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April 23, 2015

Let’s be real: At least 80 percent of the time, taking on a production of Les Misérables is a bad idea. “Ambitious” doesn’t begin to describe this excruciatingly melodramatic 1,500-page historical novel-turned-stage musical. 

April 23, 2015

Sight Unseen is an Obie award-winning play by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies. The play, which opens this week at The Very Little Theatre, takes as its subject a renowned artist and strips him naked of all the trappings of success, leaving almost nothing where a man once was.

April 16, 2015

Theater has long served as fertile ground for new ideas to germinate, with playwrights boldly questioning the status quo and planting the seeds of change.

Eugene audiences will have the opportunity to examine two politically charged plays, as the University of Oregon Department of Theatre Arts presents Chantal Bilodeau’s Sila: An Arctic Story and Lane Community College’s Theatre Department performs Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes

April 16, 2015

Sara is unlucky. She has a problem with light bulbs blowing out, leftovers spontaneously combusting and goldfish going belly up before their time.

But in the new comedy Lucky Me by Robert Caisley — now playing at Oregon Contemporary Theatre — Sara finds something special because of her supposed faults, not in spite of them. 

Written in a snappy style reminiscent of Kaufman and Hart, Caisley populates Sara’s leaky apartment with a cast of genuine and lovable misfits. 

April 16, 2015

With a large, skilled cast and an indefinable but undeniable energy, the reaction to New Hope Christian College’s Hairspray was: Wow. “This is one of the best musicals I’ve seen in Eugene,” an audience member gushed at intermission. 

April 9, 2015

We’re sort of a road-hardened, long-running, tight theater ensemble,” says Hand2Mouth Theatre’s artistic director Jonathan Walters. “Our shows are sophisticated, structured and incredibly interactive.” 

Founded in 2000, Portland-based Hand2Mouth sails into town for one-night-only, Sunday, April 19, at Oregon Contemporary Theatre. 

March 19, 2015

The seventh-annual NW10 Festival returns this week with a handful of 10-minute plays premiering at Oregon Contemporary Theatre. 

“There’s a big difference between a skit and a 10-minute play,” insists festival co-founder Paul Calindrino. “A skit is like a one-line joke, whereas a 10-minute play has the potential to be a fully self-contained dramatic unit with character development, emotional impact and narrative force.”

March 19, 2015

The year is 1928, the last gasp of the good times before the crash of the Great Depression. Fringe is flying, bathtub gin is flowing and Queenie and her man Burrs are in a bad romance.

March 19, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum captured our country’s imagination when it debuted on Broadway in 1962. A young Stephen Sondheim wowed audiences with an interesting score, providing a teaser to his masterful later works. The book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart is based on Plautus’ Roman comedies, resulting in a goofy, sometimes brainy farce that manages to reflect a deep respect for the humor of antiquity.

March 5, 2015

When it comes to accessing the arts, sometimes money isn’t the only obstacle. Institutions like museums, theaters and concert halls may inadvertently express an air of exclusivity, creating an invisible barricade to community members who don’t fit the profile of “arts patron.” 

Locally, the Eugene Opera is addressing this issue through its innovative Community Tix program, which provides free and reduced tickets to its performance season, along with something less tangible: a sense of belonging. 

February 26, 2015

Alas, poor George and Martha: As the boozy, bitchy combatants at the center of Edward Albee’s 1962 play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, these two go at it like rabid animals, incapable of restraint, tearing at each other in an alcohol-fueled barrage of verbal abuse, all set to the tinkling rhythms of ice plinking against a cocktail glass. And the beating goes on.

February 19, 2015

Veteran teacher, director, author and the inspiration for Ms. Wingit of the nationally syndicated cartoon Stone Soup, Judy Wenger is a Eugene icon. And she’s directing again, with a gleeful adaptation of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs for Rose Children’s Theatre.

During her 37 years in education, Wenger developed a theory of theater education that rests heavily on community and respect, at the expense of starpower.

