What’s Set for Local Stages This Season?

majestic-front1_650Fall is right around the corner, which means quite a few things for Corvallis. Huge puffy jackets will emerge once again, the drunken college student amoeba will begin to grow, and there will be a ton of new people in town to enjoy the rich arts scene that Corvallis has grown over the last few years.

For citizens new and old, here’s a look at what groups in the local arts scene are doing to close out the year and ring in 2016. It’s a fun batch of great events, so stop rolling your eyes and pay attention.

Majestic Theatre
The Majestic Theatre has found success so far this year under new Theatre Supervisor Jimbo Ivy. With a dedication to bringing what the community wants and to working with local talent, both veteran and up-and-coming, Ivy and his team have crafted a stage that provides affordable entertainment every single week.

Starting tomorrow, the Majestic is housing what can only be described as an eclectic group of events through the rest of the year. And while the list may be too long to fully outline here, we’ll go over some of the highlights.

September’s top billing sees Shel Silverstein’s imaginative mind poured out on stage in An Adult Evening with Shel Silverstein, a series of 10 plays written by Silverstein himself, broken up by musical interludes of Silverstein-written songs. October’s spotlight falls on Aladdin!, a British “panto” style musical that is all about audience interaction and vaudeville-esque comedy. November is the month of two community-driven events with Majestic Science Theatre 3000 and Majestic Madness! 2: The Re-Madness-ing. The former is a parody of 90s cult favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000, and the latter is a chaotic night of creativity where actors jump on stage to perform plays they’ve never seen before. December rounds out the year with The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a comedic holiday play adapted from a best-selling young adult novel.

And on top of all that, the Majestic Reader’s Theatre has new plays on the last Sunday of every month. If you haven’t stopped in at the Majestic recently, you’re doing yourself a disservice because they know how to put on a good show.

Ticket information and a full schedule can be found at www.majestic.org.

Albany Civic Theatre
Our neighbors to the east shouldn’t be forgotten, as the Albany Civic Theater (ACT) plays host to a great variety of stage entertainment. Albany’s theater community looks to keep pace with the Majestic with a packed season of both classic plays and modern favorites.

The first highlight of ACT’s 2015-’16 season belongs to the musical classic Singin’ in the Rain which comes to their stage in November. Heralded as the “greatest movie musical of all time,” this display of soggy singing is, at the very least, a great display of song and dance and the insane choreography used to coordinate the two. Next up is an Agatha Christie classic, Murder on the Nile. This mystery lands at ACT in February and follows the mysterious murder of a honeymooning bride on a paddle steamer floating down the Nile. Auditions for this play are still to come, so why not go volunteer to be a murder victim for the sake of drama? Our last ACT highlight still boggles the mind. Shrek, The Musical. It’s Tony award-winning, sure, but still. It’s Shrek… the musical. Auditions for this play come soon after the New Year, so trying new things may drive local actors into Shrek’s meaty arms in 2016.

ACT will also play host to a summer camp in 2016 which looks to teach and train young actors over the course of a month before throwing them into the fire with a performance on the ACT stage. Albany’s dedication to fielding a season full of fully produced stage plays is admirable, and their education opportunities ensure that the tradition should continue for years to come.

Ticket information and a full schedule can be found at www.albanycivic.org.

Whiteside Theatre
The Whiteside Theatre continues to undergo renovations, but is still very much alive and kicking. Fresh off a dark August of building rehabilitation, the Whiteside is looking to capture your attention to close out 2015.

There are three major series the Whiteside is running to close out the year, each catering to a vastly different demographic.

First up is a classic film series that starts with the eternal classic Casablanca in September. Following that, October brings the spooky 1923 version of The Exorcist. In November, a double feature of Buster Keaton flicks The General and Sherlock Jr. will be on the Whiteside’s screens. The final film in the series is still to be decided, but polling on Facebook is pointing at a potential showing of It’s a Wonderful Life in December.

Second to bat is their “kids and family” series of plays, starting with Through the Eyes of a Friend – Anne Frank in the fall. Put on by Living Voices out of Seattle, this play tells Anne Frank’s tragic story through the eyes of her fictional best friend. In March, the Whiteside brings Curious George to the stage. March also brings History’s Alive –Benjamin Franklin to the stage all the way from New Jersey.

