Wednesday, October 15, 2014

AUDITIONS: Paid Murder Mystery Gigs in the Portland/Vancouver Area

Hiring Full/Part-Time Actors for work year round! Lots of Perks!

We currently have openings in our Portland Troupe for new MALE and FEMALE talent!

Ages 18+ non-union work.

This is a fantastic opportunity that will provide the following:

Each of our actors has the opportunity to act in up to 300 shows per year, with no show minimum required. This means that they may participate in as few or as many shows as they desire, an excellent arrangement for actors with separate non-industry employment or those interested in taking on additional projects. The Murder Mystery Company also pays a base $75/per performance and pays via direct deposit. We also reimburse gas and pay for travel expenses. If you choose to travel to a non-local performance we will handle flights and lodging.

The Murder Mystery Company has been active in the national theater community for over ten years and is third in record ticket sales in the US. Our shows run year round with a multitude of fun themes changing periodically to give our repeat customers something new to look forward to.

Auditions will be held Tuesday, October 28th

These are scheduled auditions.

Please submit your head shot and theatrical resume with the subject heading "Portland Auditions" to murdermysterylisa (at) gmail (dot) com to be considered.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

REVIEW: "Twelfth Night" at Cannon Beach Coaster Theater Playhouse

Cannon Beach's Coaster Theater Playhouse. Photos by Greg Zschomler.
As I told you all in an earlier post, we were moving out of SW Washington. We have. Thus we won't be reviewing the SW WA theater any longer. We are still looking for someone to take over. Meanwhile...

Here on the Oregon Coast in the little town of Cannon Beach there is a theater. 

This past week we dropped in to catch their production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." And they did a fine job.

If you are ever down on the coast in the Cannon Beach/Seaside are you may want to catch a production at the cozy Coaster Theater Playhouse. The company is a non-equity, volunteer, semi-professional theater. What once was a roller skating rink has been transformed into a beautiful and functional playhouse most any company in Vancouver would be envious of. It's slightly larger than Clark College's Decker Theater.

The production values and acting were very good. The lighting for "Twelfth Night" was a tad uneven in places, but the set and costumes were marvelous. The cast played well to the entire theater and could be heard well. There was some strong veteran talent in the show and some newbies, too, that did just fine. Very nicely done!

"Twelfth Night" closes October 25. Their next production, Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," opens November 14 and runs through December 27. Showtimes are generally 7:30 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays (but there are exceptions--some shows run Wednesdays, some have only a few Sundays, and B&B has only one Thursday in its run).

Stop by if you're down out the coast or make a special trip. Next season's seven productions can be seen here.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Two Local High Schoolers Awarded Sparkles

(C) Dennis Sparks Reviews
A huge congratulations to both Sky Ring and Sarah Russell for their Sparkle Awards for Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role, Non-Musical from Dennis Sparks. 

Sky Ring for her performance as Dogberry in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, and Sarah Russell for her turn as Mayella in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. 

I agree with Dennis Sparks' choice and their drama teacher's (Battle Ground Drama Club's instructor Stephen "Cash" Henry) comments who said, "Both immensely deserved, and I am ridiculously proud of both of them."

According to Henery they were the only two high school students awarded a Sparkle Award of any kind this year [though I felt Ashlee Waldbauer for Robin Hood is deserving as well] and some of the other winners worked with companies like: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, NW Classical Theater, Beaverton Civic Theater, Portland Actors Conservatory, Portland Center Stage, Artists Repertory Theatre, Post 5 Theater, Profile Theater, Oregon Children's Theater, NW Children's Theater and Triangle Productions. 


You can see the full list at Dennis Sparks Reviews.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

All's Well That Ends Well...or Continues?

“Parting is such sweet sorrow,” wrote William Shakespeare.

And so it is that after more than two years, more than 400 posts, and just shy of 100,000 hits (and with a degree of sorrow) we must, alas, say farewell. 

The Southwest Washington Stage and Theater Arts Review blog has faithfully served the local theater public over the course of many exciting seasons. 


It has now come time for us to move on from the area. But, like so many good things do, our popular coverage need not come to an end. In fact, we don’t want it to. Possibly YOU will be the one to keep that from happening.

