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Christopher Durang's play opens at PCS

Play deemed 'Sunny new play about gloomy people'

For The Review, Tidings

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - From left, Sharonlee McLean as Sonia, Carol Halstead as Masha, Nick Ballard as Spike and Andrew Sellon as Vanya star in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike playing at Portland Center Stage Jan. 10 through Feb. 9.

Portland Center Stage will present the 2013 Tony Award-winning play "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," Jan. 16 through Feb. 8. The play puts Chekhov and pop culture in a blender, with comic genius that only renowned playwright Christopher Durang can deliver.

"For humor to be truly satisfying it must be grounded in reality. The humor in this play comes out of that tension of reality and ridiculousness," said PCS Associate Artistic Director Rose Riordan. Bringing the ridiculous family drama to life are two artists familiar to PCS audiences — local favorite Sharonlee McLean as Sonia and Carol Halstead as her sister Masha — along with four debuts: Andrew Sellon as Vanya, Nick Ballard as Spike, Olivia Negron as Cassandra and Eden Malyn as Nina.

In the play, Vanya and his sister Sonia tolerate their mediocre, middle-aged lives, until their movie star sister Masha returns for a surprise visit with her boy-toy Spike, which really shakes things up.

"It's been our cross to bear that our parents gave us names from Chekhov plays," says Vanya at the top of the show, setting off the hilarious, Chekhovian-peppered tale of sibling rivalry, jealousy, regret, lust, aging and basically everything that's wrong with America. There are certainly themes and characters that will be familiar to fans of Chekhov, but as Durang says, "I did my very best to write it so that you don't have to know Chekhov to respond to it."

Previews for "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" begin Jan. 10; it opens Jan. 16 and runs through Feb. 8 on the PCS' Gerding Theatre at the Armory, 128 N.W. 11th Ave. Regular tickets start at $36. Preview tickets start at $29. Rush tickets are $20. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sundays, 2 p.m. matinees on select Saturdays and Sundays and matinees at noon on select Thursdays.

Purchase tickets at pcs.org or by calling 503-445-3700. A complete schedule can be found online at pcs.org/vanya.



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