Native son returns to Gresham April 17

If you picked a theme song for Kirk Mouser’s life, it might be “Almost Cut My Hair” by David Crosby.

Mouser says in 1988 he was lined up with more than 3,000 other actors in Los Angeles to audition for a part of Marius, a principal character in the touring production of “Les Miserables.”

“I was acting in a local L.A. production of ‘Guys and Dolls,’” Mouser says. “I told the producers that I refused to cut my hair because one day soon I was going to be playing Marius in ‘Les Miserables.’ The producers merely smiled and granted me my wish, but surely they must have thought me mad.”

Turns out Mouser was anything CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Kirk Mouser founded Stumptown Stages with an eye to producing musicals in downtown Portland.

“Picture the day that I walked into their office and announced that I was cast and meeting the touring company in Minneapolis in less than a week,” he says. “You see, if you set your mind to something — or in this case refuse to cut your hair — anything is possible!”

A 1985 Centennial High School graduate, Mouser is the next featured speaker in the Third Thursday Studio series presented by the Gresham Center for the Arts Foundation.

Mouser will tell “Tales of Musical Theater and Performance” from 6:30-8:15 p.m. April 17 in Gresham History Museum, 410 N. Main Ave. Admission is $18, and you can learn more at


For almost a decade, Mouser has served as executive artistic director of Stumptown Stages, the resident musical theater company at Portland’s Brunish Theater. Prior to that he served as artistic consultant for Gresham’s Center for the Arts Foundation as well as interim trust manager for the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Mouser founded Stumptown with an eye toward producing contemporary as well as classic musicals, he says, noting the company has put on “Grease,” “Dreamgirls” and such original works as a musical version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the play “Soul Harmony.”

“Ten years ago, when I moved back home, at that time there were no primary music theater companies in downtown Portland,” he says. “It became apparent, through discussions with other folks in theater, that downtown Portland was in need of a music theater company.”

He says he got some help from his mother, Janet Mouser, who taught drama at such schools as Centennial for 30 years, as well as his dad, Gordon Mouser, who coached soccer there and who also co-founded New Century Players in Milwaukie. Both his parents serve on the Stumptown board.

“I’ve sung my whole life,” Mouser says. “Musicals combine dialogue, music and dance. Combining all three art forms is very, very exciting. It’s entertaining, it’s moving, it’s spectacle, it’s social.”

Third Thursday

In his talk, Mouser says he will address his career in theater, which includes five years as associate managing director of Luna Stage Company in New York City, where he directed and produced more than 100 shows.

He’s also acted in such shows as “The Phantom of the Opera” and Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass.” He played an FBI agent in the 2008 movie “Untraceable” and also has acted on the TV show “Leverage.”

Mouser has directed productions for Mt. Hood Repertory Theatre, Northwest Children’s Theater, Portland Civic Theatre Guild and Clark College, and he chairs the Clackamas County Arts Alliance Foundation.

Mouser also runs Kirk Mouser Enterprises, a consulting business on activities that enhance economic development through the arts.

“I’ll be addressing how the arts can drive economic development,” he says, noting he served as a consultant during the initial establishment of Gresham’s Center for the Arts Plaza.

“I think there’s energy building in this area and that a city like Gresham could really benefit from having an arts center at its core.”

For more information on Stumptown Stages, visit

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