Experience Theatre Project Is Bringing Outdoor Productions Back for Live Audiences This Summer

Broadway in Portland also hopes to raise the Keller’s curtain at the end of August with “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Experience Theatre Project's outdoor production of "The Comedy of Errors"(Casey Campbell Photography)

More actors will be taking to the stage in front of live audiences again this summer, well over a year after all Oregon theaters went dark.

Beaverton's Experience Theatre Project announced this week that it is ready to host the Westside Shakespeare Festival in mid-July. Performances of the Bard's works are scheduled to be held completely outdoors in the popular tradition of New York's Central Park productions, which also happens to be a much safer way to put on a play during an airborne pandemic.

But Experience Theatre has done open-air stagings before. In 2019, it took The Comedy of Errors on the road, entertaining audiences at Willamette Valley wineries following an initial run on the lawn at Beaverton City Library on Southwest 5th Street. So the actors are used to the occasional crying baby and barking dog as they recite lines.

The company will return to the library's outdoor space this summer for a presentation of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). For those inclined to try out the "experience" part of the troupe's name, you can also sign up for swordfighting demonstrations or purchase tickets to a re-creation of a 16th century feast, complete with a spit-roasted pig.

Since COVID-19 case levels will likely change between now and then, Experience Theatre isn't yet sure what kind of attendance cap it'll have to impose, but all rehearsals are going forward with physical distancing in mind. The event runs July 16-18, and you can purchase tickets on the company's website.

Experience Theatre isn't the only one planning to raise the curtains this summer. Broadway in Portland has shared its lineup of programming that it hopes to bring to Keller Auditorium, beginning with the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic Jesus Christ Superstar on Aug. 31. All but two shows from the 2019-20 season have been rescheduled, so organizers added new titles in their place: Mean Girls and Hadestown.

Hamilton, which had been scheduled to start performances this March pre-pandemic, has been pushed to April 2022. Broadway in Portland says the best way to secure your ticket to the highly sought after show is through a subscription package.

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