Lost in the wilderness | MR. BURNS: A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY by Anne Washburn at Portland Playhouse

Perils of institutionalization on display. When cute and clever triumph, audience loses. Based on first half, easily the worst show I have ever seen at Portland Playhouse. A slight, disposable play made considerably worse by awkward staging, environmental challenges, thrown together feel. Artifact of deadly new self-regarding Portland. Naked emperor.

Thru June 7

Weekend watch: Mr. Burns is back in town, TADADA!, Three Days of Grimm

The weekend is coming. And with it, your roster of entertainment possibilities. Which are legion.

Just about the most exciting thing on the spring calendar is finally here: Portland Playhouse takes on Anne Washburn’s MR. BURNS. You’ll travel indoors and out to three different sets for this epic. Opening night is Saturday.

Mr. Burns is back in town. And he's taken up at Portland Playhouse.
Mr. Burns is back in town. And he’s taken up at Portland Playhouse.

Also jockeying for position on Saturday night is PICA’s 20th anniversary gala: TADADA!. Come for the dinner if you’re feeling flush. But whatever you do, don’t miss the after-party helmed by Pepper Pepper. It’s all happening at The Redd, Ecotrust’s new event space on SE Salmon Street.

The Redd.  One of the biggest parties of the year is going to be right here in two days.
The Redd. One of the biggest parties of the year is going to be right here in two days.

And still ANOTHER Saturday night gem is a remount of David Saffert’s Liberace pageant at Curious Comedy.

Mr. Fabulous is back.  One night only at Curious Comedy.
Mr. Fabulous is back. One night only at Curious Comedy.

And for your Sunday night, perhaps you’ve heard of a certain play by Richard Greenberg coming to town? No, you probably haven’t heard of it that way. But you probably have heard that two TV stars from Grimm are in a show at Portland Center Stage. Ah yes. That one. Sunday night is the first preview.

And if you’re the pro active, plan ahead type – next Monday at PCS the Improv All Stars are back.

Your options

Thru 5.16 Post5 Theatre – TWELFTH NIGHT by Bill Shakestein
Thru 5.23 CoHo Productions – GROUNDED by George Brant
Thru 5.24 Third Rail Rep – STATIC by Dan Rebellato
Thru 6.14 Portland Center Stage – THE LION by Benjamin Scheuer
Thru 5.31 Triangle Productions – STOREFRONT REVUE: THE BABES ARE BACK
Thru 5.30 Action/Adventure Theatre – HOW TO STOP DYING by Noah Dunham
Thru 5.31 Bag & Baggage – OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD by Timberlake Wertenbaker
Thru 6.20 defunkt theatre – THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY by DC Copeland
5.13 – 6.7 Portland Playhouse – MR. BURNS, A POST ELECTRIC PLAY by Anne Washburn
5.16 PICA – TADADA! Gala Benefit and After-Party
5.16 Curious Comedy – David Saffert’s LIBERACE: A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION!
5.17 – 6.21 Portland Center Stage – THREE DAYS OF RAIN by Richard Greenberg
5.18.2015 Portland Center Stage – IMPROV ALL STARS

Mr. Burns is back in town for some post-electric fun

It would be hard to miss the beautiful imagery all over town for the upcoming show at Portland Playhouse.

But in case you have – here you go.

This is that “show before the show” we love so much. A poster you might actually want to take down and steal.

Don’t do that.

But do appreciate how good it looks.

MR. BURNS, A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY by Anne Washburn opens May 16 at Portland Playhouse.


Portland Playhouse scales back to four shows for 2016 season

2016 will be a slightly smaller year for Portland Playhouse, with a larger focus on music.

The NE neighborhood theatre will be doing four shows next year (three with music), down from the normal five of the last three seasons.

Headlining season number eight is the exciting HOW WE GOT ON by Idris Goodwin, a story about three teenagers in the midwest coming of age in the hip hop birth era of the 1980’s and Peter Pan hit PETER AND THE STARCATCHER.

Portland Playhouse – Season Eight (2015-16)

How We Got On by Idris Goodwin | September 23-October 25

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens | December 2-26

You For Me For You by Mia Chung | February 3-28, 2016

Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice | April 27-May 29, 2016

2016 scales back to four shows from the normal five of the last three seasons.
2016 features four shows.