February 12, 2015

Chronicling the lives of five women in show business, the new play Five of a Kind spans half a century of friendship and social transformation. Written by Anita Dwyer and Adrienne Armstrong, the play premieres this week, Feb. 13-15, in a “reader’s theater” format at the Very Little Theatre. 

February 5, 2015

Send Shakespeare to the moon.

Put him in the middle of Nazi Germany, the antebellum South, the Prague Spring, the Whiteaker Block Party. The miracle of Shakespeare’s plays, and the iambic mechanics of their impossible flexibility, is that wherever you set them, Shakespeare more or less remains Shakespeare — even in Castro’s Cuba.

February 5, 2015

Lane Community College’s inaugural Playwright’s Showcase 2015 gives student playwrights the chance to see their nascent works come to life onstage while also gaining real-world expertise in arts management. Through this innovative program, students not only nurture creative projects, but they learn firsthand how plays are produced and promoted.   

This year’s showcase, which runs Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 12-15, features five plays, each written and directed by students or former students.   

January 29, 2015

Caryl Churchill’s new play Love and Information is simultaneously the worst and the best first-date idea ever. In the intimate horseshoe shape of UO’s Hope Theatre, the play’s litany of 57 scenes and 100-plus characters was so relentless that it never occurred to me to shift so that my date could grab my hand. 

January 15, 2015

Ah, yes — when God finally arrives in all his glory to destroy the wicked and raise up the true believers in a dazzling city of eternal happiness, how beautiful it all will be! Right? Right?

December 11, 2014

It’s a timeless literary trope, from Ecclesiastes to Groundhog Day: A cynical man, mired in despair and the funk of worldly resentments, is confronted with the error of his ways to such an extent that he undergoes an immediate and permanent transformation, emerging from darkness into light. Such victories of the spirit are the epitome of happily ever after, and we never tire of their telling.

December 11, 2014

Bob, Phil and Larry are in the existential hell that is the 26th-floor suite of a Holiday Inn overlooking Wichita, Kansas. Their JCPenney grey suits and their hopes of selling industrial lubricant set the prosaic scene for this morality tale. 

November 26, 2014

There’s something fuzzy and bittersweet about that old populist daydream of an adorable orphan so possessed by optimism that her mere presence can sand down the rough edges of a capitalist tycoon and compel an embattled president to launch the New Deal.

If that’s not a political fairy tale for a bygone era, I don’t know what is.

November 13, 2014

Well, this is certainly not your grandmother’s Jane Austen. With overt sexuality, barebones plotting and updated humor, University Theatre has taken Austen’s beloved classic out for a new spin that, depending on your sensibility, may or may not make sense.

November 13, 2014

When the new musical Constance & Sinestra and the Cabinet of Screams premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the summer of 2011, Lane Community College student Anna Parks happened to catch a performance of the quirky show. Parks later brought the idea of presenting the offbeat musical to LCC’s Student Production Association, and after clearing sizeable hurdles to secure the rights to the play, the LCC theater will be among the first venues outside of the UK to debut this darkly twisted fairy tale. 

November 6, 2014

Who can resist a story that starts with a trio of children flying out the bedroom window to a land where you never grow up? Add a fearsome, hook-handed sea captain and a mischievous fairy, and you are solidly in the grasp of the marvelous adventure of Peter Pan, a version of which — Disney’s Peter Pan Jr. — opens Friday, Nov. 7, at Churchill High School under the auspices of Rose Children’s Theatre. 

October 30, 2014

As perhaps Eugene’s foremost purveyor of new theatrical works, artistic director Craig Willis at Oregon Contemporary Theatre (OCT) is a tireless advocate of the hidden gem, the offbeat barnburner, the unfamiliar fandango. For Willis, the hunt is always on. He spends many a weekend traveling hither and yon along the coast — to Portland, to Seattle — attending table reads and walk-throughs of new plays, all in dogged pursuit of something fresh and lively for audiences here in town.