Tag Archives: Triangle Productions

Tonight: first time for a First Time

By Bob Hicks

It’s astounding to remember, but there was a time not too many years ago when seeing almost any sort of theater in Portland was a west-side-only affair.

Sandy Plaza, home of Triangle Productions' new Sanctuary theater space.Mr. Scatter recalls an east side cabaret space on Northeast Broadway between 14th and 15th, on the block where Peet’s Coffee is, and another cabaret on lower Hawthorne, around 20th, where people like Bonnie Raitt and the Flying Karamazov Brothers used to perform before they got famous. The old Sylvia’s Italian Restaurant on Northeast Sandy had a popular dinner theater operation for a while, and of course the legendary Storefront Theatre got its start in a little hole in the wall on North Russell. Maybe we’re missing something, but not much.

With the likes of Profile, Milagro, Portland Playhouse, Defunkt, Portland Story Theatre and a lot of others setting up on the east side, that’s deep history now. As big slices of the restaurant scene and even the gallery scene have crossed the bridges to the east in the past few years, so has a significant chunk of the city’s performance scene, and for some of the same reasons: cheaper overhead and proximity to audiences. Turns out, quite a few west siders don’t mind venturing across the river, and lots of east siders like not having to go downtown to see a show.

Now Triangle Productions, which has performed all over town since it began in 1989 and was an original partner in the Theater! Theatre! complex on Southeast Belmont, has a new home on East Burnside Street. Called the Sanctuary, it’s in an old commercial building called Sandy Plaza at 1785 N.E. Sandy Boulevard. We haven’t been inside the building, but Triangle producer Don Horn calls it a padded pew-style theater with seating for 100 to 200, a good capacity for intimate theater.

And tonight the Sanctuary gets an audience for the first time. Appropriately, the show is the Northwest premiere of Ken Davenport‘s small Off-Broadway show My First Time, about lots of people’s memories of their introduction to what used to be called carnal knowledge. Davenport also was producer of the hit comedy Altar Boyz.

Showtimes are 7:30 Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through March 27. However it turns out, Portland’s east side has a new theater space. And sometimes the first time’s the charm.

Wendy & Waggie: play it one more time

Wendy Westerwelle stars in Martin Sherman's "Rose." Photo: Don Horn/Triangle Productions!

Blink, and it’s 1984 all over again.

Over here: Waggie and Friends, skipping sweetly through the landmines of improv comedy, quick wits and crack timing in tow.

Over there: Brassy Wendy Westerwelle, going for the gold in a one-woman show.

Turn off the radio, will you, please? Sounds like they’re playing Karma Chameleon again.

No, this is not an April Fools joke. Through some sort of cosmic coincidence, the ghosts of Portland past are flitting across the city’s stages starting tonight. The sweetly funny Waggie, pioneers of comedy improv in Stumptown (they were the first group to bring TheatreSports to town) are taking over the Brody Theater stage for a two-nights-only reunion Thursday and Friday.

Waggie and FriendsAnd Westerwelle, the irrepressible onetime Storefront stalwart who scored a big hit with her Sophie Tucker show Soph: A Visit With the Last of the Red Hot Mamas, takes on a very different personality in the Northwest premiere of Martin Sherman‘s play Rose, opening Friday at CoHo Theater.


Waggie’s reunion gig at the Brody is a smash before it opens: both nights are sold out, and, as producer Domeka Parker says, she has “a waiting list for the waiting list.” The good news: there’s already talk about scheduling more dates, although nothing’s settled yet.

Waggie was so good and so influential in Portland not just because it was early to the improv game but also because its performers were seasoned veterans of the legit stage; actors who had both dramatic and comic chops. Domeka Parker’s parents, Scott Parker and Victoria Parker-Pohl, were core members, and they’ll be joined onstage by fellow alums David Fuks, Eric Hull, Cindy Tennant and Bob Zavada. Original funnyman Gary Basey couldn’t make the trip from his California home. His spot is being taken for these shows by a shirttail Wagger, Domeka Parker’s cousin Ian Karmel, who is a Groundlings alumnus and a member of her improv group, the Gallimaufry. (The younger Parker may not have been born in a suitcase, but she was “raised in the throes of improv,” and she’s become an improv performer and teacher herself: “I cannot escape it, and I promise you … I have tried.”)

Waggie, which stayed together until the mid-1990s, worked up a fine sweat on the TheatreSports circuit, playing tournaments in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Edmonton and Calgary. It opened shows for the likes of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, and cartoonist Lynda Barry. And it performed plenty of shows for the home crowd, including some memorable New Year’s Eve gigs.

Obviously people remember, and they’re eager to turn back the clock. Let’s just leave Kenny Loggins and Duran Duran out of it, though, shall we?


In England, Martin Sherman’s Rose was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award as best new play in 2000. It hasn’t enjoyed such a welcoming reception in the United States.

“No one in this country has done it, except Olympia Dukakis,” Westerwelle said a couple of weeks ago over coffee and tea at Costello’s Travel Caffe. “And I talked with her on the phone yesterday, for 20 minutes. I don’t know how I got hold of her. I just called everyone I know across the country, I said, ‘How do I get hold of Olympia Dukakis?’ And I did.”

Continue reading Wendy & Waggie: play it one more time