Portland Center Stage Reshuffles 2009-10 Schedule; Bock, Schlitt, Kornbluth Added

News   Portland Center Stage Reshuffles 2009-10 Schedule; Bock, Schlitt, Kornbluth Added Three studio titles will change and one production will move to the Main Stage in a major revision of the 2009-10 season of Portland Center Stage in Oregon. It's due to the economy, the troupe announced on May 14.

Aaron Posner's adaptation of Chaim Potok's The Chosen, "an early strong seller" in the Studio lineup, will move to the Main Stage, replacing Joe Turner's Come and Gone, which will be deferred to future season.

A possible Broadway tour of Thurgood, about late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, prompts a postponement of a planned resident Studio production by PCS.

The announced production of a world premiere musical by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, The Best So Far, has been put on hold. "Developing this new musical will require more resources than we can anticipate gathering in the current environment," according to PCS.

In exchange, Portland Center Stage will re-mount last season's fringe hit, The Receptionist, to be staged in the Studio by Rose Riordon.

Also added are two solo shows: Ben Franklin Unplugged — "a meditation on fatherhood through the cracked lens of one of our beloved founding fathers," written and performed by Josh Kornbluth; and Mike's Incredible Indian Adventure, written and performed by Mike Schlitt. Both will play the Studio. The reshuffled season "achieves a couple of important goals," according to a PCS statement. "It retains the overall scope and scale of the original season (ten shows on two stages with the right mix of music, drama, humor and relevance) while allowing us to capitalize on the unexpected success of two smart shows that deserve to reach a wider audience (The Receptionist and The Chosen)." With this season change also comes news that PCS leadership "has been busy with a backstage edit, trimming the season budget by a prudent 12 percent in ways that will be largely invisible to the theatregoing audience, all while maintaining current staffing and salary levels."

Chris Coleman is artistic director of Portland Center Stage.

Portland Center Stage's complete revised 2009-10 schedule follows.

Ragtime
Book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and music by Stephen Flaherty
Directed by Chris Coleman
Main Stage
Sept. 22-Nov. 1
"E.L. Doctorow's sweeping novel comes vividly to life in this Tony Award-winning musical, set against the backdrop of the ragtime craze in New York City,"

Ben Franklin: Unplugged
Written and performed by Josh Kornbluth
Ellyn Bye Studio
Sept. 29–Nov. 22
"Gazing into the bathroom mirror one morning while shaving, Josh Kornbluth realizes that he looks remarkably like the guy on the $100 bill. Like any good Jewish son, he immediately calls his mother. From there he becomes obsessed with what it means to be a founding father. Part 'History Detectives' and part embarrassingly hilarious autobiography, Kornbluth's resulting investigation of the man behind the famous spectacles will take you from the hallowed halls of academia to Kornbluth's richly comic interactions with his mother Bunny and Aunt Birdie…" (This replaces Thurgood George Stevens, Jr.)

A Christmas Carol
Adapted by Mead Hunter from the novella by Charles Dickens
Directed by Rose Riordan
Main Stage
Nov. 24-Dec. 27
"Already a Portland holiday tradition, this year associate artistic director Rose Riordan will add her own unique stamp to Mead Hunter's original adaptation, starting by casting of Portland’s favorite weird and wise old man, Ebbe Roe Smith, as Scrooge."

The Santaland Diaries
By David Sedaris, adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
Ellyn Bye Studio
Dec. 3-27
"Based on the outlandish true chronicles of David Sedaris' experience as Crumpet the Elf in Macy's Santaland display, this hilarious cult classic riffs on a few of Sedaris' truly odd encounters with his fellow man during the height of the holiday crunch."

Snow Falling on Cedars
Adapted for the stage by Kevin McKeon, from the book by David Guterson
Main Stage
Jan. 12-Feb. 7, 2010
"Northwestern author David Guterson's haunting story takes place in 1954, on a Puget Sound island so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. The island’s white and Japanese-American communities have lived in quiet but uneasy peace, even through the dark days of WWII internment camps and widespread anti-Japanese war hysteria. But when Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with murder and it turns out that his wife's spurned white lover Ishmael holds the information that could set him free…"

The Receptionist
By Adam Bock
Ellyn Bye Studio
Jan. 26-March 21, 2010
"Beverly the receptionist is definitely a woman in charge — she's the first in the door, she makes the coffee, she has all the pens. [When] Mr. Dart from the central office arrives unexpectedly…Beverly is left wondering just what sort of company she works for…" (The Receptionist was the hit of Portland's fringe scene at CoHo Theater.)

Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps
Adapted by Patrick Barlow
from the book by John Buchan (Main Stage)
Feb. 23-March 21, 2010
"Whodunit meets hilarious in this recklessly theatrical riff on Alfred Hitchcock's cinematic 1935 masterpiece…[in which] a handsome hero (complete with stiff-upper- lip, pencil moustache and British gung-ho attitude) encounters dastardly murders, double-crossing secret agents, and, of course, devastatingly beautiful women, all while trying to escape from an accidental entanglement with a deadly group of spies called the 39 Steps. A quick witted and acrobatic troupe of four actors will create dozens of locations and over 130 roles…."

The Chosen
By Aaron Posner
Main Stage
April 6-May 2, 2010
"This award-winning adaptation from the award-winning novel is the coming-of-age story of two boys growing up in two very different Jewish communities — "five blocks and a world apart" — in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in the 1940s."

Mike's Incredible Indian Adventure
Written and performed by Mike Schlitt
Ellyn Bye Studio
April 20–May 30, 2010
"Mike directs a Neil Simon play in India. Life crisis ensues. In 1999 Mike Schlitt accepted an offer to direct Neil Simon's They're Playing Our Song on a four-city tour across India. Mike took the job, brought along a filmmaker to document the experience, and soon found himself in the throes of a devastating life crisis the likes of which he is still struggling to claw his way out of. Mike's Incredible Indian Adventure is an epic tale of clashing cultures and gastric distress. It's a play about a film about a play, chronicling an artist's wrong turn 'off' the road to success and the strange, surreal and terrifying journey to find his way back."

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Lyrics and music by William Finn
Book by Rachel Sheinkin
Main Stage
May 25-June 27, 2010
"This unlikeliest of hit musicals draws the audience directly into the action, bringing four nerdtastic audience members onto the stage each night to compete alongside some of America's unlikeliest kid heroes: a quirky yet charming mix of awkward outsiders, divided by their stereotypes…and united by the discovery that a spelling bee may be the only place on the planet where they can both stand out and fit in."

For more information, visit pcs.org.

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Portland Center Stage was established in 1988 as an off shoot of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. PCS became an independent theatre in 1994 and has been under the leadership of artistic director Chris Coleman since May 2000. The company presents a blend of "classic, contemporary and original productions in a conscious effort to appeal to the eclectic palate of theatregoers in Portland. PCS also offers a variety of education and outreach programs for curious minds from six to 106, including the PCS GreenHouse, a school of theatre."