Family-oriented theatrical shows debut in Montavilla

Here’s where to go to see a live production, where the tickets cost just $1 per kid! You’ll see there’s a lot more going on, inside their doors …

The Portland Metro Arts “Once Upon a Time Theater” troupe — Orion Bradshaw, Elijah Killian, Carson Cook, Mirim Kilian, and Phillip Berns – rehearse a scene from their new family series.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
At a time when arts education is shrinking in schools, the Portland Metro Arts (PMA) programs and enrollment are growing – providing dance, music and acting classes for people of all ages.

One of the newest additions to their schedule is called “Once Upon a Time Theater”.

Portland Metro Arts’ theater and drama coordinator Ritah Parrish suggests how a scene might best be played, as the ensemble prepares to present “The Golden Goose”.

PMA drama and theater coordinator Ritah Parrish credited the idea of producing and presenting family-oriented shows to the outer East Portland organization’s Executive Director, Nancy Yeamans. “She originated the concept years ago, but hasn’t had the opportunity to produce it in recent years. We decided to revive monthly, Saturday afternoon tradition.”

Each month, Parrish adapts one of the Grimm’s fairytales. “I rewrite it so it’s not so frightening for the little children. We have a great time,” she told East Portland News.

Then, with a core of seven actors, they go on to bring the story to life.

In their production of “The Golden Goose”, “King” Phillip Berns tries to cheer up the “Princess Who Never Laughs”, played by Mirim Kilian.

“This relies a great deal on improvisation,” Parrish commented. “The cast meets and runs through the things that need to happen in the show, to tell the story. Exactly how it unfolds is ‘discovered’, as we act out the play.”

For their first production, “The Golden Goose”, the stage setting is very simple.

But clearly, the kids attending don’t seem to care about that. “In fact, we have places where the children are invited on stage, and get a chance to be part of the show, as well.”

Parrish, who also offers theatrical improvisation classes at PMA, said the troupe welcomes new members. “Just contact us, and express your interest. It’s a great way to learn – and to have a great time doing it.”

A former DDHS veteran student actor, Troubadour Carson Cook, entertains “Simpleton” – who owns the Golden Goose, and is played by Elijah Killian.

One of the actors in the ensemble will be familiar to East Portland News readers – Carson Cook.

Cook who played the role of the troubadour in “The Golden Goose” in the January production, but he was a featured player for four years in musicals and dramas at David Douglas High School. In addition to being a Health and Fitness major at Portland State University these days, Cook says he still enjoys performing.

Just $1 a ticket
Now through June, families can enjoy a “Once Upon a Time Theater” production on the first Saturday of the month at 2:00 p.m.

On February 2, the troupe presents their version of “Hansel & Gretel” – which, Parrish assures will be nothing like the dark motion picture now in theaters. “It’s a magical mix of theatrical simplicity and grand storytelling that really ‘hooks in’ kids of all ages, and is also entertaining for their parents,” she said.

Tickets: CHEAP! Just $2 for adults, and a buck for kids. Buy them online: CLICK HERE.

By the way, later on February 2, from 3:00 until 5:00 p.m., Portland Metro Arts Center and School invites everyone to try FREE arts classes in Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts. This is a perfect opportunity to drop by and see all of the great things that are going on.

Visit their website to register, and to save your space in the classes you want. CLICK HERE to open their “sign-up” web page.

Portland Metro Arts is in Montavilla at 9003 SE Stark Street. Call (503) 408-0604 for more information.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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