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November 12, 2015

Playwright David Ives (A Flea in Her Ear, Venus in Fur) calls his play The School for Lies a “translaptation” of French playwright Molière’s classic 1666 farce The Misanthrope. Lies is now playing at University Theatre under the direction of Tricia Rodley.

Ives has maintained much of the source material’s language. The play is written in rhyming verse, and Ives adds well-timed modern zingers for comic effect. 

November 5, 2015

Former Register-Guard columnist Bob Welch spins his popular Oregon stories for a live audience, Nov. 5-6.

“I had a great ride for 24 years and I wanted to find a way to say thank you,” Welch says. 

Enter live theater. 

“It’s a celebration of our state in stories, songs, images and, of course, s’mores,” Welch says.

An Oregon native, Welch is clearly smitten.

November 5, 2015

A delightfully satirical sendup, 2001’s Urinetown: The Musical by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, pokes fun at everyone, from poet Bertolt Brecht and Les Miz, to our legal system, politics and capitalism. Refreshingly irreverent, Urinetown is a musical’s musical, and it’s given the five-star treatment by the capable team at South Eugene High School (SEHS). 

October 29, 2015

What would you give up for a fabulous, famous life of brilliant academia? What would you sacrifice for the sacred, animal warmth of family? Pulitzer-nominated Rapture, Blister, Burn digs into these uncomfortable questions of feminism.

October 29, 2015

[Editor’s note: EW originally printed this article with the wrong cast names. We are very sorry for the error. The names have been corrected. Please see our post addressing this mistake and debunking the rumor that we reprinted an old review here.]

October 15, 2015

Neil Simon’s play Lost in Yonkers (1991) asks one of life’s universal questions: Why is my family so crazy?  

Simon is an accessible, sentimental and popular playwright. And Very Little Theatre wrings all the sentimentality it can from a strong and winning production.

Set in 1942, Lost in Yonkers tells the story of Eddie and his family. Eddie (Paul Rhoden) has gone into debt covering his recently deceased wife’s medical costs. 

October 8, 2015

The guitar wails above the heart-deep drumbeat. Dirty hands clank against a chain-link cage and the old story rushes at us, hammering home the memory of ego and betrayal that killed a man preaching kindness.

October 1, 2015

The enthusiastic reaction of the Friday, Sept. 25, audience to Mary Poppins, currently playing at the Shedd, indicated the musical was “practically perfect” in every way. Children and adults — mesmerized by the spectacle of flight, animated props, song-and-dance numbers as well as period-invoking sets and costumes — seemed to thoroughly  enjoy themselves.

September 24, 2015

Joe, the blue-collar mechanic at the center of VLT’s Mercy Killers, considers himself the ultimate all-American — a red-state, Rush Limbaugh-listening son of the American dream.

All that changes when Joe’s wife is diagnosed with cancer and he falls through the rabbit hole into a world of exorbitant medical costs and unyielding insurance networks. Out-of-pocket costs are demanded from “pockets that just aren’t that deep.” A man who has staked his life in the value of hard work now stands to lose everything to a heath care system that seems not to care at all.

September 17, 2015

We’ve all played this game: If you could share a drink with one person from history, living or dead, who would you choose? For music fans in general and jazz fans in particular, the answer is often Billie Holiday. 

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, running now at Actors Cabaret of Eugene, gives audiences that chance. The play debuted in Atlanta in the mid-1980s, with a recent off-Broadway run starring Audra McDonald in the titular role. 

September 16, 2015

In theater, the imaginary barrier separating an audience from the action on stage is called the fourth wall — a sort of make-believe TV screen that, by mutual agreement, keeps art on one side and spectators on the other.

Artists have been fucking with the fourth wall for decades now, inviting the audience to a naughty peek behind the Oz-like curtain where the dirty secrets of creativity hide. In the wrong hands, the device is cloying and cheap and self-satisfied, like listening to a bong circle of conspiracy theorists.

September 10, 2015

Award-winning playwright Aaron Posner grew up in Eugene. And since Oregon Contemporary Theatre’s season opens with Posner’s Stupid F@#*ing Bird, it seemed a great excuse to ask this renowned artist about his old paper route.


Chekhov’s The Seagull inspires Stupid F@#*ing Bird. How did you plumb Chekhov’s “Theatre of Mood” for the funny? 

August 27, 2015

A curious girl can raise only so much hell for a totalitarian regime: When Ximena makes too much noise, the state takes away her voice. Literally.

