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by: COURTESY OF LEN MILLS, Steven Houser (left), Lorianne Barclay and Len Mills dance for some laughs in “La Fille Mal Gardée.”

Edited by Randall Barton

THEATER

'The Pillowman'

Martin McDonagh's acclaimed play is a harrowing ride, but also a vivid and thought-provoking whodunit about the power of the storyteller and how much of any story one should believe.

Katurian (Cody Nickell) is a horror writer whose stories seem to have inspired a string of child murders. He's being interrogated by sadistic detectives, but Katurian's main concern is for the well-being of his mentally challenged brother Michal (Tim True), who is a suspect.

Yes, McDonagh's story contains murder and mayhem, but the playwright's genius is in denaturing violence by creating a world filled with characters all too ready to live with it, as if it simply belongs there.

This production is lush with technical mastery and solid acting, and with one deft twist of the tale in the second act, everything we've been told is suddenly in question. In a deeply satisfying way, we learn firsthand that a story, however colorfully or convincingly told, is oftentimes just that. Or not.

- Eric Bartels

7:30 p.m. FRIDAY, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. SATURDAY, 2 p.m. SUNDAY, March 16-18, Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 N.W. 11th Ave., 503-445-3700, www.pcs.org, $16.50-$59.50

'Grease'

If you ever wondered what those kids from Rydell High would look like 30 years on, here's a chance to find out.

Corey Brunish and triple threat Oregonian columnist Margie Boulé star in Stumptown Stages' older, more veteran take on the gum-snapping musical classic. Watch for the hand-jive contest.

- EB

8 p.m. FRIDAY and SATURDAY, 2 p.m. SUNDAY, through March 24, Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, 5340 N. Interstate Ave., 503-381-8686, info'Puck's Pranks'

'Puck's Pranks'

The Portland Chamber Orchestra teams with Mount Hood Repertory Theatre and the 60 voices of the Pacific Youth Choir to present a two-act adaptation of Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' set to the music of Mendelssohn.

The staged reading will be directed by Tobias Andersen. A final dress rehearsal 10 a.m. Saturday will be free to the public and preceded by activities for children.

- EB

8 p.m. SATURDAY, March 17, Reed College, Kaul Auditorium, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Blvd., 503-771-3250, www.portlandchamberorchestra.org, $20-$25

'Arcadia'

Keith Scales directs an impressive cast in the Lakewood Theatre production of a time-traveling mystery-romance by award-winning author and playwright Tom Stoppard.

- EB

8 p.m. FRIDAY and SATURDAY, 7 p.m. SUNDAY, 8 p.m. Thursday, through April 7, also 2 p.m. March 25 and April 1, Lakewood Center for the Arts, 368 S. State St., Lake Oswego, 503-635-3901, $23-$25

'Private Lives'

Last chance to watch Integrity Productions do a crackerjack job with Noel Coward's comedy of manners. Six actors rotate through four roles, which sounds confusing but actually makes for a rich acting exercise that works as entertainment.

The three-act play makes for a thorough evening of theatergoing, but director Kerry E. Sorci keeps things humming along, getting strong performances from a very able cast.

- EB

8 p.m. FRIDAY and SATURDAY, 4 p.m. SUNDAY, March 16-18, Theater Theatre, 3430 S.E. Belmont St., 503-286-3456, $12-$15

DANCE

Holy Tuning Goats

Performance Works NorthWest presents the final installment of a long-running series in which artists explore movement and music improvisation to Lisa Nelson's tuning scores, an approach to spontaneous composition and performance that Nelson developed in the '70s.

Among the visiting guest artists is her longtime collaborator Steve Paxton.

- EB

3 p.m. SUNDAY, March 18, Conduit Dance, 918 S.W. Yamhill St., 503-777-1907, $8

'Faces/Phases'

Movement artists Luciana Proaño and Jim McGinn chart the stages of a woman's life using works by an impressive roster of Portland dancemakers, including Mary Oslund, Gregg Bielemeier, Agnieszka Laska and Laurena Marrone. A multimedia presentation performed to the music of Debussy.

- EB

8 p.m. FRIDAY-SUNDAY, March 16-18, Conduit, 918 S.W. Yamhill St., 503-977-0620, $15-$25

'La Fille Mal Gardée'

The Metro Dancers, a Portland-based troupe of professional and pre-professional performers, begins a two-weekend run of the comic 18th-century ballet. A year away from its 30th anniversary, the company welcomes back alumni Steven Houser of the Oregon Ballet Theatre. He'll handle the lead role in a production that involves some 50 dancers.

- EB

2 p.m. and 8 p.m. SATURDAY, March 17 and 24, Portland Metro Performing Arts Center, 9933 S.E. Pine St., 503-408-0604, $10-$18

MUSIC

1964 the Tribute

The Oregon Symphony Orchestra will not perform, but the world's greatest Beatles tribute band will, employing vintage instruments, clothes and hairstyles to re-create both the sound and the image of the Fab Four. You won't get closer than this to the real thing.

- EB

7:30 p.m. SATURDAY, 3 p.m. SUNDAY, 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 17-19, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 S.W. Broadway, 503-228-1353, $29-$80; also available through Ticketmaster (503-224-4400), subject to service charges

VARIETY

Miz Kitty's Parlour

Music, comedy and other exotic talents are assembled at the Mission Theater, new home to this popular, monthly, vaudeville-style event.

Steve Cheseborough, the Dickel Brothers and the Hula-Hoop collective WhirlyGirlz top another eclectic bill, this one designed as an alternative to the St. Patrick's Day mobs.

- EB

7 p.m. SATURDAY, March 17, Mission Theater, 1624 N.W. Glisan St., 503-223-4527, $12, 21 and over

ART

Buckman Art Show and Sell

There's nothing like schoolkids panhandling for cash to make you reach for your wallet.

At the Buckman Arts Magnet Elementary School they've roped in their contacts to bring you art by such names as Serena Barton (oil and mixed media collage), Christine Claringbold (painted vinyl records), Kurumi Conley (slumping glasswork) and Jennifer Horning Foran (wood collage).

- Joseph Gallivan

5 p.m. to 9 p.m. FRIDAY, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. SATURDAY, March 16-17, Buckman Arts Magnet Elementary School, 320 S.E. 16th Ave., 503-916-3506, $5 Friday, $2 Saturday, free after 2 p.m. Saturday

Dorothy Yezerski

This Portland painter, who died in 2003, is known for her abstract watercolors based on an aerial perspective of cities and coastlines. She also taught for 35 years at the Museum School.

- JG

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. SATURDAY, noon to 5 p.m. SUNDAY, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and FRIDAY, through June 3, Portland Art Museum, 1219 S.W. Park Ave., 503-226-2811, $10

Sue Coe

Illustrator Sue Coe's work in 'Graphic Witness' depicts scenes taken from the factory farming of animals and women with HIV in prison. Meat is murder!

- JG

9 a.m. to 9 p.m. FRIDAY-SUNDAY, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, through April 16, Pacific Northwest College of Art Feldman Gallery and Project Space, 1241 N.W. Johnson St., 503-226-4391, free

CRAFTS

Contemporary Crafts Museum and Gallery

After 70 years the crafties are having one last blowout at their Lair Hill den before transmigrating to the North Park Blocks and reopening as the Museum of Contemporary Craft.

Party with DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid. Tear the roof off the sucker.

- JG

9 p.m. SATURDAY, March 17, Contemporary Crafts Museum and Gallery, 3934 S.W. Corbett Ave., 503-223-2654, $25, 21 and over