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Puppeteers for Fears LEAD

Cattle, aliens, UFOs — even the elusive Bigfoot — all show up in "Cattle Mutilation: The Musical," the latest production from the Ashland-based puppet troupe Puppeteers for Fears. The show's West Coast tour stops Saturday night at the Majestic Theatre in Corvallis. 

It was last fall, and the Puppeteers for Fears troupe out of Ashland — it's safe to say, Oregon's only puppet troupe specializing in sci-fi horror musical comedy original shows — was at a crossroads: Was it going to take a leap of faith and go bigger, or was it going to scale back into something a little smaller?

The answer is coming to the Majestic Theatre in Corvallis on Saturday, July 13: The puppet collective is swinging for the fences.

The troupe is bringing its refurbished production of "Cattle Mutilation: The Musical" to the Majestic. Josh Gross, the writer of the show, calls it a cross between that old B sci-fi flick "Plan 9 from Outer Space" with the bawdy puppet humor of the "Avenue Q" stage show — performed with a live rock band on the wings of the stage.

The plot, as the name of the show suggests, involves a rancher and his son trying to get to the bottom of cattle mutilations on their property. Eventually, Bigfoot and UFO abductions get tossed into the mix. It sounds like a lot of fun, if you think you might have  a taste for horror sci-fi musical comedy with puppets — and who among us does not?

But let's say horror sci-fi musical comedy with puppets is not your cup of tea, for whatever reason. Let's say you would rather relax on a summer evening and listen to local musicians perform while helping a good cause. We have you covered: The annual SAGE Summer Concert Series begins Thursday, July 11 and offers a blend of local and regional musicians. On top for the opening concert: The Corvallis indie rock band Mons La Hire and the Portland Latin jazz group Pa'Lante. The series runs every other Thursday night, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Starker Arts Park amphitheater in Corvallis, a stone's throw away from the Starker Arts Garden for Education (SAGE), which grows produce for area food banks. 

The shows are free, although organizers ask for a $10 donation per family. Click here to read more about this summer's series.  

This weekend is crazy busy with things to do: Sweet Home is rolling out the welcome carpet for its annual Sportsman's Holiday Weekend while, on the other side of the valley, Philomath holds its annual Philomath Frolic. Both mid-valley traditions are crammed with events. To learn more about these festivals — and all sorts of other mid-valley events — check out our comprehensive guide by clicking here. 

Don't forget about Albany's River Rhythms summer concert series, which swings into its second week with a Thursday concert featuring Chubby Checker, the singer and dancer who rode "The Twist" to the top of the pop charts on two separate occasions, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since. The concert, in Albany's Monteith Riverpark, begins at 7 p.m. Read more about the River Rhythms series by clicking here. 

But let's say you want to cool off this weekend by ducking into your favorite movie house. It's not a huge weekend for new releases (we're in a lull between last week's "Spider-Man" and next week's "The Lion King"), but you might want to check out a critically praised independent drama with a local connection: Los Angeles Times critic Justin Chang raved about "The Last Black Man in San Francisco," which opens Friday at the Darkside Cinema in Corvallis. The local connection: Adam Newport-Berra, a graduate of Crescent Valley High School, was the film's director of photography. You can read Chang's review (which mentions Newport-Berra!) by clicking here. 

Chang was decidedly less kind to another new release, the action-comedy "Stuber." Chang says the movie wastes a promising cast (Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista star) and turns out to be flat and monotonous. You can read his review by clicking here. 

Critics have been mixed on another new flick opening at the Darkside on Friday. Canadian director Deny Arcand's "The Fall of the American Empire" is a comedic crime thriller with philosophical overtones. I've loved some of Arcand's other flicks ("The Barbarian Invasions" comes to mind), but reviewer Michael Phillips says the new movie feels second-hand and suffers from a smugness of tone. Click here to read Phillips' review. 

The other new flick in town this week is "Crawl," in which a young Florida woman and her father, trapped in a flooding house, are menaced by alligators. Reviews of that film were not available in time for this week's edition of The E, but you never know: The movie could have some bite. For more information on all the films showing on mid-valley screens, check out our weekly Movie Scene feature by clicking here. 

That's it for this week, but next week looks to be just as busy. For starters, the Linn County Fair fires up on Wednesday in Albany, with a concert that night featuring The Artimus Pyle Band, paying tribute to the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Pyle played drums in Lynyrd Skynyrd, and you can check out our interview with him by clicking here. 

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