Tag Archives: Portland Stage

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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) — […]

Stage Names: What Martin Luther King, Jr. tells us from Portland Stage

PORTLAND – About halfway through Portland Stage’s current production,  “The Mountaintop,” a fictional, near-fantasy account by Katori Hall of the last night of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life in a Memphis motel room, I heard the echo of Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) : “This is not a biography; is the confession of every man who struggles.” Those words, […]

On Labor Day, a journalist cleans out his files of nuggets and gems

A journalist’s research, fact-checking and interview leftovers often provide a treasure trove of information the public never sees. On any given week, I’m working on a handful of writing and editing assignments for a variety of publications. Periodically my files – both paper and automated – require purging. It’s something I like to do on […]

Stage Names: Portland Stage sees “Red”; so should you.

PORTLAND — My artist friends often express surprise when they learn that once, in what now seems like another lifetime, I was a soldier. My response to this reaction is always the same: “Soldiers and artists might just be the last true romantics left; they have far more in common than what’s on the surface.” While […]

Stage Names: “Whipping” up race, religion and the Civil War at Portland Stage

PORTLAND – The beauty of reviewing the same play two years apart in another state performed by a different Equity company is how the one work can be, well, different — even if its earlier version mirrors it. And so with the 150th anniversary of Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse just weeks away, our ongoing American reflection of race, culture, religion, and war can […]

Stage Names: Want to understand the Cold War? Portland Stage’s “Havana” can help

PORTLAND – The title of this review is as ludicrous as some of the situations in which Graham Greene put his characters in the 1958 “entertainment,” “Our Man in Havana,” one of his frivolous works surrounded by serious novels that secured his legacy as a legend of 20th century letters. But with President Obama having just announced a move to normalize relations […]