February 26th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BEN WATERHOUSE News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Curtain Raiser: Season announcements, handcuffs and more Fall of the House

The 39 Steps

Hi there! It's been a long time. Your weekly theater columnist has been slacking. But there's plenty to report, so we're back.

There's good stuff on stage this weekend: The opening of Portland Center Stage's production of The 39 Steps (the massively successful, absurdist stage adaptation of the curious 1935 Hitchcock spy comedy, using four actors to play over 100 parts); The return of Action/Adventure's Fall of the House, our favorite semi-improvised live-theater sitcom; and ongoing runs of Third Rail's take on Mamet's American Buffalo and Portland Center Stage's remount of Adam Bock's The Receptionist. All should be a good time.

If you're after cheaper tickets to that first one, the box office is happy to oblige. Show up to any performance of The 39 Steps handcuffed to your date for half-off tickets. PCS publicist Trisha Mead didn't specify what kind of handcuffs to use, so we assume pink-and-fuzzy is acceptable.

It's not in our listings this week, but Hand2Mouth Theatre is hosting a happy-hour chat about the company's recent experiences performing Everyone Who Looks Like You at La Ma Ma ETC. Should be fun for fans of the company. Someday Lounge mezzanine, 125 NW 5th Ave. 5:30-7:30 pm Monday, March 1.

The last few years have seen the number of full-time theater critics in this city eroded down to three: myself, Marty Hughley and Alison Hallett. The number of blogs covering the scene is also down, since Followspot ceased publication (though I'm grateful for the opinions of Mead Hunter, Bob Hicks and whoever writes Culture Shock). It takes many voices to have an effective critical conversation, and I'm happy to welcome playwright and director Rob Newton to the party. Newton, whose recent staging of his play Dirty Bomb left me affected and confused, is harsher in his criticism of local theater than I am, but that doesn't make his opinions any less interesting to read. Check him out.


Two companies (Artists Repertory Theatre and Oregon Children's Theatre) announced their 2010-2011 seasons this week, with another announcement (Portland Center Stage's) coming Monday at 7:30 pm at the Gerding Theater.

Artists Rep's 2010 season is much more promising than the current one (which we haven't liked much): only two old shows, one of which features William Hurt, and two world premieres.

Long Day's Journal into Night — August 13 – August 29, 2010

The season begins with a double-whammy of Eugene O'Neill (see below), starting with a co-production of the Nobel-winning playwright's masterwork with Australia's Sydney Theatre Company, featuring William Hurt, Todd Van Voris and Robyn Nevin. This one will run at the Newmark Theatre.

Ah, Wilderness! — September 7 – October 10, 2010

The second dose of O'Neill, the playwright's only comedy, is a pleasant coming-of-age piece. Could be snazzy.

Mars on Life—LIVE! — November 16 – December 19, 2010

The third edition of Susannah Mars' pleasant holiday cabaret (which I love), this time taking the form of a talk show. I hope she books Ed Foreman.

Superior Donuts — January 4 – February 6, 2011

Tracy Letts' followup to his Earth-shattering survey of 20th-century family tragedy has been universally labeled as a minor comedy, but we're still looking forward to seeing the playwright's take on a sitcom about race relations.

The Cherry Orchard — February 8 – March 13, 2011

Artists Rep's six-year project to produce new adaptations of all of Chekhov's major plays, presumably guaranteeing no Portland will have to sit through any of the originals again for a few years. Thank goodness—it's a rare production that manages to do the plays justice. This time around, My So-Called Life writer Richard Kramer spins out a "unique and avant garde fantasia" on the story. Sounds fine to me.

Jack Goes Boating — March 15 – April 17, 2011

A west-coast premiere of a romantic comedy by Bob Glaudini, a film adaptation of which, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, will come out this year.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore — April 19 – May 22, 2011

The last of Martin McDonagh's grisly black comedies to be produced in Portland (at least, until his A Behanding in Spokane opens on Broadway this year). Now you can have the complete collection of Irish gore.

The Hillsboro Story — Dates TBA

Artists Rep will produce a touring production of Susan Banyas' dance theater piece that premiered at this year's Fertile Ground Festival.

Oregon Children's Theatre will start out it's season with a 1970s rock opera adaptation of Alice & Wonderland; a world premiere adaptation of Diary of a Worm, a Spider and a Fly; On the Eve of Friday Morning, a play about an Iranian girl; a musical titled How I Became a Pirate; and a new adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time by South Coast Repertory Theatre's John Glore.
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