Adorable Annie
ACE offers family show for holidays.

Holiday Readings
Book Notes

Lighter Fare
Willamette Rep season opens with Coward comedy.

On the Run
Mini-reviews of area dining spots.

Patriotic Gas Guzzling
Fuelish behavior in the land of the Bush Mandate.

Adorable Annie
ACE offers family show for holidays.

Conceived in a time when the economy was dismal and the country was short on optimism, a red-headed mop-top won the hearts of millions in a comic strip that later spawned a radio show, a Broadway theater musical, and several films. The little orphan returns to the stage in Actors Cabaret's production of the musical Annie, which follows the depression era rags to riches story of a spunky orphan determined to find her parents.


The musical opens in New York City's run-down municipal orphanage, where Annie dreams of finding the parents who left her on the orphanage doorstep 11 years before. Overseen by Miss Hannigan, a wretchedly embittered matron, the hard-luck girls in her care are forced to mop and clean and eat cold mush. But Annie's life takes an unexpected turn for the better when billionaire Oliver Warbucks decides to take the little orphan in for the Christmas holidays. The loveable youngster easily wraps the stoic businessman and his staff of servants around her little finger.

In his effort to adopt her, and at the risk of losing her, Warbucks launches a nationwide search for Annie's parents. Meanwhile, Miss Hannigan, her loathsome brother, and his greedy companion hatch an opportunistic scheme to nab the reward money. But in happy ending fashion, their nefarious plans are foiled, Annie offers then-president Franklin Delano Roosevelt renewed hope in uncertain times, and gets adopted by "Daddy" Warbucks.

Director Joe Zingo has assembled a large and gifted cast for this production beginning with Helene Morse in the title role. Being the star is a hefty assignment, especially for a child, but with her charm, solid timing and delivery, Morse makes it appear easy. Despite a few difficult to reach high notes, Morse's pleasant and natural singing voice is exceptional in "Maybe," and, of course, in everyone's sing-along favorite "Tomorrow."

Last seen as the delightfully menacing Hyde in ACE's fine production of Jekyll and Hyde, Kevin Boling shows his versatility as billionaire Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks. Boling is a commanding presence on stage and his strong singing voice resonates. Likewise, Becky Croson-LaChapelle-Rubino provides a strong performance as Miss Hannigan. With her frumpy attire and hair askew, Croson-LaChapelle-Rubino sings "Little Girls" with campy flair. Shining in the role of Oliver Warbuck's demure personal secretary Grace Farrell is the talented Teryl Hawk, whose pleasing melodic voice is an asset to the show.

In equally dynamic supporting roles are Anthony McCarthy as Rooster, Miss Hannigan's conniving brother and Jessica Reynolds as Lily, Rooster's dingy gal-pal. Reynolds' over-the-top tittering giggles are riotously funny. And Reynolds, McCarthy, and Croson-LaChapelle-Rubino showcase their veritable comedic talents when they share the stage in the delightfully amusing number "Easy Street." Bruce McCarthy does a great job as the wheelchair-bound FDR, as does Matt Bonham as the quirky radio announcer Bert Healey.

Musical director and accompanist Nicole Garibay does a fine job of leading this cast. Of course, the musical wouldn't be complete without the excellent chorus and those who play dual roles as Warbucks' hired help and New York City's downtrodden. Rounding out the cast is the cute-as-a-button gaggle of giggling girls—the adorable orphans who sing and scrub their way into the audience's hearts.

As one can expect on opening night, there were a few flubbed lines, but as with nearly all Actors Cabaret productions, the costumes are first-rate, capturing every detail of the depression era. The fantastic revolving sets serve as useful tools for transporting the audience back and forth between the streets of New York City, the squalor of the orphanage, and the splendor of Oliver Warbuck's living room; and the catchy songs stay in your head long after the final curtain. Bring the kids—Annie is a feel-good treat for the entire family.

