Thursday, December 30, 2010

Abundant holiday theater!

We took advantage of lots of Portland holiday theater this December:

"A Christmas Story" at Portland Center Stage (PCS): In a departure from its usual adaptation of "A Christmas Carol," PCS staged "A Christmas Story" this year. Mike gave his ticket to his mother, and we took Chris and Kieran. Chris and I had never seen the movie before, although Kieran informed us about the faithfulness to the film version. We enjoyed the show, and since we are not the types who see movies or plays over and over again, it was a nice change from "A Christmas Carol."

Next came the "Holly Jolly Hullabaloo," which we saw at JANE: A Theater Company, which does a British-style pantomime every year. This year they did "Hansel & Gretel," and we saw it two weekends in a row (it was presented free, with donations accepted)...first just with our family, and second with my cousin, his wife, and daughter. Nick pronounced it too scary the first time and skipped it the second time. It was full of silly jokes, broad comedy, and music.

Then it was "The Santaland Diaries" also at PCS, this time just for me and Mike. We had seen Santaland Diaries years ago at PCS, but with a different actor. Also, earlier this month I had read David Sedaris' Holidays on Ice, the collection that contains Santaland Diaries (the only story in the collection I liked). The show is still running through January 2 in the wonderful armory theater's Ellen Bye Studio. Mike's snobby side comes out when we go to shows there, because season ticket holders get in 1/2 hour early to get seats. He loves that! The best thing about this show is the incomparable Wade McCollum, who wowed Portland audiences as the emcee in "Cabaret," in addition to other PCS shows. I enjoyed watching this biting satire of Christmas materialism.

Then, a few days before Christmas we all went to see "Annie" at the Northwest Children's Theater (it is still running, through January 2). Of all the theater we saw this month, "Annie" was hands-down the whole family's favorite. The cast, mostly of children, was phenomenal. Annie and the orphans, in particular, really belted out the songs. The adult cast consisted of the talented Melody Bridges as Miss Hannigan and one of my favorite children's theater actors, John Ellingson, as Rooster.

When FDR appeared on stage, Nick announced: "That's not the president! That president looks different. He doesn't look like Obama!"

I'd never seen "Annie" onstage, but I remember memorizing all the songs when I was a kid--I must have had the album. I love the play's message of optimism and hopefulness, and the music is great! Here's a little taste of their talent:

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