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"Our Town" by Thornton Wilder, at Portland Center Stage through Oct. 11. Pictured: Nikki Massoud and Sathya Sridharan.

Portland Center Stage Celebrates Regional Stories in 2016–17 Season

The slate will feature world premieres by Lauren Weedman, artistic director Chris Coleman, and local band Blitzen Trapper.

PORTLAND: Portland Center Stage has announced the 2016–17 season, its 29th, including the launch of the Northwest Stories series, which will feature work about the local region.

The season will open with Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s Little Shop of Horrors (Sept. 10-Oct. 16), about a nerdy florist’s assistant who finds fame with a flesh-eating plant.

Next up will be Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths (Oct. 1–Nov. 13), the first play in the Northwest Stories series. Inspired by the true story of University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi, the play is set when the U.S. enters World War II, and Hirabayashi struggles to follow government orders to remove and incarcerate the people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast.

Bekah Brunstetter’s The Oregon Trail (Oct. 29–Nov. 20), also part of Northwest Stories, will be next. The play, an homage to the beloved 1990s computer game,  follows one character in ’97 playing “The Oregon Trail” while a character in 1848 in traverses it in a covered wagon.

Next up will be Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin (Nov. 30–Dec. 30), in which Felder plays the composer in this one-man bio-musical.

The Santaland Diaries (Nov. 26–Dec. 24), adapted from David Sedaris’s book by Joe Mantello, will bow for the holidays. The play is based on Sedaris’s own experience working as an elf at Macy’s.

The world premiere of PCS artistic director Chris Coleman’s Astoria: Part One (Jan. 14–Feb. 12, 2017), part of Northwest Stories, will be the first show of the new year. Based on Peter Stark’s book Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire, A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival, the play follows Jefferson and Astor’s quest to set up trade routes in the Pacific in the early 1800s.

A musical biography of Ethel Waters, His Eye Is on the Sparrow (Feb. 4–March 19, 2017), by Larry Parr, will be onstage next.

Following that is the world premiere of Wild and Reckless (March 16–April 30, 2017), also part of Northwest Stories. Written by Portland folk-rock band Blitzen Trapper, the musical follows the lives of ordinary Oregonians.

Next is the world premiere of Lauren Weedman Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (March 17–April 30, 2017), in which storyteller Weedman will tell and sing about love and heartbreak.

Stephen Massicotte’s Mary’s Wedding (April 15–May 28, 2017) will be onstage next. In the play, Mary and Charlie fall in love during the first World War I, and the play weaves their story and fates together through time and memory.

Nick Payne’s Constellations (May 13–June 18, 2017) will close out the season. The two-person play explores the many possible scenarios of one relationship between a man and a woman.

Founded in 1988, Portland Center Stage is committed to bringing stories to life in unexpected ways for its Oregon audience.

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