Mz. Pearl packs a circus-load of fun into East Portland library shows

Attention outer East Portland: Read this article and see why you should plan to see this wacky character, when she brings her outrageously funny show to Midland Library at the end of January …

Little guest Lana helps Mz. Pearl try to get her madcap act right.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Some entertainers haul in a truck full of props and equipment used in their act. Not so with “Mz. Pearl’s Variety Show”. Using minimal props, Pearl enchanted the children and entertained the adults at her January 17 show at the Woodstock Branch Library.

In show business lingo, they’d say that physical comedienne Heather Pearl (a/k/a “Mz. Pearl”) has mastered the art of “packing small, playing big”.

Mz. Pearl makes her big entrance.

While demonstrating the “death defying” skill of juggling silk scarves, Ms. Pearl became entangled in her costume. Never have we seen oversized underpants cause such laughter.

Her solo clown show was filled with physical comedy, juggling, magic, dance, and word play. Pearl got audience member really – and we mean really – involved in her show: In their seats, as volunteers, and in a mini-workshop at the end.

Members of the audience, even adults, are quickly drawn into Mz. Pearl’s wacky world.

Seriously, funny
Pearl started performing in 1990, and graduated from the Dell’ Arte School of Physical Theater located in Northern California. This well-educated clown also graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Arts. While living in San Francisco, she performed with several troups; she also taught clowning and circus skills to special populations.

Coming to Portland, several years ago, she performed with the “Do Jump! Extremely Physical Theater” troupe. In 2002, Pearl began working with Michael O’Neill as the Nomadic Theater Company. Together, they’ve created several shows, and continue to teach and perform throughout the region.

No matter how she tries to make it right, Mz. Pearl seems to continuously experience “wardrobe failures” – to the delight of her audiences.

Exposing truths
After her show, we talked with Pearl about her experience performing as a clown character. “What I love about clowning is that it’s not about being false; we seek to find human truths, then expand them.”

The best thing about doing shows in several branches of the Multnomah County Library system, Pearl says, is making parents and children laugh together. “Adults will laugh at some gags, the kids at others – they don’t always laugh at the same thing. It makes it a more layered experience as a performer.

Asked how she develops new ideas for shows, Pearl said, “I find an idea that interests and excites me, and then explore the possibilities in our studio. This show is a combination of my favorite routines. I can change the show to fit the need of the audience.”

About her vocational choice, she added, “I am forever grateful for meeting ‘the red nose’ 16 years ago, and for all the adventures working in it has brought me – and for the adventures yet to come.”

Mz. Pearl will stand on her head to make her audiences laugh out loud!

Coming to Midland Library January 29
With all of the “bad news” around these days, come take a few minutes to laugh like a kid – even if you don’t have children – when “Mz. Pearl’s Variety Show” comes to Midland Library on Thursday, January 29.

Seating is limited: free tickets for seating will be available 30 minutes prior to the program. Her one-woman circus of laughs runs from 3:30 until 4:15 p.m. at Midland Library, 805 S.E. 122nd Avenue. Call (503) 988-5392 for more information.

To learn more about Pearl and her comedic cohorts, check out their website by CLICKING HERE!

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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