A Japan benefit; theater & dance tips

UPDATE: On OregonLive, Ryan White has just posted this announcement of a big-name benefit for Japanese disaster relief at the Aladdin Theatre on March 27. So far, the list of performers includes pianist/bandleader Thomas Lauderdale of Pink Martini, singers Holcombe Waller and Storm Large, dancers from Oregon Ballet Theatre, new-music adventurers fEARnoMUSIC, the Pacific Youth Choir, PHAME Academy, the Shanghai Woolies, and singers Ida Rae Cahana and Carl Halvorson. Check Ryan’s post for details.

© Rich Iwasaki 2008© Rich Iwasaki 2008

By Bob Hicks

You’ll be hearing about a lot of benefit performances and emergency fund-raising drives to help the victims of Japan’s triple whammy of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. Perhaps you’ve already dug deep.

picture-1One performance coming up is particularly close to me, because I serve on the board of Portland Taiko, the outstanding Asian drumming and movement ensemble. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, PT and the Portland State University Department of Music will host a performance at PSU’s Lincoln Hall Room 175. A lot of people in Portland Taiko have family in Japan. As artistic director Michelle Fujii puts it, “Seeing the tragedy in Japan unfold was difficult for many of us in Portland Taiko on a personal and visceral level.”

Among others, the performance will include Portland Taiko, Takohachi (Japanese taiko and dance), Mexica Tiahui (Aztec drum and dance), Mike Barber (Ten Tiny Dances), Natya Leela Academy (traditional South Indian classical dance), Carla Mann and Jim McGinn (leading Portland contemporary dancers), and Hanzaburo Araki (shakuhachi, the traditional Japanese end-blown flute).

The performance is free, but volunteers from Mercy Corps and other organizations will be on hand to take donations. Hope to see you there.

Lots more going on the next few days, too. Let’s cherry-pick just a few:

a-actress-194x300A. Actress: A new personal comedy by the highly talented Victoria Parker-Pohl, whose chops in both dramatic and comedy performance are long-established. Victoria was one of the founders and mainstays of the old improv and sketch comedy troupe Waggie and Friends, with whom she’s well-remembered for her boozy loudmouthed cowgal. Veteran theatergoers remember her as an actor of sometimes fierce focus and depth in plays ranging from Beckett to Ibsen to Tennessee Williams. On Friday night at Hipbone Studio she begins a two-weekend run (Fridays-Saturdays through March 26) in this new comedy inspired by “the theater gaffes and nightmares of the past” and her travels in Ireland on the trail of Beckett. Doors open 7 p.m., showtime 7:30, tickets $21, call 503-265-9551.

Jack Goes Boating: Artists Repertory Theatre has been on a roll with its recent hits Superior Donuts and The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Can it keep it up? Opening Friday is this Bob Glaudini romantic comedy about being youngish in New York. Philip Seymour Hoffman directed and starred in the recent movie version. For Artists Rep, Allen Nause directs and popular Portland actor Todd Van Voris gets the call as Jack. Through April 17.

Northwest Dance Project: Sarah Slipper’s small, talented contemporary ballet troupe has only nine dancers, but they’re highly versatile and work together as a tight team. Almost every piece they perform is a brand-new dance set on them, so performances always carry an anticipatory air. Plus, Slipper gets highly interesting international choreographers here. A few weeks ago I watched a couple of rehearsals of Harmonie Defiguree, the new piece by French choreographer Patrick Delcroix (a longtime dancer with Nederlands Dans Theater, now Jiri Kylian’s assistant, setting Kylian’s dances on companies worldwide in addition to creating his own works) and am very much looking forward to seeing how it’s turned out. Also on this weekend’s program: a premiere by Slipper and the return of Blue, by Lucas Crandall (Nederlands Dans Theater, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago). Two shows only: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 18-19, Newmark Theatre, tickets here.

Northwest Dance Project's Andrea Parson. Photo: Blaine Truitt CovertNorthwest Dance Project’s Andrea Parson. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert