As part of Fertile Ground—an 11-day spree of locally produced new works—pianist Eric Nordin and choreographer Jessica Wallenfels collaborate on an original piece of dance theater, inspired by an Alexander Pushkin story about a woman left at the altar during a snowstorm. Nordin will play a live piano score by Rachmaninoff as an eight-member cast performs a tale of loss and romance in 19th-century Russia. CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh St., 220-2646, cohoproductions.org. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 pm Sundays, Jan. 16-Feb. 7. $15-$25.
Enter the Night
Maria Irene Fornes has written more than 40 plays—she's currently 84 and suffering from Alzheimer's disease—but the Cuban-born playwright is rarely produced outside avant-garde circles. Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble, known for staging some of the more adventurous work in town, presents 1993's Enter the Night, about three friends navigating big issues—gender, sexuality, love, death—in formally spare ways. In a promising move, PETE has brought in New York director Alice Reagan, who's skilled at energizing challenging material and harnessing strangeness to her advantage. Shaking the Tree, 823 SE Grant Ave., petensemble.org. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Sundays, Jan. 24-Feb. 8. $15-$40.
The Night Alive
Irish dramatist Conor McPherson writes plays marked by muck, menace and loneliness. But he's compassionate, too, as in The Night Alive. The celebrated 2013 play centers on Tommy, a middle-aged, slovenly Dubliner who takes in a young woman—a sometime prostitute with an abusive boyfriend—and gets a tad more than he bargained for. With the dynamic Bruce Burkhartsmeier and Michael O'Connell in the cast, this Third Rail production should be resonant and rewarding. CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh St., 235-1101, thirdrailrep.org. 7:30 pm Wednesdays-Saturdays and 2 pm Sundays, Feb. 20-March 14. $22-$29.
The Invisible Hand
Allen Nause, former artistic director of Artists Rep, has been wanting to direct Ayad Akhtar's political thriller—the plot encompasses Islamic terrorism and the global investment market—for several years, but the production kept getting shelved. Perhaps the wait was a good one. Even after winning a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 (for Disgraced, another play that explores Islamophobia and identity politics), Akhtar has continued to rework the script of The Invisible Hand. Nause directed the play for Seattle's ACT Theatre in September and received glowing reviews, and now he's bringing most of the cast south. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Morrison St., 241-1278, artistsrep.org. 7:30 pm Wednesdays-Sundays and 2 pm Sundays, March 10-April 5. $25-$49.
Suddenly Last Summer
Stark, torrid and lyrical, Tennessee Williams' 1958 one-act examines the aftermath of an American boy's mysterious death in Spain. That tragic event left his cousin prone to insane babbling, which in turn has put her at the mercy of the boy's imperious mother. After some delays in the fall, Shaking the Tree has finally moved into its new home—a bare-bones warehouse with soaring ceilings—which we're hoping ever-industrious director Samantha Van Der Merwe converts into a hot and humid New Orleans garden. Shaking the Tree, 823 SE Grant Ave., 235-0635, shaking-the-tree.com. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays and 5 pm Sundays, April 3-May 2. $10-$25, free for ages 19 and under.
The Undiscovered Country
Ambitious young playwright D.C. Copeland moved to Portland from New York a year ago, and this spring marks the first local production of one of her full-length works. Made up of three interwoven stories about addiction, the play is set in Portland and explores love, trauma and redemption through an absurdist lens. Back Door Theater, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 481-2960, defunktheatre.com. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Sundays, May 8-June 13. "Pay what you can" Thursdays-Sundays; $15-$25 sliding scale Fridays-Saturdays.
Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play
Portland loves its native sons and daughters. So it's no small delight that Portland Playhouse has snagged the regional premiere of Anne Washburn's much-discussed and generally adored 2013 comedy, set in a post-apocalyptic world where people sustain themselves by recounting episodes of The Simpsons. Show creator Matt Groening, of course, grew up in Portland, and Washburn herself went to Reed College. Portland Playhouse, 602 NE Prescott St., 488-5822, portlandplayhouse.org. 7:30 pm Wednesdays-Saturdays and 2 pm Sundays, May 13-June 7. $20-$36.
Three Days of Rain
Instead of bothering with Lauren Weedman's needless reprise of People's Republic of Portland, go see Portland Center Stage wrangle some star power in a more interesting way, as Grimm cast members Sasha Roiz and Silas Weir Mitchell appear in Richard Greenberg's play about architecture, fame, betrayal and complicated family legacies. Here's hoping they can keep up when no mythological creatures are involved. Gerding Theater, 128 NW 11th Ave., 445-3700. 7:30 pm Tuesdays-Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 pm Sundays and noon Thursdays, May 17-June 21. $34-$74.
