as well as works by retired New York City Ballet Principal Dancer and Répétiteur for The George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins Trust, Philip Neal, and a duet by the renowned ballet artist Christopher D’Amboise.

D’Amboise’s duet, Pandora’s Box, will be performed by Lauren Lane and Michael McGonegal, the daughter and future son-in-law of Portland Ballet’s artistic directors Nancy Davis and Jim Lane. The pair dances for Saint Louis Ballet, where the duet was originally set in 2014, and will be married this summer.

Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe. Photo courtesy of Kúkátónón.

Wakily
Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, with special guest performances by Habiba Addo, Habib Iddrisu, and the Obo Addy Legacy Project
6:30 pm June 9
Jefferson High School Auditorium, 5210 N. Kerby
Wakily (wah-kee-lee ) in the West African language of Sousou, means to never give up, push through, persevere and triumph.

Kúkátónón’s young dancers and drummers will end the year with a performance inspired by the meaning of Wakily, featuring West African dance and drumming, a special ballet presentation, and guest performances by Habiba Addo (Ghanaian storytelling and vocals), Habib Iddrisu (Ghanaian drumming), and Obo Addy Legacy Project (Ghanaian drumming and dancing).

Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe is a Portland children’s dance company founded by Rolia Manyongai-Jones in 1983, and now directed by Dana Shephard. It focuses on inspiring confidence among the troupe’s dancers and broadening awareness of African and African-American cultural traditions throughout Oregon. The company offers tuition-free African dancing, drumming, and classical ballet lessons on a weekly basis, taught by professional music and dance instructors.

Bolshoi Ballet in Coppélia. Photo courtesy of the Bolshoi Ballet.

Coppélia
Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow, Presented by Fathom Events
Choreography by Sergei Vikharev after Marius Petipa and Enrico Cecchetti
Performed by the Bolshoi Principals, Soloists and Corps de Ballet
12:55 pm June 10
Click here for participating theatres and locations

The story goes that Franz, the fianceé of Swanhilda, has eyes for another. The girl that he admires is Coppélia. What he doesn’t realize is that Coppélia is actually a life-size doll created by the inventor, Dr. Coppélius. Swanhilda and her friends go to Dr. Coppélius’s house to tell this Coppélia to get lost and discover that she is actually a doll. Mayhem ensues, things get broken, Dr. Coppélius returns, and they all run off except for Swanhilda who gets left behind and hides. While in hiding, Swanhilda watches as Dr. Coppélius tries to drug Franz in an attempt take his soul and put it into his beloved Coppélia, to bring her to life. Of course, Swanhilda leaps out from her hiding place, saves Franz, they forgive each other, get married, and live happily ever after. The End.

Oh, and Dr. Coppélius’s anger over broken property is placated with a big bag of money.

Upcoming Performances

June
June 13, Dance Forum, showcase and reception, American Dance Abroad at BodyVox
June 14-16, World Premiere – Ihsan Rustem, MemoryHouse – Sarah Slipper, This Time Tomorrow-Danielle Agami, NW Dance Project
June 15-23, Waters of the World, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre/Northwest
June 15-17, New Expressive Works Residency Performance, Claire Barrera, Shaun Keylock, Sarah Brahim, and Decimus Yarbrough
June 16, Dance Film Double Feature: Standing on Gold and Moving History, hosted by Eric Nordstrom
June 22-23, Bodies of Existence/Dances of Resistance, Company Movimiento, Artistic Director- Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner, Eugene
June 22-23, Ævium: Intimacy with Disappearance, Jayne Lee, Delisa Myles, Mizu Desierto, Breanna Rogers, Ashley Fine, Sedona Ortega, and Studio M13
June 22-23, Recipe: A Reading Test (1983) and Raw Material (1985), Linda Austin
June 24, Salem World Beat, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Salem
June 29-July 1, Risk/Reward Festival of New Performance
June 29-30, River Daze, Dillon & Wilde + Artists

July
July 6, #INSTABALLET NO.26, artistic directors Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag
July 11-27, [A Swatch of Lavender]: A Self Portrait, keyon gaskin
July 14, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
July 19-21, RELATIVES // apples & pomegranates, Shannon Stewart and Tahni Holt
July 27, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater presents UPRISE, Washington Park Summer Festival

August
August 2-4, Galaxy Dance Festival, Polaris Dance Theatre
August 3, #INSTABALLET NO.27, artistic directors Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag
August 3-12, Art in the Dark: 10 Laws, A-WOL Dance Collective
August 10-12, JamBallah Northwest
August 12, India Festival, produced by the India Cultural Association of Portland

September
September 1, #INSTABALLET NO.28, artistic directors Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag

Frog & Toad, together again

Five years later, Oregon Children's Theatre's Drammy-winning hit picks up where it left off, charming audiences young and old again

Oregon Children’s Theatre knows something about what it takes to put on a hit show: the company has been creating magical theater experiences for kids for 30 years. So, no wonder OCT decided to revive its 2013 hit musical A Year with Frog & Toad this year to close OCT’s 30th season.

