“Lets blow the lid off. People don’t want to talk about [it]. There is so much going on in world today.  Its time for more expression.  And we have to get it out.” – Marco.

THE ERUPTIONMarco Davis is talking about his inspiration for a show coming up, its called THE ERUPTION. Have you heard about? If it’s after May 14 – and you didn’t take in the performance, I hope you get a second chance.

Something new. Can there be anything new? Always. Like this; last couple months, Wednesday and Thursday nights at about 10pm, 17 people come together to rehearse dance numbers, cabaret vignettes, pull themselves together, find the mojo, the steps, and probably “some balls” to boot.

A small percentage of this troupe might be packing some dance background, but for the most part, no. But what they do share is a common desire for expression. Davis choreographs the numbers, and the top, inside expectation is . . . get your own and give it out. It works. Beautifully.

Many know Mark (Marco) Davis as the charming and talented #2 Chef at the Columbian Café. Second only to the master, Uriah Hulsey who is now spending time outside the café – putting Davis in the role as “the go to chef.”

Native Astorian, Davis is also an icon in another realm – that of theater and dance. For years he’s been inspiring people to give it their all, involved in many projects.

A generously hearted teacher, Davis teaches jazz, tap, and that extra something that puts the bounce in your shoe.

Davis left the area for a number of years, completing a master in dance at U of O, and teaching dance in NYC. He came back to the home roots not so long ago. On his 40th Birthday – he threw an outrageous, staged karaoke party at the Columbian Theater, using film, lip sync, asking friends to come up and perform. It was so much fun, people asked, “When are you doing it again?”

Thus, THE EVENT was spawned. This last January, Davis got a little more serious, adding dance numbers with lots of people in them. It was campy, energetic, sexy, and the crowds had a helluva good time.

Come THE ERUPTION. More developed. The dancers, more confident. The dance numbers, complex yet performed with ease, with ooze, with spice and dice. More campy vignettes, guaranteed to entertain. That’s all I’m sayin’. It’s late night entertainment.

We’ve missed the Rocky Horror Picture Show since it’s run at the River. Relax, and get ready to do the time warp again.

Saturday, May 14. Doors open 9:30. Show at 10pm. Grab a cocktail at the Voodoo Lounge. $5 bucks at the door. 21 & Over. Columbian Theater in Astoria.


Neil Simon’s Star-Spangled Girl

LOOK FOR TAPA’s production of Neil Simon’s timely favorite coming in June. The Star-Spangled Girl tells the story of two struggling writers, portrayed by Sam Kuzma and Steele Fleisher, who are trying to keep their underground political protest newspaper afloat. While trying to expose government conspiracies and wrongdoings, they meet an all-American girl, portrayed by Chey Kuzma, who has just moved into their building. Love and politics dance together in this clever and witty play.

The Star-Spangled Girl kicks off TAPA’s summer season on June 17, 18, 24, 25, 26, and July 1 and 2. Following The Star-Spangled Girl is The Starlite Academy Children’s Workshop July 19–23 directed by Wally and Diane Nelson. Then rounding out the summer season is The Chicken Creek Diaries written by Marilyn Allen and directed by Wally Nelson. For information please visit or contact

Star-Spangled Girl
Sam Kuzma, Chey Kuzma, Steele Fleisher.

Pirates & Cowboys & Frogs… Oh My!

FROGTOWN show features new songs & cast members Sunday, June 5, 2pm

FROGTOWN, an All Ages Musical (With Frogs!) will be performing on Sunday June 5th at 2pm at the Liberty Theater in the 3rd Annual FROGTOWN event. Returning to Astoria after performing in venues across the country, this new FROGTOWN production features a whole new first half with all new music from FROGTOWN’s upcoming releases “Frogtown Folk”, “Bedtime For Tadpoles”, and ”Frogatronic!”  The stellar cast includes the coast’s own Heather Christie, Oregon Music Hall of Famer Andy Stokes, Shannon Day, saxophonist Andy Warr and the musical frogs of Frogtown, with direction by writer/composer Philip Pelletier. The show will mark the Liberty debut of country star David Miottel, as “Froggy Cash”, and will also feature special guests Kim Angelis on fiddle, the Seaside High School Choir (led by Phil White), and Encore Dance Studio (led Denele Sweet).