Their third and final series features two live music performances. Frightside at the Whiteside is an annual Halloween-themed live music concert in October; the Whiteside Jam Birthday Bash in November brings talent from around Oregon to celebrate the Whiteside Theatre’s 93rd birthday.

The Whiteside Theatre continues to grow and change inside and out, but they continue to look for support to be able to finish renovations and to expand their event list a little bit more.

Ticket information and a full schedule can be found at www.whitesidetheatre.org.

The Arts Center
The Arts Center has consistently provided high-quality art exhibits and offered opportunities for new artists to display their works in a significant way. In 2015, the Arts Center made a stronger effort to communicate with the community to cater galleries and exhibits to their needs.

The Arts Center will continue that trend into 2016 by continuing to leave gallery submissions open to local artists and students looking to display their wares.

Currently, the Arts Center is home to quilters. Benton County is Quilt County in September, with displays from three different quilters hanging on the Arts Center’s walls. Every Tuesday in September, patrons can join fiber artist Wendy Yoder Holub in stitching some quality fabric art for free.

In October, the Arts Center hosts two interesting events. First up is Chocolate Fantasy, their big fundraiser event being held at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center. Wine, chocolate, and bits of art to bid on? Corvallis has never been fancier. The other October event is the Daily Objects exhibit featuring Sarah Fagan, Susan Rochester, and Sandee McGee. This exhibit shines the light on objects we encounter on a day-to-day basis but may otherwise ignore.

From there, the Arts Center goes on to host the technology-driven exhibit NANOSCAPES. NANOSCAPES features Joan Truckenbrod’s art that combines sculpture and video projections to create a “very different type of winter light show.” The show will run through December into January, leading into their next exhibit, ROT: The Afterlife of Trees. ROT features local ecologist Dr. Mark Harmon’s studies into the decomposition of the trees in the HJ Andrews Forest and the art inspired by those studies.

The Arts Center is always looking for new art, so keep an eye out at www.theartscenter.net for opportunities and a full exhibit schedule.

Fall Festival
Coming up the last weekend of September is the annual Corvallis Fall Festival, and this 43-year-old event looks to be bigger and better than ever. Nineteen food booths, 175 arts and crafts booths, two live music stages, and the brand new Music Discovery Zone will fill Central Park for a weekend of entertainment.

Performers from throughout the Willamette Valley will be making their way down for the festival. The festival’s first day features Americana band Sweet Home, samba group Sambafeat, swing band Blue Moon, ska favorites Big Outside, high-energy maharimba band the Maharimbas, and the blues-rock Hank Shreve Band. The festival’s second day brings soul-grass group the Gravy, folk-rock band Ghost Towns, Andean and tropical fusion band Inka Jam, and Celtic rock group Coming Up 3s.

The Corvallis Fall Festival is meant to support and showcase the local arts and crafts community, and all proceeds of the event go towards enhancing local arts programs. The festival also offers opportunities for children to get hands-on time with the arts with both the Art Discovery and Music Discovery zones. These areas allow children to get time with instruments and art materials and to experience the arts in new ways

Fall Festival has been a staple in our community for 43 years now and the offerings only get bigger and better with each year. All of the talented Corvallisites have an opportunity to showcase their talents at this event and the rest of us can sit and watch. What’s better than that?

For a full schedule of events, head to www.corvallisfallfestival.org.

And, by the Way…
We’d be remiss to ignore the dozens of other groups and venues that also contribute to the arts around Corvallis, the ones that can turn on a dime and schedule sometimes only a week ahead, offering  some of the best work in our fair little burg. The Darkside Cinema continues to showcase great indie films and free classic movie nights,  music and poetry fill a number of our local bars and coffee shops, and there is the Corvallis Arts Walk and a number of galleries.

 And then there’s da Vinci Days… the festival that seemingly has dropped off the map and missed local arts community meetings and even a few phone calls, but that’s another story.

By Nathan Hermanson