PostHeaderIcon You Can Take it With You: Five Questions For Actor/Director/Swell Gal Beth Harper

HARPER-VILLE: Beth Harper is one of my favorite people in the entire world. And she's also a damn good actress and director as well as the Artistic Director and founder of the Portland Actors Conservatory, an accredited conservatory of acting (National Association of Schools of Theatre). This week PAC inaugurates its 25th Anniversary Season with the opening of “You Can’t Take it With You,” directed by Harper. The production features Tim Stapleton (“Fool for Love” at Coho Theatre), Joe Healy (NW Classical Theatre), Jeff Gorham (Re-Theatre Instrument), Dave Bodin (“The Uneasy Chair”), and several other area guest artists as well as second year Conservatory students. In honor of the auspicious ocassion I thought it might be nice to talk to Harper about her school and her new show (that includes Dan Selivonchick pictured above in a photo by Frank Dimarco). And here's what the awesome lady had to say:


Did you ever think you would be celebrating a quarter-century of running your own school?

Beth Harper: I know this is probably going to sound crazy, but no, I never thought about it once. I worked at this business much like an alcoholic in AA: One step at a time, one moment at a time, one obstacle at a time, one day at a time…… as if my life depended on it. I guess when you add up all those minutes, moments and days the end result is 25 years.

How did you make this production different from other productions of this show?

I’m not sure I am trying to make it different. I love ALL that it is and how it does what it does. It is my favorite classic American play of the era (30’s). I just want to do it really, really well. That’s my priority. This is actually my third production of either acting or directing it and oddly enough this production feels like the first time I have ever done it. I just love tearing it down and putting it back together. I always find something new that I didn’t see the first time.

How is different for PAC?

In celebration of our birthday I am also using this opportunity to surround myself with people who have made a difference in my life and the life of the conservatory. My first student ever at the Conservatory, Georgia Cacy, is playing Penny, Tim Stapelton, set designer to the Gods, and a dear, dear friend, is moving from designing to acting, because he is Grandpa in real life (at least in my book) and I just wanted to celebrate our relationship by casting him as "Grandpa." I also wouldn’t have done this show if I couldn’t have had the artistic team I have worked with for 25 years. I call them, “the boys”. Jeff Seats, set design, Jeff Forbes, “Lighting design and Chris Mikolavich, Sound design. I also wanted to celebrate the cultural diversity of the Conservatory by casting a second year student, Natasha Terranova, as an Irish maid and the maids boyfriend, played by alumni Lior Zadok, as a native of India. The Russian Countess is played by an African American (Second year student, Arlena Barnes).

Where do you hope to be in 25 years from now?

Well, I’ll be 80 so I guess I’ll be napping.  If you mean the Conservatory in 25 years…… PAC will be on a large campus with two theatres and classroom space galore and student housing and we will have a masters program to add to our already accredited 2 year professional Actor Training Program. Well honestly, the possibilities are endless.

Can we expect to see you in more productions in the future?

Aw, thank you so much for asking. I would love to. Now that the school is on firm ground and I have an amazing and supportive team to help carry the load maybe I will venture out again.. I think I have been in denial about how much I have missed it. Last year when you and I performed in "The Laramie Project , Ten Years Later" project, that was the first time I had been on stage in four years and I thought my heart would break from happiness.

"You Can’t Take It With You” by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, Feb. 17 through March 7, Thurs. through Sat. at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm, Portland Actors Conservatory’s Firehouse Theatre, 1436 SW Montgomery St., Portland, Ore., 97201. For tickets visit online at or by calling (503) 274- 1717; prices range $13-$25.