The new show features seafaring frogs, dream dancing fairies, and an up-beat dance party! Tickets are $10, with a Family Rate of 4 tickets for $35, and are available at the Liberty box office, and online at For more info call 503-325-5922 ext 55.

Students from Encore Dance Studio and Seaside High School will be appearing in the June 5th Community Show along with the all-star cast. Author/Composer Philip Pelletier and the cast will be signing copies of the award-winning book/CD after the show, which will be available for purchase.

Proceeds go to support Frogtown’s “Diversity through Music” Anti-Bullying program. One Night In Frogtown was recently awarded the National Gold IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Award), and the National Gold Moonbeam Children’s Award, marking the the first time an Northwest author has won these prestigious children’s awards. Mr. Pelletier and vocalist Heather Christie have presented FROGTOWN’s “Diversity Through Music” Program in over 50 Oregon schools.

“One Night In Frogtown” has been nominated for the Oregon Book Award, THE GRAMMYS “Education Watch”, and is receiving rave national reviews. Frogtown was featured recently on national TV, and has been touring theaters throughout the country on their “Diversity Through Music” tour. The prolific author/composer is already working on the next FROGTOWN book, as well as the upcoming educational DVD, “Learn to Read with Frogtown”, and a series of original music CDs.


A Bicentennial Tribute

marks the Liberty Theater’s first locally produced production

Land of the Dragon

Girl with fan
Alice Whitaker is Jade Pure in Land of the Dragon

ON SATURDAY, MAY 21, at 7:30 p.m. the Liberty is hosting it’s “very first community theatre offering since the grand opening,” says the Liberty’s Executive Director, Rosemary Baker-Monaghan.

The play, “The Land of the Dragon,” is being co-produced by Coast Community Radio, directed by local creative, Sen Incavo, with casting assistance from regional director Karen Bain. It’s performance marks the  celebration of Astoria’s Chinese history and the Bicentennial Legacy Project: the Garden of the Surging Waves. In fact, the set has been designed so that the action taking place on stage, appears to be taking place in the Garden of the Surging Waves with the Moon Gate forming a focal point for the audience.

The play was written in 1945 by Madge Miller and first preformed in 1946 by the Philadelphia Children’s Theater.  “It’s a basic Cinderella story and all cultures have them but this play is done in what’s called the ancient Chinese stylized manner,” said Incavo.

Incavo, a Portland transplant, residing in Astoria the last 8 years, was prop master for Portland Repertory Theater for six years and with that company, won a Portland Drammy Award for the set design on a production of the pay “Angel Street.” He’s been involved locally with the River Theatre, and various projects. A degree in Theater with costume and set design concentration from Monmoth College in Illinois, Incavo was involved in a production of Land of Dragon.

Rather serendipitously, Incavo called Baker-Monaghan with a pitch to do the show on the Liberty stage. As told to HIPFiSH by Incavo, the director of the Liberty had been approached by the Bicentennial organizers to do a production in conjunction with the opening festivities. However, not privy to this, Incavo personally had envisioned the play a good fit for the Liberty stage. Prior to the meet, Baker-Monahagn glanced at her horoscope, which said, “ Something is going to be put before you – you should go with it.” Now if she had just been to Golden Star for dinner, and this had been a message from a fortune cookie.  . . Wow. All whimsy aside, synchronicity was at play here, planting seeds for future development of the Liberty’s intention on more local productions.

