A Musical Scrapbook is playing at Broadway Rose’s New Stage, 12850
SW Grant Avenue, Tigard through Sunday, February 19th.
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Friday, January 27, 2023
Thursday, January 26, 2023
|Fey Devro, August Wygal, Alicia Turvin, Jenny Tien, and Brit |
There is a lot to like about Twilight Theater Company’s current production, 5 Lesbians Eating a
Quiche – the comic chops of the five actors, the careful fidelity of the set, costumes, and
makeup to the show’s time and place, some fun special effects with both lighting and sound,
and director Jeremy Abe’s attention to his cast’s blocking, delivery, timing, and pacing. Can you
feel a “but” coming? Here it is: I really am not thrilled with the script. I know it’s not fair to
expect a lot of depth from any farce, even with a topic as deliciously dark as this one, but 5
Lesbians feels more like a super-sized The Kids in the Hall sketch than a fully realized, two-act
Playwrights Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood begin with a premise ripe for exploration and
exploitation – it’s the annual Quiche Breakfast of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of
Gertrude Stein (just in case the title didn’t cue us in on the lesbian angle?). The entire audience
is made part of the club – we have been randomly issued name tags giving us overtly female
identities before we enter the theater, and the cast frequently alludes to our presence as
society members. The five lesbians referred to in the title are, of course, the five actors on a
stage that represents a middle-American community center basement/bomb shelter at the
height of Red scare paranoia in 1956. These are Officially Good Christian Women who are either
heavily closeted or truly unaware that they are lesbians, despite their overt disgust with all
things male and frenetic devotion to all things egg-related. There are definitely lots of laughs,
drawn in large part by fine physical comedy, but by the end of a very brief Act I most of the core
jokes have been trotted out (for the first time, at least).
That said, it’s a fun show to watch - - just keep your literary expectations low and immerse
yourself in the performances. Jenny Tien (“Ginny”) sports a wonderful accent, her
pronunciation of “quiche” is captivatingly inept, and her full-throated/utensil-free attack on the
winning quiche is worth the price of admission. August Wygal (“Dale”) goes from peppy
photographer to trauma-laden hysteric in a smooth arc, and her final incarnation as athletic
hero is oddly hilarious – as is her demise. The real power in the Susan B. Anthony Society is held
by Lulie (the president, played with admirable ferocity by Alicia Turvin), Wren (Brit Eagan, a
twittering dynamo of an events chair), and the overtly butch Vern (Fey Devro), facilities
manager/construction guru who takes no crap from anybody. Each of these power players
helps to drive the utterly implausible script, laden with PBOT-sized plot holes, to the show’s
appropriately illogical conclusion.
From the abundant laughter on opening night, it was clear that the audience was amply
entertained, and sometimes that’s all that’s required. If you need some laughs and a light
evening out (as we all occasionally do) then I definitely recommend 5 Lesbians…just be
prepared for a theatrical snack rather than a hearty meal!
5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche is playing at Twilight’s Performing Arts Theater, 7515 N. Brandon
Avenue, Portland, through February 5 th with performances at 8 pm on Friday and Saturday and
3 pm on Sunday. There is an additional 8 pm performance on Thursday, February 2 nd .
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
|Janelle Rae and Jayna Sweet|
Monday, December 5, 2022
|Ruth Jenkins, Samm Hill, Tony Domingue, and Morgan Harrison|
Ever since 1962, when Mr. Magoo first transformed A Christmas Carol from a Victorian morality
play into a comic holiday tradition, film makers and playwrights have been finding new and
bizarrely wonderful ways to twist Charles Dickens’ classic novella. Twilight Theater Company’s
current production of playwright Jerry A. Montoya’s 2007 adaptation, Christmas Carol – A
Ghost Story, fits squarely into this proud tradition – it’s as whacked out as they come, yet still
adheres to the basic tenets and themes of the original. Director Leslie Inmon has allowed her
imagination (and her cast) to run just a little bit wild, and the result is a fast-paced, occasionally
chaotic two hours where the audience and the cast compete to see who can have the most fun.
I will assume that you are familiar with the basics: Scrooge, Marley, Cratchit, Tiny Tim, ghosts,
laundresses, Fan, Fezziwig, Belle, and of course the original Big Bird – and all are faithfully, if
sometimes playfully, represented in Montoya’s version of the story. However, the Twilight
production includes several non-Dickensian touches, including a pirate, a camo-wearing
narrator who opens the show by leading an enthusiastic audience sing-a-long of “We Wish You
A Merry Christmas” (twice on opening night, due to unforeseen technical difficulties), and a
surprisingly jovial Marley’s Ghost who seems to be having entirely too much fun in his tortured
afterlife. The costumes and sets capture the same playful spirit, with occasional stabs at period
fidelity but lots of wiggle room – kudos to the revolving door that sometimes hides, sometimes
reveals, a multitude of critical stuff!
