We have hit it again: the brief lull in activity that happens at the end of every season, not coincidentally with a holiday weekend, where the theatres collectively turn out their lights for a few days. Luckily for us, this pause is only a deep breath before the plunge. Here are six performance events in and around Salem to look forward to this summer:
Pentacle Theatre, The Aliens, by Annie Baker, directed by Jeff Brownson. July 8–30. Pentacle takes a stab at a younger, hipper play about three disaffected youth who come face-to-face with their own mortality while on break from their jobs at a coffee shop. Annie Baker is a hot commodity after winning the Pulitzer in 2014, but this kind of play may be a challenge for Pentacle. Worth checking out.
Children’s Educational Theatre (CET). Performance Week, July 17–22, multiple plays and venues. Salem’s long-running summer theatre camp blossoms into a week of performance every July, starting with a musical or puppet play at the Salem Art Fair & Festival. For quality, shoot for the performances by older students, but any of the events are sure to please families with younger audiences. Check out their website for a full listing of plays and locations.
Keizer Homegrown Theatre, Twelfth Night, directed by Linda Baker, July 20–23. Keizer’s annual Shakespeare in the Park event—this year with pirates! Twelfth Night is one of the better comedies, with all the Shakespeare goodness you remember: cross-dressing maids, wise fools, braggart soldiers, improbable pranks, and even a good turn of phrase or two. And nothing beats outdoor theatre. Grab a burger, a local beer, and enjoy Oregon’s lovely July weather.
Enlightened Theatrics, The Wizard of Oz, directed by Vincenzo Meduri. July 20–August 28. After sitting out the Spring, Salem’s professional musical theatre company returns with a trip down the yellow brick road. This family-friendly production promises to be the musical highlight of the summer. Discount tickets are available for preview nights, July 20 & 21.
Valley Shakespeare Company (WOU), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by David Janoviak, July 28–31. Want even more of the Bard? Valley Shakespeare is the professional off-shoot of Western Oregon University, which allows the faculty to show off their chops during the summer months. Midsummer will star local actor Gregory Jolivette as Oberon and professor Ted deChatelet as Bottom.
Theatre 33, A Squirrel Boy, A Robot Girl, But Also Parents, by Jonathan Graham, directed by Gabrielle Brewer-Wallin, July 23 & 24; Maresfield Gardens, by Susan Coromel, directed by Rod Ceballos, Aug 11–14. Like Valley Shakespeare, Theatre 33 is the professional arm of Willamette University, specializing in staged readings of new works by Oregon playwrights. Show up early, as these events tend to fill up in the small studio theatre. Maresfield Gardens will be the company’s first fully staged production, written and performed by Willamette professor (and Equity actor) Susan Coromel—a real treat from of Salem’s most talented theatre artists.