The play is rather comical and it’s suitable for anyone ages 8 to adult. There are real dragons, fake dragons, (puppeteering!) including “Small One,” played by Alan Isaksen. A lazy property manager, (John Howe) a wandering minstrel, (Sky Gager) a scheming step-aunt, (Precious Heart, played by Melissa McLeod) ensuing chaos, and of course, the lovely princess Jade Pure (Alice Whitaker) round out the cast.

While on stage, the Stage Manager (played by Incavo) narrates the action.

When Jade Pure is rescued from her malicious aunt Precious Heart and Precious Heart’s chancellor; Covet Spring, (played by Bill Ham) she becomes haughty with her hero, who quickly departs. Then it’s up to Jade Pure to find him again and change her fate. Jade Pure has many cousins who act as maids and aid her in her quest, played by Lori Wilson Honl, Kerri Hilton, and Sofie Kline. The “Twenty-fourth cousin,” is played by none other than – Slab Slabinski.

“Everything is mimed in the show.  This stylized manner is a beautiful art form partly because the kids watching it really need to use their imagination,” said Incavo. All of the props are portable. In one scene, a wall is erected: a scroll of paper painted with bricks is unloosed from the hands of the stage manager.

According to Incavo, the script was read and approved by the Chinese community both locally and in Portland. “We wanted it to be as authentic as possible,” he said. Even the costumes have been redesigned for added authenticity. “I was very lucky in being able to cast A-list actors in town who weren’t involved in other productions,” he added.

Liberty Theater WindowThe actors and actresses will be signing children’s programs after the show. “I want the kids to be able to see the dragon and the costumes up-close to generate interest from them so that they are getting something of value from this. I really want to do children’s theatre here and what I mean by that is adults performing for children  – not creative dramatics – which is children performing for their peers and families,” said Incavo.

“The Land of the Dragon” is “very different than anything that we’ve done here before,” says Baker-Monaghan.

In the past, the Liberty has brought in theater troupes from different parts of the country to do shows as part of its commitment to the educational enrichment of youth, and it will no doubt continue to do so. While this production is special for many reasons, it also represents just another step towards the Liberty’s goal of continued renovation and locally produced community theater. The theater already has educational alliances with Clatsop Community College and Portland State University and Baker-Monaghan already has half of the money raised to begin renovating the second story, back corner of the theater (above Columbia Travel and Lucy’s Books). In the future, the extra space would bring more opportunities to the theater for classes, rehearsal space, additional meeting space and the like.

It is also worth noting that during the show,  art from The Garden of the Surging Waves will be on display along with representatives who will be available to discuss the project and take donations. Presently, the Garden of the Surging Waves is Astoria’s Bicentennial Legacy Project. The Astoria Column was Astoria’s centennial project, so perhaps the importance of this project seeing completion should be on every citizen’s mind.

The Garden of the Surging Waves celebrates the importance of the Chinese population in Astoria and the lasting impact they have made. Chinese immigrants to Astoria worked hard in the canneries, built the jetties, and brought the railroad to Astoria, and struggled to gain a foothold in a rugged town not always willing to accept foreigners and a different culture.
The Liberty celebrates a rich, colorful Chinese heritage culture of Astoria, and welcomes all to enjoy this frontier production!

For more information on the Garden of Surging Waves and Chinese heritage go to
Performances and Ticket Info

May 21 at 7:30 pm Liberty Theater. Tickets are on sale now at the Liberty Box Office. (503) 325-5922 Ext. 55. Groups of 10 or more will receive a $2 discount on each ticket. May 28 at 11:00 am Clatsop Community College PAC. $2 donation at the door June 4 at 7:30 pm and June 5 at 3:00 pm Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach. Tickets on sale soon.

Open Seating.  Adult $18.00 Student, Senior, Military $15. Box Office is open Tuesday – Saturday from 2pm – 5:30pm and two hours before the show.

Tickets may also be purchased through TicketsWest 503.224.8499 or 1.800.992.8499. Tickets subject to a convenience charge. Ask for your tickets to be put in Will Call at the theater and you can pick them up on show night and avoid the shipping charge.

