Chehalem Players Repertory will ?perform the Tony Award-winning play God of Carnage over two weekends

Members of local theater group Chehalem Players Repertory don’t like to play it safe. They like their drama daring, a bit edgy. Coming together for their latest production, “God of Car­nage,” CPR delves into the psyche of two sets of parents who soon abandon diplomatic niceties and become spectacles of bad behavior, all to the amusement of the audience, of course.

CPR will present the 2009 Tony Award-winning play beginning Sept. 27. The dark comedy of manners continues Sept. 28-29 and the weekend of Oct. 4-6 at the New­berg Masonic Lodge.

The play revolves around two couples meeting to discuss a playground dispute between their sons. What begins as polite conversation soon devolves into chaos, explained CPR company co-founder and the play’s producer, Donna Gentry. by: GARY ALLEN - Chantal DeGroat plays ‘Annette' and J.P. Kloninger ‘Michael' in the Chehalem Players Repertory cast of ‘God of Carnage,' which will open Sept. 27 at the Newberg Masonic Lodge

“It is a really compelling script,” Gentry said. “It goes from totally polite, nice conversation to being pretty brutal. And it’s hysterically funny.”

The 80-minute play by Yasmina Reza has been staged worldwide and CPR’s version benefits from two guest artists who are both university theater experts. The play’s director, Janet Gupton, is an associate professor of theater arts at Linfield College, while cast member Ted deChatelet is a theater faculty member at Western Oregon University.

Gentry said the company will stage the play by taking over the entire Masonic Lodge and turning it into a loft space to mimic a big-city apartment. Last year CPR used theater space in the Che­halem Cultural Center. How­ever, that venue will be unavailable due to pending renovation.

Along with deChatelet, the play stars CPR co-founder Kym Herbst, along with JP Kloninger and Chantal DeGroat. The lighting design is by Josh Shambaugh, stage management by Jenn Dolphin, the prop master is Kathleen Buck and set design is by Gentry. This will be the final production of the year with the 2014 season to be announced Sept. 15.

“We’re doing a really interesting thing in that we have a mixed race cast. I like that because it really reflects the world,” Gentry said. “I’m just thrilled with this cast. I think we’re really pushing the envelope, which is what we tend to do here in Newberg by having a mixed race cast and dealing with a dark comedy about what people are really thinking and what they are really about. And there are a lot of surprises, too, which is fun.”

Gentry and fellow performance artist Herbst co-founded CPR in 2011. The two met while serving on the board of another regional theater company, Willamette Shakespeare.

“We loved being supportive of Willamette Shakespeare but we really needed an artistic outlet for ourselves for performing and directing. So we branched out on our own,” Gentry said.

After serving four years on the board of Willamette Shakespeare, Gentry and Herbst founded Chehalem Players Repertory, making Newberg home to both CPR and another theater company, Valley Repretory Theatre. Newberg is also home to Valley Repertory Theatre.

Gentry said CPR has built a loyal audience base that continues to grow.

“We feel like we’re being supported by the community,” she said. “And now we’re getting people from Lake Oswego and West Linn coming out to see our productions. So, we’re thrilled.”

CPR averages 100 to 150 people attending each production and is looking to continue growing its audience. The company produces three shows each year beginning with a winter production in January, followed by spring and fall shows. Gentry said they take summers off since there are so many other companies producing shows during that time.

“God of Carnage” runs Sept. 27-29 and Oct. 4-6 with Friday and Saturday performances at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. at the Newberg Masonic Lodge, located at the corner of Sheridan and Blaine streets adjacent to the Newberg Public Library. Tickets are $20 and the doors open 30 minutes before each performance. For more information, go to the website

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