“A bold sound from New England,” “an Irish music phenomenon in America,” and “pure exhilaration for the ears” are a few of the comments from recent reviews of the The Press Gang, a traditional Irish band from Portland, Maine, that will perform at 7 P.M. on Friday, February 10, at the Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center, 588 16th Street, in Astoria.

The Press Gang fuses the talents of squeezebox player Christian “Junior” Stevens, fiddler Alden Robinson, flute-player and vocalist Hanz Araki, and guitarist Owen Marshall into a high-octane musical partnership. The quartet blends their skill and fluency in traditional Irish music with their curiosity and aptitude for other styles. The joy that these musicians pour into playing music together is unmistakable and infectious. The result is a unique sound; at once energetic and sensitive, innovative and reverent.

Flutist and vocalist Araki is no stranger to the North Coast. He was based for many years in Portland, Oregon, and recorded solo albums as well as several albums with Kathryn Claire. Araki has performed locally at McMenamins’ Sand Trap Pub, KALA, the Fort George, the Peninsula Arts Center, and as a soloist with the North Coast Symphonic Band at the Liberty Theater.

Admission to the February 7 performance is $15 for adults and $10 for youth. Proceeds benefit the PAC. Tickets are available at the door and online at www.littlesearecords.com. For more information, call Partners for the PAC co-chair Charlene Larsen at 503-325-0590.


Do you enjoy unusual instrumental combinations like cello and banjo? Guitar and jew’s harp? Gorgeous solo voices that come together in tight harmony? Then come to the PAC at 2pm on Sunday afternoon, February 5th, to hear the soon-to-be famous Skamokawa Swamp Opera.

Four talented musicians make up the SSO, headed by Skamokawa resident and string musician extraordinaire, Andrew Emlen. Singing and playing guitar is Kyleen Austin (the opera connection). Eric Friend plays percussion and mandolin; he has a fine tenor voice. Jillian Raye plays banjo and sings, both enthusiastically.

The SSO plays almost every kind of music—-hip-hop, opera, folk, pop standards and more. Their concerts include lots of “sidebar” comments to the audience and they are family friendly. A review of their last concert described them as “serious, zany, talented, learned”. They are all that and, yes, even more.

Tickets to see Skamokawa Swamp Opera are $15 and will be available on Feb. 5th at the Performing Arts Center at 588 16th street in Astoria. Children under 12 are free. Doors will open at 1:30. Their director Andrew Emlen has said he hopes there will be “dancing in the aisles”! So come and enjoy!!

Words, words, words! ‘All In The Timing’ offers a clever comic quandary of speech vs. meaning

all-in-timing-posterLock three chimpanzees in a room with typewriters. Could they eventually write “Hamlet”? What if they shared an affinity with three famous authors?

If a construction worker announced he was the Lindbergh baby, would you believe him? And, if you went on a first date and said the wrong thing, would you like to start the conversation all over?

Odd questions, and seemingly unrelated, but they form the premise of some zany scenes in David Ives’ “All In The Timing.”

The play will be staged at the Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center in Astoria in January. The production is directed by Edward James of Astoria and features a cast of North Coast actors. It has five comic segments which share a focus on words, language and almost inevitable miscommunications.

Written in 1993 and first staged Off-Broadway, the contrasting scenes highlight often existentialist perspectives on life. Several are complicated by romance, although none proceeds perfectly.

“Sure Thing” features a man and a woman who meet in a cafe. Neither can immediately tell the truth, but they are magically given repeated chances to try again.
“Words, Words, Words” eavesdrops on three classic authors imprisoned with a seemingly impossible task, fueled by bananas and cigarettes.
“The Universal Language” shows a shy woman trying to overcome loneliness through language. Can she trust the man who helps her?
“The Philadelphia” showcases two men in a cafe apparently trapped in different pockets of reality, served by a waitress who seems determined to mess up their orders.
“Mere Mortals” introduces three construction workers perched high on a half-built skyscraper revealing their true identities. European royalty? Surely it cannot be so?

David Ives is an American playwright, screenwriter, and novelist, born in Chicago, educated at Yale but based in New York. Although he has written many scripts and adaptations of full-length plays, his skill in writing one-act comedies prompted the New York Times to label him the “maestro of the short form.”

The Astoria performances are produced with permission of Dramatists Play Service, Inc.


