Troupe prepares for summer slate of shows
The summer slate for Newberg's Penguin Productions is set, with the largely outdoor theater company set to put on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" in late June and into July.
Additionally, the group will stage "The Good Doctor," a Broadway hit written by Neil Simon based on the stories of Russian author Anton Chekhov. The comedy consists of 10 separate stories and features an unnamed narrator commenting on the stories.
The cast for both plays was announced in late March, with "Romeo and Juliet" set to feature more than a dozen actors for June 28-29, July 5-6 and July 12-13 performances. For "The Good Doctor," there is a cast of five for the Aug. 2-3, Aug. 9-10 and Aug. 16-17 performances.
Tickets are not yet available for either event yet. Rehearsals for "Romeo and Juliet" will begin May 27; rehearsals for "The Good Doctor" begin July 1. Auditions were held in February.
"Romeo and Juliet" will feature Brandon Vilanova as Romeo, Olivia Anderson as Juliet and Stephanie Spencer as Mercutio. The rest of the cast is made up of Caleb Russell, Catherine Olson, Alanna Archibald, Victoria Alvarez-Chacon, Thomas Stallone, Kayla Hanson, Garrett Gibbs, Amberly Orr, JeanneAnn Faris and Linnea Rusaw.
Perhaps Shakespeare's most well-known play, the famous tragedy features two young star-crossed lovers and their feuding families.
"The Good Doctor" will feature performances by Garrett Gibbs, Stephanie Spencer, Catherine Olson, Ashur Gharavi and Brandon Vilanova.
All performers are paid professionals, receiving a $1,000 stipend, supported by local sponsors.
The group wrapped on their winter play of "John and Jen," a musical featuring a cast of just two people set between 1950 and 1990, on Feb. 10. Whereas the summer shows are held outside, Penguin Productions put on "John and Jen" at the Chehalem Cultural Center.
Penguin Productions, whose outdoor theater is adjacent to a farm on Dopp Road, launched in the summer of 2017. The founders of the group – Linfield College graduates Chris Forrer and Daphne Dossett, as well as Newberg High School graduate Garret Gibbs – wanted to create a scenic, outdoor venue in Oregon after experiencing one in California.
For their outdoor shows, Penguin Productions has limited physical seating, so guests are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets to sit on. Guests are also encouraged to pack a picnic dinner to have during the show, and wine is for sale on site.
Though not available yet, tickets will go on sale in mid-April online at www.penguinsonstage.org/.
Gibbs, the executive director for Penguin Productions, said for their summer run, two shows is "the sweet spot."
"We like the theme of one Shakespeare and one non (Shakespeare)," Gibbs said, adding however that the ratio isn't set in stone and depends on "what speaks to us year to year."
Gibbs added that the group tries to breathe new life into the classic stories and contemporize them for audiences. He said with "Romeo and Juliet," they are looking into the different genders in roles and how Shakespeare would play with them. There are also themes that still resonate today, he said, such as miscommunication and not being able to get an idea across, as well as the "inbred hatred that the world sees that is prevalent today."
"We have a really fun cast that we're excited about and a lot of great energy and fun," he said.
As for "The Good Doctor," Gibbs said it's one of his personal favorite plays: "It's full of so much wit and humor and lots of fun repartee going back and forth. We want people to come and enjoy themselves and think of the different prevalent topics of today in a really fun and engaging way."
Arts & Leisure briefs
Prayer Breakfast set
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Linfield band sets concert
The Linfield College Band will host its spring concert at 7 p.m. April 16 in the Richard and Lucille Ice Auditorium in Melrose Hall. The concert, headlined "Curtain Up: American Music," will be conducted by music professor Joan Haaland Paddock.