made in Oregon films

Ryan Findley: From doing gutters to the set for ‘Lorelei’

The McMinnville actor and construction contractor says he is selective about the roles he accepts. “I don’t want to be a dancing monkey.”

Ryan Findley plays the leader of a biker gang in “Lorelei,” a filmed-in-Oregon story about a felon who reconnects with his high school girlfriend, a single mother of three kids.
Ryan Findley plays the leader of a biker gang in “Lorelei,” a filmed-in-Oregon story about a felon who reconnects with his high school girlfriend, a single mother of three kids.

In the opening scene of Sabrina Doyle’s film Lorelei, an inmate (Pablo Schreiber) who has done his time walks toward the prison gate under a drab Oregon sky. The shot cuts to reveal his point of view: Waiting for him outside the prison are his old biker gang buddies, flanking a tall, bearded man (clearly the leader) in a flannel shirt and vest with goggles perched on a grubby cap.

That man is Kurt, and he is played by Ryan Findley, a McMinnville construction contractor who, when time permits, keeps busy with his “hobby” of acting for both stage and screen. Over the years, he’s appeared in plays and musicals at Gallery Theater in McMinnville, including The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, A Few Good Men, The Music Man, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

On screen, he’s divided his time among shorts, a few feature films, and several TV series, including the shot-in-Portland Grimm and Portlandia. Along with Lorelei, which is described as a film about “love, regret, and second chances,” his most recent credits include a 12-minute baseball-themed short of which he is particularly proud, Summer Lightning, and The Dark Divide. As luck would have it, when word that he has a beard (which he grew for Lorelei) got back to his agent, he also landed a role as a grizzled trapper in First Cow, which was shot in Oregon at around the same time as Lorelei

“I went from doing gutters to the set for Lorelei, but then I’d have a conflict, because I’m needed on set for First Cow. They made sure I could be on both sets,” Findley said, marveling at the fact that he was a working actor shuttling between two productions. “That was one of those moments, this is what it’s like! It was amazing.”

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ArtsWatch Weekly: dance of life

From Scheharazade spinning stories to a 6-year-old spinning a galaxy, a whirl of creative energy keeps Oregon in the dance

DOES ANY LITERARY TALE DEAL MORE DIRECTLY with the power of storytelling than the story of Scheherazade? The visier’s daughter created a tapestry of words that saved her life, surviving for a thousand and one nights by spinning a string of stories so fascinating that the tyrant who had planned to kill her was compelled to grant a stay of execution night after night so she could tell the ending of each unfinished tale the following night. Scheherazade’s tale of tales fascinated the composer Rimsky-Korsakov, whose music for it in turn fascinated the late Portland choreographer Dennis Spaight, who created a ballet to it in 1990 for Oregon Ballet Theatre. Now OBT is in the midst of its first revival of Spaight’s story ballet since 1993.

Oregon Ballet Theatre’s visual phantasmagoria Scheherazade. Photo: Yi Yin 

Spaight’s version of the Scheherazade tale, which was something of a Portland all-star collaboration with sets by the celebrated painter Henk Pander, costumes by the visionary theatrical designer/director Ric Young, and lighting by the masterful Peter West, is the anchor of OBT’s thirtieth anniversary season-opening program, and Martha Ullman West, in her ArtsWatch review Wit, speed, a blast from the past, declares it a “grand entertainment.” She continues: “I have never seen Scheherazade better-performed than it was on opening night, and that’s saying something.”

But Scheherazade, Ullman West stresses, is only part of the story. The OBT dancers’ performances of William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and George Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto are equally distinguished: “It’s brilliant programming, …. Each ballet is a gift to the audience, and a gift to the dancers as well, offering them opportunities to stretch and grow, hone their technique, and refine their artistry.”

Brian Simcoe in William Forsythe’s “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated” at Oregon Ballet Theatre. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

The program has three more performances, Thursday through Saturday in Keller Auditorium. After that, who knows what Scheherazade’s story-hungry tyrant might do?

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