Stage Names: Portland Stage’s “Lady Day” a jazz standard for the heart

PORTLAND – Jazz standards are like that. Prior to the opening of Portland Stage’s opening show of the 2017 season, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” by Lanie Robertson, artistic and executive director Anita Stewart came to the top of the stairs house left, all the way back against the wall in Row M, […]

Ethnically labeled

A while ago, some old friends visited from out of town – their first time in New England. My mother, who was also visiting, doted on them with her old-country Greek hospitality, as she does on anyone spending an overnight. Today, she speaks fondly of their visit, always referring to them as “Gregory and Victoria, those […]

Stage Names: Portland Stage’s “Arsenic” poisons winter doldrums with infinite laughter

PORTLAND — When I was in college in upstate NY, the period immediately following Christmas break was affectionately known on campus as “the gray season.” January and February were cold and depressing. Fast forward to today. In northern New England, not much has changed during a time of year that still sees a peak of […]

Irony and cruelty: My father’s endless journey from Pearl Harbor

My father and Pearl Harbor have been inexorably linked through the irony of history, and the cruelty of coincidence. When America was attacked by Japan early on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Flight Lt. Christos George Halkias was a 21-year old fighter pilot making his way to North Africa by land after escaping a German prisoner of […]

Stage Names: At Portland Stage, “Later Life” urges us to live, and wonder.

It may have taken legendary American playwright A.R. Gurney (a.k.a. “Pete”) into his fifties to overcome critical and audience bias against his so-called “WASP culture” characters and storylines, but it won’t take any audience member of “Later Life”—one of Gurney’s masterpieces now playing at Portland Stage Company— more than a few minutes to appreciate the inherent […]

Would you let partisan politics ruin your family?

  In my summer travels and writings, I recently had an opportunity to see the play “The City of Conversation,” by Anthony Giardina. The play is about family and politics, and how the latter could affect the former. In short, and without diving into the work itself too much, the play is about two strong women, […]

My Father’s Day

On Pearl Harbor Day, 1996, I came home early from work, and within minutes of walking in the door, my sister called with news of our father’s death. After hanging up, the poet Robert Lowell came to mind. A New Englander who spent his life at odds with an old-school father, Lowell once wrote: I struck […]

Her eternal search for E.E. Cummings

  I‘ve made the pilgrimage before, even in the rain. Early one morning, under a misting sky, I drove down to Boston – specifically, to Jamaica Plain. My last visit had been years before, yet I followed the course by memory. Urban landscapes can change in 35 years, but finding Forest Hills Cemetery is never […]

Stage Names: Portland Stage finds more than just a Lost Boy

Sitting in the shadows during a weekend performance of Portland Stage’s “Lost Boy in Whole Foods,” the poet E.E. Cummings haunted me: a man who had fallen among thieves lay by the roadside on his back dressed in fifteenthrate ideas wearing a round jeer for a hat   fate per a somewhat more than less emancipated evening had […]

Stage Names: Portland Stage unleashes raucous “Hound of the Baskervilles”

You knew right away — from the opening lines, in fact — that this version of Sherlock Holmes was going to produce a delightfully delicious evening. When the usual Portland Stage Company official did not come out to welcome the crowd and thank sponsors — leaving the task instead to the play’s three actors (who were already on stage) — […]