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Friday, May 31, 2013

"The Schemes of Scapino" @ Clackamas Community College

"The Schemes of Scapino" is a hilarious romp. And there can be no romp without a hammy and engaging lead. Jayme S. Hall is Scapino, and  to b call him energetic would be an understatement. He seemed to be especially skilled at improv, for which the show has ample opportunity. As the title suggests, Scapino is an accomplished scam artist, he ensnares the fathers of two friends in a plot to steal their money, which will  allow their sons to marry the brides of their choice. The play is adapted from Moliere, whose work was also adapted from the play "Les Foourberies." As adapted by director James Eikrem, the play makes brilliant use of both slapstick humor inspired by silent films, and pop-culture references. The set is also impressive, an expansive dock by Resident Scenic Designer Chris Whitten.

The laughs are rapid-fire and I am tempted to divulge a few, but that would be unkind. I find it irresistible not to tip my hat to Mr. Eikrem for forcing one his actors to scream "Scap-penis!" One of the best lines I've heard this season!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ruthie Foster @ San Juan Community Theatre, Friday Harbor, WA

I was home alone. My father had his massive Itunes collection on shuffle, a Ruthie Foster song began to play and I did a double-take. I then made short work of the three albums he had. I went on her website and found that she was making three tour stops o the San Juan Islands. I knew we had to go.

The day began with a workshop, which turned out to be more like a mini-concert. The open and relaxed Ms. Foster gave insights into her writing and singing processes, and played requests for the small audience lucky enough to know of the workshop.

The evening performance appeared to be a near sell-out of the intimate and quaint San Juan Community Theatre. My description of the theatre should not indicate a low-key show. A stand-out moment was "People Grinnin' in your Face" in which Ms. Foster made her way into the crowd without missing a beat.

There were many times where it felt a bit like church. At the end, Ms Foster received a well-earned standing ovation, and I got the sense that a few in the crowd were subscribers to the theatre who had little idea what to expect, only to be stunned by passionate, sweet, utterly dynamic voice they heard. Heck, I knew what to expect, and I was pretty stunned, too.

Monday, May 6, 2013

"The People's Republic of Portland" @ Portland Center Stage

"The People's Republic of Portland" is a one-woman show by "The Daily Show" alum Lauren Weedman. It has the feel of a stand-up routine, or a small-group conversation with a knowing audience. The intimate Ellyn Bye Studio is a perfect fit. One of funniest bits comes at the beginning of the show when Weedman recalls overhearing a conversation where the group was complaining about our city's portrayal on the similar "Portlandia" television show. She then notes that-as if on cue- a cavalcade of the residents who "Keep Portland Weird" show up outside the coffee shop window, including a machete-wielding uni-cyclist..

Other choice moments include: Weeman's observation that residents of The Pearl are far more tolerant of dogs than children, a joke which is both probably true, as well as a gutsy one to make at a theatre situated in the heart of The Pearl District.

Taking a class with a name so New-Age I can't even recall it, hosted by none other than our homegrown streaker who dared to strip naked in protest of the TSA.

And Weedman's likely warranted self-consciousness about letting her 3 year-old watch a movie on a portable device while several other children were engaged in more interactive pastimes. She tells of draping the poor kid with her coat, to avoid the judgmental gaze of Portland Parents.

If you can appreciate our city's eccentricities, and unlike the ladies at the coffee shop, can tolerate an outsider pointing them out, you will enjoy "The People's Republic of Portland."