PAMTA

… And the show goes on

With joy and poignance, the PAMTA musical-theater awards show went virtual on Thursday night. The winners, and the moments to remember.

“You can have all the bells and whistles or you can have none of them and you can still move an audience. You can still reach an audience and make them laugh and cry. It’s what the actors are saying and doing that really makes theater theater.”

Those are the words of Corey Brunish—and they perfectly capture the thirteenth edition of the Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards,known as the PAMTAs. While the show, which Brunish founded and produces, drew more than 300 people to the Winningstad Theatre in 2019, this year’s audience had to experience the ceremony via YouTube. And it didn’t feel unplugged.

Triangle Productions’ “That’s No Lady,” based on the life of legendary drag queen Darcelle XV, was a multiple award-winner at the PAMTAs.

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Art on the move: responding to crises

ArtsWatch Weekly: The Black Lives Matter movement and the continuing coronavirus challenge are reshaping the arts world

WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF LIFE-CHANGING TIMES, and in the face of multiple crises remarkable work is being done. How do artists fit in? Sometimes, smack in the middle of things. Many news organizations have been doing excellent work of discovering the artists speaking to the moment and bringing their work to a broad audience. Oregon Public Broadcasting, for instance, has been publishing some sterling stories – including the feature The Faces of Protest: The Memorial Portraits of Artist Ameya Marie Okamoto, by Claudia Meza and John Nottariani. Okamoto, a young social practice artist who grew up in Portland, has made it her work not just to document the events of racial violence in Portland and across the United States: She’s also, as OPB notes, “crafted dozens of portraits for victims of violence and injustice.” 


Ameya Okamoto, “In Support of Protest.” Photo courtesy Ameya Okamoto

“People get so attached to the hashtag and the movement of George Floyd or Quanice Hayes,” Okamota tells OPB, “they forget that George Floyd was a trucker who moved to Minneapolis for a better life, or that Quanice Hayes was actually called ‘Moose’ by his friends and family. When individuals become catalysts for Black Lives Matter and catalysts for social change … there is a level of complex personhood that is stripped away from them.” In her work she strives to give that back.

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Update: PAMTA musical theater awards postponed

Theater curtains closed? No problem. On Sunday night, Portland's annual musical-theater awards celebration takes the show to YouTube.

UPDATE: The PAMTA awards ceremony has been postponed indefinitely to not conflict with Black Lives Matter protests, producer Corey Brunish announced Wednesday. No new date has been set. “The PAMTAS fully supports the movement towards BIPOC equality and out of respect we have elected to postpone our annual celebration of the arts,” Brunish said.

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You can keep ’em out of the theater for a few months, but you can’t keep a good song and dance down. This year’s PAMTAs – the Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards – will stream live on YouTube at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 14. (The YouTube link will be posted later on the PAMTA link above: Keep checking.) Musical theater people know how to have a good time, and the PAMTA celebration, generally a dress-up, strut-your-stuff, hoot-and-holler showcase that’s one of the best public theater parties of the year, has been forced online because of pandemic restrictions: It should be fun to see how the song & dance make the transition from stage to screen.

A double lineup of PAMTA trophies, waiting to be engraved and awarded.

This year’s awards, produced by three-time Tony Award winning producer and longtime Oregon resident Corey Brunish and covering the 2019-2020 season, are the thirteenth annual ceremony celebrating the best of musical theater in Portland area theaters.

Nominees were announced Monday, and are listed below. Seven shows are in the running for outstanding production: Once, Into the Woods, and Footloose, each from Broadway Rose Theatre Company; West Side Story and Mama Mia, both from Stumptown Stages; Newsies, from Journey; and The Rocky Horror Show, from Lakewood Theatre Company. In addition, two productions are nominated for outstanding original show: Broadway Rose’s It Happened One Christmas, and Triangle Productions’ That’s No Lady, the bio-musical about the legendary Portland drag performer and club owner Darcelle.

Among other interesting tidbits on the nominee list: The musical-theater adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda drew nominations for productions at two companies – Lakewood Theatre and Northwest Children’s Theater & School. And Brian Karl Moen scooped up four of the eight nominations for outstanding sound design, giving him at least a chance to win, place, and show.

The nominees:

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PAMTAs: It’s Guys, Dolls, Rock, Scissors

"Guys and Dolls" and the new "Legend of Rock Paper Scissors" take the top trophies at Portland's 2019 musical-theater awards

Broadway Rose’s rollicking revival of Guys and Dolls and Oregon Children’s Theatre’s new musical The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors scored big wins Monday night at the Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards. Guys and Dolls took the best-production award for the 2018-19 season, plus outstanding director (Sharon Maroney), music director (Jeffrey Childs) and sound design (Brian K. Moen). Rock Paper Scissors won for outstanding original musical, plus original score (Eric Nordin) and director of an original musical (Stan Foote, OCT’s artistic director, who retires later this year).

