Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Portland Center Stage
September 18th – October 21st
Sweeney Todd may be the darkest of the works written by Stephen Sondheim, the 82 year old living treasure of American Musicals. It’s a show with requirements, not the least of which is two sopranos who can hit an E above high C. It’s also a show that debuted on Broadway 30 years ago. Why remount it now? “I chose it because,” responds Chris Coleman, “I’ve always been in love with it but the lyric, ‘There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit… on the top of the hole sit the privileged few, making mock of the vermin in the lower zoo” reminded me of the 1%-99% argument that we are having right now.
Do you think Sondheim’s sexuality informs his work? “He was gay,” says Coleman, “before it was cool to be gay. It seems like in his work there’s often someone whose real self is hidden, and who lives in terror of coming out into the light. It’s rare that he has a gay character but that tension is always integral to what’s going on.”
You’ve done musicals that are true to the book, and other’s like last year’s Oklahoma where you’ve changed it up. What should we expect with Sweeney Todd? “The show has many challenges,” notes Coleman, “to be addressed but the bigger question is how it relates to our lives today and how we can reveal that in the story. “
September 6th -30th
This Broadway hit gets it’s first local production. The show casts somewhat familiar looking puppets as decidedly more mature characters. These denizens of Avenue Q (including a closeted Republican) are dealing with life after college. Fuzzy friendly faces aside this show has adult themes (and language), including puppet nudity and sexual situations.
Dracula, a Musical Nightmare
October 11th – 28th
The classic Bram Stoker fable has had many incarnations. Currently the trend seems to favor casting actors who are more comfortable with six pack abs than Stanislavski. Stumptown’s version offers an extra helping of camp, with a side of gender confusion and sexual tension. Set as a play within a play in a decrepit music hall. Well timed for some seasonal ghoulish fun.
November 2nd- 10th
Mozart’s masterpiece is considered one of the greatest of all operas. The exploits of Don Juan are always steamy, but this production is the super sexy version first staged for New York City Opera by Christopher Alden. To turn up the heat a bit more Portland Opera’s importing Alden’s leading man, hunky Daniel Okulitch. He’ll be appearing sans pants in this production (he is the originator of The Full Okulitch, go ahead and Google that phrase, we’ll wait).
The Book of Mormon
Broadway Across America
January 1st -6th 2013
It seems like an unlikely confluence: the “Bad Boys” of television’s South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, checking out the large and powerful Church of the Latter Day Saints. The irreverent result won nine Tony awards in 2011 and much critical praise, along with a little nod of approval from the church. The lampoon is, according to Stone, “an atheist’s love letter to religion.”
The tour is headlined by Broadway star, Gavin Creel, who (among other talents) is co-founder of Broadway Impact, an organization fighting for equality and the LBGT community.
defunct theatre (cq)
October 12th – November 17th
defunct theatre (cq) has made a name for itself presenting theatre that explores sexuality and gender politics. Their reputation has made them a magnet for directors looking to work with challenging themes. Harold Pinter’s masterpiece The Homecoming premiered over forty years ago, and it still has the power to confront audiences. Some consider it the beginning of theatre with a feminist message. This promises to be just the beginning of a powerful season.