February 24, 2011

Art and Theater: Opening Act

You can catch the Dramatic Repertory Company during the run of its first show, the spellbinding 'Blue/Orange.'

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Portland theater scene becomes a bit more crowded as Dramatic Repertory Company ponies up with its first show, Joe Penhall's gripping "Blue/Orange."

click image to enlarge

Evan Dalzell, Kevin O Peterson and Pope Brock rehearse a scene from Dramatic Repertory Company's production of Joe Penhall's "Blue/Orange." The play opens Wednesday and runs through March 12.

Courtesy photo

click image to enlarge

Set in a London psychiatric hospital, "Blue/Orange" centers on a young patient who claims to be the son of an African dictator. The play first opened in London in 2000. It won an Olivier Award for best play the following year.

Courtesy photo


WHEN: Opens 8 p.m. Wednesday. Through March 12.

WHERE: Studio Theater at Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave., Portland

HOW MUCH: $10 to $15 through brownpapertickets.com or by calling (800) 838-3006

INFO: www.dramaticrep.org

The new theater company will present the show in the studio theater at Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave., beginning Wednesday night. Set in a London psychiatric hospital, the play centers around a young patient who claims to be the son of an African dictator. Over time, his claim becomes believable, and the show triggers on a tale of race, mental illness and a power struggle between two doctors and two diagnoses.

Keith Powell Beyland began the company because he isn't seeing the kind of theater in Portland that he wants to do.

"There is a lot of great work being done by a lot of other theater companies," he said. "But no one is doing what we want to do. We're trying to be off-Broadway for Portland. There is a lot of great work out there that does not make it north of Boston."

The first show is a good example. "Blue/Orange" opened in London in 2000 and played at the West End before touring. It won an Olivier Award for best play in 2001.

Powell Beyland saw it in London and was instantly struck by its beguiling qualities. He found himself shifting allegiances during the twist and turns of the play, and left the theater feeling thrilled and flushed.

"It engaged the audience. You left the theater feeling, 'Wow, this is really kind of exciting,' " he said. "That's why I want to do 'Blue/Orange' -- because it's a good play and because no one else is doing it."

Powell Beyland has spent two decades working in New York theater, including at Roundabout Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club and elsewhere. His background is in marketing.

He and his wife, Vanessa, moved to Portland a decade ago. She works at Portland Ballet, and he continues to work for New York theater companies.

The Portland venture with Dramatic Repertory Company is a side effort, but something that Powell Beyland is serious about. He set up the company as a nonprofit and put together a board of directors. He is paying his actors, and hiring professionals locally and from elsewhere.

His cast for "Blue/Orange" includes Evan Dalzell, who is associated with Mad Horse; Pope Brock, a New York actor now living in Falmouth; and Kevin O Peterson, a film actor from Boston.

In June, DRC will present "Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde."

In June, DRC will present "Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:


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