The cast is generally strong, although, as to be expected, there were a few opening night
hiccups. Special props to Samm Hill – his Scrooge is a delight, and he navigates from cranky
(dare I say, Scrooge-like?) to warm and genial on his journey to salvation. Elliott Dutcher’s
“Fred” is downright hyperactive as he bounces around the stage, and he definitely makes the
role his own! Carl Dahlquist’s “Marley” is a real audience pleaser – his broad, self-aware grin
lets us know that he knows we are watching, and that he’s fine with that. Each of the narrators
fulfills a critical role, with top honors in this category going to the camo-clad, sing-a-long leading
Tony Domingue and the frighteningly intense Lindsey LaFollett. Of course, all eyes are on Jade
Vanderhoof every time child Scrooge, Tiny Tim, or the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come appears
on stage – no actor ever wants to compete with a kid, and Jade provides fierce competition.
Conclusion? Charles Dickens would probably have been appalled to see what playwright
Montoya, in the capable hands of Inmon and her cast, have done to his novella. On the other
hand, the opening night Twilight audience, in many cases jaded by dozens of renditions of A
Christmas Carol, was highly amused and fully invested in this unexpectedly whlmsical,
thoroughly family friendly if occasionally dark and ghostly, take on the classic tale.
Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story is playing at Twilight’s Performing Arts Theater, 7515 N.
Brandon Avenue, Portland, through December 18 th with performances at 8 pm on Fridays and
Saturdays and 3 pm on Sundays.
Friday, December 2, 2022
Among the plethora of holiday highlights in my world, few are as filled with untrammeled joy as the annual Broadway Rose Christmas show, and this year’s offering no exception. For 2022, Portland’s premier musical theater troupe resurrects and updatesA Very Merry PDX-mas, their traditional script-free revue of established holiday classics delivered by a superb ensemble cast (augmented with a memorable children’s choir). The key to making it a fresh experience, rather than a re-hash of every Christmas CD on your shelf (OK – I’m dating myself – but you get the point) is twofold: first, many of the lyrics have been skillfully, hilariously given a distinctive PDX touch through Abe Reybold’s “original direction and specialty material” in collaboration with vocal arranger Jay Tumminello, and second, the lineup incorporates some hauntingly beautiful tunes that are not necessarily associated with Christmas, but deepen the emotional impact of the production. Director Sharon Maroney and Music Director Billy Thompson, in collaboration with Reybold, Tumminello, and Broadway Rose’s usual cast of excellent vocalists, have crafted two hours of superb, family-friendly entertainment.
In all the show offers 18 full songs; add in the Winter Medley, Kidz Medley, Santa Swings Medley, and the Big Nativity Medley and the audience is treated to all or part of almost 50 songs ranging from the serene and sacred to the humorously irreverent. Interspersed among holiday GOAT contenders like “White Christmas” and “O Holy Night” the cast offers up some great Reybold twists like the classic “Joy to the ‘Burbs” (is any PDX special complete without digs at Clackamas Town Center, Washington Square, and Bridgeport Mall?). His “Green X-mas” takes aim, fires, and lands a direct hit on Portland’s oh-so eco-conscious, virtue-signaling populace, and we can all relate to the tragic “Re-Gifter’s Lament.”
Vocalists Cara Arcuni, Michael Hammerstrom, William Shindler, Richie Stone, Malia Tippets, Tara Velarde, and Blythe Woodland each offer something special in addition to their fine ensemble work. Watch for Woodland’s exquisite “Breath of Heaven,” Tippets’ classic “O Holy Night,” Arcuni’s “White Christmas,” and Schindler and Stone’s “Children, Go Where I send Thee.” For kitschy nostalgia, look no further than Hammerstrom’s “l Like Old People, Don’t You?” Comic effects are sprinkled throughout with songs like Velarde’s “Shalom Santa” and by frequent slightly whacked-out cameos fromBroadway Rose managing director Dan Murphy. The cast is rounded out by the cutest children’s choir in recent memory -eleven singing, dancing, grinning little elves whose presence reminds us of the importance of children in the holiday season.
The collaboration of scenic designer Jim Crino, lighting designer Carl Faber, and technical director Phil McBeth brings magic to stage with special effects to fit every mood. Another dynamite team is pianist/conductor Billy Thompson, bassist Amy Roesler, and drummer Zac Stowell whose non-stop beautiful music and artistry cannot be overpraised as they enhance every moment of the show.
If you are not yet feeling the holiday season, let Broadway Rose drive the Grinch from your psyche – and if your heart is already full, grab some tickets and let your holiday cup overflow!
A Very Merry PDX-mas is playing at Broadway Rose’s New Stage, 12850 SW Grant Avenue, Tigard through Thursday, December 22.
Wednesday, October 26, 2022
|Picture shows Lindsey Lefler, Chad Dickerson, Laurence Cox, Casey |
Lebold, and a Chorus of Professional Bridesmaids