W. Kamau Bell
He hit Portland twice in 2014, but if you didn't catch W. Kamau Bell then, see him for a mere $15 at this Funny Over Everything showcase. Bell hosted FX's much-missed Totally Biased, and he has a way of riffing about race and politics that's at once generous and incisive. Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd., 281-4215, hollywoodtheatre.org. 8 pm Wednesday, Jan. 21. $15. All ages.
So yeah, John Mulaney's TV show blows. But the SNL writer is still a delightfully entertaining comic whose expertly crafted stories—about childhood bullying, Xanax and the bewildering use of "bozo" in tabloid headlines—are sharp and spirited. And if you're in the mood for a good squeal, don't miss his "Ask a Grown Man" video on Rookie, in which he addresses slut-shaming, breakups and Casablanca. Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave., 234-9694, aladdin-theater.com. 7 and 10 pm Thursday, Feb. 19. $27-$30. Under 21 permitted with parent or legal guardian.
The effusive star of Inside Amy Schumer gets a lot of attention for her raunchy sex material, but this potty mouth is also an advocate of free speech and gender equality: We can thank her for the word "pussy" now being allowed on Comedy Central. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 248-4335. 8 pm Friday, March 20. $46.50-$54.50.
Dance presenter White Bird has a pretty spectacular spring season lined up, with highlights that include Nederlands Dans Theater 2 and Dance Theatre of Harlem. The former, a young and innovative branch of the larger, internationally acclaimed Nederlands Dans Theater, features ballet performances by 16 dancers between the ages of 17 and 22. One piece is set in a dream world, with dancers wearing unsettling, almost animalistic contact lenses, while another piece deals with cacti. Dance Theatre of Harlem, returning to Portland after a 30-year-absence, performs work by the likes of Ulysses Dove, Tanya Wideman and Thaddeus Davis, all known for their fast and forceful but fluid movements. All shows at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 245-1600, whitebird.org. Nederlands Dans Theater 2 is at 7:30 pm Wednesday, Feb. 11. Dance Theatre of Harlem is at 7:30 pm Tuesday-Wednesday, April 21-22. All shows $26-$68.
One of this city's two tango festivals, ValenTango draws 15 instructors from around the world, including Portland native Dominic Bridge and Buenos Aires' Luciano Brigante, a runner-up in the salon category at the 2004 World Tango Dance Tournament. Now in its 18th year, ValenTango offers 49 classes and milongas galore. But your best chance to see the experts is at Friday's Traditional Milonga or Saturday's Grande Ball. Most events at the DoubleTree Hilton, 1000 NE Multnomah Blvd. Feb. 18-23. More info at valentango.us.
Oregon Ballet Theatre
It's a mix of classical and contemporary at Oregon Ballet Theatre this spring. First, the company tackles Ben Stevenson's Cinderella (Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St.). Set to a theatrical score by Sergei Prokofiev, Stevenson brings colorful sets, slapstick comedy and plenty of sparkle to the beloved fairy tale, with principal Xuan Cheng trying on the glass slipper. A month later comes a program called Impact, featuring work performed by dancers in both the professional company and in new youth troupe OBT2 (Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway). On the bill: Dennis Spaight's vibrant 1993 work Crayola, Nacho Duato's Rassemblement, and a world premiere by Darrell Grand Moultrie, perhaps best known for creating choreography for Beyoncé. Cinderella runs Feb. 28-March 7. Impact runs April 16-25. More info at 222-5538 or obt.org. $30-$160.
Northwest Dance Project
In Louder Than Words, the contemporary chamber company premieres a yet-unnamed piece by Ihsan Rustem—whose last work with NWDP, the graceful and precise State of Matter, won the Sadler's Wells Global Dance Contest in 2011—and revisits two of its favorite works. Artistic director Sarah Slipper's Casual Act, based on Harold Pinter's Betrayal, is a theatrical piece that tells an emotionally fraught tale of extramarital affairs on a (literally) revolving set. For the other reprise, NWDP stretches back a bit farther, to Lucas Crandall's 2008 Blue, a vigorous full-company ballet inspired by Rodin's sculptures. Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 421-7434, nwdanceproject.org. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, March 19-21. $29-$52.
In Cosmosis, BodyVox takes its usual mix of dance, theater, film and mirth and adds a dash of chamber music. The live musical stylings of the Amphion String Quartet—a New York mini-chamber orchestra noted by the New York Times for its "brand of fierce, sharply directed energy"—are sure to add even more color to Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland's choreography. BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave., 229-0627. May 21-30. $25 and up.