PostHeaderIcon Night of the Never-Ending Roast: Hacks & Flacks Yack It Up at Rose Garden Arena

TOASTY ROAST: Okay, so I guess I should've known by the second time that the cast of Glee came out to sing (actually it was a Grant High School show choir) that we were in for a long night at the 15th Annual Portland Roast Festival held Thursday night on the floor of the Rose Garden Arena to benefit the Portland School Foundation. In the good old days I remember this was all about the evening's centerpiece: The "Hacks vs. Flacks" roast. But last night, even though the event started at 5:30 pm, guests had to slog through several speeches, the aforementioned choir show, a veal and veggie dinner and a paddle raise before the main event even started tp commence at about 8:30 pm. Was it worth the wait? Yes, of course. This event is one of the only times that politicos (the "hacks": Sec. of State Kate Brown, City Commish Randy Leonard, Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler) can take a swipe at the fourth estate (the "flacks": OPB's [very preggo] April Baer, KEX's Mark Mason and Dave Anderson, The Oregonian's Anna Griffin) without it feeling like it might end up in a knock-down brawl or in The O's editorial pages. For her part, Brown (pictured above) dazzled with digs at both side of the podium and included the following visual I shot at last fall's Basic Rights Oregon Dinner. I guess her "kiss" with Storm Large caused a bit of a "stir" in Salem. Hmmmm...

And as for her fellow hacks? Chair Wheeler should stick to governing (he's about as good at stand-up as he is at skiing), and Leonard just seemed like the whole entire event was way past his bedtime. The "flacks" ended winning the competition [at nearly 10:30 pm] with a strong showing by Dave Anderson, who possibly got away with the best zingers of the long, long night.

Last Updated (Friday, 19 February 2010 13:33)


PostHeaderIcon Legally Blonde, The Musical: PDX's Smokin' Hot Opening Night Party

BLONDE AMBITION: The cast and crew of the gleefully received "Legally Blonde The Musical" were the first to arrive to Tuesday's opening night after-party at the Marriott Courtyard. In fact, they were there even before the cupcakes and crudite platters were placed for lucky show patrons as well as the seemingly famished cast. Portland Opera's Broadway Across America recent fetish for all things fair-haired (Xanadu also starred a buxom blonde) was as evident at the party as it was onstage, where a frenetic cast led by Becky Gulsvig as "Elle Woods" pulled out all the stops for the Portland opener. Other standouts included Natalie Joy Johnson as "Paulette" (pictured above with Gulsvig) and Tigard High grad Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone . as "Margot" (later this week she will get to perform as Elle for her hometown audience). And let's not forget the "boys" in this show. As the girls say in about every other song in the show: "OH. MY. GOD!" The dancing dudes in this show are hawt...and definitely worth the price of admission. And, oh yeah, the dogs in this show are really cute too. Woof!

Last Updated (Wednesday, 17 February 2010 12:02)


PostHeaderIcon Sweet Charity: Big Ass Sandwiches Goes For BRO-ke Today.

SHOW 'EM YOUR TIPS! Forget Fat Tuesday. Today is Big Ass Wednesday. That's right, Big Ass Sandwiches, is handing over ALL its tips and profits to Basic Rights Oregon. So do the right thing, and chow down the little food cart on Southwest Third and Ash Street. And don't feel guilty about biting into Lisa and Brian Wood's (pictured above) terrific sammies covered in fries (they put 'em on everything!), because as we all know, when BAS goes to the mat for BRO, the calories magically disappear. Riiiight.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 17 February 2010 11:29)


PostHeaderIcon Now That's Tasty: China Forbes Gets Cooking With Local Foodies and Fashionistas

EDIE GOURMET: "Someone's In The Kitchen With China" is neither a new reality show starring the president of the People's Republic of China Hu Jintao, nor does it have anything to do with expensive dinnerware from France. What it is rather, is a brand new cooking show hosted by Pink Martini chanteuse China Forbes (pictured above with indie-folkster Holcombe Waller). Although its still not quite ready for broadcast, China and her crew have already shot two episodes featuring such impressive Portland talents as Thomas Lauderdale (he was the first guest), Gruner chef/owner Christopher Israel, and the queen of haute couture rain coats Hillary Day. This week Forbes will tape an Asian-themed episode featuring Andy Ricker of Pok Pok fame, Steve Smith, the mastermind behind Smith, Tazo and Stash Teas, and fashion designer Michelle DeCourcy. Forbes became interested in the idea of doing the show after she was interviewed about what was in her fridge and found it be the easiest interview she ever did. "Forget music," says Forbes. "I want to talk about food." Keep yours peeled to and for her soon-to-be-released "Someone's In The Kitchen With China" show.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 16 February 2010 12:46)

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