In 2013 the show won seven Drammy awards, including for outstanding musical. This year’s production could repeat that feat. After all, James Sharinghousen returns as Toad from that original production; the sets and numbers are reminiscent of that 2013 show; and the additions only add to the magic.

Charles Grant and James Sharinghousen in OCT’s “A Year with Frog and Toad.” Photo: Owen Carey

Charles Grant takes over the other title role as Frog— and don’t for a moment think his serious role as Eddie in And in This Corner, Cassius Clay has him typecast. Where he brought emotional weight to the role of Cassius Clay’s best friend in that OCT play from earlier this season, he brings comedy, musical, and dancing talent to the role of Frog. He’s a triple threat, and reveling in it. Grant and Sharinghousen are a perfect pair. I’d be delighted to see them together again: a modern-day Abbot and Costello. They play off each other well, and both excel at physical comedy. The pratfalls are at an all-time high here, especially in the silly sledding number, “Down the Hill.” And the mistaken intentions — secretly raking each other’s leaves only to have the squirrels (Lauren Burton and Katie McClanan) — ruin it so they’ll never know what their friend did.

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Going with the flow

Oregon Children's Theatre's team Impulse creates improv at its best. Here's a review of the show—and a look behind the scenes.

You know an actor means business when he refers to the 2014 movie Whiplash (about a face-slapping, chair-throwing jazz conductor) as a model of a tough but successful learning experience. That’s what Hank Sanders, 17-year-old member of Oregon Children’s Theatre‘s improv team Impulse, did when I asked him about the group. “We read a book about how the best practice isn’t fun,” says Sanders. “So while I might not be always smiling and happy and be like, ‘Wow, I cannot wait for rehearsal,’ I think that’s a good sign and that we’re the best we’ve ever been.”

He has a point. Impulse’s 2018 show is improv at its finest—smoothly executed by well-trained performers, yet with a sense of weirdness that can only come from trusting your gut. I first encountered Impulse when I watched a rehearsal last month and the versatility I witnessed (the actors dreamed up comedic skits on the spot about everything from Batman to carpeting) is fully displayed in the show.

Impulse comedy-improv team 2018. Photo: Blake Wales

Impulse is a part of OCT’s Young Professionals Company, a year-long advanced acting program for students ages 14-18. The Impulse shows combine games with short and long scenes, which use audience suggestions as inspiration (the actors ask the audience beautifully bizarre questions such as, “Would you like to see a scene about a broken ruler or a crying student?”). This year’s performers are Sanders, Bryce Duncan, Isaac Ellingson, Devlin Farmer, Emma Fulmer, Nate Gardner, Onar Smith, Emma Stewart and David VanDyke.

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Growing up, up, and away

With its fresh book and music, NW Children's Theater's "Peter Pan" flies into a happy place for young audiences and their grownups, too

This is probably not the first time you have heard of Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up. It might not be the first time you will see his tale on stage. In fact, it might not be the first Northwest Children’s Theatre production of it, since it’s somewhat of a flagship for the 25-year-old theater company.

In fact, this is the seventh time the company’s mounted Peter Pan over the years, including this same adaptation – a NWCT commission – in 2012 and its followup in 2013. The good news is that the children in your life have likely not seen as many productions of Peter Pan as you have, and the universal story’s magic and wonder will win them over. The other boon for the grownups in the audience is that even if you have seen another Peter Pan (or several), this one has plenty to offer.

Grace Malloy as Wendy and Peter Thompson as Peter Pan. Photo © David Kinder 2018

For starters, it’s a new adaptation – both book (Milo Mowery) and music (Rodolfo Ortega) – that you haven’t seen if you didn’t catch the 2013 production. The songs are catchy and performed well by all in this cast. And the script is terrific, ratcheting up the preposterousness of Captain Hook and his pirates so kids are still a little scared – but most of the squeals are from delight.

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‘Caterpillar’: No play, lots of play

So what if there's no plot? Oregon Children's Theatre's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show" is a delight (painter and puppets included)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show at Oregon Children’s Theatre is tough for an adult to review fairly. It’s for the very youngest OCT audiences, after all, and it can be difficult for a lifelong theatergoer to look at a show through that lens.

For starters, there is no plot. How does one critique a staged performance of an artist (Robi Arce, truly a delight) paining a blue horse (and a yellow cow and a purple fox, and others) to the joyful squeals of children?

And this isn’t really a “play” in the traditional sense: Instead, it’s five ensemble members (not playing characters, really) retelling/performing four beloved Eric Carle’s children’s books: The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, Mister Seahorse, The Very Lonely Firefly, and of course, The Very Hungry Caterpillar that this show was inspired by and named for.

Painting animals (and puppets to match): He’s all ears. Photo: Owen Carey

So instead of trying to critique this as a traditional play, let’s look at what it is and what it’s trying to accomplish: This is a show filled with colors and puppetry trying to entertain children. And, by those measures, it is a resounding success.

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