Portland Center Stage presents Hair at the Armory Portland Oregon

Theater update: Open, closed, and on hiatus

Plus, Yamhill County galleries offer impressionistic paintings and clocks with an attitude.


While the Delta variant flies around Oregon and we dust off our masks, the news from wine country’s theater scene runs the gamut from “full speed ahead” to, regrettably, a permanent closure, and one “hiatus.” Let’s take them one by one.

Sharon Morgan (from left), Cathy Willoughby, and Holly Spencer portrayed former First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon and Betty Ford in "Tea for Tree," which had its final performance Sunday at Gallery Theater in McMinnville. Photo by: Debbie Slocum Lockwood of Reflections Photography for Gallery Theater.
(From left) Sharon Morgan, Cathy Willoughby, and Holly Spencer portrayed former First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Betty Ford in “Tea for Tree,” which had its final performance Sunday at Gallery Theater in McMinnville. Photo by: Debbie Slocum Lockwood of Reflections Photography for Gallery Theater

GALLERY THEATER: McMinnville’s theater jumped back on the boards this spring with the one-man Novecento. On Sunday, on the main stage with reduced capacity, it closed out a three-woman show: Tea for Three: Lady Bird, Pat & Betty, by Eric H. Weinberger and Elaine Bromka, directed by Carolyn McCloskey. The theater has a plan for 2022; seven shows are scheduled for next year, starting with My Way: A Tribute to the Music of Frank Sinatra, followed by Proof (which was canceled in March 2020 by Covid, just before it could open), The Sound of Music, Barefoot in the Park, Mamma Mia!, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and A Christmas Carol. I suppose, given what’s going on with the pandemic, one is obliged to say all this is subject to change. Visit the website for details.

LINFIELD UNIVERSITY: Linfield Theatre plans to return to live, in-person performances this fall, kicking off with “an ambulatory performance” of Ground Zero: 2021, an original piece created and directed by Justine Nakase to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Cast and crew will collaborate with the university’s art and music departments. Only one performance date: Sept. 18. The balance of the season includes an adaptation of Treasure Island and Heathers: The Musical, plus student-directed plays.

PENTACLE THEATRE: Agatha Christie fans cheered by Gallery’s inclusion of And Then There Were None in 2022 will rejoice at what Pentacle Theatre in West Salem is up to in 2021. Christie’s The Mousetrap will be on the boards Oct. 8-23. 

That’s the good news; now the sad.

In Salem, The Verona Studio announced last week that it has left its cozy digs in the Reed Opera House and is “on hiatus.” Over in Forest Grove, Theatre in the Grove remains closed. Finally, Willamette Shakespeare, which brought fantastic productions of the Bard’s work to wineries around Yamhill County every summer for a decade, has shut down for good. Pericles was the plan for this summer, but it was not to be. “This year Willamette Shakespeare had planned to continue our work,” states a note on the website. “For many reasons that is no longer possible. Willamette Shakespeare is now permanently closed.”


"Desert Clouds" by Erin Hanson
“Desert Clouds” by Erin Hanson

Yamhill County’s art gallery scene remains lively, and all the galleries mentioned below are  open, though masks are required.

Over the weekend, The Erin Hanson Gallery was unveiled to the public, featuring the artist’s impressionistic painting. There’s actually quite a story here; it’s located in McMinnville’s industrial park and may well be Yamhill County’s largest facility for the work of a single artist. More on this later, but for now, check out Hanson’s work here and plan on a visit. You won’t be disappointed.

Over at The Gallery at Ten Oaks in McMinnville, Ray Massini and Gayle Pedemonte are the featured artists through the end of August. The works are an absorbing and wildly diverse collection in oil, acrylic, and watercolor, all of which you can peruse (and purchase) on the website.

Also, find some time to check out Clocks With an Attitude, a collection of new clocks by Ann Durley at Currents Gallery in downtown McMinnville. The show runs through Sept. 12. The artist-owned gallery is also accepting submissions for its 2021 fiber arts show. More information is available here.

Finally, the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg has two new shows and a lot of art in both. The 38th annual Art About Agriculture touring exhibition, organized through Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, will fill the Parrish Gallery through Sept. 30. There was no theme this year, apparently; curators basically said, “Give us your best stuff.” Around the corner in the Central Gallery, Yolanda Valdés Rementería’s Explorando Nuestra Humanidad (Exploring Our Humanity) fills the space with paintings “inspired by unity, empathy, and celebrating our diversity.” The show also runs through Sept. 30.

LOOKING AHEAD: McMenamins Hotel Oregon in downtown McMinnville recently announced that the 21st annual UFO Festival would return this fall, although that was before Delta blew up and we all put our masks back on. Will it go forward? As of this moment, it’s still on the schedule for Sept. 24 and 25, and speakers are lined up. Check it out now in case it flies away.

David Bates is an award-winning Oregon journalist with more than 20 years as a newspaper editor and reporter in the Willamette Valley, covering virtually every topic imaginable and with a strong background in arts/culture journalism. He has lived in Yamhill County since 1996 and is currently a freelance writer whose clients have included the McMinnville News-RegisterOregon Wine Press, and Indulge, a food-oriented publication. He has a B.S. degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a long history of involvement in the theater arts, acting and on occasion directing for Gallery Players of Oregon and other theaters in Oregon.

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