We’re looking for someone to take over for us. All you need is the tenacity to stick with it, reasonable writing skills and a love and understanding of theater arts.

Our blog is now at the place where it can and should bring in a small income. Traffic to the site is regular and our patrons are faithful. The likelihood of continued growth is high and ad sponsorship is certainly a strong possibility.

You won’t likely become rich, but could earn a small supplementary income and you most certainly will see a LOT of theater. (What a joy!) However, we suggest that you take it on simply for the love of it.

Here’s a profile of the person we’re looking for (and, if this is you, please contact us or share with others who might fit the bill):

  • You can write well
  • You love theater
  • You have theatrical experience (both on stage and behind the scenes)
  • You are not so involved in production that you are not available to review shows*
  • You are committed

You need not have blogging experience because we will train (it’s easy). We do not wish to see our service to the community end and neither does the community that has come to rely on us for objective reviews. So, DO consider the opportunity.

If you are interested, or think you know of someone who might be, please contact us soon as we are leaving BY the end of September, just prior to a barrage of openings to review.

In closing, we both say a hearty thank you patrons and producers alike for your strong and encouraging support.

Greg and Ruth Zschomler

*These tend to bunch up with the beginning of each season. Several shows do tend to open up at the same time. We generally see two to three shows a week for two weeks followed by a lull each fall, winter and spring. Between times we have enjoyed doing artist profiles, coming show announcements, and other bits of related news to keep things fresh and rolling.

Friday, September 12, 2014

REVIEW: SWNW's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor"

Stageworks Northwest presents a comedy about comedy writers written by a comedy writer.

Neil Simon.

What can I say about this (still living) modern American playwright? He's written one of my favorite plays (God's Favorite); several I like very much (like The Odd Couple); some that are quite good, but not my cup of tea; and quite a few I could care less about.

He's prolific. He can be funny. And he can be crude, somewhat foul and even irreverent. A Jewish writer, he's not afraid to let you know it and then show that he's not all that dedicated to the tenets of his faith either.

"Laughter on the 23rd Floor" is a biographical work. How accurate, how realistic, how self-reflective, I don't know. But it is a look back at his days working as a comedy writer for Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows" a live comedy variety show which ran on NBC from 1950-1954. Simon was part of the writing team which included Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.

The play takes place in 1953 in the writer’s room of the "Max Prince Show," a fictional comedy variety show, during the height of McCarthyism.

Comedy writers who work in teams bounce around a lot of ideas, it seems, while also making jabs at one another. You'll see this in television programs like "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961-66, developed by Carl Reiner) and "30 Rock" (created by Tina Fey, who developed as a team comedy writer for SNL).

I've seen maybe a season of "30 Rock." I watched "The Dick Van Dyke Show" as a child and have revisited it as an adult. The former had it's funny moments, but also things that moved beyond my taste. The latter I enjoyed very much.

But what did I think of this production?

Frankly, not fondly. My least favorite Simon play to date. It was far too vulgar and distasteful for me. Way far. And that is it's biggest flaw, because it needn't be.

Lots and lots of F-bombs and coarse language, the Lord's name in vain, and general swearing permeated the script. The 50's weren't like that (at with least the F-bomb). Still, the story was good.

Having said that, I will add that a lot of the comedy shticks were really well written. There's a lot of great humor in the script. And having said that, I have to say that the patter pace and comic timing of this presentation simply did not do the comedy justice.

The Look of It

A pretty good shot of the really good set.
The set for this show looks great! The overall concept and execution, marvelous. The set dressing and costuming were generally good, but some non-period "best we could dos" were present in both.

The overall production values were high and the lighting even and well conceived. Everything ran smoothly.
Kudos to Michael and Jennifer Cheney for a great design as well as Leslie Slape for making it all cue up.

The Lack of It

Michael R. Cheney, left, plays a tormented TV star.
The production, directed by Jennifer Cheney, I would classify as "good," but not exceptional (like their production of "9 to 5"). As mentioned the cast lacked zing in the zingers. And I felt the characters should have been pushed a bit more toward the zany. Performances generally lacked oomph. I just wasn't sold.

