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Volume 34
Issue 25
 
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Lonesome cowboys, girls in drag, and Queer dance moments come to life at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Lonesome cowboys, girls in drag, and Queer dance moments come to life at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
by Marian Michener - SGN Contributing Writer

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival opened the summer season, last week, with a pleasingly quirky production of Merry Wives of Windsor. Director Andrew Tsao uses British music hall theater for his inspiration. He sets up a musical joke that puzzles us, as the play begins. Its resolution has us cheering, at the end. John Tanner composed the fun score. Susan E. Mickey's costumes contribute a carnival air. The costumes the townspeople don for the fairy scene are particularly memorable.

G. Valmont Thomas is a roistering Falstaff. Shona Tucker and Tyler Layton are clever as his opponents, the merry wives. Jonathan Haugen rages comically as the jealous Master Ford. Richard Elmore and Shad Willingham have us roaring at the malapropisms of the characters Shallow and Slender. Julie Oda and Judith-Marie Began contribute broad humor as Simple and Mistress Quickly.

The second play to open was Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac. Laird Williamson directs this homage to the power of language. William Bloodgood's sets and Deborah Dryden's costumes bring us lushly into the 17th century.

Robin Goodrin Nordli is gutsy and beautiful as Roxanne. Marco Barricelli gives us a Cyrano who loves words and dramatic gestures, and makes us want to come along for every syllable and slash. Rex Young is convincing as the inarticulate, beautiful Christian. An interesting side note is that the last time festival produced this play Barricelli played Christian and Young played Cyrano. Robert Vincent Frank stands out as Rageuneau, the pastry cook and poet. Derrick Lee Weeden is smooth and machiavellan as the Count de Guiche.

Director Bill Rauch perked up the third offering, Two Gentlemen of Verona, by brining it into the current time. The Verona the two gentlemen strike off from bears a strong resemblance to Amish or Mennonite America. The court of Milan they travel to is an upper class country club with wonderfully satirical tennis and waiters carrying Perrier. The outlaws who complicate travel between the two places are goth biker types. Joyce Kim Lee's costumes and Paul James Pendergast's music bring the settings home.

Rauch changed the gender of the character Antonio, so it is Proteus' mother rather than his father who sends him to Milan. Greta Oglesby's performance refreshes the role. Juan Rivera LeBron is handsome as the faithful Valentine. He goes through a fun change of image, when he joins the outlaws. Gregory Linington is smooth and treacherous as Proteus. Sarah Rutan is lovely and rebellious Sylvia. Miriam Laube is beautiful and gutsy as Julia, and her cross-dressing as a male page gets her a kiss from the sympathetic Julia. Eileen DeSandre is very funny as the servant, Speed, also traditionally a male role. David Kelly is hilarious as Launce. Terwilliger upholds the role of Crab, furrily.

Already in repertory at the festival is William Inge's Bus Stop. Libby Appel directs this play. She gives a lot of charm to this story. William Bloodgood's set makes us feel as if we are in the café in the Midwest in the 50s. Deborah Trout's costumes are perfect.

Tyler Layton is sensual as Cherie, the nightclub singer. Danforth Comins is Bo, the hunky cowboy who is trying to hog-tie and marry her. Jeffrey King is strong as the sheriff who confronts Bo, when he goes too far. Shona Tucker and Tyrone Wilson are warm as the restaurant owner and bus driver, whose romance blossoms when the bus gets snowed in.

Nell Geisslinger is sweet as the teenage waitress, with a love for Romeo and Juliet. Robert Sicular presents the sleazy ex-professor who pursues her so realistically you can smell the alcohol on his breath. Mark Murphy breaks our hearts as Will, Bo's buddy, who is secretly in love with him. Will helps Bo court Cherie, then invents an excuse to bow out of his friend's life.

The Green Show before Merry Wives of Windsor features early music from Galicia arranged by Pat O'Scannell. The Green Show dances mostly focus on pairings of men and women. But, there is one, in this show that uses sets of two women and one men, which provides opportunities for women to women connections.

The Green Show before Cyrano de Bergerac features the songs of Edith Piaf, arranged by Sue Carney and sung beautifully by Pat O'Scannell. Watch for a man to man moment in one of the Piaf dances.

The Green Show before Two Gentlemen of Verona is songs made from texts of Shakespeare's with music composed by Sue Carney. Most of the music is jazz and pop, but she includes one country and western tune, too. Carney also sings the songs, which gives her a chance to sing about admiring and loving women. Our favorite song is some text from Anthony and Cleopatra she borrows and makes her own.

Merry Wives of Windsor runs through October 6, Cyrano de Bergerac through October 7, Two Gentlemen of Verona through October 8. You can get tickets at www.osfashland.org or (541) 482-4331.

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