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Holiday Readings

Book Notes Nov. 27 - Dec. 27 2002: Daniel Quinn (Ishmael) reads from his new metaphysical thriller, The Holy, at 7 pm on Dec. 4 at UO Bookstore. ...Portland wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper reads from his book on the World Wrestling Federation, In the Pit With Piper, at 7 pm on Dec. 4 in Doc's Pad Sports Bar. ... Poets Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux host a "Tattoo Slam" celebrating the release of Dorothy Parker's Elbow by Addonizio and Cheryl Dumesnil at 7 pm on Dec. 6 in Tsunami Books. ...Seattle writer Matt Briggs, Karin Temple, Michael Kroetch, Jean Esteve and Greg Chaimov read at 5 pm on Dec. 7 in Tsunami Books from StringTown, an annual magazine of creative writing. Eugene cover artist Roxy Hills will exhibit her art. ...Authors and Artists Fair, the final public event at the old Eugene Library, will feature 35 authors, 11 artists and eight musicians from 7-10 pm on Dec. 7. This gala event is free, but a percentage of sales benefits the Eugene Public Library Foundation. ...Local authors Carola Dunn (mystery) and Nina Kiriki Hoffman (fantasy) will sign their latest books from 2-4 pm on Dec. 8 in B. Dalton. ...Eugene writers and teachers Bennett Huffman and Ken Zimmerman read their poetry at 4 pm on Dec. 8 in Tsunami Books. ...Carola Dunn reads from her latest holiday mystery, Mistletoe and Murder, at 7 pm on Dec. 12 at Barnes & Noble. ...The UO School of Journalism and Communication's new quarterly online magazine of literary nonfiction, Etude, edited by Lauren Kessler, features writings by past and present grad students in the literary nonfiction program ( in the 2002 Oregon Writers Colony writing contest include Patricia Mees Armstrong of Eugene, who placed third in the fiction category for "The Fattest Woman in Ireland." ...National Book Awards 2002 include Julia Glass (fiction) for Three Junes; Robert A. Caro (nonfiction) for Master of the Senate; Ruth Stone (poetry) for In the Next Galaxy (Copper Canyon Press), and Nancy Farmer (young people's literature) for The House of the Scorpion.

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Lighter Fare
Willamette Rep season opens with Coward comedy.

Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit in 1941 in five days and opened it in London after one week of rehearsal. It ran for four years. Willamette Repertory Theatre, which received Hult residency status this past summer, has been rehearsing the show for four weeks and will open with a preview performance Wednesday, Nov. 27 and commence its run on Nov. 29, the night after Thanksgiving.


Opening Thanksgiving weekend isn't ideal, and that's where residency status comes in. Next year, WRT will get preferred status in choosing its run dates. Still, the Coward comedy is perfect family fare and should be able to get all those now-what-do-we-do-with-the-in-laws people off their turkey-stuffed carcasses and out to laugh away those pumpkin pie calories.

The typical Coward play is a comedy of manners, with polite, high-brow, "Masterpiece Theatre" humor. Not this. Spirit is more a comedy of errors, a spoof of the upper crust's trying to remain stiff-upper-lipped and in control when everything spirals into madcap mayhem.

The plot is simple: Charles Condomine (Bill Hulings), a novelist, and his current wife, Ruth (Lyn Burg), have invited friends to join them for drinks and dinner with a local clairvoyant, Madame Arcati (Marti Stevens Byers). Charles is planning a novel about a spiritualist and wants to observe the behavior of the medium during a séance. As all are convinced that Madame Arcati is a charlatan they are more than surprised when there are supernatural manifestations — the table trembles, Madame Arcati falls into a trance, and Charles hears the voice of his first wife, Elvira (Susan Tate).

But only Charles can see and hear Elvira. Ruth gets upset, and the rest, as they say, is comedy.

WRT Artistic Director Kirk Boyd chose Spirit for balance. He began planning this year's season well over a year ago, choosing To Kill A Mockingbird for the winter show and then wanting lighter works on either side of it. He settled on The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) for spring, and then the Coward for the season opener.

"I was looking for a good piece to launch us. After the world tragedy and everything, I wanted a season essentially light," says Boyd.

The final piece to the programming puzzle fell into place when he met Bill Hulings, who landed the role of Bobby Child in OFAM's Crazy for You. Boyd adds, "I knew he could do Charles."

Next, he picked Hans Christofferson to direct. Christofferson had directed WRT's Love Letters and The Miracle Worker. "His work with pieces of the heart are the things he succeeds extremely well at," says Boyd. "This one at its root is a love story and it's a chance to have a little fun and not be so serious about it."

Christofferson, who also directed Uncle Vanya and will direct the upcoming Nora for Lord Leebrick, says this play marks a chance to "get his feet wet" directing comedy again. The challenge, he says, is the "physicality of all of this."

