8 Days A Week: Drone Artists, Anti-Trump Roadshows, and Donnie Darko

THURSDAY 30 THIS CHARMING MAN | When I was an undergrad student in New York and performing stand-up comedy, I had a mediocre joke near the top of my routine about the weird names people call their grandparents. It wasn't the world's best joke, but it got the ball rolling, because for the punchline I'd bellow the words mamou and papou at the audience in various tongues, and it loosened everyone up. Now get this! While…

Capturing an Animal: Legacy Artist Zoo Cain's Loving Documentary

First impressions of Zoo Cain tend to be visceral and vivid. “Something overtook me. It was like a magnetic attraction,” says a gray-haired woman in a spacious room with pink lilies. “‘Wow, look at this duck,’” a fellow with a weathered face says he thought to himself, watching Zoo turn up outside somewhere in 20-below weather and start sharpening a bunch of colored pencils. A blonde woman deems Zoo “beyond any sort of category.” Meanwhile,…

Cast Aside's Gutenberg! Wears Every Hat in the Book

Before heading out to Cast Aside Productions’ latest show, Gutenberg! The Musical!, I googled Johannes Gutenberg, the man who in 1439 famously introduced movable type — and thus mass literacy — to Europe. I found a possible broken betrothal, a few bankruptcies, and lots of gaps in the historical record — slim pickings, I thought, for a musical. Turns out the young writers of Gutenberg!, Bud Davenport (Kyle Aarons) and Doug Simon (Ryan Walker), did…

Trial in Purgatory: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot balances dark exercises with smart comedy

Purgatory — the waiting-place where the dead await judgment — turns out to have plumbing, bodegas, and a courthouse. So explains a cheery Southern angel (Marie Stewart Harmon), a jury member in the high-profile trial of Judas (Nick Schroeder), infamous betrayer of Jesus. Among key jurisprudential questions, in Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, are who deserves forgiveness, and who has grounds to bestow it. Stacey Koloski directs a nervy, canny ensemble…

8 Days: Soul Icons, Maple Syrup Breakfasts, and Heavy Metal Skates

THURSDAY 23   LASTING ACHIEVEMENT | There’s just simply not a ton of chances left in this life to see an authentic ‘60s soul singer from the deep south. But we’ve got one here. Betty Harris, who produced three Billboard R&B hits in the songs “Cry to Me” (1963), “His Kiss” (1964), and “Nearer to You” (1967), has made indelible contributions to the genre, and appears tonight in little old Portland. The label Soul Jazz…

Wantonness and Buffoonery: Lyric's Spring Awakening

When it comes to understanding sexuality, abuse, abortion, and suicide, the nineteenth-century German youth of Spring Awakening are on their own. Wendla (Rachel Friedman) can’t get her mom to explain sex. Precocious Melchior (Eric Berry-Sandelin) critiques “parentalism” and tries to imagine the female orgasm. Moritz (Jake Boyce) agonizes over why he dreams of women’s stockings. We follow the trials of these and other teens in Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s acclaimed rock-musical, a remake of Frank…

8 Days a Week: Tribute Shows, Native Dance Music, and Cooking Spag 4 Your Luv

THURSDAY 16   ART IN SPADES | In this unconventional and attractive pairing, the Maine artist Martha Miller shows her stunning self-portrait paintings and textile pieces — which she says are inspired by dream images, spiritual connections to the outer world, and "dark inner realms" — in an exhibition alongside performers of Portland's Theater Ensemble of Color, who model on a floor stylized in the day's political parlance as the Pussycat Walk. Miller's exhibition runs…

Music Matters: Marcia Butler's Memoir The Skin Above My Knee at Print

One would think all childhood discoveries are the joyous sort, filling the young ones with wide-eyed wonder and doting parents with pride and love. But the rite of passage Marcia Butler describes in her new memoir, about being a professional oboist while living a complicated double life in New York, sounds a definitive down note. As professional musician for 25 years, Butler performed as a principal oboist and soloist on some of the most renowned…

No, You're the Puppet!: Shoestring's Magical Peter Pan

Remember Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up? These days, the premise might seem a little less magical and a little more distressingly non-fictional. Leave it to Shoestring Theater, and its cheerfully anarchic puppet antics, to update and upend J. M. Barrie’s classic. Shoestring’s new Peter Pan, adapted and directed by Nance Parker, runs this Friday and Saturday, as the feature of Mayo Street Arts’ Puppet Cabaret, which opens with the Bad Puppys’…

8 Days a Week: Aging Hippies, ACLU Bennies, and Weird Michael Keaton

THURSDAY 9   HER AGAIN | Regina Spektor has aged well. Well, as a lyricist, performer, song writer — I don't know how what she's like as a person. She hasn't drifted into adult contemporary (like Tori did at this point in her career). Years pass between albums, a sign of confidence and care, and yet she doesn't seem to share Fiona's painstaking, blood-ripped-from-a-stone catharsis. And while the disconfigurations of love clearly serve as her primary…
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