Dukes and Disguises: Arden meets Petticoat Junction.
Fuji Creek Shelter: One more snow adventure before the spring thaw.
Wine and Memories: Flavoring the fruit of the vine.
Dukes and Disguises
Arden meets Petticoat Junction.
By Aria Seligmann
Several weeks ago we told you about April becoming Eugene's Theater month. The new Eugene Theatre Alliance, a consortium of our town's six theater companies, is offering a Passport to Play series. For only $30, the passport enables holders to see a play at each of the theaters. That's five bucks a pop, a great deal and cheap way to introduce yourself to Eugene's theater scene.
|Celia (Wayne Bund)
and Rosalind (Lauren Armstrong) disguise themselves in the forest of Arden.
The plays in the series include The Adding Machine at the UO, opening April 12; Steel Magnolias with Willamette Rep, opening April 10; The Crucible at LCC, opening April 19; The Beauty Queen of Leenane at Actor's Cabaret, opening April 26; Give Me Your Answer Do, which continues at VLT; and As You Like It at Lord Leebrick, which opened last weekend.
As You Like It is a perfect example of how theater in this community has changed in the mere five years I've been reviewing it. No longer are actors and directors solely loyal to one company or playhouse. Directors are moving around more, bringing with them actors who have wider opportunities to perform the roles that challenge them. This has resulted in a much better scene for the theatergoer, and a more honest chance to consider each play on its own merits, not on the basis of which company is producing it, and whether expectations are higher or lower for that company. (The exception is Willamette Rep, a professional company that has much more money than the community theaters and uses it for more elaborate productions and to pay Equity actors and stage managers.) With this shift, however, comes an overall higher expectation level for community theater -- a shift that serves everyone.
For As You Like It, Director John Schmor comes to Lord Leebrick from the UO where he directed the successful Angels in America, parts one and two, co-directed Nicholas Nickleby and performed in Faust/Faustus. For this production, he brings in a bevy of fresh UO faces to the Lord Leebrick. The downside to this is at times, As You Like It appears to be just another good university production, not up to the standard of the theater's previous production of Uncle Vanya.
At other times, the age-appropriate casting of some of these excellent young actors combined with the talent of such veterans as Ken Hof, David Stuart Bull and Sharon Sless brings the production up a notch, to where it should be for all the talent Eugene's got.
Schmor has taken Shakespeare's pastoral and put a few spins on it to keep it fresh. Duke Frederick's royal court is uptight urbania, while Arden becomes Petticoat Junction. Just hang with that for a moment and you'll get it. If you doubt where you are, Nicole Barrett's original Springtime song will clear things up, as will Audrey's (Sharon Sless) pink outfit.
I liked the Arden Schmor creates in contrast to the court setting. But I was confused by the concept of one dark torture scene that has Duke Frederick (Bary Shaw), or "Bad Duke" in this play, smacking around Oliver (Matt Briere). That scene's style just doesn't seem to fit.
But that oddity didn't stay with me for long, for I was busy being blown away by Lauren Armstrong's Rosalind, a performance that gained momentum as the play continued. Her voice is strong, presence is amazing and energy is enviable. Following Rosalind around as the ever-faithful Celia is an incredibly appealing Wayne Bund. Who wasn't with him when Oliver kisses him and whisks him away? Casting Wayne Bund as Celia was a great move, and the ending scene, where Celia is clearly a "he" and marries Oliver on the line "Let no cross come between you" was a poignant moment.
Also well-cast were Noah Smith as Orlando and Erik Nicolaisen as Charles. Liam Drumm was a hilariously pathetic Sylvius. Ken Hof, still smoking from his performance as Wall in the Rep's Dream, was again in top form as Corin/Labeaux.
The odd coupling of Sharon Sless (Audrey) and David Stuart Bull (Touchstone) was something completely new. I've seen Sless in Hannah Free, The Club, Cloud 9 and numerous other productions, and to see her as pretty-in-pink Audrey was very entertaining. Bull's Touchstone could use some loosening up and Valerie McMahon's melancholic Jacques needs to be explored deeper to bring out the true shadow side he represents.