RevisedLowrezLove-Sick PosterThe American Association of University Women (AAUW) and Partners for the Performing Arts Center (PAC) present Love/Sick by John Cariani on Fridays and Saturdays, September 16, 17, 23, 24 at 7:00 p.m. and on Sundays, September 18 and 25 at 4:00 p.m. at the Astoria Performing Arts Center on 16th and Franklin. The play is directed by Susi Brown, who also directed Cariani’s Almost, Maine at The Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach and was the owner and director of Pier Pressure Productions in Astoria.

The actors are Priscilla Fairall, William Ham, Lori Wilson Honl, Toni Ihander, Daric Moore, Nancy Montgomery, Barry Sears, Sheila Shaffer, and Ben Van Osdol. Larry Bryant is the lighting designer, Bobbi Brice is assistant to the director, Dave Gager and William Ham are the sound technicians, running crew are Isaac Gray and Cheyenne Lyon. Daric Moore is the composer and performer of the music specifically created for this production.

John Edward Cariani, born in 1969, is an accomplished playwright and an award-winning American actor. Cariani is best known to television viewers as the forensic expert Julian Beck in Law & Order. On stage, he earned a Tony Award nomination for his role as Motel the Tailor in the 2004 Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof. Cariani starred in the Transport Group’s 2014 Off-Broadway revival of Almost, Maine. The production was named one of the ten best plays of 2014 by The Advocate, and was also recorded by the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

As a playwright, Cariani is best known for his first play, Almost, Maine which premiered at the Portland (Maine) Stage Company in 2004, breaking box office records. The Wall Street Journal named it “one of the ten must-see shows” for the 2004/2005 regional theater season.

Cariani’s second play, cul-de-sac premiered Off-Broadway in 2006 with Cariani performing as Joe Jones. The New York Times described cul-de-sac as “charming, witty and macabre.” The play is not yet published as Cariani is still working on it.

Cariani’s third play, Last Gas premiered at Portland (Maine) Stage Company in 2010. Cariani noted that “Almost, Maine is almost a love letter to northern Maine and Last Gas is a more realistic look at that part of the world.”

Love/Sick is Cariani’s most recent play which premiered in the fall of 2010 and played Off-Broadway in 2015. This production is the premier of this play in Oregon.

Love/Sick is a collection of nine vignettes, with eighteen characters, taking place at the same time and in the same location: a Friday night in an alternate suburban reality. This comedy explores the pain and joy of being in love. The cleverly fashioned playlets show the ups and downs of relationships in a variety of situations: love at first sight, dating anxiety, a wedding, boredom, a divorce, and a meeting of ex-lovers. Some of the vignettes have quirky titles such as “Uh-Oh” and “What?!?” and philosophical titles such as “Destiny”, “Where was I?” and “The Answer”. The Huffington Post described Cariani’s play …”While poking fun at the happily-ever-after notion by means of a strong dose of happily-never-after….He knows how to keep audiences laughing while passing along disappointing news.”

Ticket prices are $15 and can be purchased throughout August from AAUW members and at the door one hour prior to the performances. This is a benefit production for Clatsop Community College student scholarships and for support of the continuing use of the Performing Arts Center. For more information contact Sara Meyer of AAUW at chuck555@gmail.com or 503-791-0426 or contact Charlene Larsen of the PAC at crl.larsen@charter.net or 503-791-6207.

The Door Between the Worlds

celticharp“Legends of the Celtic Harp” performs their new show: “The Door Between the Worlds” at 4:00pm on Sunday April 24 at the CCC Performing Arts Center, 16th and Franklin in Astoria, OR. General admission is $15.

“The Door Between the Worlds” is a dramatic journey in music and story into the realms of the Celtic “Otherworld.”    The Celtic people have always believed that there are two worlds. There is the world that we live in. And there is “The Otherworld.” This Land of Faery is filled with wonder and delight but also darkness and peril.  The acclaimed ensemble, Legends of the Celtic Harp, opens the door into this mystical world with music played on Celtic harps, Irish bouzouki, cittern, and Swedish nyckelharpa and tells the tales of that legendary land…from which no one returns unchanged.

This trio of Celtic harpers who have toured extensively throughout the US to sold out audiences and rave reviews. One recent review states “Legends of the Celtic Harp is a blend of music and oratory, falling somewhere between concert and theater. It spanned nearly the range of human feeling, from humor to tragedy, tenderness to rage, reality to mysticism, and more besides. The effects were powerful and exhilarating.”

