As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, it's a good time to check out some mid-valley arts and entertainment options — and to ponder what to put on the grill on Monday (which should be sunny).
It used to be that the Memorial Day weekend marked the start of the summer movie season, but that seems almost nostalgic now: The summer movie season started weeks ago, when "Avengers: Endgame" slammed into theaters. But plenty of flicks are awaiting their release dates, including a batch of new titles in theaters for the weekend, and we'll get to them in a bit.
Let's start today by checking in with the mid-valley's Tart of the Valley burlesque troupe, which is putting the final touches on its Saturday night show at the Majestic. The show, "Fairytale Frolic," draws inspiration from fairy tales and mythology, and features efforts by Petunia Rufflebottom, the show's emcee, to track down a particular witch who's gone very, very bad. But Rufflebottom (and members of the troupe prefer to be called by their troupe names in preview stories and interviews) says the overarching story functions mostly as a framework to unite a variety of burlesque-inspired performances.
The growth of this troupe and its popularity has been remarkable to watch over the past couple of years, and Rufflebottom says its shows attract all ages — from folks who might remember the golden age of vaudeville to younger audiences just rediscovering the genre. (The show is intended for audiences 18 and over.) The bottom line, Rufflebottom said, is that the shows are fun, with a touch of naughtiness. These shows at the Majestic routinely sell out, but tickets might still be available.
It's a busy weekend for the Majestic: Its Reader's Theatre is presenting three performances of Sheri Wilner's play "Kingdom City" on Saturday and Sunday. Wilner's seriocomic play, based on a real-life event in Missouri in 2006, outlines the controversy that erupts in a small town when a high school drama adviser, a fresh transplant from New York City, schedules a production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible." (The play that triggered the real-life controversy? "Grease." I know, I know.)
Richard Wagner, the veteran director who's helming this production of "Kingdom City," said the play is even-handed and fair in its characterizations, which makes the questions it raises about censorship even more provocative.
This play isn't well-known, but that's the great thing about the Reader's Theatre; it gives mid-valley audiences the chance to experience plays that they never would otherwise see.
If you're in the mood for a patriotic march this weekend (and it is Memorial Day weekend, remember?), the Willamette Valley Concert Band has you covered: The band's annual "Remembrance" concert is set for Monday at 7 p.m. at the LaSells Stewart Center on the Oregon State University campus. It's free.
The show has plenty of patriotic tunes suitable for the holiday, but it also has a surprising amount of jazz on the program, including a tribute to big band leader Harry James, featuring trumpet soloist Steve Iverson.
Lisa Landucci, the singer-songwriter with long ties to the mid-valley, is planning an intimate live show Friday night at The Arts Center in Corvallis. She's also planning to record the event, with the idea to release video and audio versions of the concert this summer. In the meantime, the show will feature a number of the mid-valley musicians who helped her make her latest album, "Love You in a Song." After this show, Landucci plans to embark on a long tour of the Midwest, so this might be your last chance to catch her live for awhile.
Speaking of shows you better hurry to see: This is the last weekend for the Albany Civic Theater production of "The Addams Family." Here's a link to Jennifer Moody's fun preview story about the musical comedy.
Let's turn our attention to the weekend's new movies: "Aladdin," Disney's latest attempt to turn its animated flicks into live-action paydays, arrives this Friday, and our reviewer liked it just fine: Katie Walsh reports that director Guy Ritchie doesn't stray too far from the animated original, and says Naomi Scott, as Jasmine, does wonders with an expanded role.
Perhaps the new movie with the biggest buzz, however, is "Booksmart," the directorial debut from actress Olivia Wilde. It's about two female high school friends (Beanie Feldstein, so good in "Lady Bird," and Kaitlyn Dever, who decide they want to enjoy one last night of high school hedonism before graduation. Reviewer Walsh said the movie, an exuberant portrait of female friendship, takes its place among the best high school movies ever made.
Reviewer Kenneth Turan had kind words for another new flick in the mid-valley this week: "The White Crow," directed by Ralph Fiennes, tells the story of Rudolf Nureyev, and is framed by the dancer's decision to defect to the West.
Still confused about which flicks to catch this weekend? Our comprehensive "Movie Scene" feature gives you the full scoop.
And if you're looking for things to do this weekend, the complete E calendar should help you fill your appointment book.
That's it for this weekend; have a happy Memorial Day. We'll see you back here next Thursday.