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Radio City Christmas Spectacular comes to Portland

December 24, 2010 Comments off
Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Portland is a wonderful city at Christmas, even if we don’t get much snow. Our city has a little something for everyone, like walking the SE neighborhood street Peacock Lane to see the beautifully lit houses, bundling up for the train ride at Zoo Lights, or driving the Portland International Raceway track to see the lights of Winter Wonderland.

This year we are excited to add something new to the mix – the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the world-famous Rockettes. This new touring production is constructed for large-scale venues like the Rose Garden, replicating the Christmas Spectacular production playing New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

The 90 minute show is enchanting and beautiful, both from the set design and digital scenery on an 80 ft. LED screen, and the singing and dancing. One thing we immediately appreciated was the show’s sense of timeless tradition and elegance. There are no ridiculously overblown light shows or frenetically paced dance numbers. Each vignette of dancing or storytelling is introduced by Santa, beginning with his entrance on stage in his sleigh pulled by Rockette reindeer. Our favorite performances include New York at Christmas, the glittering costumes in the closing number, and something special with a company of Santas that you have to see for yourself.

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The Portland Ballet presents La Boutique Fantasque – Reviewed

November 29, 2010 Comments off
The Portland Ballet presents La Boutique Fantasque

The Portland Ballet La Boutique Fantasque

With so many choices in holiday entertainment, we were excited to kick off this year’s season of celebrating with La Boutique Fantasque, a charming family-oriented ballet performed by The Portland Ballet at Portland Center for the Performing Arts’ Newmark Theatre.

Set in France in the early 1900s, La Boutique Fantasque, or The Enchanted Toyshop, opens with a group of excited children and their parents at the doors of a shop filled with toys and dolls. While the children play, the shopkeeper tries to convince the parents to buy something, but with no luck. Two of the children, frustrated that their parents will not allow them to take any toys home, decide to hide when the shop closes so that they may continue to play. They meet Pinocchio and spend the evening being entertained with dancing by all the toys. The parents eventually return searching for their children and are extremely angry with the shopkeeper, which he then blames on his wife, Amelie. He forces her to clean up the shop. She brightens her sadness by daydreaming about happier times while she sweeps, until Pinocchio calls on the Blue Fairy to make Amelie’s dreams come true, changing her plain clothes to a shimmering gown. The shopkeeper returns to find his wife fleeing the shop with the Blue Fairy and enchanted toys. The performance concludes with the shopkeeper realizing his mistake and how much he misses her, Amelie returning to console her husband, and the two dancing together with renewed affection. Read more…

Broadway Across America Portland presents CATS

March 28, 2010 1 comment

I admit, I have never seen CATS, so with this being my first time, I had very high expectations. Considering it has been performed for 27 years over five continents and 26 countries, and it won seven Tony Awards in 1983 including Best Musical, I expected to be dazzled by a theater experience of a lifetime. While the musical performances from the Broadway Across America traveling cast are impressive, I did not love the show. I’m hard-pressed to say I even liked the show. I went as far as to ask friends and family afterward if I am crazy and everyone else actually loves CATS, but every single person I asked felt the same way – silly premise, lacking in substance, an 80s over-the-top production.

To say there is a story is bordering on ridiculous, and the lyrics to many of the songs are just as ludicrous. I found myself saying, both at intermission and after the show, that I just don’t get it. What is the appeal? Nothing really happens, and there is no character development so we have no one to really care about. The only thing I liked was the first performance of the well-known song “Memory”, mainly because it was the first scene to actually have any substance, and the actress singing has a beautiful voice. After about 30 minutes I tried to just focus on the music. The traveling company slightly redeems itself with outstanding vocals from every member of the cast.

If you happen to be a fan of CATS, this Broadway Across America Portland show closes Sunday, March 28, and tickets start at $23.50. I sat in the orchestra ($63.25) and the view was excellent, even if the show wasn’t.

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Legally Blonde The Musical in Portland

February 18, 2010 1 comment
Legally Blonde The Musical

Legally Blonde The Musical

It’s refreshing, from time to time, to treat yourself to a night of entertainment that is simply fun and lighthearted. This is what you can expect from Legally Blonde The Musical. The 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon has been adapted for the stage, infused with music and dance, and is touring February 16-21 here in Portland as part of the Broadway Across America series.

The premise is simple: college sorority president and blonde bombshell Elle Woods has everything going for her – perfect clothes, perfect friends, perfect boyfriend/future husband Warner Huntington III, until said boyfriend heads to Harvard Law and dumps Elle for someone more “serious”, Vivienne Kensington. Determined to get her man, Elle manages to get herself into Harvard and sets a plan into action to get Warner back. It never occurs to her that she could fail, that no one will take her seriously, or that she might fall for someone else.

The role of Elle Woods is played, for the majority of the Portland run, by Becky Gulsvig. She keeps up with the high energy demands of the role and has a striking resemblance to Reese Witherspoon. For those of you planning to see the show later in the run, I would shoot for one of the performances on February 20 and 21 to see Portland native and Tigard High grad Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone in the role of Elle. I wish I could have seen a show with her to see some local talent.

Most of the rest of the cast are what you would expect from a traveling show. The vocals vary, some performances are stronger than others, and they double and triple up on actors playing multiple roles (not my favorite). When it comes down to it, however, this is a musical based on a fairly silly romantic comedy, so you have to keep that in mind and just enjoy the spectacle. The show does have some very funny and cute moments, like the first time Elle’s chihuahua, Bruiser, runs on stage and delivers “lines”, the marching band and cheerleaders at Elle’s admissions interview at Harvard, the “Take It Like a Man” number during which Elle’s law school friend, Emmett Forrest (played by D.B. Bonds) changes clothes on stage behind a tiny changing room door, and the courtroom scene with the entire ensemble singing “Is He Gay or European”.

An upbeat, spirited production, and dizzying number of pink costumes, Legally Blonde The Musical is entertainment that lets you just turn off your brain and enjoy.

Legally Blonde Runs at The Keller Auditorium 2/16-2/21. Get more info from the Legally Blonde The Musical National Tour Site.

– @PDXHeather

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