Curtain rises on behalf of ailing actor
The westside community theater folks are rallying around one of their own.
Actor/playwright Michael Allen of Tualatin has been battling cancer, and it's a tough fight.
Many people, including some from Mask & Mirror Community Theatre in Tigard, will gather at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, at the Burnham Street Fire Station 51 in Tigard to read one of Allen's unproduced plays, "Star-Crossed" — and Allen plans to listen in and/or participate via speaker phone or Skype from his hospital bed at Providence Portland Medical Center.
About 15 to 20 people are involved in the production.
It's a very nice gesture in honoring Allen, 50, who has participated in plays for Mask & Mirror, HART Theatre in Hillsboro and Beaverton Civic Theatre, as well as companies in Wilsonville and Canby. Friends say it's a gift for him to hear his penned words spoken by actors and friends.
As of Wednesday, he was still being treated at Providence Portland Medical Center.
His cancer started with what was thought to be a canker sore on his tongue and spread to his cheeks and jaw; a friend of Allen's, Cindy Green, said it has spread to his lungs, as his health has spiraled downward.
Friends want to do the honorary reading of one of Allen's plays "while he's still with us," Green said.
"Everybody loves him," added Green, who has rented a room to Allen, a single man who had a job as a security guard, for about four years. "He's the kind of person who's there for you when you need him. He's had a really rough life, and this is just devastating."
Allen's health crisis started in August 2018 and, while there have been hopes of recovery, including through two November surgeries (that removed half his tongue) and radiation and chemotherapy and medication, it hasn't looked promising in recent days, Green said.
So, Allen's friends want to provide him with some joy by reading one of his plays. Allen has written about 10 plays or screenplays, and it'll be a treat for a bunch of friends to read one of them.
The "Star-Crossed" synopsis: "Friends Michael and Lisa talk about their past and analyze their relationship, finding more things that they have in common than they ever imagined. Their feelings may be deeper than friendship, but as Lisa is engaged to another, they struggle with their morality and desire. A story of what-ifs and one that most everyone can relate to. Written with sincere dialogue that makes the characters very relatable to all."
Allen communicates through an app on his smartphone and by writing words on a white board, all which makes it tough for somebody who thoroughly enjoyed acting. He's having a very hard time talking.
Green said that Allen has lived in New York, California, Texas and Florida, and he has resided in Tualatin for several years. She helped arranged for him to be reunited with family recently — two stepmothers and five siblings.
It pains Green, vice president at Mask & Mirror, and others to see their friend and fellow theater enthusiast hurting.
"He's quite a good actor, very versatile," she said. "He's been in quite a few shows in a variety of roles."
Said Gary Romans, a Mask & Mirror co-founder: "He's wonderful, very talented. I've directed him a number of times and cast him in versatile roles. He's a big guy. I'm 6-3 and he's about that size. He's a very kind guy. He's a well-liked guy. ... This is the all-volunteer theater community, and people seem to audition for same shows, it's the theater we like. We do it because we love it."
And, now they rally around their friend, because he deserves it.