HOW TO END POVERTY IN 90 MINUTES at Portland Playhouse

During brief moments when some theatre breaks out, subject matter becomes interesting. But “process” deadens experience with chipper, intellectual approach. Breathing life into litany of statistics is like trying to make reading the phone book compelling. “Fight” metaphor fundamentally wrong. Movement sequences pure Guffman. Poverty industrial complex alive and well.

Thru Feb 22

What matters more: purity or results? | In AFTER THE REVOLUTION at Portland Playhouse, the old guard comes out on top

In an era when Marxism sounds like a museum piece, it takes some work to tune in here. Duffy Epstein is terrifically good. At last, the intolerable 3 year long absence of John Steinkamp from Portland stages comes to an end. Brilliant closing monologue. Key Jewish social context inadequately conveyed.

Thru June 1

Your weekend: Two contemporary plays, a musical, and top flight comedy from THE ACES

It may be gorgeous outside NOW – but that won’t last. So when the rain descends, remember there are a bunch of new shows hitting the airwaves this weekend.

First, there’s these new baubles to dangle in front of you:

Portland Center Stage – THE LAST FIVE YEARS by Jason Robert Brown
Portland Playhouse – AFTER THE REVOLUTION by Amy Herzog
Coho Productions – MAPLE & VINE by Jordan Harrison

And then in the already-open-but-unmissable category:

The Aces at IFCC


Portland Playhouse announces 2014-15 season

All the info

THE PIANO LESSON (September-October 2014)
By August Wilson

Post-Depression Pittsburgh as Boy Willie Charles returns home with a plan to sell his family’s heirloom piano so he can buy himself a piece of land. But his sister Berniece won’t let this precious heirloom-and all of the memory, pain, and sacrifice it represents-leave the Charles family. Who will win out when a family’s legacy and its hopes for the future collide?

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (December 2014)
By Charles Dickens
Adaptation and original lyrics by Rick Lombardo
Original music by Anna Lackaff and Rick Lombardo
Music arrangements by Anna Lackaff
Directed by Cristi Miles

Dickens’ classic ghost story returns! Join us for an authentic, music-filled journey to nineteenth-century London in which greedy Scrooge learns his lesson and Tiny Tim has the last word.

Sojourn Theatre’s
(with 99 people you may or may not know) (January-February 2015)
*World Premiere
Conceived and written by Michael Rohd
Directed by Liam Kaas-Lentz
Devised in collaboration with the cast

It’s not a performance, a workshop, or a public conversation– it’s all these things. HOW TO END POVERTY IN 90 MINUTES… invites audiences to consider the question: How do we talk about, wrestle with, and attack poverty in America? Join Sojourn Theatre and a rotating cast of community cameos for an eclectic 90 minutes of spectacle, dialogue and live-feed hocus pocus that culminates with each audience voting on how to spend $1,000 cash (from ticket sales). Portland Playhouse invites you to participate in this unique experiment of collective decision-making and shared responsibility; an experiment that asks, night after night: Can the arts help make our world a better place?

THE OTHER PLACE (March-April 2015)
By Sharr White
Directed by Brian Weaver

What does it take before we finally “let go” and seek help from those who care about us? Juliana Smithton, an accomplished scientist and pharmaceuticals pitch-woman, is a dominating personality who’s always in command. Until, that is, a fleeting bout of dementia turns her world upside down. What is “real” and what is merely the fabrication of a brain under siege?

By Anne Washburn
Directed by Brian Weaver
*Regional Premiere

Yes, THAT Mr. Burns. Acclaimed playwright, and ex-Portlander, Anne Washburn leads us into an unlikely post-apocalyptic (and post-electricity) future in which survivors pass the time – and maintain a grip on their past – by recounting episodes from The Simpsons (specifically, the episode Cape Feare… DUN DUN DUN DUNNNN). As they are told and retold, these snippets of pop culture become the stuff of epics, myths, and legends among the survivors. Portlanders – who are doubtless aware that Simpsons creator Matt Groening once called Portland home – are in for a wacky, geeky, unapologetically original theatrical treat.