Portland’s spring theater season blossoms with verse, verve and vice


Portland’s spring theater season is upon us, and all the tantalizing local stage productions have sparked a bit of rhyme.

Winter has thawed,

Prepare to be impressed

In the spring suddenly shows in bloom:

Musicals, a monologue from memory,

A sci-fi thriller set in one room.

Don’t feel pressured?

Okay, here’s a first:

Three Portland productions performed

Entirely in verse.

(Remember: many productions may require masks and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Check their websites for details.)

“Tinderella: The Modern Musical” – Stumptown Stages and Marin Summer Theater

– Juliana Lustenader as “Meg/Cinderella” from the production of “Tinderella” in San Francisco.Jay Yamada

Set in Portland, Stumptown Stages’ springtime musical is a fairytale-framed look at digital dating. The cyberspace-inspired comedy takes satirical jabs at raunchy selfies, fake profiles, and our craving for online “likes” and happy endings in real life.

After being fixed to our screens at home for two years, it seems only fitting that we venture into a musical about a protagonist glued to his own.

“While we’ve enjoyed our love affair with Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and others, nothing beats live theater that entertains and makes you laugh,” says Stumptown Stages Production Art Director Kirk Mouser. . “We all need to relax and have a good time. ‘Tinderella’ is that kind of show.

Continues through April 17, Portland’5 Brunish Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, sumptownstages.org

“Freestyle Love Supreme” – Portland Center Stage

On Sunday, Lin-Manuel Miranda could finally win an Oscar – and that Oscar would be the final piece of his “EGOT” puzzle. (The Emmy, Tony, and Grammy winner is up for best original song for the movie “Encanto.”) Before all those golden statuettes adorned the mantelpiece of multimedia and multiple hyphens, he and a few college buddies came up with this comedic collaboration. In “Freestyle Love Supreme,” improvisational hip-hops create lyrical songs and skits – all on the fly.

After recent tours on and off Broadway, the fast-rhyming show hits the US Bank Main Stage at the Armory as part of an 11-city tour. Miranda isn’t on the touring team, but “Freestyle” co-founder Anthony “Two-Touch” Veneziale and Beatbox Battle World Champion Kaila Mullady certainly are.

And keep in mind, right after this production, Miranda’s groundbreaking “Hamilton” returns to the Keller. (April 13-May 1, portland.broadway.com.)

April 8-May 1, US Bank Main Stage at The Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., pcs.org

“Children” – Artist Repertory Theater

Be warned: Tony-nominated British playwright Lucy Kirkwood’s post-apocalyptic play is taking a few beats to warm up. Soon, electrifying twists transform this three-way domestic drama into a gripping eco-thriller. Following a nuclear reactor meltdown, two married scientists who worked there move in just outside the safe zone. A former colleague pays them a visit – and after some first-act bickering – presents them with a life-changing idea with life-altering implications.

For his fusion of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “Chernobyl,” Kirkwood lightens the mood with line dancing, tricycling and other British humorous tunes.

April 9 through May 15, Ellyn Bye Studio at The Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., artistsrep.org

“Don’t Hug Me” – Broadway Rose Theater Company

Three people wearing hats and coats look surprised as they huddle together

– Clara-Liis Hillier, Kevin-Michael Moore and Elizabeth Young in “Don’t Hug Me” at the Broadway Rose Theater Company, April 14Craig Mitchell Dyer

Although the title sounds like the war cry of social distancing at a family reunion full of unvaccinated cousins, it’s about a warm and goofy musical ensemble in Minnesota, don’t you know?

Lives are changed in the land of 10,000 lakes when a karaoke machine is plugged into a small town pub. But you’re too crazy, it’s not a musical jukebox. The original score celebrates fishing, buffets and the Mall of America. Since its acclaimed premiere in 2003, show creators Paul and Phil Olson have created five sequels.

April 14-May 8, Broadway Rose Theater New Stage, 12850 SW Grant Ave., Tigard, broadwayrose.org

“Natural” – PassinArt Theater Company

PassinArt, the state’s oldest African-American theater company, presents the Portland premiere of playwright Charlayne Woodard’s autobiographical delight.

