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Thompsons hootenanny opens at Funhouse Lounge

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO From left, Brad Fortier, Scott Engdahl and Chris Thompson star in Thompson’s “Cowboy Little’s Big Wild West Show.” The show opens Jan. 6 at the Funhouse Lounge in Portland and plays the first Friday of each month.

It is hard to imagine Lake Oswego actor Chris Thompson taking time to sleep, but you know he must because he seems to constantly be dreaming up new and ever more creative projects. Take for instance his latest project, 'Cowboy Little's Big Wild West Show,' an American music and comedy show heaped full of cowboy songs and cowboy stories.

'I wanted to find a way of melding all of my creative interests into a single project,' said Thompson. 'This project is a hybrid of my background in three traditionally separate art forms: improvisional theater, writing stories and performing live with a band. To my knowledge, no one has previously produced a show with this unique set of influences.'

Thompson said the spark of inspiration came 18 months ago when his wife bought him a ukulele.

'I was captivated by the instrument, spent months playing it, and eventually developed a finger-picking technique. I then discovered that the finger-picking technique could also be applied to the banjo and guitar.' He learned legends of American-roots music, country-western, blues, bluegrass, Hawaiian and Appalachian spiriturals. 'The histories and music of these classic American artists provided limitless inspiration for 'Cowboy Little's Big Wild West Show,'' he said.

The idea behind 'Cowboy Little's Big Wild West Show' is that the actors are members of a troupe of performers traveling the country in the 1950s, putting on country-western variety shows for local audiences. Each character in the troupe represents a different cowboy archetype such as a grizzled cowboy gunman, 'Hee Haw'-style cowboy clown, Broadway musical cowboy entertainer and more.

'The show is a real hootenanny!' said Thompson. 'We've got an amazing cast of actors and musicians performing original songs that offer a tip of the hat to American music greats of the past, such as Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Gene Autry and others. In addition to singing and performing original songs and sketches, the cast is experienced in improvised story telling. Some of the shows and songs are made up on the spot, resulting in spontaneous hilarity.'

The show is for all ages, though there may be some light adult humor. Future matinees will be geared specifically for young audiences.

The show plays the first Friday of each month at the Funhouse Lounge, a new arts lounge located at 2432 S.E. 11th Ave. in Portland.

'The Funhouse Lounge is a new arts lounge featuring a variety of local music and theater acts,' said Thompson. 'It's an intimate cabaret-style venue featuring a creative menu and a great stage.'

The show premieres Jan. 6 at 8 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. A different show will be presented the first Friday of each month.

Tickets are $13 to $18, with a $5 discount promotion being offered now to new fans. Like

'Cowboy Little's Big Wild West Show' on Facebook and receive a discount code for $5 off general admission. To purchase tickets visit www.cowboylittle.com.

The Unscriptables will call Funhouse Lounge home stage

You might recall reading about Chris Thompson and the Unscriptables Theatre Company last fall; we encouraged readers to see their improve performances of 'U.S.S. Improvise: the Musical. Well, the Unscriptables are back and the Funhouse Lounge is their new home - here is their lineup of performances:

* 'U.S.S. Improvise: The Musical,' Jan. 13 and 14 at 8 p.m.

* 'Secrets and Lies,' Jan. 13 at 10 p.m., Jan. 20 and 27 at 8 p.m.

* 'Dom-prov,' Jan. 14 at 10 p.m.

All shows are pay what you want. Funhouse Lounge is located at 2432 S.E. 11th Ave. in Portland.