THEATER Uncategorized

The Futrelle Sisters Return in Southern Hospitality

Diane Ericson, Lora Ressler, Joni Sauer-Folger, Regina Eckles portray Southern sisterhood on the TAPA stage.

Southern Hospitality, is the funny sequel to TAPA’s last season’s comedy, Christmas Belles. The Futrelle Sisters – Frankie, Twink, Honey Raye and Rhonda Lynn are in trouble again. How they pull together and save their town is a testament to Southern strength and ingenuity, and a recipe for total hilarity.

At the Barn Community Playhouse, 12th and Ivy in Tillamook. 7pm, Fridays and Saturdays through April 16, Sunday Mat, April 10 at 2pm. Tickets: $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and students, and a family four-pack can be purchased for $35.

Reservations and advanced tickets available at Diamond Art Jewelers; call (503) 842-7940. Doors open one half hour prior to curtain.


The Seafarer at Pier Pressure Productions

The Seafarer
l to r: Slab Slabinski, Edward James, Steve Woods, Bill Hamm and Bill Honl

KAREN BAIN, assisted by Alice Whitaker, is directing this hilarious and spooky story that begins on Christmas Eve in North Dublin. Mid-life Sharky Harkin, erstwhile fisherman/van driver/chauffeur, finds himself reluctantly hosting old friends at the dingy house he shares with his brother who has recently gone blind. A lot of booze and card playing carry the men into Christmas Day, when Sharky must face the grim promise he made decades ago to one of these old friends. Edward James, Steve Woods, Slab Slabinski, Bill Ham, and Bill Honl play the five hard-drinking fellows in this play scripted by McPherson, winner of the Olivier Award and Tony nominee for Best Play.

Performances: Fridays and Saturdays, April 22, 23, 29, 30 at 8pm, and Sunday, April 24, at 4pm. Tickets: $15, available at the door two hours before curtain.  This play has strong language and adult humor. PPP is located at 260 10th St. in Astoria.


Tom Stoppard’s Rough Crossing at the Coaster

THE SS ITALIAN CASTLE, 1932… a trans-Atlantic crossing… a playwright and his collaborator… a DIVA… a fading matinee idol… a love-struck composer and an ingenious ship steward… cognac and comedy for all!

In this hilarious comedy, Stoppard weaves an amazing pattern of verbal misunderstandings, eccentric characters and seagoing hazards, and there are even a few songs by Andre Previn!

Performances: through April 23. Fri – Sat @ 8pm. Tickets: $20, $19, $18. Talk Back Thursday, April 14, 7:30pm. $14 Adult, $8 Student.

Rough Crossing
Juan Lira, Cameron Gates, Frank Jagodnik, Donald Conner, Stewart Martin (behind piano) and Ben Shaffer. Photo: Linda Heintz

Astor St. Opry has a new show and the company’s “mother-of-all” is behind it

July Niland
Photo: Dinah Urell

THIS MONTH the Astor Street Opera Company (ASOC) is set to debut a new musical melodrama, and as I sit down to talk to JUDITH NILAND, the ASOC’s manager-director, a little lion and a little pint-sized tin-man are milling about. Before I know it, the whole cast of the Wizard of Oz is there and it’s getting very loud. Niland and I are sitting in the theatre at tables so narrow their only use could be for one arm, and a beer and a hand-full of popcorn. When all of a sudden she whips around and with her sprightly demeanor snaps: “Could you keep it down? We’re trying to do an interview here!” Ergo: the Lollipop Guild departs. They don’t even bristle, they love her. Niland is a straight-shooter and she’s hilarious to boot.

“The Real Lewis and Clark,” is ASOC’s first original production in five years, Their last original production was “Scrooged in Astoria,” which has proven to have a wonderful track-record of success for the playhouse that continues to produce it every year. It should also go without saying that “Shanghaied in Astoria,” is a local theatrical institution and watching it can only be described as a rite-of-passage.

