What to Do in Portland (March 29 -April 4, 2023)

Good morning, Baltimore! The Broadway version of “Hairspray,” based on John Waters’ 1988 cult classic, returns to Portland this week.

Hairspray (Jeremy Daniel)

SEE: Pas de trois

Sure, the Armory is equipped with two stages, but did you know you can see more than just plays in the historic building? Jingzi Zhao’s photo exhibit Pas de trois is on display in the Ellyn Bye Studio lobby for a few more days. The works are part of an ongoing collaboration with Xuan Cheng and Brian Simcoe, two principals from the Oregon Ballet Theatre. Created by a unique printing process called dye sublimation, the images’ durable finish, high resolution and ultra-vibrant colors must be seen up close and in person. Portland Center Stage at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., 503-445-3700, pcs.org. Noon-6 pm Tuesday-Sunday, through March 31. Free.

LISTEN: Craig Seligman in Conversation With Silvana Nova

If you thought the recent conservative anti-drag campaign was a new phenomenon, writer Craig Seligman has news for you: History is repeating itself. His new book, Who Does That Bitch Think She Is?: Doris Fish and the Rise of Drag, explores the life of the titular performer, who died of AIDS in 1991. The timely biography of Fish, the alter ego of Australian-born Philip Clargo Mills, follows his rise to prominence in San Francisco in the 1970s, documents the public’s simultaneous embrace and rejection of drag, and explains how drag queens became heroes in the battle for queer recognition. Seligman, whose husband is a former drag performer who worked with Fish, will discuss all of that and more during his West Coast tour stop in Portland. Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 800-878-7323, powells.com. 7 pm Thursday, March 31. Free, $29 to preorder the hardcover.

WATCH: Varsity Cheerleader Werewolves From Outer Space

If the title alone didn’t cause you to pause and immediately consider going, well, what the hell is wrong with you? This cabaret-style production by StageWorks Ink Fringe Theatre has everything: sexy cheerleaders, rebellious youth, evil aliens, ‘80s music, roller derby. Seriously, if you haven’t already stopped reading this by now to buy a ticket, then you’re not a true Portlander fulfilling our mission to keep things weird. The Chapel Theatre, 4107 SE Harrison St., Milwaukie, 503-888-5141, stageworksink.com. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, March 30-April 1 and April 6-7; 2 and 7:30 pm Sunday and Saturday, April 2 and 8. $21-$28.

WATCH: Hairspray

Good morning, Baltimore! Hairspray, based on John Waters’ 1988 movie that became a cult classic, returns to Portland this week. Journey back to the ‘60s, long before people took to TikTok to flaunt their moves for attention and dancing actually had the power to change the world. This all-new touring production reunites Broadway’s award-winning creative team, led by director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell, who tell the story of Tracy Turnblad, a high school misfit with the dream of dancing her way onto TV’s The Corny Collins Show. Andrew Levitt, aka Nina West of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame, plays anxious mother-housewife Edna Turnblad. Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St., 503-248-4335, portland.broadway.com. 7:30 pm Wednesday-Friday, 2 and 7:30 pm Saturday, 1 and 6:30 pm Sunday, through April 2. $39.75-$154.75.

WATCH: Titus Andronicus

Stabbed, buried alive and baked into pies—the number, and manner, of deaths in what is probably Shakespeare’s most reviled play is what sets it apart. So when Speculative Drama announced it was staging a “fully immersive and viscerally haunting” production of Titus Andronicus, we were naturally hesitant to recommend it. But let’s chalk up this pick to curiosity. The company’s modernized take on the Bard’s tragedy promises to fuse the genres of cyberpunk and horror. Bring on the blood. The Steep and Thorny Way to Heaven, Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and 2nd Avenue, patreon.com/speculativedrama. 7:30 pm Thursday-Sunday, March 31-April 22. $32.

GO: Video Dance Attack Presents: Beyoncé vs. Rihanna vs. Lady Gaga

Don’t be a fool this April 1 and miss Video Dance Attack’s very special showdown between three amazing divas hosted by VJ Kittyrox. Beyoncé, Rihanna and Lady Gaga are the stars of this edition of Portland’s longest-running video dance night. The singers’ music videos will play on a giant screen throughout the evening, so you can mimic those moves and pretend you’re onstage with them as backup. Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., 503-288-3895, mississippistudios.com. 9 pm Saturday, April 1. $15. 21+.

LISTEN: Emma Donovan and The Putbacks

Acclaimed Australian vocalist Emma Donovan and Melbourne rhythm combo The Putbacks will bring their Aboriginal rockish soul/soulish funk to Portland as part of a U.S. tour. Donovan and The Putbacks began collaborating on the 2014 album Dawn, which featured Indigenous language and rhythm and blues. Since then, they’ve released two additional LPs and have helped define the sound of Indigenous protest music. Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 503-248-4335, portland5.com. 7 pm Sunday, April 2. $25-$40.

WATCH: Bad Girls Go to Hell

This 1965 sexploitation classic—written, directed and produced by Doris Wishman—follows the plight of a housewife on the run in the big city after inadvertently killing her rapist. The incomparable John Waters described the gutter-noir crime drama as being “like Godard in drag.” Screens in its newly restored 2K format. Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St., 971-808-3331, cstpdx.com. 7 pm Monday, April 3. $8.

GO: 2023 Oregon Book Awards

Awards season isn’t over quite yet! This annual competition, organized by Portland Literary Arts, recognizes the best work in multiple genres: poetry, fiction, graphic literature and more. Thirty-four finalists vie for awards, including playwright Sara Jean Accuardi and Jon Raymond, best known for his acclaimed screenwriting for films like First Cow, Meek’s Cutoff and the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce. Live Wire Radio’s Luke Burbank hosts. Portland Center Stage at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., 503-227-2583, literary-arts.org. 7:30 pm Monday, April 3. $12-$65.

LAUGH: Girl God

Trans comedy duo Girl God—not to be confused with the spiritual apparel line Girl+God—are best known for their joke-riddled social media accounts and irreverent online sketches that have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. April Clark and Grace Freud have now made the leap to live performance, and it turns out their Twitter personas have successfully adapted to the stage. The two have been selling out venues in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, so don’t wait around to get tickets to their Portland show. Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th Ave., 503-233-7100, hawthornetheatre.com. 8 pm Tuesday, April 4. $20-$35.

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