PAMTA emcee Darius Pierce with the hardware. Photo: David Kinder/kinderpics

The award ceremony, in downtown’s Dolores Winningstad Theatre, was presided over by emcee Darius Pierce and PAMTA founder Corey Brunish, the multiple Tony-winning Broadway producer and longtime Portland performer.

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PAMTAs: and the nominees are …

Portland's musical theater awards gala will be Monday, June 3, in the Winningstad Theatre. Here are the nominees.

Broadway Rose’s Guys and Dolls and Mamma Mia!, Portland Playhouse’s Crowns, Stumptown Stage’s Urinetown, and Triangle Productions’ Hedwig and the Angry Inch lead the nominations for this year’s Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards, duking it out for the best-production statuette. Each company scored multiple additional nominations.

The 2019 PAMTAs, the 12th annual awards ceremony, will be at 7 p.m. Monday, June 3, in the Winningstad Theatre of Portland’5 Centers for the Arts. Six special PAMTAs also will be awarded. Admission is free, and with plenty of musical performances and the return of Darius Pierce as master of ceremonies, it promises to be a good party.

Darius Pierce at the 2018 PAMTA ceremony in the Winningstad Theatre. He’ll return as emcee of this year’s gala June 3.

The city’s two major children’s theater companies, Oregon Children’s Theatre and Northwest Children’s Theater and School, fared well in the nominations, each scoring two nominees in the best original musical category – Dinosaurs! and Tenali for NWTC, Shiver and The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors for OCT. Whiskey Dixie took the fifth slot in that category with Whiskey Dixie and the Big Wet Country.

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PAMTAs: It’s ‘Scarlet,’ ‘Addams’

Portland Playhouse's adaptation of "The Scarlet Letter" and Broadway Rose's "Addams Family" top Portland's night of musical-theater awards

The 2018 PAMTA awards, Portland’s annual celebration of its year in musical theater, swept into the Dolores Winningstad Theatre in downtown Portland Monday night like a showstopper tune.

Big winners in the award ceremony, hosted by actor Darius Pierce, included outstanding original musical winner Scarlet, Portland Playhouse’s adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter; and Broadway Rose’s The Addams Family, which took the best-revival PAMTA and, like Scarlet, several individual awards.

Lisamarie Harrison as Morticia in Broadway Rose’s “The Addams Family,” winner of the outstanding revival PAMTA. Photo: Sam Ortega

One of the evening’s highlights was a special “outstanding contribution” award to the popular and highly admired performer Sharonlee McLean.  “Sometimes without even knowing it an actor brings something to the room, something intangible, special, weighty, an asset they may not even know they possess,” the introduction said. “Such a unique, wonderful and magnificently talented actor is Sharon Lee McLean.”

Susannah Mars and Eva “Rainbows” Hudson Leoniak in Portland Playhouse’s outstanding original musical, “Scarlet.” Photo: Brud Giles

This year’s PAMTA awards, for achievement during the 2017-18 season. Categories and winners are in boldface, with finalists listed after:

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Festivals, awards, a college dies

News & notes: an arts festival in Wilsonville, the PAMTA musical theater awards, Marylhurst's loss to the arts, PassinArt goes deep east side

It’s not quite summer, but it’s festival season – and Wilsonville, just a short skip south of Portland on the freeway, is leading the charge. Coming up Saturday and Sunday, June 2-3, is this year’s Wilsonville Festival of Arts, which will spread out over the city’s Town Center Park with contemporary music, dance, visual art, theater, literary events, film, design, and performance art.

Master maskmaker and director Tony Feummeler will lead maskmaking events at the Wilsonville Festival of Arts.

“This year, we are introducing three commissioned interactive art installations by artists Damien Gilley, Palmarin Merges and Tiana Husted,” festival director Sarah Wolfe noted in a press release. “Also new is a partnership with NW Film Center in Portland. We are teaming up to offer a Micro Movie Theatre, featuring short films by filmmakers throughout the Pacific Northwest. And we will be featuring several Oregon Book Award winners and finalists as special guests for our focus on literary arts, Art of the Word. Latinx and alter-abled contemporary artists will also be highlighted.”

Singer Saeeda Wright

The lineup looks ambitious and intriguing, with attractions ranging from a reading by this year’s Ken Kesey Award fiction winner Omar El Akkad (American War); to demonstrations in skills from etching to 3D printing to weaving and spinning; to performances by R&B star Saeeda Wright and the innovative troupe DanceAbility. And of course, there’ll also be artists’ and crafters’ booths, ice cream and other food stands, and beer: It wouldn’t be a festival without ’em. Festival entry is free; hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Black with colored amoeba-shaped pieces from artist Palmerin Merges’ installion art in Wilsonville.