This poignant memory chronicles Woodard’s tender relationship with his Aunt “Neat” Beneatha, from childhood visits to Savannah, Georgia, to Neat’s sudden and unsettling appearance in Albany, New York, where Woodard grapples with the ‘adolescence. Woodard packs a world of rich characters into the 90-minute monologue, but still focuses on his indelible aunt.

April 15-May 8, Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, 5340 N. Interstate Ave., passinart.org

“The Smuggler” – Corrib Theater

A lyrically paced solo show, the Corrib Theatre’s latest production is a contemporary immigrant tale told in rhyming verse.

Tom O’Leary plays bartender Tim Finnegan (along with nine other roles). Finnegan moved from Ireland to Massachusetts and dreams of improving his new American life. His search for more, however, turns into a reluctant involvement in a smuggling business.

Irish-American playwright Ronán Noone’s nimble 9,000-word solo work is filled with comedic touches and a larger, heartbreaking insight into human trafficking.

April 28-May 22, TC O’Leary’s, 2926 NE Alberta St., corribtheatre.org

“Bella: A Great American Tale” – Portland Playhouse

The Old West was not only wild, it was fierce. And trailblazing protagonist Isabella “Bella” Patterson is a frontier-era force to be reckoned with, of course. Though filled with wacky detours, nothing will stop his mission to find his Buffalo Soldier-boo in Kansas. Playwright and composer Kirsten Childs imagined this legendary musical to bring to light the stories of black women in the Reconstruction period. Childs’ limitless score features choral numbers, country and western twangers, Celtic gems and plenty of soul.

May 4-June 5, Portland Playhouse, 602 NE Prescott St., portlandplayhouse.org

“Sex on the River” – Triangle Productions

We’re not sure you want to be in the splash zone for this show.

For his original new musical, Triangle Productions founder Don Horn delves into the legend of Portland sailor Madame Nancy Boggs, who allegedly rode a bawdy barge up and down the Willamette River in the late 1800s Horn digs into Stumptown’s seedy past. (Check out her 2020 novel, “House of Soiled Doves” for a page-turning tour of vice-ridden Portland in the 1940s.) So aboard this production, don’t expect a Disney cruise.

May 12-28, The Sanctuary at Sandy Plaza, 1785 NE Sandy Blvd., trianglepro.org

“Pretty Woman: The Musical” – Broadway in Portland

In this staging of "A pretty woman," store clerks show expensive dresses to a woman sitting in a chair.

Portland’s Keller Auditorium hosts “Pretty Woman: The Musical” from May 31 through June 5.Matthew Murphy

Hollywood’s most famous transactional romantic comedy gets a makeover. But fear not, “Pretty Woman” purists. Featuring few changes from the hit 1990 film, the recent Broadway version is just as sweet and unapologetically sexist as you remember it. Which is new? An original score by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, who co-wrote Adams’ hits ‘Summer of ’69’ and ‘Heaven’. The pair pack the streetwalking-“Cinderella” tale with era-appropriate pop-rock tunes.

May 31-June 5, Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St., portland.broadway.com

“The Music Man” by Meredith Willson – Third Rail Repertory

Enthusiastic Big Apple theatergoers are practically “Shipoopi” themselves on the current Broadway revival of “The Music Man.” (Advance ticket sales totaled about $50 million.)

What causes restlessness? The New York version of Meredith Willson’s timeless and heartwarming Tony Award stars megawatt stars Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. Big deal. We have talent. Right here in Rose City. Six performers from our own Third Rail Repertory company tackle each role in a new cabaret-style version at the CoHo Theatre.

After COVID-19 sank Third Rail’s live schedule for two years, “The Music Man” marks the trombone-toned company’s triumphant return to in-person productions.

June 17-July 3, CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh St., thirdrailrep.org

The singers wear straw hats as they lean on a piano while the pianist conducts

Third Rail Repertory presents “The Music Man” by Meredith Willson, featuring Madeleine Tran (left to right), Tara Velarde, Dru Rutledge (seated), Caitlin Brooke and Maeve Stier.Owen Carey

  • Portland Dance Companies Return with Full Spring Seasons
  • A Dozen Portland Classical Music Shows to Add to Your Spring Calendar

—Lee Williams, for The Oregonian/OregonLive

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