Set in a faceless authoritarian state, Degenerate Arts Ensemble’s Predator Songstress — produced in conjunction with the new Oregon Performance Lab — sets out to examine repression, surveillance, interrogation and the power of noise. The play runs Friday and Saturday, Aug. 28 and 29, at Lane Community College’s Ragozzino Hall.

August 20, 2015

From the moment you take your seat at Cottage Theatre, waiting for the lights to dim, Quilters transports you into a quaint, home-lovin’ kind of feeling. Opening with old-time music with a heck of a lotta twang, the women of the musical burst in running and laughing — yee-haws and all — giving you a slight pause to ask: “What have I gotten myself into?” 

August 6, 2015

VLT casts Anne of the Thousand Days as a post-apocalyptic feminist tale of Tudor intrigue

William Faulkner once suggested in an interview that the essential ingredients of any good drama are family, money and murder. This might help explain our ongoing obsession with the House of Tudor, those ingrown English monarchs whose rule included ample instances of greed, intrigue, betrayal and bloody battles for the rights of primogeniture.

August 6, 2015

Set in 1928 Arizona, The Shedd’s revival of Whoopee! is populated by rootin’ tootin’ cowboys, rich tourists and the occasional hypochondriac.

Based on the 1923 play The Nervous Wreck, this goofball musical comedy by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson was made famous by both the Ziegfield Broadway production of 1928 and the 1930 Eddie Cantor film. 

In the vaudeville era, shows like Whoopee! cobbled together already popular tunes with a loose plot, peppering zany narratives with plenty of jazz standards and daffy jokes. And it’s still a winning combination. 

July 16, 2015

With 20 songs and the precedent of a 1983 film starring Steve Martin and Bill Murray, Little Shop of Horrors isn’t the easiest musical to pull off. But Red Cane Theater, home of the Phoinix Players, succeeds in telling the story of the Venus flytrap from Hell on Skid Row. 

July 16, 2015

You think your dad has outrageous stories? 

According to Edward Bloom, the years before he became a salesman were filled with heroism, giants, witches, mermaids and indentured servitude in the name of love. 

June 25, 2015

In the canon of musical comedies, it doesn’t get much better than How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Playing this weekend at The Shedd, this hilarious 1961 musical slyly satirizes the midcentury corporate American workplace, as its hero, J. Pierrepont Finch, a humble window washer, ascends the rungs of the corporate ladder by not really doing anything. 

June 25, 2015

First, the bad news: Cottage Theatre’s excellent production of David Auburn’s Pulitzer-winning drama Proof ends its run this weekend, so you’ll have to scramble to get tickets.

The good news, then, is that, should you land seats, you will be treated to one of the finest local productions of the year. Directed with a sure hand by Alan Beck and featuring a small cast of talented local actors, this production achieves an almost perfect balance of emotional resonance and technical finesse. The play is so engaging and moving, so rich and dynamic, it feels like a dream.

June 18, 2015

When performer Nancy Hopps first tackled the one-woman show Raw Canvas in 2001, her life was in a radically different place than it is today. 

“I had just come through cancer, relationship changes,” Hopps recalls. “I was a busy, active parent to a teenage daughter. Coming back to the play now, I realize even more that the character’s weighing her own passions and artistic fulfillment against societal and familial expectations.”  

June 11, 2015

The Very Little Theatre’s current main stage production Superior Donuts, directed by Stanley Coleman, is a work of both comedic and dramatic realism, like a buddy film with a twist of gut-wrenching social commentary. 

The interwoven genres at work here are not too surprising, as it comes from playwright Tracy Letts, who’s most famous work August: Osage County deals with the dark underbelly of Americana as a dramedy.

June 4, 2015

The drums beat, heavy and slow at first, then picking up speed like a heartbeat. The rhythm pushes for answers, for ancestry. Dontrell cannot escape the dreams calling him to this quest — dreams of a forebearer who leapt to his death from a slave ship during the Middle Passage.

But Dontrell has a scholarship to maintain, a family to deal with and he can’t swim. Making his way into the middle of the Atlantic feels as hopeless as any hero’s journey. Faith, fate and family will all step in to shuffle his chances of success.

May 28, 2015

How is it the board game Clue has so captured our imaginations? One would never consider creating a film out of Chutes and Ladders, and I can feel my eye start to twitch just thinking about what Monopoly: The Musical might look like.

But a dramatization of Clue? We’re so there. The who-done-it game has inspired stage and screen adaptations, and Actor’s Cabaret of Eugene’s current production focuses the energy on the 1993 musical for dinner theater fare.