The granddaddy of ’em all, the Portland Rose Festival, is working up a head of steam, too. The city’s annual extravaganza kicked off Friday, May 25, with a Memorial Day weekend CityFair on the riverfront (much more to come, from elephant ears to open-air concerts, in Tom McCall Waterfront Park), and the big event, the Grand Floral Parade, is June 9. After that, dig out your maps and fill in your calendars: you can pretty much hop from festival to festival around Oregon all summer long.

 


 

 

AND IF FESTIVAL SEASON IS HERE, CAN AWARDS SEASON BE FAR BEHIND? Portland’s double whammy of theater award celebrations kicks off Monday, June 4, at 7 p.m. in the Winningstad Theatre with the annual PAMTA musical-theater awards. Started and produced by Broadway/Portland producer/actor/director Corey Brunish, who’s picked up more Tony producing honors in recent years than he can count on all his fingers, it’s always a fun, well-produced event. Actor Darius Pierce, who’s just about perfect in the role, returns as the evening’s host.

A few of the musical-theater productions that have been under consideration for this year’s PAMTA Awards.

Awards will be presented in 21 categories, and as befits the musical theater, which thrives as much on revivals as new work, the best show category has been divided into two parts. This year’s nominees for outstanding revival are Broadway Rose’s The Addams Family, Gypsy, and Always, Patsy Cline; Pixie Dust’s Billy Elliot and Beauty and the Beast; and Triangle’s Avenue Q. Nominees for outstanding original show are Portland Playhouse’s Scarlet, Northwest Children’s Theatre’s Cinderella and Peter Pan, Stumptown Stages’ Folk City, Broadway Rose’s Trails, and Staged!’s John Hughes High. See the complete list of nominees here.

The older and more inclusive Drammy Awards will celebrate their 40th anniversary at 7 p.m. Monday, June 25, at Portland Center Stage – an interesting choice for venue considering that last year the city’s two biggest theater companies, Center Stage and Artists Rep, dropped their participation in the awards. Both awards events are free.

 


 

BUT WHAT ABOUT MARYLHURST? The recent announcement that Marylhurst University, the small institution south of Lake Oswego, will close its doors after 125 years sent alarms not only through the education world but the arts world as well. The university has been rocked by sharply declining enrollment and swiftly rising deficits since the national recession of a decade ago, Jeff Manning reported in The Oregonian. Fall term enrollment was more than 1,400 in 2013, and fewer than 750 in 2017.

An active opposition made up of students, former students, and faculty members has emerged in an attempt to overturn the board’s decision and find a new path to financial sustainability, but it faces a steep uphill battle. The closure of Portland’s vital and lamented Museum of Contemporary Craft, which was carrying a much smaller deficit, proved final.

From Christine Bourdette’s 2008 show “Riddles, Bunnyheads and Asides” at The Art Gym.

Marylhurst has been well-known in art circles for The Art Gym, an innovative and essential contemporary art center that paid deep attention to the work of living regional artists and usually published catalogs of its shows. Its loss, if the decision remains final, will be large. The university also offers a variety of valuable academic art programs, some of which, including its masters program in art therapy counseling, cross over into other disciplines.

The university has an active music presence and was home to many fine concerts in its intimate performing spaces: I still remember seeing the innovative 20th century composer Terry Riley (In C) in performance in the mid-1990s not playing his own minimalist-leaning music but singing traditional Indian ragas, sweeping and gliding and bending and always landing right. “Tonally, the raga is more like a string suspended between two sticks: Usually it’s slack, but you can draw it taut when you want,” I wrote at the time. “Riley is a master of the slide from slack to taut.”

A community loses such traditions at its own peril.

 


 

PassinArt takes the theater where the people are.

REPULSING THE MONKEY. PassinArt: A Theatre Company, in collaboration with ROSE Community Development, is entering its final two performances of Michael Eichler’s play Repulsing the Monkey, about a brother and sister who inherit a blue-collar bar in Pittsburgh and must decide, in the face of gentrification, whether they can keep it going. Final performances are at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, May 29-30, with a discussion after the Wednesday show, and one of the interesting things about the production is where it’s being performed – at the T.E.A.M. Event Center in deep East Portland, at 9201 S.E. Foster Road. As Portland’s own gentrification and escalating housing prices force many people farther from the city center, arts and performance almost certainly will have to follow them. PassinArt’s most recent production, in North Portland’s Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, was a well-received run of August Wilson’s Two Trains Running. Tickets for Repulsing the Monkey are a wallet-friendly $5-$15 sliding scale.