Ha, er, as I was looking through last year's papers to pick out stories to send to a J-contest, I noticed that I'd promised to post this. And I don't think I did. So, a mere 6 months later, here's the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's SWEET video of the set change from 2 pm's As You Like It to 8:30 pm's On the Razzle (or it could be from the night before to the afternoon show, changed in the morning; the stagehands have to do this sometimes twice a day ... at THREE theaters! Well, it impresses me, anyway.).

Here is the story I wrote about the set design and change work, from last year's OSF issue. Also? Theater freelancer Anna Grace and I head to Ashland for the opening of the OSF, Feb. 26-28! Watch for reviews in the March 4 issue! In the meantime, here's the set change (I believe these are 2008 shows).

Just got this news from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's kickass marketing person.

It's next Wednesday! AUGUST 12! Whoa! I knew New York Times liberal columnist Kristof was in Oregon from his Facebook page, but somehow I missed this ... and reading it, the entire thing looks extremely cool. Have fun down there in Lithia Park, people. I envy you!

And Mr. Kristof + wife & kids, may I recommend The Music Man, The Servant of Two Masters and All's Well That Ends Well? If you need to go to an outdoor performance, I'd say ... hm. Henry VIII has some great performances and unbelievably lovely costumes. I hear that Paradise Lost is also superb (it's the only play I haven't yet seen).

Lithia Park image by Demi, posted to Wiki Commons


Free Evening Talk Features New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof

Ashland, Ore.— The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will host the second in a series of Chautauqua 150 events on Wednesday, August 12 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in various community locations. The series of three Chautauqua events celebrates Oregon’s Sesquicentennial and OSF’s deepening commitment to scholarly and community interaction. The theme for the day is Oregon’s history, with a special focus on Southern Oregon. The third event will be held October 24. Tickets are required for some events and available by calling the Box Office at 541-482-4331 or visiting 15 South Pioneer Street in the Garden Level of Carpenter Hall.

The main event on Wednesday is “Oregon and Beyond,” an open-air talk by Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. He will speak about the intersection and conflict of values and interests across state, national and international boundaries. The event will be held from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Lithia Park Bandshell. The event is non-ticketed and admission is free.

The schedule of events is:

From Chautauqua 1893 to Shakespeare Under the Stars
10:00-11:30 a.m., New Theatre, Ticketed Event, $5
OSF’s Associate Producer, Stage Management Kimberley Jean Barry will give a historical talk about OSF’s roots in the Chautauqua movement. Barry has been with the OSF company for 30 seasons and is a vast and entertaining treasure trove of OSF history.

Chautauqua Readings: Who We Are and Where We’ve Been
12:00-1:00 p.m., Carpenter Hall, Ticketed Event, $8
OSF actors and others will read passages of plays, poetry and prose, exploring Oregon’s interaction with the world outside. Readers include OSF actors Michael J. Hume, Juan Rivera LeBron and Liisa Ivary.

Weaving our Way Then and Now: Indians in Southern Oregon
1:15-2:15 p.m., Carpenter Hall, Ticketed Event, Free
Southern Oregon Historical Society – Tom Smith
Through an interactive presentation utilizing hands-on artifacts, participants learn how Southern Oregon’s earliest inhabitants lived, worked, socialized and hunted. Social, familial and leadership structures are discussed, including personal responsibility for the survival of tribal bands, governance by consensus as well as the honor codes employed by the warrior societies.

Community Story Circles: Making and Remaking Oregon
2:30-3:30 p.m. Carpenter Hall, Ticketed Event, Free
3:30-4:30 p.m. Bill Patton Garden, Non-ticketed Event, Free
Led by Director of U.S History Cycle and playwright Alison Carey
For more than 20 years before coming to OSF, American Revolutions Director Alison Carey worked with Artistic Director Bill Rauch and Cornerstone Theater Company to make community-based theater in towns around the country. Learn about the art they made and how they did it, and contribute your stories about Oregon, Ashland and OSF to help create a short performance piece for the October 24 Chautauqua event.

Talk: The Oregon Encyclopedia
3:45-4:45 p.m. Carpenter Hall, Ticketed Event, Free
Editor-in-Chief William Lang will talk about the encyclopedia, a comprehensive and authoritative compendium of information about Oregon’s history and culture. The encyclopedia has been developed through a partnership between Portland State University and the Oregon Historical Society.

Talk: Oregon and Beyond
6:00-7:00 p.m. Litha Park Bandshell, Non-ticketed Event, Free
Pulitzer Prize winner, New York Times columnist and Oregon native Nicholas Kristof will look at the intersection and conflict of values and interests across state, national and international boundaries.

Kristof’s new book, co-written with Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, will be released in September, and Bloomsbury Books will be taking advance orders at Kristof’s talk in the park, as well as provide book plates that he will sign. Plates can be attached to books when they are received in September.

