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Portland Area Theatre Alliance will present Fertile Ground of New Works, a citywide festival of new theatrical works, Jan. 19 through 29. The festival will feature the works of three local playwrites.

LO brothers write and compose new musical

* Two Lake Oswego brothers will be making their playwriting and composing debut at the Fertile Ground Festival of New Works with the world premier of the musical comedy 'Fight Call.'

Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor Brian Demar Jones joins Portland actors Melissa Kaiser, Josh Stenseth, Paige Jones, Gerrin Mitchell, Matthew Pavik and Elon Hasson in a staged reading performance of 'Fight Call,' which is written and composed by brothers Billy Rathje, 19, and Steve Rathje, 16.

'Fight Call' is a meta-theatrical, musical murder mystery. Things go awry when someone says 'Macbeth' during the Elderberry Community Theater's opening night of 'Mac! The Musical,' where Shakespeare meets the contemporary American musical as never seen before. Mayhem ensues in this romp through superstitions, egos and fears that exemplify the undying dedication that is required when the show must go on, no matter what.

The book is by Steve Rathje; music by Billy Rathje; and lyrics by Billy and Steve Rathje. The director is Michelle Kopper Seymour and the music director is David Hastings.

Local playwright C.S. Whitcomb, who watched 'Fight Call' when it was being developed, said, 'I think this may have been exactly how Stephen Sondheim began his career as a composer-lyricist.'

Steve Rathje is a sophomore at Lake Oswego High School. He has appeared in numerous local theater productions.

Billy Rathje is a freshman at the University of Puget Sound, where he was awarded a Lillis Scholarship. He is a biochemistry major and music minor.

'Fight Call' will be presented by Vanport Square Studio at the Fertile Ground Festival of New Works on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 2 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m., at CoHo Theatre, 2257 N.W. Raleigh St. in Portland, and Sunday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. at Vanport Studio, 5229 N.E. MLK Blvd. in Portland.

Tickets are available at www.chooseculture.org/event?id164885 or at the door. Seating is general admission. The suggested donation for tickets is $10.

Norton to read at 'Big Plastic Heroes'

* Set against the background of two small towns in the 1980s, 'Big Plastic Heroes' features two autobiographical solo performances by Portland comedian/Second City alum auGi and award-winning PBS writer Slash Coleman. Each highlights the dangerous and funny things that can happen when teenagers try to emulate their action hero ideals. Opening acts each night include appearances by performers sharing stories and anecdotes on their personal heroes.

Lake Oswego playwright Molly Norton will present her tale, informally titled 'How an Adopted Farm Girl Became the Undisputed Queen of Disco,' on Feb. 4 as part of the world premiere of 'Big Plastic Heroes.'

Tickets range in price from $10 to $17.50 and can be purchased online at http://bigplasticheroes.eventbrite.com/.

For complete information about Fertile Ground, visit www.fertilegroundpdx.org.

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