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Eugene Weekly : Theater : 10.19.06

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Revels: Ending Strong

OSF's farewell tour at Willamette Rep


Time to haul out the ol' checkbook again, theater aficionados, as a select group of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) actors head to Eugene for frolics and for good works — and for the last time.

Barry Kraft bites his thumb at 2005's audience.

No, that wasn't a misprint in the Willamette Repertory Theatre's season guide when it said, "Ashland Salutes the Willamette Rep (The Farewell Trip)." Willamette Rep artistic director Kirk Boyd says that the popular, hilarious fundraiser for Theatre Alive! must come to an end. Not because it isn't effective or fantastically entertaining, but because timing is all.

Though he was long with Ashland's OSF, Boyd says he's been gone for so long many actors don't know him. In addition, the festival will head in a new direction with its new artistic director, Bill Rauch.

Although Boyd doesn't know what will replace the salute, he's pumped about new directions for the OSF. "I'm done with shows looking pretty but not being explored," he says.

So he's gearing up for one last hurrah with actor-singers like Jonathan Hogan, Ray Porter, Kay Hilton and others, who will be doing a series of likely-to-be-hilarious arias by Hogan.

Because of Theatre Alive!, Springfield's Agnes Stewart Middle School brings its seventh grade to one play a year. Boyd describes how the students, who came last year to Willamette Rep's acclaimed production of The Drawer Boy, wrote letters to the cast. When a cast member replied, the students got excited. "The teacher said that the discussions in that class were so deep and so connected, he thought he was teaching a high school class," Boyd says.

But this evening won't be serious, not even the big after-party where "everybody gets to hobnob with the greats and near-greats," Boyd says. No indeed: "It's irreverent and fun, and you get a little bit of Shakespeare and a little bit of everything."   

Ashland Salutes the Willamette Rep. 7:30 pm Monday, Oct. 23. Hult Center. $100 ($80 tax-deductible)


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