MONDAY WAS RIBBON-CUTTING DAY for Broadway Rose, the 30-year-old Tigard theater company that is one of Oregon’s foremost homes for musical theater: At long last its $3.4 million expansion of its New Stage complex in an old public school building is open for business.
Like a lot of things, the expansion — which includes a new costume shop and bigger scenic shop, much-needed administrative offices, and the Ellyn Bye Rehearsal Hall — was delayed by the pandemic. The company began to plan for the expansion in 2017 and had planned to begin construction in April 2020, but didn’t break ground until May 2021.
“The good news is, all during construction we were able to perform,” Managing Director Dan Murphy said Wednesday. That’s because, even though much of the building was torn up and in the midst of construction, the New Stage’s lobby and its 270-seat theater space weren’t affected.
The sexy stuff, of course, happens on stage, and Broadway Rose has two of them — the cozy 270-seater at the New Sage, and the 600-seat Deb Fennell Auditorium at Tigard High School, which comes complete with orchestra pit. The two sizes are ideal for a blend of bigger Broadway-style classic shows and more intimate, often contemporary, chamber musicals.
But the expansion makes everything work better. The new scene shop, Murphy said, is almost triple the size of the old one, the costume shop centralizes construction for both stages, and the rehearsal space, which will also be used for education programs, youth camps and workshops, play readings, and community events, is a huge improvement: There have been times, Murphy said, when shows would be rehearsing in the lobby, “and that wasn’t good for anyone.”
“This really enables us to do so much more on the artistic side, because this is the back side” that makes everything easier, he added.
As difficult as the pandemic was – Broadway Rose went dark for a time, then began to do videotaped productions for virtual viewing, and gradually crept back to doing live shows – it also allowed a lot of the work to be done while much of the world was on hold. The company’s current season, Murphy said, was planned to include smaller-scale, mostly comic shows while coming out of the pandemic.
Next season’s lineup, which will be announced in August, will be bolder, and in addition to a full New Stage lineup will get the company back in the 600-seat Deb Fennell for the first time since 2018. As Murphy puts it, “We plan in 2023 on being back full throttle.”
YES, IT’S OFFICIALLY SUMMER, and as outdoor events and big gatherings emerge after a couple of years of Covid shutdowns or scalings-back, the forecast for the weekend is sunny and warm. That’s good news for the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, which fills the town with art, music, food, and general partying-down pretty much all day long Saturday and Sunday, June 25 and 26. The festival, which was founded in 1963, sprawls across two locations: George Rogers Park, and the sponsoring Lake Oswego Center for the Arts. There’ll be music by standbys such as Norman Sylvester, Andy Stokes, and the Portland Jazz Youth Orchestra; juried art exhibits and artist demonstrations; kids’ art projects; and food ranging from gyros to crêpes. You can check out the details on the festival website.
WHILE YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, you might also check out “Flourish,” the new sculpture by Ed Carpenter, the Portland artist whose large-scale indoor and outdoor sculptures, bridges, and window projects can be found around the world. “Flourish” (when it’s printed the “lo” stands out in colored ink, to signify “Lake Oswego”) was installed last fall at the town’s northern border on State Street (U.S. 43) and Terwilliger Boulevard, and was officially dedicated just a couple of weeks ago. It makes a vibrant statement that seems beautifully organic and skillfully manufactured at the same time.
PORTLAND GAY MEN’S CHORUS, a stalwart of the city’s vibrant choral scene for decades, is entering a new chapter. It’s hired a new artistic director and conductor, Dr. Braeden Ayres, who’ll assume his new post July 1. Dr. Ayres arrives from Black Hawk College, in Moline, Illinois, where he was a member of the vocal faculty. “PGMC is an iconic chorus with a storied history here in the Portland area,” Executive Director Richard Jung said in a prepared statement. “We are extremely fortunate to have attracted someone with Braeden’s knowledge of choral arts and musical theater, and with a proven commitment to his community. His energy and enthusiasm is infectious.”
Dr. Ayres added: “As a conductor and educator, I believe in empowering all people to find and use their voices, and I am honored by the opportunity to lead this fine ensemble to even greater heights. … I am excited to work with our singers and creative teams to create innovative, genre-bending choral performances that will uplift and inspire our audiences in Portland and across the world.”
CHAMBER MUSIC NORTHWEST is hardly silent during the nine-month stretch known unofficially as The School Year, but things really light up come summer, when the festival season kicks in. First up is a “Milestones” gala and concert Saturday, June 25, featuring clarinetist and artistic director emeritus David Shifrin. The festival proper opens Monday, June 27, and keeps the music coming through July 31.
Fifty-two years in, CMNW is enjoying a resurgence under co-artistic leaders Gloria Chien and Soovin Kim. Opening night features Chien, Shifrin, veteran festival cellist Fred Sherry, flutist extraordinaire Ransom Wilson and others in a program of music by Beethoven, Ravel, and Dohnányi. The season blends old and new, with music ranging from Henry Purcell to Andy Akiho and George Crumb, and young and established performers including the great soprano Dawn Upshaw and 22-year-old cellist and protégé artist Zlatomir Fung, last year’s first-prize winner at the International Tchaikovsky Competition.
Live performances will be at the festival’s longtime home at Reed College’s Kaul Auditorium; Portland State University’s Lincoln Perfomance Hall; The Armory, home of Portland Center Stage; Alberta Rose Theatre; and the new Patricia Reser Center for the Arts, in Beaverton. There’ll also be several at-home virtual programs, which CMNW handled extremely well during the past two Covid-year summer festivals. Get all the details from CMNW’s website.
BODYVOX, THE SKILLED CONTEMPORARY dance company that blends humor, mime, acrobatics, and some serious dancing chops, just keeps on keeping on. The Portland company has just announced its 25th season of Portland performances (the company tours, too), starting in October with the newest version of its “Pearl Dive Live” series, in which it invites creative people whose creativity is not in dance to create a piece in collaboration with the company dancers. It’s a sometimes eye-opening exercise in the cross-fertilization of creativity.
Taking their chances this time around are cartoon legend Matt Groening (The Simpsons), drag star Poison Waters, Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi, legendary dance photographer Lois Greenfield, and the Chinese-born novelist and short-story writer Yiyun Li. Get details on this and the rest of the season at the BodyVox website.
RURAL IS AS RURAL DOES. And in Rural, an ambitious show continuing through Aug. 18 at Umpqua Valley Arts, in Roseburg, what rural does is paint, and do watercolors, and create sculptures, and even make furniture. What Rural does not do is include work by artists in cities like Portland and Eugene and Salem: It’s a showcase specifically for creative work from Oregon’s small towns and rural areas.
Curated by photographer and Eugene Weekly arts editor Bob Keefer and printmaker and sculptor Tiffany Hokanson, Rural includes a hundred works of varying sizes, media, and subjects, including enough animal pictures to merit their own gallery – among them, as Keefer notes, “the sweetest ‘possum painting I think I’ve ever seen.”