Theatre Comes Alive

Culture is everywhere in Central Oregon. From the amazing music embraced by large audiences at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, the Festival of Cultures in Centennial Park in Redmond, Munch & Music, Music on the Green, Country Music Gathering in Prineville to the small more intimate venues at Old Stone, High Desert Chamber Music, Fat Tuesdays Cajun & Blues, rock n’ roll at Hub City Bar & Grill and fabulous jazz offerings. And the grand beloved festivalslike the Sisters Folk Festival, BendFilm, Bend Design and Sunriver Music Festival.
Art galleries are replent with local and visiting artists making Art Walks from all of our communities exciting. It’s challenging to find time to take it all in.
But let’s talk about the local theatre scene. It doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. Think about the playwrights, directors, set designers, costume makers, actors and stage hands that diligently make theatre so intriguing.
This past month Stage Right Productions and Lonely Fish Productions presented Heathers the Musical delicately telling the story Veronica Sawyer (Natalie Kniola) who finds herself on the inside with the popular girls, the ruthless clique at Westerberg High. Along with the football jocks, they rule the school, making life a living hell for anyone who crosses them or their path. The production has many meanings and nuances — many suicide prevention organizations around the country teamed up with productions of Heathers The Musical to help with outreach and education.
BEAT Children’s Theatre will explore the classic tale The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain this month. The teen cast of this production have, under the direction of Sandy Silver, been exploring the themes of justice, community and the unexpected learning moments we all experience in childhood. It’s hilarious, nostalgic and frightening.
Looking for the splatter zone? Bend’s bloodiest theatrical experience returns to 2nd Street Theater with Evil Dead the Musical presented by Stage Right. Director Sandy Klein says it’s the only musical that features a Splatter Zone, where fans in the front row are targeted with copious amounts of spraying fake blood. Beware!
The High Desert Theater Company is getting ready to do a play in Madras at the Madras Performing Arts Center. She Was Marginally Modest is a comedy farce that will delight you. The Secret Garden will be presented by the Sunriver Stars Community Theater. Directed by Victoria Kristy, with Gail Gibson as assistant director, the musical is a charming, upbeat adaptation of the literary classic. This is a real ‘feel good’ show filled with characters, young, older, grumpy, snooty, forlorn, curious, loving, wise and…. all delightful.
Created in 1978 Cascades Theatrical Company continues to enthrall audiences with so many possibilities, all with volunteers. Coming off of its raucous and imaginative season opener, Peter and the Starcatcher, CTC is now bringing Neil Simon’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning classic Lost in Yonkers to life.
John Lahr, British-based American theatre critic who was the senior drama critic at The New Yorker offers this bit of wisdom: Any play that makes an audience think out of the box, that makes connections to life and names our pain and by doing so makes our pain subject to thinking and the process of understanding, is doing something inherently political. By promoting understanding, by putting experience in context, by making connections between the normal and the rational, theatre is an act of anti-terrorism. It stimulates courage and a survival spirit. In that sense of political, there are a lot of serious plays doing their work in the world.
And many are right here in Central Oregon.
Thanks to a recent Catalyst Grant awarded by the Bend Cultural Tourism Fund, information on all the theatrical performances is now easily accessible from Developed by Shane Ketterman, the website features a complete listing of all theatrical productions happening in Bend, a calendar of events and a list of local venues, as well as future productions.

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