Clackamas Repertory Theatre to open with 'Desperate Measures'
"Desperate Measures," Clackamas Repertory Theatre's first on-stage presentation of the 2022 season, is not your typical musical. The production, opening July 1, is set in Arizona in 1892, takes place in a barn and features a four-piece band onstage.
The action revolves around handsome Johnny Blood who must put his fate into the hands of a colorful cast of characters, including a mysterious sheriff, an eccentric priest, an authoritarian governor, a saloon girl gone good and a nun out of the habit.
It "follows Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure' very closely," even to the point of being written in iambic pentameter," said director David Smith-English, the artistic director of CRT.
"It's really a satire, the references to today make it really fun and it involves the audience as well," he said.
"When people leave the auditorium, they are going to be smiling. We are glad to bring something to the stage that is such a fun experience," Smith-English added.
Dave Cole, who plays Johnny Blood, said his character "has great big emotions like any human, but his responses to those emotions are more like an elevator that doesn't know if it should be on the first floor or the roof, so it jets up and down looking for the right floor."
He added that Johnny is a really a poet who doesn't have the right words to express his feelings.
"Johnny loves very hard and chaotically. The more character work I did with this script, the more that I saw Johnny was just an extreme version of me," Cole said.
"Once I discovered Johnny was just a troubled guy with a traumatic past, using my own real-life experiences became second nature," he added.
One thing that sets his character apart from other leading actors in a musical is that he must sing in a higher vocal range, called a counter tenor, which Cole said is equivalent to a mezzo soprano's range.
"I studied opera for a long time and so I was trained to sing as high as possible. I don't think a lot of singers are fortunate enough to be trained in that way," Cole said.
His favorite song in "Desperate Measures" is not one that he sings, but is instead Bella's introduction song, which is sung by his real-life partner Lauren Allison.
"Lauren really sells the hell out of it, and it is quite a thing to see," he said.
So what is it like to work with your girlfriend?
"Not only is it incredibly fun to watch your partner perform and exceed all expectations of everyone in the room; Lauren is really very talented and professional, and I learn new things from her at every rehearsal and at-home study," Cole said.
"Audiences will really enjoy the style of the play and the music," he said, adding, that "having every line in the script be in iambic pentameter and rhyming couplets, it feels like Shakespeare and Molière but digestible for everyone."
Allison noted that her character is not your typical saloon girl.
Bella "knows how to dance, charm customers and wiggle her way out of sticky situations, all with a deliciously fiery attitude," she said.
"What I love most about her is her big heart. She comes off as rather hardened, but she is a total lover; she loves her man and her community."
Allison said she also has a strong commitment to those she loves, but said her character goes to extreme lengths to save Johnny and protect others.
"I feel that same passion. I don't know that I am quite as funny as Bella though; so she is teaching me to have a little more spunk," Allison said.
Her favorite moment in the show is Bella's opening monologue.
"Bella gets to welcome the audience and talk about the show before the play begins. It's a fun way to introduce her and give the audience a little taste of who she is and what's to come," Allison said.
What she likes best about the experience of working with her real-life partner, is laughing about the ways that Bella and Johnny's relationship differs from theirs.
"Their romance is full of passion that can sometimes look like yelling, jealousy and extensive arguing. That is very far from how Dave and I operate," Allison said.
"However, everything Johnny and Bella do comes from a place of deep love for each other, and it's an exciting challenge to try and harbor some of those real feelings I have for my partner and transfer them through a character."
Audiences will love the music, Allison said.
She added, "The score is brilliant, and the lyrics are witty, beautiful and often hilarious. I promise audiences will find themselves humming the songs on their way home like I do after rehearsal each night."
What: Clackamas Repertory Theatre presents "Desperate Measures"
When: July 1-24; performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday - Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Where: The Osterman Theater, located inside the Niemeyer Center on the campus of Clackamas Community College, 19600 S. Molalla Ave., Oregon City.
Details: Visit clackamasrep.org or call 503-594-6047 for more info and tickets. Get one ticket for each of the three upcoming shows for $100 for adults and seniors and $75 for youth ages 6-25.
Next: "The Sound of Music," Aug. 4-28 and "The Book Club Play," Sept. 8-Oct. 2.
Cast: Dave Cole (Johnny Blood), Alan King (Father Morse), Todd Hermanson (Sheriff Martin Green), Sarah DeGrave (Susanna AKA Sister Mary Jo), Mark Pierce (Governor von Richterhenkenpflichtgetruber) and Lauren Allison (Bella Rose).
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