Goosebumps the Musical

Something Goosebump this way comes

Oregon Children's Theatre's world premiere "Goosebumps The Musical: Phantom of the Auditorium," based on R.L. Stine's beloved series, scares up a little fun

Spooky phantoms, hauntings, and clouds of purple and green smoke fill the Newmark Theatre this Halloween season. Don’t worry, you won’t get too much stage fright. Goosebumps The Musical: Phantom of the Auditorium is a clever junior who-done-it. The gumshoeing of Scooby-Doo meets a middle-school take on Phantom of the Opera with a surprise ending. The kids will get a kick out of solving the riddles of who is the person behind the mask and laugh along with the clumsy moments of growing up.

Stan Foote, artistic director of Oregon Children’s Theatre and director of  this musical, again sets a high bar for a smart, funny and well-staged musical for younger audiences. Like any good children’s art, Goosebumps entertains adults, as well. It’s always a thrill to see young actors in professional productions hit their notes, dance steps, and lines as well as their older counterparts. Goosebumps: The Musical, based on the beloved R.L. Stine book series, is a play within a play within a play. The students of drama teacher Ms. Walker are given a haunted script, discover a chilling lair below the school’s basement, and are ghosted by a phantom who tries to stop the show from going on. There’s disaster afoot with ruined backdrops painted blood-red, an Egyptian tomb, and some fainting by the students in the process.

The clue in the auditorium: Goosebumps in the night. Photo: Owen Carey

The clue in the auditorium: Goosebumps in the night. Photo: Owen Carey

Katie McClanan plays Brooke, a consummate drama geek who lives for the velvet curtain and green lights. She gets the lead, not just in Ms. Walker’s play, but also in solving the mystery of the phantom. Her best friend Zeke (Skylar Derthick) is as obsessed with the stage and plays second detective. They’re a tight duo, natural actors with bright singing voices. But once Brian (Brendan Long) the new kid comes along, a dynamic trio hits the stage and Goosebumps: The Musical poses a serious threat to screen time. Many charming moments are devoted to Brian and Brooke’s crush on each other. McClanan’s performance of Babbling Brooke is a love song to the nervous jitters when you try to make small talk with a cute boy. For most of Brooke and Brian’s time together, they’re with Zeke setting out to solve the mystery of the phantom. Like most kids they have a lot of demands: keeping up with homework, memorizing lines, and doing detective work.

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Doing anything Friday night? How about hanging out on 82nd Avenue?

The East Side strip, which runs north-south for many miles, was once considered a barrier of sorts between the city and the sprawl, and also an economic barrier, with a richer urban population to the west and a poorer, semi-rural population to the east. East County didn’t get in the game very much, and when it did, it was often as a political football. 82nd became neon central, home to everything from used car lots to Southeast Asian restaurants to massage parlors – and, increasingly, a rich stew of ethnic and immigrant cultures.

Signs of the times: Sabina Haque's 82nd Avenue.

Signs of the times: Sabina Haque’s 82nd Avenue.

That’s what makes it interesting to Portland artist Sabina Haque, a very good painter and collagist whose work in recent years has moved also toward installation, film, and cultural and cross-cultural projects, including her provocative series on drone warfare in Pakistan, where she grew up.

Haque, as artist in residence for the Portland Archives & Records Center, has been digging deeply into the area’s long and complicated history, finding a cultural through-line to match the strip of concrete that divides culture from culture and east from west. From 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday she’ll unveil what she’s created in Annexation & Assimilation: East 82nd Ave, a giant exhibition/event in the 8,000-square-foot APANO/JADE multicultural center at 82nd and Southeast Division Street. The free event will include video projections on 20-foot screens, oral histories, shadow theater, poster installations and more – for some, a rousing introduction to a part of Portland they hardly know; to others, a simple statement of the place they live.

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