Nicole Barrett's (Amiens) original music adds quite a bit to this production and she has a lovely voice, but some of the songs where she's accompanied by Liam Drumm still need tightening.
Overall, this is an entertaining production that needs some tweaking to reach its potential.
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Writer Jane Kirkpatrick speaks at 7 pm on 4/4 at Amazon Community Center; $5 non-members Mid-Valley Willamette Writers. ...Thriller writer John Reed reads and signs copies of his latest spy thriller, The Kindfishers Call at 5:30 pm on 4/5 at Tsunami Books. ...Mystery writer Carola Dunn signs at 5-7 pm on 4/5 at the Book Mark. ...Historian G. Edward White discusses writing legal biography at 3 pm on 4/5 in 184 Knight Law Center. ...Author, theologian and ethicist Daniel Maguire speaks on abortion and contraception at 7 pm on 4/12 at the McDonald Theatre. ...Writer David Sedaris will perform at 7 pm on 4/21 in the Silva Hall, Hult Center. 682-5000. Also, Sedaris will be in Portland on 4/25. (503) 227-2583. Poet Marvin Bell, author of 15 books of poems, reads at 7 pm on 4/23 in the Eugene Public Library, upstairs. Free.
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Fuji Creek Shelter
One more snow adventure before the spring thaw.
By James Johnston
|Fuji Creek Shelter
is a sturdy three-sided affair.
Hopefully nobody's sick of the snowshoe and ski trips in this column yet. We'll get back to the conventional lower elevation hikes soon. But first, there's one more trip you've got to take before the snow disappears from the mountains, which might not be until well into May or even June at the rate we're going.
The trip to Fuji Creek Shelter is a fairly easy day excursion, but if you're up to it, the overnight ski (or snowshoe) experience can't be beat.
Directions: Take I-5 south from Eugene for approximately three miles. Take the Oakridge/Klamath Falls exit (Exit 188A). Stay to the left onto Hwy. 58. Take 58 for approximately 36 miles through Oakridge. Approximately 20 miles east of Oakridge (about a mile east of a tunnel) take a right at the sign for Salt Creek Falls. You might have to drive all the way to the parking lot by the falls, but park as near to the highway as you can because you'll be walking back there. The first left is a spur road with some good parking spaces for 4-wheel drives. Once you're parked, walk back up to the highway to the snowed-over road directly across the highway from the Salt Creek Falls turn-off.
Most of this trip will have you snowshoeing or skiing along this road. Walking or skiing on a road may seem kind of lame, but just wait for the views. The Fuji Creek Road (FS 5894) climbs gently uphill for about a mile through a nice forest before turning abruptly to the east. At this point it's another two miles or so to the shelter. And all along the way are spectacular views of Willamette Pass to the east, Mount Yoran and Diamond Peak to the south, and, occasionally, Maiden Peak to the north.
Approximately three miles from Highway 58 you'll see prominent markers and a helpful map on the left-hand side of the road that'll steer you to the Fuji Creek Shelter, a sturdy three-sided affair. There's a big stove and there's usually plenty of wood, although you shouldn't count on it. If you decide to spend the night, you've got a good sleeping bag and pad, and you can get the stove going (bring along some newspaper and a small axe for kindling), you'll stay plenty warm. The open side of the shelter faces directly at Diamond Peak.
Once you've got the fire going, and if it's a clear night and you really want to have some fun, strap on the skis or snowshoes and get back on the trail. There's nothing quite like skiing at night. If it's a clear night with a big moon you won't even need a light, and you'll have the time of your life gliding across moonlit snow, a million stars overhead.
Skiing at night is technically not all that smart. The light of the moon and stars on the snow wrecks havoc with your depth perception. Don't ski off a cliff.
If you've spent the night, or if you're on a day trip but still have some spare time, you'll want to explore some of the network of trails to the north of the shelter. These trails receive hardly any use in the winter, but are sporadically marked with blue diamonds. The trail from the shelter splits in about a quarter of a mile. The left-hand turn will take you west and drop you onto Fuji Creek Road about a mile from the highway (this route is hard to find from the road while you're coming up). If you continue north the trail will lead you Island, Verde and Birthday Lakes, and eventually into the Waldo Lake Wilderness.
If you haven't gotten out in the snow yet, this might be your last chance.
