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Saturday, September 24, 2016

"Masters of the Musical Universe: Battle for Etheria" @ Headwaters Theatre

"He-Man" wasn't a big part of my childhood, I was born in 1984, and that already puts me a little late for the height of its popularity, plus I was just a weird kid. But it doesn't matter! I still very much enjoyed Masters of the Musical Universe: Battle for Etheria. You don't need any real knowledge of the show beyond the absolute basics, least of all a need to have seen Episode 1, which was a lightning sell-out last year, (though they do sell a DVD at the merch-table.) The fun of the show lies in the hilarious costumes, the carefully chosen '80s rock classics, and the total-commitment of the cast, who despite the intentional schlocky-ness of the show never use that as an excuse to phone-in a single note. Tickets are selling briskly, and the production only runs through tonight and tomorrow. I recommend this show to both fans of its source, as well as those who just like their theatre funny and fringy!

Monday, September 19, 2016

"Little Shop of Horrors" @ Portland Center Stage

"Little Shop of Horrors" is the "Ultimate Musical for People Who Don't Like Musicals" It is untraditional from the ground-up, taking its inspiration from a shoestring-budgeted Roger Corman film, which happened to feature a young Jack Nicholson. It also has a fairly un-Broadway Score, with lots of street-corner doo-wop, my favorite being "Ya Never Know"  A close-second is "Dentist"

The scale of Portland Center Stage's version is perfect. Midsize. "Little Shop" is so frequently produced-by small theatres, and even high schools--that one might be fooled into thinking it's a small show, and yet, I also saw the Broadway in Portland Touring Version,  in the mammoth Keller Auditorium, where it was swallowed. (I just realized "swallowed" is a delicious unintentional pun!) Also, the medium-ness of the production allows the puppets to tower even more.

Here's my advice:

1. Take a reluctant friend

2. Be ready to laugh

3. Don't feed the plants

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Trevor" @ Artist's Rep

I must admit that when I skimmed the synopsis of "Trevor" in one of Artist Rep's mailings, my first reaction was, "Huh?" I remember a phrase along the lines of, "washed-up showbiz monkey." (You just said, 'huh?,' didn't you?") Now add in the fact that the aforementioned washed-up showbiz monkey is-by stern admonition of playwright Nick Jones-not in  any kind of chimp costume, and your confusion should double.

"Trevor" may be the funniest play I have seen at Artist's Rep. Artist's Rep is usually at least a little darker in the majority of their choices than, perhaps, Portland Center Stage, and while the idea for the play was gleaned from tragic news stories, most of the humor in "Trevor" is light, which is a nice change of pace, despite my preference for its opposite. Even though the "news story" inspiration is mentioned in the playbill, as well as Jones' careful foreshadowing within the play, we like Trevor so much, the sobering turn comes as far more of a surprise than it should.

This is due to John San Nicholas' performance-to call  it "fully-committed" is a nearly inexcusable understatement-but it's the best I can do.

"Trevor" is the kind of show that will reward you if you can get past the fact that it sounds like it should never, ever, have worked. Let me assure you, it does.