The cast, in order of appearance, includes: Dean Baker as Lucas, new writer (based on Neil Simon); Corey Farmer as Milt, staff writer (based on Sheldon Keller); Pip A. Kennedy as Val, head staff writer (based on Mel Tolkin); Ryan Lee Gaylor as Brian, staff writer (based on Tony Webster); Patrick Hale as Kenny, staff writer (based on Larry Gelbart); Lora Ressler as Carol, senior staff writer (based on Lucille Kallen); Michael R. Cheney as Max Prince, comic actor (based on Sid Caesar); Ashley Stevens as Helen, secretary; and Matt Olason as Ira, staff writer (based on Mel Brooks).

Pip A. Kennedy, right, is in top form and clearly the leading talent.
Michael Cheney's and Matt Olason's performances did rise above the rest, but the true star of the show was Pip Kennedy in top form. I believe he played his role near perfection.

I think the play has merit. It is interesting. And, if you are a person who can take a goodly dose of foul language without it bothering you, then you should see the play.

WARNING: This show contains a few adult situations and pervasive strong language--including the Lord's name used in vain and several F-bombs. I do not recommend this show for everyone.

The play runs 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays now through September 28, 2014 at the historical Longview Theater space of Stageworks Northwest. Click here for tickets.

I enjoyed this related trivia page on the SWNW website.

By Gregory E. Zschomler
Photos, by Amanda Wilson Portraiture, provided.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Stageworks Northwest to Present Neil Simon Comedy "Laughter on the 23rd Floor"

Neil Simon's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" opens this Friday, September 12, 2014 at Stageworks Northwest in Longview, Wash. The run continues through the 28th. Showings are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. The production is directed by Jennifer Cheney.

"Laughter on the 23rd Floor” takes place in 1953 in the writer’s room of the Max Prince Show, a fictional comedy variety show, during the height of McCarthyism. Its characters are based on the real-life comedy writers Neil Simon worked with in his early career as a comedy writer for Sid Caesar on “Your Show of Shows,” a popular weekly variety show that ran from 1950–1954.

Warning: This play contains strong language and adult subject matter.

Look for our review on Saturday, September 13.

REVIEW: Classic, Commie-hunt Commentary "The Crucible" from Bag & Baggage

Salem, Massachusetts—1692?

Bag & Baggage announces their newest production opening just after Labor Day weekend.

Rigid piety huddles on the edge of the new world’s wilderness in the Arthur Miller classic drama "The Crucible."

A small town's inhabitants believe unquestioningly in their own sanctity, but in the playwright’s edgy masterpiece, that very belief will have poisonous consequences when a vengeful teenager accuses a rival of witchcraft—and then those accusations multiply to consume the entire village.

Photo, provided, by Casey Campbell Photography with Hanna Rose Brumley,
Melory J Mirashrafi and Maddie Ogden.

The play was first produced in 1953, at a time when America was convulsed by a new epidemic of "witchhunting," "The Crucible" brilliantly explores the threshold between individual guilt and mass hysteria, personal spite and collective evil…and speaks as clearly to us today as it did during McCarthy’s Red Scare.

"The Crucible" is a play that is not only relentlessly suspenseful and vastly moving, but one that compels us all to question our hearts and consciences in ways that only the greatest theatre ever can. A not-to-be-missed, Bag&Baggage style examination of one of the greatest plays in American history.

“A drama of emotional power and impact” —New York Post

The production has a large cast and features familiar Bag & Baggage players as well as new faces. It should be interesting to see what artistic director Scott Palmer does with this allegorical commentary. When will it be set? What relevance for today will be emphasized?

Runs: September 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, and 28 – 2014
Preview Night: Thursday, September 4, 2014
Opening Night: Friday, September 5, 2014

At the last minute we were unable to review this show, however here is a great review by Dennis Sparks.

Event Time: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sunday matinees at 2:00pm
Event Location: The Venetian Theatre, 253 E Main Street, Hillsboro 97123
Special Events: Meet-the-cast Talk Backs on Sunday September 7, 14 and 21

Adults – Section 1: $30
Adults- Section 2: $26
Students/Seniors – Section 1: $24
Students/Seniors – Section 2: $20