‘Romeo and Juliet’ kicks off summer theater in wine country

Penguin Productions brings Shakespeare's tragedy to the outdoor stage, plus more Bard outdoors in Beaverton, and World Beat Festival in Salem

Penguin Productions was the new kid on Yamhill County’s theater scene just a couple of years ago, mounting productions of Macbeth and As You Like It right out of the gate. Last year, they forged ahead with Hamlet and Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. On Friday, the company opens its third season with more Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet.

Cambria Herrera will direct "Romeo and Juliet" at Penguin Productions.
Cambria Herrera will direct “Romeo and Juliet” at Penguin Productions. Photo by: Piper Tuor Photography

These are professionals, many of whom have been seasoned on Portland stages in recent years, and for season three we have a couple of George Fox University alums who are doing some heavy lifting for one of Shakespeare’s oft-performed tragedies.

Director Cambria Herrera earned a BA in acting and directing from the Newberg-based Christian college. Recent credits include: Peter/Wendy at Bag&Baggage, The Little Mermaids Project at Enso Theatre Ensemble, Proof at Valley Repertory Theatre, and Balkan Women and Twelfth Night at George Fox. Herrera is also a facilitator/co-founder of the AGE Women of Color in PDX Theatre Collective and serves on the leadership committee for PDX Latinx Pride.

Also from George Fox is Olivia Anderson, who spent a year at the university as an adjunct director for University Players, a traveling, student storytelling-ensemble that tours original shows around the region. She will play Juliet across from Brandon Vilanova’s Romeo. Vilanova hails from the Pacific Conservatory Theatre Professional Acting Training Program and has worked at San Diego Repertory Theatre, San Diego Old Globe Theatre, Santa Maria Pacific Conservatory Theatre, and Bag&Baggage. Stephanie Spencer, who played Ophelia in last year’s Hamlet and Mabel in An Ideal Husband, takes on the coveted role of Mercutio.

Olivia Anderson plays Juliet.
Olivia Anderson stars as Juliet.

Performances are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, June 28 through July 13. That will be followed by a three-weekend run of The Good Doctor, a composite of Neil Simon and Anton Chekhov. I’ve had the good fortune to perform in the series of comedic sketches myself, playing the role of the bank manager with gout dealing with a particularly annoying customer. The Good Doctor runs Aug. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17.

Brandon Vilanova plays Romeo.
Brandon Vilanova plays Romeo.

Shows are on an outdoor stage just outside Newberg. You know the drill, but if you don’t: Come early, bring blankets or lawn chairs, and a picnic dinner if you like. Shows get out after dark, and Friday looks to be cool and overcast, so prepare to add layers as the evening progresses. Wine will be available for purchase. You can get your tickets online.

WE FOCUS ON YAMHILL COUNTY HERE, but we’re not provincial about it, so take note of what’s happening in Beaverton this weekend. The Experience Theatre Project is launching the first Westside Shakespeare Festival, the highlight of which is free performances of Shakespeare’s shortest play, The Comedy of Errors. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. You’ll find it on the south lawn at the Beaverton City Library, 12375 S.W. Fifth St. in Beaverton. The show continues Fridays and Saturdays in July at various vineyards, including Fairsing and Durant in Yamhill County. Details can be found here.

LET’S NOT LEAVE OUT MARION COUNTY, where beginning Friday, you’ll find a festive assault against provincialism in all forms. The World Beat Festival turns 22 this year, with the family-friendly party hosted by the Salem Multicultural Institute and World Beat Gallery. It’s a weekend affair at the waterfront, crammed with music, food, and traditions of more than 70 nations and customers. In times such as these, the organization’s message has never been more urgent: “We all have something to learn from one another, and we all have something to teach.” Admission is $5 per person, with children 14 and younger admitted free. Get the full scoop here.

The Kalabharathi School of Dance will be among performers at this  year’s World Beat Festival, which is focusing on the cultures of India. Photo by: Edgar Peteros
The Kalabharathi School of Dance will be among performers at this year’s World Beat Festival, which is focusing on the cultures of India. Photo by: Edgar Peteros

FINALLY, WRAPPING UP WITH THESE COMING ATTRACTIONS: The Aquilon Music Festival brings three weeks of opera to wine country starting July 1, culminating with performances of The Magic Flute in late July.

Next week a new show opens in the Parrish Gallery at the Chehalem Cultural Center: Biological Dissonance by Tammy Jo Wilson and Amanda Triplett. The artists will “build a visual dialogue expressing the visceral nature of the vessels to which all humans are confined and examining the relationship between flesh and bone; and society, cultural experience and self-awareness.” Check the website for times, and remember that all exhibitions at the Chehalem center are free.

This story is supported in part by a grant from the Yamhill County Cultural Coalition, Oregon Cultural Trust, and Oregon Community Foundation.

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