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With a cast of taco eating dragons, who couldn't enjoy Oregon Children's Theatre's production?

COURTESY PHOTO: OWEN CAREY - Ashley Mellinger, Raphael Likes and Phillip Wells in the Oregon Children's Theatre production of 'Dragons Love Tacos.'

Oregon Children's Theatre (OCT) will start off the year with "Dragons Love Tacos," opening January 2020 at the Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway in Portland.

Based on the New York Times bestselling children's book by Adam Rubin, the story tells a tale of a young boy and his dog who encounter a quartet of dancing dragons. Each one has its own unique style and personality, but they all have one thing in common: they're hungry! This hilarious, dance-filled journey into the field of "Dragonology" is equal parts ridiculous and delicious, and has all the ingredients for a fantastic time.

The production runs Jan. 18 through Feb. 16 with 2 p.m. shows on Saturdays and Sundays, 5 p.m. shows on Saturdays and 11 a.m. show on Sundays. Tickets range in price from $20-$32 for adults and $15-$28 for children. They can be ordered online at octc.org or by calling 503-228-9571.

"This show is going to be a blast," says Marcella Crowson, Interim Artistic Director at OCT. "The book has long been a huge hit with families, and the artistic team has come up with some ingenious solutions to the challenge of bringing four taco-loving dragons to life on stage."

Costume designer Sydney Dufka has used her creative ingenuity to rethink the dragon costumes, working closely with artists Shannon Cramer and Harlan Whitman from Skilled Artists Support Services (SASS) in the fabrication process. The scale of the dragons will be supersized and innovative, including a creative design that is compatible with one of the actors who will perform from a wheelchair.

"As a team we wanted to stay true to the original illustrations while adding some wild unique creature details," Dufka said. "So I focused on taking advantage of the shapes in ways that our actors would be able to use on stage. For example, when I first started sketching ideas on paper, I realized that sheer size of the red dragon would determine the scale of all the costumes. When you look at the book illustrations you notice the length and long neck of the red dragon. This meant we had to determine a way to translate my sketches into a lightweight costume that extended well past the size of the typical human! It was exciting to work with our team to determine how to build a costume of that size that did not inhibit the actor's movement."

The performance features two child performers — Luke Alden and Phillip Wells — rotating in the leading role of the Boy. His canine companion Leroy is portrayed by Ashley Mellinger. The dragon ensemble includes Celia Castillo-Torres, Peyton McCandless, Tess Raunig and Raphael Likes. Justin Charles portrays the Man in the Suit, a mysterious character who introduces the Boy to the field of Dragonology and sets the story in motion.

Before every performance audiences are invited to come to preshow activities, starting an hour before curtain, and after every performance they are invited to meet the cast, take photos and get your playbill autographed.

The Saturday, Jan. 25 performance will be interpreted in American Sign Language.


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