Ashland Review

  Dorothy Velasco reviews the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Timon of Athens and the controversial Play On! Project, which aims to translate Shakespeare into modern language. 

  Dorothy Velasco reviews the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's productions of Richard II and The Winter's Tale.

photo: Jennie Graham

“The Wiz,” a surprise Broadway hit over 40 years ago, has now landed on the outdoor stage at Ashland’s Allen Theatre. This funky black version of “The Wizard of Oz” won a Tony for best musical, but “Hamilton” it’s not.

photo: Jennie Graham

“Vietgone,” now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, is a lively new comedy about Vietnamese refugees creating their version of an American life from scratch.

Ashland Review: Roe

Jul 12, 2016
Photo: Jennie Graham

Lisa Loomer’s new play, “Roe,” about the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion in 1973, may well be this year’s most important American play. 

photo: Jennie Graham

Many people consider Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” the greatest play ever written. They must be right because a full house sat through the play’s rainy opening night at Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s outdoor Allen Theatre.

photo Jenny Graham

Dorothy Velasco has this review of "The Yeomen of the Guard" at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

photo Jenny Graham

“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens is a grand novel. And it grandly fills the stage of the Bowmer Theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

photo Jenny Graham

Shakespeare’s much loved comedy, “Twelfth Night,” is a joyful choice for the new season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
According to director Christopher Liam Moore, joyful is the operating word for the play. It begins with a shipwreck and the presumed death of Viola’s brother Sebastian.

Jennie Graham

Who would have dreamed that a theater company in remote Ashland, Oregon, so far from New York, would be sending shows to Broadway and major theaters across the country?
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, now in its 81st year, is renowned for producing not only all of Shakespeare’s plays, but for developing new works that will likely stand the test of time.
One of those new plays is “The River Bride” by young poet-playwright Marisela Treviño Orta. This enchanting fairy tale inspired by Brazilian folklore takes place in a small village on the Amazon.

Jenny Graham / Oregon Shakespeare Festival

It’s been a smoky summer in the Pacific Northwest. Wildfires have communities from Eastern Washington to Northern California gasping through days and weeks of poor air quality.

In Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the “show-must-go-on” mantra of the theater has given way to continuous air quality checks and tough show-time decisions.

Photo Jenny Graham

The last play to open at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this season is one of the very best. “Sweat,” a deeply satisfying new work by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, was commissioned as part of the Festival’s United States History Cycle.

Photo Jenny Graham

“The Happiest Song Plays Last,” now at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Thomas Theatre, is part three of a trilogy by Quiara Alegria Hudes. Last year the Festival presented part two, “Water by the Spoonful,” directed, like this play, by Shishir Kurup.
The author, inspired by her cousin Elliot, the youngest Marine to be deployed to Iraq, has stitched his story to others, creating a colorful quilt of present-day issues.

photo Jenny Graham

Take two plays, one an ancient farce and the other a modern tale of lost love. Accidentally schedule them for a dress rehearsal on the same stage at the same time, and you have the starting point for “Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land,” now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

photo Jenny Graham

“Antony and Cleopatra,” now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, is one of Shakespeare’s most confounding plays. Directors have a hard time deciding what it is. Battles, politics, lust, suicides, a little comedy, and a lot of short scenes alternating between Egypt and Rome.

photo Jenny Graham

“Long Day’s Journey into Night,” Eugene O’Neill’s gut-wrenching family drama, is playing in a superlative production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Thomas Theatre.
When O’Neill fashioned this play based on his miserable youth, he stipulated it could not be published until 25 years after his death, and never be performed. But after he died in 1953 his widow soon had it produced on Broadway, and it earned Pulitzer and Tony Awards.

photo Jenny Graham

Among the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s summer openings, the funniest by far is the world premiere of the musical, “Head Over Heels,” at the Allen Elizabethan Theatre.
With a script by Jeff Whitty, author of the Tony-winning “Avenue Q,” and music and lyrics by the Go-Go’s, the wildly popular female band from the eighties, the much-anticipated show is hilarious, enticing and touching.

Photo by Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

REVIEW OF MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

by Dorothy Velasco

March 31, 2015

There is much to enjoy in the production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Bowmer Theatre. There is just as much to criticize.

Photo by Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

                     

REVIEW OF FINGERSMITH

by Dorothy Velasco

March 24, 2015

“Fingersmith,” the acclaimed Victorian crime novel by Sarah Waters, has been described as “Oliver Twist with a twist.”

In the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s new stage adaptation, we see more twisting than Chubby Checker ever dreamed of.

Photo by Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

REVIEW OF GUYS AND DOLLS

by Dorothy Velasco

March 17, 2015

I’ve got a tip for all you fun-loving guys and dolls. Put your money on the musical, “Guys and Dolls,” now playing in the Bowmer Theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Photo by Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

REVIEW OF PERICLES

by Dorothy Velasco

March 10, 2015

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s spring season, in its 80th year, offers a lavish theatrical bounty. Perhaps the most surprising is the splendid production of Shakespeare’s “Pericles” in the Thomas Theatre.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

REVIEW OF THE GREAT SOCIETY

by Dorothy Velasco

for broadcast on KLCC, Aug. 12, 2014

The presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson is a topic Shakespeare would have seized upon. The tragic complexity of the man and the historical scope of the times would have been irresistible.

REVIEW OF FAMILY ALBUM

by Dorothy Velasco

for broadcast on KLCC, Aug. 5, 2014

“Family Album” is a new rock musical commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Written by the artist known as Stew and his partner Heidi Rodewald, and directed by Joanna Settle, the show features excellent performers, many of them from the New York music scene.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

REVIEW OF WATER BY THE SPOONFUL

by Dorothy Velasco

for broadcast on KLCC July 22, 2014

“Water by the Spoonful,” by Quiara Alegria Hudes, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012. Now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Thomas Theatre, it’s an excellent choice for the intimate space.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

REVIEW OF INTO THE WOODS

by Dorothy Velasco

for broadcast on KLCC July 15, 2014

“Into the Woods,” now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Allen Elizabethan Theatre, is a Broadway-worthy spectacle. You may very well enjoy it as much as the ecstatic opening night audience.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

REVIEW OF A WRINKLE IN TIME

by Dorothy Velasco

for broadcast on KLCC July 8, 2014

“A Wrinkle in Time,” Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved book published in 1962, has been adapted for screen, stage and even opera. Now you can see a new adaptation at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Bowmer Theatre, and delight in the creativity of the stagecraft.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

REVIEW OF RICHARD III

by Dorothy Velasco

for broadcast on KLCC  July 1, 2014

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival opened its outdoor season at the Allen Elizabethan Theatre with a riveting production of “Richard III.” Dan Donahue’s multi-layered portrayal of the complex title role is a unique gift to theatre-goers.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The new season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland celebrates the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. Included this spring are one of his earliest works, “The Comedy of Errors,” and “The Tempest,” the last play considered to be written by Shakespeare alone.
The Festival’s version of “The Comedy of Errors,” set during the exciting Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and performed in the small Thomas Theatre, is the most endearing, funniest production of the play I’ve ever seen.