Audiences will hear three Celtic Harps including the rare wire strung, Swedish Nyckelharpa, Cittern and Irish Bouzouki intertwined with moving stories from the mystical land and legend of the faery.

Patrick Ball is an American master of the Irish harp and a captivating spoken word artist. He has recorded nine instrumental and three spoken word albums which have sold well over a half million copies internationally, winning national awards in both the music and spoken word categories. Patrick’s critically acclaimed concerts and solo theatrical productions have toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Ireland and the UK, and have been awarded grants by the California Arts Council and the Circle of Excellence Award from the National Storytelling Association.

Lisa Lynne is a multi-instrumentalist and performer who has gained worldwide recognition for her original music featuring her Celtic Harp. She is widely acclaimed for composing memorable and heartwarming melodies on the Windham Hill/Sony music labels that have repeatedly placed in the Top 10 & Top 20 on the Billboard New age music charts. Lisa tours year round performing at large US festivals and performing art centers. Her work in Therapeutic music has gained recognition from NBC, CNN, Fox News Atlanta and numerous newspaper and magazine articles including Wall Street Journal. Lisa’s music is heard throughout the award winning PBS special “Alone in the Wilderness,” amongst many other soundtracks for commercial television and independent films.

Aryeh Frankfurter is also a renowned Celtic harper and world traveling multi- instrumentalist who went from virtuosic progressive rock violin to intricate Swedish folk and Celtic Music. He began with Classical violin at the age of three, his early studies and successes led him to explore various ethnic and international musical genres. Aryeh taught himself to play a variety of instruments bowed and plucked and most recently the rarely seen Swedish Nyckelharpa. His uncommon approach to the Celtic harp and folk harp repertoire, his numerous critically and commercially successful albums have earned him credit as a musician, recording and performance artist of extraordinary talents and abilities.

Offer Received for PAC and Josie Peper Building

An offer has been made to Clatsop Community College (CCC) for the purchase of the Performing Arts Center (PAC) and Josie Peper properties located at 16th and Franklin in Astoria. College leadership received the unsolicited offer earlier this week and today met with the local performing groups of the building, Partners of the PAC, to discuss the offer and to get their input.

Although the PAC building is not deemed surplus or listed for sale, buyers approached CCC with their offer. Karen Radditz of Totem Properties, the real estate agent representing CCC in the offer, stated, “The buyer’s intention is to build affordable housing on some of the land while keeping the PAC as is for a community center. They are anxious to do the right thing for the community.”

While the PAC serves as a facility for community performances, the college does not have the programming or classes to utilize the space academically. The Josie Peper property has been deemed surplus and is listed for sale.

The Board of Directors will hold a special meeting to further discuss the offer on the properties. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 29th at 6:30 p.m. in the Columbia Hall Room 219.

Twelve Angry Men

12AM3Partners for the PAC are excited to be sponsoring the play Twelve Angry Men, directed by Sheila Shaffer. Performances are 7:30 pm Friday and Saturday March 11 & 12; 3:00 pm Sunday March 13, and 7:30 pm Friday and Saturday, March 18 & 19.  The play features many of your favorite local actors: Joseph Oyala, Don Conner, Ryan Hull, Frank Jagodnik, Richard Bowman, Ben Van Osdol, Bob Goldberg, David Sweeney, James Dott, Thomas Berdine, Bill Honl, Bill Ham and Rich Mays with a special voiceover by the Honorable Paula Brownhill of the Clatsop Circuit Court.

Twelve Angry Men is a powerful, riveting and timely courtroom drama adapted for the stage by Sherman L. Sergel based on the 1954 teleplay of the same title for the CBS Studio One anthology television series by Reginald Rose, it was made into a highly successful film in 1957 starring and produced by Henry Fonda. The drama depicts a jury considering a homicide trial. It looks like an open-and-shut case until one of the jurors begins opening the others’ eyes to the facts, causing reasonable doubt. Tempers get short, arguments grow heated, and the jurors become 12 angry men.

