Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Marc Broussard @ The Aladdin Theater 10/16/16

Music is a powerful thing. This truth was on full-display on Sunday night at Marc Broussard's show at the Aladdin. I had been in horrific pain in the days leading up to the show and the days following, and I was completely pain-free for his entire set. Which clearly means I should have followed him to Seattle, (I wish.)

Broussard's newest album is a "sequel" to S.O.S.: Save Our Soul, his interpretations of Soul Classics. "S.O.S. II" has a few more well-known tracks than its predecessor, and for that reason it may have a slight edge. (Unfortunately, my copy from the Merchandise Table was cracked, so I've only heard the streaming-preview so far.)

The set-list was more varied than in previous shows, I could be wrong, but I don't think "Paradis" has appeared on a studio-album yet, only on "Live From Full Sail University", but I think that he could do a lot with it, it deserves to be a better-known track.

It was a fantastic night, Broussard always puts on an unforgettable show, overflowing with energy.

Friday, October 14, 2016

"The Nether" @ Third Rail Rep

I first encountered the work of Jennifer Haley in "Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom" Like that show, this production is set in the world of virtual-reality. "The Nether" is a place so real that most of society's functions take place within it, such as primary and higher-education. It is a place where some "citizens" elect to stay permanently within it. There is also an unspecified disaster which has decimated much of the real-world, at least in terms of vegetation.

The story centers around the interrogation of Mr. Sims, the proprietor of a "realm" known as "The Hideaway" where "guests" can engage in behavior certainly unacceptable in the real world. In Michael O'Connell's hands, he is a cold rationalist, which makes him all the more unsettling. Most disturbing of all, however is Agatha Olson as Iris, the "child" victim.

The set also deserves special mention, while it is spare, the "static-curtain" is a brilliant device to divide the real and virtual.

Due to a whirlwind of openings, I got to "The Nether" a little late, and it only runs through Oct. 22, but I hope you will see it, because it is the most provocative show of the early Season.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Crybaby Live! Stageworksink @Clinton Street Theater

"Crybaby Live!" is the latest from Stageworks Ink, the company behind some of the weirdest productions in Portland, such as "Flash-Ahhh-ahhh" and "Dex Dixon: Paranormal Dick." "Crybaby" provides slightly fewer opportunities for the trademark weirdness, but that's only because the source material,  John Waters' film, already has a strange vision of its own. Still, a show that manages to feature a naked man in a clear plastic bubble-belt is a unique show indeed. Another stand-out "only in a Stageworks show" moment is when founder/actor Steve Coker sings as Milton in a hilariously long falsetto number. Oh, and one cannot forget to mention the singing ventriloquist dummy...

Fans of the film, fans of Stageworks, and fans of the truly bizarre will find "Cry-Baby Live" thoroughly enjoyable. Hurry, because it only runs this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

"American Hero" @ Artists's Rep

Artists's Rep shows so far this Season were two of the strangest I can remember. First was "Trevor" about an amiable wash-up showbiz chimp, a character so engaging that one easily forgets the dark, real-life inspirations hinted at in the playbill until it's too late to brace for the tragedy in the play itself.

"American Hero" is similar--in that it too is a play that has roots in real-life tragedy, in this case the suicide of a Quizno's franchisee. The play has many moments of sardonic humor, and reminded me a lot of Mike Judge films like "Office Space," a slice-of-life tale of the various indignities of being in a job you hate.  My favorite of these moments is the frequent scene-ending device of Sheri, (the two job-holding, car-sleeping youngest employee) as she dons her sombrero for the evening shift at the taco place in the same mall as the sandwich shop, her exhausted expression is priceless.

There's also the over-eager Ted, trying desperately to compensate for his drastic change in circumstance, and Jaime, the hanging by a thread single-mother. The laughs come freely, and yet there is a deft balance between them and the depressing reality of the story. It ends on a note just hopeful enough, and perhaps that the best we can expect from both the play and the situation we find ourselves in as a country.

Monday, October 10, 2016

"We Hold These Truths" @ Portland Center Stage

One of the thnigs I love most about art-and perhaps theatre in particular-is its ability to distill otherwise complex subjects into personal stories. Our textbooks tell us of the overall subject of Japanese Internment, but I had never heard of Gordon Hirabayashi, the college student who took his case against internment all the way to the Supreme Court. The best moments of "Hold These Truths" involve the reactions at various levels of government to Hirabayashi's defiance. The degree of unpreparedness is a brilliant example of both the injustice and ineffectiveness of internment itself.

Another bit of history brought to light and life by "Hold These Truths" is the discrimination and segregation faced by Japanese Americans during the run-up to American entry into World War II, especially here on the West Coast. Usually such things are thought of as a Southern shame.

"We Hold These Truths" is a brisk and energetic show, Hirabayashi is an ever-engaging charismatic character. This makes it all the worse when we see our country not live up to its ideals.

The play is eye-opening, and educational, (though that word is so dry I hesitate to use it, because "Hold These Truths never feels like a history-lesson.) See Hirabayashi's story, and get more of the "whole story" than you knew.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Crippled Critic Concert Preview: Marc Broussard @ The Aladdin Theater 10/16/16

I've sung the praises of Marc Broussard in this website before, and it is my privilege to do so again, to mark both his upcoming appearance at the Aladdin on Oct. 16, and the recent release of "SOS II: Save Our Soul: Soul on a Mission" Like its predecessor, "SOS II" is Broussard's interpretations of Soul Classics. The album is truly fantastic, as the show surely will be. His "Bayou Soul" is something to behold, at once explosive and slowly intense. I first discovered Broussard on something like Pandora, and so my fandom came about by chance. It is for this reason that I would strongly encourage you to take a chance and see him as well. I predict each one who does will be an instant fan. I speak from experience, since that day I have not missed a Portland show.

Marc Broussard @ The Aladdin

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fly By Night Broadway Rose

"Fly By Night" earns the often over-used adjective "innovative." It has a time-bending romantic premise that for the most part works quite well. But, there are moments when it doesn't, and in those moments there is brief disorientation that requires re-adjustment and catching up. There is also the issue of general over-length, which changes the reaction to the unexpected ending into an "ooooh...." when the writers were likely aiming for something a little more visceral.

Still, "Fly By Night has a bright and varied score, and more importantly, the show itself represents yet another leap for Broadway Rose, the show is untraditional, a departure from the theatre's usual fair, though not far enough to be ill-fitting. Just enough to be different. The best way to articulate this is to let my inner-local theatre geek take the reins for a moment. This is show is what happens when Third Rail's sensibility (through director Issac Lamb) comes to visit Broadway Rose. It's something to see.