It's not quite the lifetime achievement award, but...

As we head into the home stretch of the theater season and prepare to celebrate numerous theatrical accomplishments at the Drammy Awards on Monday night, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to sing the praises of Portland Center Stage.

I truly believe that any proper theater season ought to have its hits and misses, so I will be frank: I didn’t much care for the season opener, Guys and Dolls, and felt like the entire community coasted through other earlier installments of R. Buckminster Fuller and Christmas Carol. Solid productions all, but nothing really blew up my skirt until Apollo came along -– which sort of knocked me around and rustled me up a bit. There were parts of the production that I truly loathed, but I also was intrigued with some of what I saw, and ultimately I appreciate that the production demanded that I take notice of it, and of modern theater in general.

With momentum, the theater spun out How to Disappear… (which I quite enjoyed despite some shortcomings in the script) and The Importance of Being Earnest, which I missed seeing but heard often how solid it was. Frost/Nixon was certainly worthy of all the critical accolades it received.

But then the crazy kicked in. Unlike some of the veiled public comments to earlier posts, I for one love me some Storm Large so I was tickled to see that Daniel Stern recently wrote to Chris Coleman saying that Crazy Enough was “one of the great nights in the theater that I have ever had.” I’ll be sure to see it again once or twice again during its extended run. And Grey Gardens is, to me, both thoroughly entertaining and hauntingly intriguing. The reviews have been mixed-to-positive, but I think I agree with Marty Hughley most when he calls the season finale “the most fully realized and well-executed musical to grace the Gerding stage.” From top to bottom, headdress to heels, this really is a fantastic production.

Jerry Likes My Corn from Portland Center Stage on Vimeo.

So my hat is off to PCS, which has had its share of challenges along the way this year. I confess that I track PCS more closely than any other organization in Portland since I worked for the theater through most of the '90s (did you know that that’s what all Culture Shock authors have in common??) and I pause for a moment to recognize that lots of really talented people had to be let go this year. That means that the rest of the staff had to work extra hard and make other sacrifices to keep things moving forward both on the stage and behind the scenes with fewer resources and less manpower. But I trust that continued excellence, matched with ongoing prudence, is going to help PCS (and by extension the rest of the arts community) recover very soon. Hell, they will probably be even stronger organizations in the long run given all that they have learned and accomplished this year.

Yes, let’s save the ballet, and let’s also recognize that many organizations, including PCS, are doing a lot of things really well right now -- and they need your support too. We’ll accept guest columns recognizing the extraordinary accomplishments of other arts organizations, and there’s still lots of room to comment on Mighty Toy Cannon’s post about your theatrical highlights of the past year.

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