Sheila Shaffer has been directing on the coast for over 10 years. She is a veteran both on stage and off and holds a degree in Theater Arts from the University of Wisconsin. She has worked with community and nonprofit theaters, on and off, for over 30 years. For the last 14 years most of her work has been at the Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach. A few of the past 11 Coaster Theatre productions she has directed include ‘Night, Mother, The Sound of Music, Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest, Anthony Shaffer’s Whodunnit, Dixie Swim Club and Scrooge: The Musical, and this year’s upcoming holiday production of It’s a Wonderful Life at the Coaster Theatre. A few other sundry directing credits include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A.R. Gurney’s The Dining Room and this year’s AAUW Readers Theater production of Visiting Mr. Green. You may have seen Sheila on stage, as well, in past Coaster shows which include Miss Hannigan in Annie, Mrs. Gibbs in Our Town, Grace in Bus Stop, Christine in Mixed Emotions, and The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods. A few additional acting credits include Thelma in ‘Night Mother, Children of a Lesser God, and Tennessee William’s Suddenly Last Summer.

Sheila is truly excited and honored to be directing Twelve Angry Men at Astoria’s Performing Arts Center. “I am thrilled to be able to help bring theater back to the PAC and the Astoria community! With Astoria being a judicially charged center for the coast I’m sure Twelve Angry Men will resonate with many in our community and I look forward to sharing this classic courtroom drama.”

The Performing Arts Center is a hub of cultural activity at CCC and throughout Astoria and the North Coast region. The Partners have been engaged in raising funds to keep the PAC open and operating for affordable cultural and performing events since 2012, through an agreement with Clatsop Community College.

David Crabtree and Friends with Laurie Drage

LaurieGet ready for a treat, and settle back to listen to these experienced and talented musicians. They are both well known in the community; David for his guitar and mandolin music and Laurie for her wonderful vocal stylings.

Laurie Drage is originally from Tacoma WA.  She studied piano since the 3rd grade and sang before she could speak sentences. She has a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Pacific Lutheran University and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Western Washington Univ. She taught voice at WWU while working as a graduate assistant. In 1981 she moved to Astoria to join her commercial fisherman husband.  She has been the music director at First Lutheran since 1982.  She manages family business interests and is the president of the Friday Music Club. She and her husband Steve have 2 grown daughters and live on a farm in Olney.

Marten King and Group “Ensemble Columbiana”

A return performance by Marten King on Clarinet, Michael Liu on Piano, and Allan Stromquist on French Horn. Ensemble Columbiana performed at the PAC in March of 2014.

They are titling their concert “A little von Weber, a little Schubert and much more”. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for students, and free for ages twelve and under. This concert benefits the CCC Performing Arts Center, to help keep it available for affordable cultural and community events.

Marten King, clarinet, spent most of his early years in Sutherlin, Oregon. He received a BA from Linfield College. He studied in Berlin, Germany achieving a MM in clarinet performance, studying with Karl Leister, then principal clarinetist of the Berlin Philharmonic. Marten then returned to the US to take up an MA program in music history at the University of Oregon, while playing with the Eugene Symphony Orchestra. He then auditioned for & was appointed to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra in Canada and has also played with the Sun River Festival Orchestra & the Astoria Music Festival.   Marten performs with several community orchestras & bands in both the Portland area & on the north Oregon coast & has performed solos with both the North Oregon Coast Symphony & the North Coast Symphonic Band. He particularly enjoys chamber music.

Dr. Michael Liu, piano, has been in the practice of family medicine, and is a life-long supporter of the arts & has been the pianist for the Vancouver Symphony since 2003.

Allan Stromquist is principal hornist of Washington’s Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He is also a busy freelance musician, performing with orchestras and chamber ensembles in Portland, Vancouver, and Astoria.  He grew up in the Astoria area and graduated from Astoria High school where his parents taught music for over thirty years each.  Stromquist attended the Mannes School of Music in New York, and the Queens College Aaron Copland School of Music while studying with the world reknowned horn soloist, David Jolley.

‘Waiting for Godot’ speaker attracts crowd, promotes upcoming play

Seth TichenorSeth Tichenor, philosophy instructor at Clatsop Community College, spoke to a group of 74 theatergoers about Existentialism and “Waiting for Godot” at the CCC Performing Arts Center in Astoria Friday, Jan. 22. His talk was timed ahead of the Jan. 29 opening of the play, which will be performed five times at the PAC this month and next. His talk, set on the minimalist stage of director Karen Bain’s production, focused on playwright Samuel Beckett’s twin themes of absurdity and emptiness, touching on such philosophical concepts as “existence precedes essence,” “the primacy of subjectivity” and “the radical nature of freedom.” The play, which features a local cast of actors, is presented by Partners for the PAC. It will be performed 7.p.m. Jan. 29 and 30; 3 p.m. Jan. 31; 7 p.m. Feb. 5 and 6. Tickets are $15 at the door, cash or check.