Christofferson has brought with him some actors he's used to working with including Susan Tate (Elvira) and Dan Pegoda (Dr. Bradman) whom he directed in Vanya and Lyn Burg (Ruth) and Sharon Sless (Mrs. Bradman) whom he worked with in Miracle Worker. Christofferson says he enjoys the ensemble aspect of working with a familiar company of actors. "You can get a lot more work done when you know each other."

But it's also fun to meet new people. Marti Stevens Byers, previously unknown to anyone involved with the show, appeared at auditions and blew the roof off the place, according to Boyd. Byers has performed the role of Madame Arcati before, and while that can sometimes work against a director — the actor may be too attached to the way she's always done it — it turned out to be a positive, collaborative experience for the two. "It's like working with a good architect," says Christofferson. "We were both able to add ideas the other didn't have."

Bill Hulings also knows how to play it big, according to Christofferson. As for Blithe Spirit's high comedy, Christofferson says, "It's going to be so much fun."

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On the Run
Mini-reviews of area dining spots.

Yi Shen Vietnamese Restaurant
1075 Chambers St. 683-9386

Yi Shen does more take-out than eat in. The space is a little sterile and bright, but friendly. A lovely picture of a bowl of soup, Vietnamese Pho, welcomes you in through the store into the dining area. The store deserves some mention, too: It's well stocked and has good prices on Asian produce and frozen dinners.

If you want your dinner fresh, however, you've come to the right place. This hole-in-the-wall has plenty of selection, very reasonable prices, and really great vegetarian choices. The vegetarian listings on the main menu are good, especially the Spicy Tofu, but look at the specials list for lots of veggie choices too. I suspect you could spend a lifetime just eating off the specials menu, and call it a well-lived and complete life.

The Spicy Green Beans are poetry. The beans are crunchy crisp and juicy, with a sweet and not too spicy sauce. They come served over rice with tofu, chicken, pork or beef, and make a filling meal. Also notable is the fried rice, which also comes with a choice of tofu or meats, and lots of veggies. The flavor is distinctive Vietnamese and very nice. On the less consistent side, the fried spring rolls can either be light and crisp, or a little mealy and soggy. Order them with caution, but order everything else with full confidence.

11 am-7 pm SU-TU & TH, 11 am-8 pm F & SA. $.


Keystone Café
West 5th at Lawrence St. 342-2075

Down-to-earth, healthy food in a low-key comfortable atmosphere is what Keystone Café does best. On a cold morning with a long day ahead, try the Vegan Powerhouse with nutritional yeast gravy. It'll keep you going strong: It's packed full of potatoes, spinach, onions, and tofu (or tempeh by request). Top it off with the gravy and a giant oatmeal cookie and you may even have enough power to change the world.

Another standard you can't go wrong with is the Greek Tofu Scramble. The flavor and texture is just right, even if you're not a big fan of tofu, and the spinach and tomatoes taste bright and fresh. Try it with a smoothie — Keystone makes nice creamy thick ones. Perhaps the ballot stuffers are right, this might just be the best breakfast in town!

7 am-2 pm TU-TH, 7 am-3 pm F-M. $.


Ritta's Burritos and Dana's Cheesecake Bakery
Holiday Market at the Fairgrounds,

Hooray! The Holiday Market has begun! Every kind of beautiful handmade thing you could wish for, lovingly displayed all around; sparkling lights and faux evergreen; folk music and feral kids running amok through the crooked isles. Shopping like this certainly is hungry work.

Luckily, in the heart of it all are the Saturday Market food booths we've come to know and love. One perennial favorite is Ritta's Burritos. Years of practice and love have let Ritta and her crew perfect the burrito craft, and the market is the perfect place for it. A former brief shopfront in Sweet Life Patisserie's current spot wasn't as successful, but at the Market there's always a line. You can get a regular for $4.50, deluxe for $5, or a small version for less. Ritta's also offers punch cards, if you're a big fan. Fill half the card, get a free drink, fill the whole card and get a big fat burrito on the house.