Pantalone (David Kelly) is overjoyed at the prospect of receiving more gold during The Servant of Two Masters at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Jenny Graham.

Yo, OSF-lovers!

I've been asked to blog this week at Stage Directions Magazine's new online theater community, TheatreFace, about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Oregon theater in general.

If you're a theater person, you might want to join TheatreFace; it's free and, I think especially for designers, hooks you into an international community. You can add photos and have your own blog, join groups and more. If you're interested, join here. (Nope, I'm not getting paid to shill for TheatreFace, though I am getting paid a bit to blog for 'em this week.)

If that's not your thing, however, you can also check out the posts when I repost 'em here this weekend (when the exclusive time on TheatreFace is up).

My first post was a Q&A with Tracy Young, the director of the just-opened Servant of Two Masters. A YouTube clip of Young talking about it is below.

Photo of Ashland's downtown plaza, by Demi at Wikimedia Commons

I'm always interested in what Marty Hughley of The Oregonian has to say about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Today in the paper and online, he has a story called "Ashland, Rogue Valley Bank on Shakespeare Festival".

Is Ashland going down? Is the Festival? What about Eugene theater? More after the jump.

Just got this email from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and am throwing it up here with nothing but info for now (more commentary to come).

Oh wait, two comments: HAMLET!!!!!!! THRONE OF BLOOD!!!! That. Is. Cool.

More after the jump!

Chuck Adams and
Suzi Steffen's Official
OSF Opening Weekend Reviews!

Hi blog-readers!
Chuck and I would very much welcome thoughtful comments and/or mini-reviews from those who have seen the plays, written the plays, acted in the plays, directed the plays, etc.

If you've already been, what did you see in previews or during the opening? What did you like about the plays, what bothered you, what details did you notice? If you're going to Ashland for some of these plays, which ones are you planning to see? Who are some of your favorite OSF actors? Feel free to tell us in the comments! Most of this appears in the paper on Thursday, so if you got here from there, welcome to you too! -- Suzi

Here's the thing itself:

Joy, Greed, Colonialism and Trombones
Oregon Shakespeare Festival slings itself into a new season
by Suzi Steffen & Chuck Adams

The sun shone on opening weekend at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, and the new artistic director’s vision swept energy and excitement into the festival even in a time of economic uncertainty.

(More after the jump!)

Jean (Sarah Agnew) tries to determine if Gordon (Jeffrey King) is alive.
Photo by Jenny Graham.

Last update, I swear to you from my couch in Eugene.

Weary from live-blogging and live-Twittering the "media update" earlier today, Chuck and I snagged some falafel and relaxed for about 40 minutes before heading to the final show of OSF! Opening! Weekend! 2009!, which was Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone.

(More after the jump.)

Harold Hill (Michael Elich) tries to work his magic on Mayor Shinn (Richard Elmore) and Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (Linda Alper).
Photo by Jenny Graham.

Tonight at the OSF in still-gorgeous if a bit windy Ashland, I realized that I am getting old.

Here's how you can figure it out, using the patented Suzi method:

1. Watch The Music Man approximately 400 times as a small child (and listen to the record album, yes, vinyl, thousands more time with those huge headphones your dad hides in the left side of the stereo cabinet).

2. Notice that you can't for the life of you understand why your parents get all choked up when Winthrop starts singing in "Wells Fargo Wagon." If you just happen to be in the production in high school, notice that it's basically all adults who deal with Winthrop this way.

3. Years later, go to, say, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of The Music Man, directed by newish artistic director Bill Rauch.

4. Notice that to your complete amazement, given the way you're both enjoying and rolling your eyes at the absolute devotion to cornball quotient in the production, that by the time Winthrop finishes singing his little piece in "Wells Fargo Wagon," you're all choked up. As a matter of fact, it's possible that as the lights come up for intermission, you're attempting, casually, to wipe away tears.

Much more polished and colorful than when first formed as a Barbershop Quartet by Harold Hill, the school board members (Cristofer Jean, Brad Whitmore, Robert Vincent Frank and Jeremy Peter Johnson) perform with gusto.
Photo by Jenny Graham.

Oh my god, that experience was — I can't believe I'm going to say this — wonderful. I laughed in delight at the unbelievably charming production a bunch of times.

Yes, totally goofy. Had some unfortunate moments, including times when I closed my eyes against the music volume (um, and tone ... and, once or twice, pitch). And my great-grandparents in Muscatine or even Davenport never wore anything as nice as the characters wore tonight.

But really, especially for those who know the musical (not only those who know it, because Chuck didn't know it and seemed to have fun), this is a must-see. You bet your sweet patootie I'm coming back down to see this production again. Even if the audience claps along.

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