Rent snowshoes at:
Berg's Ski Shop, 13th and Lawrence, 683-1300
McKenzie Outfitters, Broadway and Oak, 343-2300
REI, 3rd and Lawrence, 465-1800
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Wine and Memories
Savoring the fruit of the vine.
Wine is so simple: Lovely ripe clusters of grapes are picked and crushed, the sweet juices fermented until all or most of the sugars are converted to alcohol, the resultant liquids allowed to rest awhile in barrels of various kinds and for varying lengths of time, then bottled, labeled, sold and consumed. Then the cycle repeats, as it has for thousands of years, so simple, so beautiful. There is something in wine that reaches the purest and best parts of the human mind and spirit, something that crosses the boundaries of time, that captures sense and sensibility, soil and sun, and can warm a shrouded heart.
This spring morning a wan, lazy sun glows pale and thin behind a layer of gray clouds as I meander through the garden on the trail of scents. I pluck a sprig of rosemary, roll it in my palms, lift it to my nose and inhale deeply, letting its deep aroma transport me in memory to times and places gone by. I repeat my exercises with thyme, golden oregano, green onion, Chinese garlic, hyacinth, anemone. I pluck a deep purple pansy, peer into its lavender center, pass it close to my nose, draw in that sweet, tender fragrance, pop it into my mouth, chew slowly, savoring.
I recall strolling through the late summer silence of Seven Springs vineyard with Mark Vlossak of St. Innocent Winery, maker of some of Oregon's best sparkling wine. Vlossak carefully selected small clusters of Chardonnay from all parts of the vines, tasting, drawing breath over the juices on his tongue, trying to describe what he called his "flavor memory." This, more than any chemical test, told him when to pick the grapes for his wines.
Some months ago, Mr. Chris Tsefalas -- a designated "Perfect Nose" (master of scents) and owner of Portland's incredible Perfume House, also a wonderful gentleman and lover of fine wines -- mentored me on the power of perfume. He gestured to the hundreds of great scents that lined the shelves -- Patou, Schiaparelli, Chanel, Arpege, Amouage, Caron, Givenchy: "Each of these," he said in a tender whisper, "is a memory and will make a memory that will endure for a lifetime."
Wine also makes memories, working the full sensory spectrum -- sight (color, the "robe"), sound (pop of cork, laughter), smell (aromas in great profusion), taste (flavors that evoke infinite similes), touch (texture, feel), even kinetics (motion) and the temporal sense (time and all its illusions).
An illustrative tale: I met Bill Wilson when he was in his 60s, blocky build, white hair, always in suit and tie, literate man. He was semi-retired, still working just to keep his hand in and to keep close to his beloved wife, Ginger, who was dying of MS. They had been a passionate couple of modest means but lovers of good food and wine. Bill had collected avidly, but Ginger's illness had sapped the pleasure from his life, and he was reducing his holdings to a precious few. He saved only two bottles to share at a last dinner with Ginger, both 1945 Ch. Lafite-Rothschild, possibly one of the greatest wines ever made. Bill ordered in a fine dinner, lit the candles, opened the first bottle. It was awful, had turned ghastly. He opened the second. The wine was sublime, deep, rich, endlessly complex. He fed Ginger, held her glass to her lips, and they smiled to recall all the sweet times they had shared.
Ginger is gone. That was their last moment. Bill lives alone in Montana, with his memories. And to the end of our lives, my wife and I will remember him and his love. Great wines can forge bonds like these.
Now, some wines to make memories:
Dr. Loosen 1999 Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese ($27): Pricey for most folks, but so lovely in flavors of apple, peach, melon, flint, sweetness balanced by crisp acidity.
Granville 1999 Oregon Pinot Noir ($24): A new producer scores with a grand vintage, deep and complex with black cherry, smoke, sweet toasty oak; needs time to air (or age), but yields rich aromas and flavors.
Peter Schandl 2000 Pinot Blanc ($14.50): From Austria, a dry white of remarkable complexity and versatility, silky and round, with aromas of white flowers and ripe pears, tropical fruit flavors; can be served deliciously with fish, chicken, many vegetarian dishes.
Enjoy, friends, and remember.
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