Niland has been at ASOC for 26 years, “I just don’t quit,” she says. After living as an artist in Santa Cruz, Niland and her first husband settled in Astoria and her then husband became a co-founder of the theatre. Niland started out as a costume designer, but when she saw her first costumes being worn on stage, “I was hooked,” she said. She freely admits that she’s hung on to the theatre group for longer than most. “I’ve seen it shed skins several times, really, I’m a watcher. I sit back and observe. I keep threatening to move to Ireland, you can print that, it drives my sister wild.” When I ask her where she gets her stubborn perseverance from she says with incredulity, “Seriously? Please. I’m a Leo and a Niland and I’ve got a moon in Taurus!”

In regards to the subject of this new show; “Finns are always easy targets when it comes to telling jokes,” says Niland.

The story, the real story of “The Real Lewis and Clark” was unearthed from a pioneer journal that was discovered in an attic in Uniontown, in 2001. It explains how the Finns – in all actuality – were the first to arrive in Astoria.

Unlike Lewis and Clark, the Finns still had some beer left by the time they reached the Pacific.

The “hysterical-historical” script was essentially born out of the brain of the deceased and greatly missed ASOC player, Rodger Martin. Martin died in a tragic fire that destroyed the better half of an Astoria city block in 2008. In 2005, however, when Martin was still a major player at ASOC, the theater was contacted to produce something for the Lewis and Clark bicentennial. Martin and Niland began discussing ideas and Martin even wrote a song “Talking to the Trees,” for it, but the script was too comedic and the association that commissioned the script wanted a historically-accurate drama. Niland said no way, obviously these people hadn‘t done proper research on the playhouse’s well-defined genre: “we’re the Saturday Night Live of melodrama.”

The script was put on the backburner until more recent times when ASOC decided they needed a third major anchor for their yearly show schedule. It was also fitting to do something to celebrate Astoria‘s impending bicentennial, so Niland began writing again, alone this time.

The woman who came from a self-described family of “Irish actors, hams and joke-tellers,” and wanted “to be Carol Burnett,” as a child says “The Real Lewis and Clark” was inspired by the comedic stylings of Mel Brooks and Monty Python. “I’m from that generation and it really influenced me,” she said.

Niland’s sister and brother-in-law, Stanley Azen, Ph.D. and Joyce C. Niland, Ph.D., wrote the original music for the production along with Astoria’s own Philip Morrill. The show also features original choreography by another local Astorian, Carly Lewis Allen. ChrisLynn Taylor provides the musical direction.

Just so you know, “The Real Lewis and Clark” is a family-friendly production. However, “You can still boo, hiss, and throw popcorn,” says Niland.

“The Real Lewis and Clark Story: or How Finns Discovered Astoria,” opens on Thursday, April 14th and runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday until April 30 at the ASOC playhouse on Bond Street.Tickets for the new show range in price from $15 to $8 with available discounts for children, seniors and groups.

Humor-rich, song, dance, and sizable cast enliven the ASOC stage. Reservations are recommended by calling 503-325-6104 or tickets can be purchased at the door one hour before show time.


28th Annual Young Choreographers Showcase At PAC

LITTLE BALLET Theatre’s 28th annual Young Choreographers Showcase will take place on Friday, April 8th at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, April 9th at 2:00 p.m. in Clatsop Community College’s Performing Arts Center. The event is sponsored by the CCC Arts & Ideas program and is open to the general public. Tickets are $10.00 at the door.

The Young Choreographers Showcase is a unique opportunity for the members of Little Ballet Theatre to experience the art of choreography on their own. The members are unassisted in their selection of costume, music, and structure, and the routines prove to be highly creative and original. Experienced dance judges adjudicate the dancers during their performance. Afterward, the dancers receive constructive criticism and feedback. For more information, contact Josef Gault at or 503-338-5735.