Ritta's is not fast food: musician Danny Dolinger got through two songs by the time my name was called and my burrito was delivered. It was heaping full of a saucy salsa, sour cream, avocados (which come on the deluxe version — always get them if you can), sprouts and plenty of flavor. It satisfies on a deep and primal level, and will run down your chin and even your elbows without the proper precautions. If you order one, be sure to find a table and some napkins. Sharing it with a kid, it took me nine paper napkins to keep the mess in check.

Dessert at Dana's, located conveniently next door, was quicker and cleaner. The cheesecake is classic. Creamy and smooth, a layer of lighter cream on top, crumbly cookie crust below. The crust is always light and crispy; I'm not sure how they do that. The cheesecake is even available in eggnog flavor for the holidays. Dana's also provides great coffee and even has a jar of metal forks available (while they last) in addition to the plastic ones. The slices of cake are always good and fresh as well.

10 am-6 pm SA & SU through Dec. 24. $.


$ — under $7, $$ — $7 to $12, $$$ — $12 to $17, $$$$ — over $17

Morsels is a revolving feature that tries to capture the atmosphere as well as the cuisine of some of our favorite places to eat in and around Eugene, along with food news. Suggestions? Call Ben or Marina at 484-0519 or e-mail

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Patriotic Gas Guzzling
Fuelish behavior in the land of the Bush Mandate.

Are you doing your patriotic duty? Did you consume your fair share of gasoline today? That's the law, or at least it seems that way in the era of the Bush Mandate. Drive an economy car like the Toyota Echo and, as writer Alan Bisbort puts it, "risk detention at the nearest homeland security compound, for possible unpatriotic impulses and failure to emit enough pollution in the grand American tradition."

Despite constantly evolving technology that could turn today's cars into fuel misers, the average 2003 car gets only 20.8 miles per gallon, 6 percent below the pre-SUV high water mark for American fuel economy in 1987 (22.1 mpg). As Technology Review points out, the 2002 Chevy Blazer gets a miserable 18 mpg, two mpg less than its 1985 counterpart. But according to a coalition of environmental groups, it would be economically and technically feasible for automakers to meet a standard of more than 40 mpg by 2012 and 55 mpg by 2020, nearly a 75 percent increase compared with today's fleet.

John DeCicco, a senior fellow at Environmental Defense, thinks that SUVs could average 40 mpg (up from the current dismal 21 mpg). Some two thirds of the savings could come from improving the powertrain, and even more from reducing weight and rolling resistance of these bricklike objects. The Sierra Club concurs, and is pushing such fuel-saving technology as the gearless continuously variable transmission (CVT). To achieve these savings would cost $1,000 to $2,000 per car, but consumers would get their money back in five years through savings at the gas pump.

The Ford Motor Company knows how to do it, and is bringing out a 40-mpg version of its Escape SUV next year. Will people buy it in quantity? It's hard to tell, but some 74 percent of voters in industry-friendly Michigan favor increasing fuel economy standards for cars, according to a recent poll.


The problem isn't just the car companies. Consumers are making bad choices, and it's leading Detroit to stop caring about fuel economy. One of the big best-sellers today is General Motors' H2 Hummer. Here's owner Bill Kramer, quoted in the New York Times: "If you can afford a [$50,000] H2 you're not going to care if it gets 10 miles to the gallon." It actually gets nine mpg, but who's counting? The Sierra Club is planning a campaign against the Hummer, similar to its "Ford Valdez" campaign that helped bring down Ford's mammoth Excursion.

Another problem is obfuscation. Industry and its nonprofit supporters have mounted their own campaign, opposing any changes to Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE), and consequently it has remained frozen for more than 15 years.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute scares car buyers by citing a National Academy of Sciences report claiming that federal fuel economy standards contribute to the deaths of 1,300 to 2,600 people in traffic accidents each year. CAFE "simply kills people," says CEI attorney Sam Kazman. But how many people die because SUVs are on the road? No studies exist, but there's ample evidence that SUVs are no safer than cars, when rollover risk is factored in.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers scares people too, by saying that "energy legislation would effectively eliminate SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks." The American Iron and Steel Institute says that "increasing CAFE would be counterproductive in terms of energy savings and would interfere with market forces." And the Heartland Institute adds that higher CAFE standards would not result in less energy consumption but would simply prompt people to travel more (italics added). We're in the land of overt silliness here, but it's winning friends and influencing congressmen, while we slowly choke and run out of gas.

Jim Motavalli is editor of E The Environmental Magazine. Questions or comments?