April 1, 2015

Press Release: Portland Opera Presents SHOW BOAT

Portland Opera continues its 50th anniversary season with Jerome Kern’s SHOW BOAT MAY 1-9, 2015. This is the Portland premiere of the award-winning Harold Prince version.

Show Boat revolutionized the American musical theater, thanks to its epic story and musical sophistication. This saga of three romances that blossom aboard a Mississippi River show boat reflected the true face of America as it was…and still is today, more than 80 years later. Love tragic and triumphant. The joys and challenges of marriage and parenthood. Struggles against prejudice, racism and economic injustice.

Cap’n Andy Hawks loses his leading lady with the revelation that she is of mixed-race parentage. Despite his wife’s objections to “life upon the wicked stage,” he turns their daughter Magnolia into his new star. The impressionable young woman soon meets Gaylord Ravenal, a riverboat rake who quickly progresses from her onstage acting partner to husband and father of their child. Snags soon scuttle their happiness, however, and it takes a two-decade journey to reunite the three generations on their beloved show boat, with youngest family member Kim now in the starring role.

Jerome Kern’s score teems with powerful choruses, romantic duets and masterful songs, including “Bill,” “Make Believe,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man,” and above all, “Ol’ Man River.”

The Portland Opera production utilizes the version premiered in 1994 by director HAROLD PRINCE, which The New York Times described as a “gloriously bold re-examination of the indestructible classic…a sweeping panorama that embraces four decades of American history, fashion and mores. Prince’s acute social conscience has prompted him, whenever and wherever possible, to emphasize the racial rift that runs the length of the musical like a fault line in an earthquake zone.”

Baritone Liam Bonner portrays Gaylord Ravenal, Angela Renee Simpson plays the role of Queenie, Arthur Woodley plays Joe. Two former Portland Opera Resident Artists joining the cast are Hannah Penn, who will play Julie Lavern, and Lindsay Ohse, who will play Magnolia Hawks. Susannah Mars will play Parthy and Allen Nause will play Captain Andy. Hal France, who made his Portland Opera debut with Turandot in 2003, returns to conduct.


Alexander Elliott
Steve Baker

Alexander Elliott is in his second year as a Resident Artist. In 2013-14 he appeared as Man with a Shoe Sample Kit in Postcard from Morocco and Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance. This season he has performed Frank in Die Fledermaus and Le Dancaïre in Carmen; his Resident Artist song recital takes place on May 12 at the Portland Art Museum. In July he sings Belcore in The Elixir of Love and he returns to Portland Opera next season for Anthony in Sweeney Todd and the title role in Eugene Onegin.

Allen Nause
Cap’n Andy Hawks

Allen Nause recently retired as Artists Rep’s Artistic Director after more than 25 years. He will continue to work with the theatre as both an actor and director. Allen came to Oregon in 1975 to act with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and then joined Artists Rep in 1989 as the company’s first Artistic Director. Allen is a recipient of the 2003 Governor’s Arts Award. Artists Rep was selected in 2004 by the NEA as one of six theater companies nationally to participate in “Shakespeare in American Communities,” the largest-ever tour of Shakespeare in the U.S.

He directed many of Artists Rep’s popular productions, including Superior Donuts, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Appalachian Ebeneezer, The Crucible, A Raisin in the Sun, Three Days of Rain, A Delicate Balance, Amazing Grace, A Taste of Honey, The Diary of Anne Frank, and A Long Day’s Journey Into Night. As an actor, Allen has performed at Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland Repertory Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Tacoma Actors Guild, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Intiman Theatre, among others.

Angele Renée Simpson

Angele Renée Simpson’s recent credits include Queenie in the major new production of Show Boat that originated at Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2012 and then was presented by the Washington National Opera in 2013 and the San Francisco Opera in 2014, as well as concert performances with Teatro Maggio Musicale in Florence, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in Reykjavik, the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi in Milan, and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic in Stockholm.

Angela has also performed with opera companies including the Los Angeles Opera, La Scala Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Diego Opera, Miami Opera, and New York City Opera. She created the role of Cilla in the world premiere of Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner, which she reprised for Opera Carolina. Her portrayal of Serena in Porgy and Bess has been hailed nationally and internationally, including a “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcast of the New York City Opera production, a new production for Paris’s Opéra Comique, a staging for the Styriarte Festival, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, which was recorded live by RCA Red Seal, and a production at La Scala, for which L’Opera magazine proclaimed, “A special mention apart goes to Angela Renée Simpson, one of the most extraordinary voices we’ve heard from the stage of La Scala in recent times. Her performance of ‘My Man’s Gone Now’ amassed a flood of well-deserved acclamation and applause.”

Arthur Woodley

This season Arthur Woodley makes his debut at the New Orleans Opera as Noah in Britten’s Noah’s Flood and returns to the Seattle Opera as Crespel in The Tales of Hoffmann. He recently won critical acclaim for his portrayal of boxer Emille Griffith in the world premiere of Terrance Blanchard’s Champion at Opera Theater of Saint Louis.

Mr. Woodley has appeared with the San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Dallas Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera, in roles including Varlaam (Boris Godunov), Bartolo (The Marriage of Figaro), the Four Villains (The Tales of Hoffmann), Nick Shadow (The Rake’s Progress), and Leporello (Don Giovanni).

Mr. Woodley has sung Porgy in Porgy and Bess with the San Francisco Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, and on tour in Italy. In staged performances, he has appeared with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera Colorado, the Bregenz Festival, the Savolinna International Festival in Finland, and the Catfish Row Opera Company of Charleston, South Carolina, in a gala celebration of the opera’s 50th anniversary.

David Meyers

David Meyers has performed extensively on stage, in TV, Film, and in radio. He has been a company member of many regional theaters, including La Jolla Playhouse – where he was chosen by James LaPine and William Finn to play Grandpa, in the world premiere of their original musical adaptation of Little Miss Sunshine. Mr. Meyers was also honored to be engaged by the creators of Urinetown to help develop and play Jan the Elder, in their original companion piece, Yeast Nation. At San Diego Repertory, he recently originated the role of Jack Jardin, in Matt Spangler’s adaptation of the T.C. Boyle novel, Tortilla Curtain.

Last year, Mr. Meyers was honored with a 2014 Drammy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a musical, for his work in The Light in the Piazza, for Portland Playhouse. Also last season, he played Dr. Chebutikin, in Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble’s hit production of Chekov’s The Three Sisters.

Other theater companies which Mr. Meyers has called home include The Old Globe Theater, Portland Repertory Theater, Artists Repertory, Portland Center Stage, Salem Repertory Theater, Perseverance Theater, PCPA Theaterfest, Southwest Repertory Theater, North Coast Repertory Theater, and The Neil Simon Festival. Mr. Meyers has recently Co-Starred in the NBC episodic, Grimm. His Film credits include: Men of Honor, with Robert DeNiro and Cuba Gooding, and Firefox, with Clint Eastwood. Other TV credits include: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Valley of Light, Final Justice, Terror in the Towers, Under Suspicion, and Nowhere Man. Mr. Meyers makes his home in Portland, with his lovely wife, Bonita, and Daphne the boxer.

Hannah Penn
Julie La Verne

Hannah Penn enjoys a diverse career as a performer of opera, oratorio, and recital literature. She has sung more than twenty operatic roles with Glimmerglass Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Portland Opera, and Tacoma Opera, among other companies. As a past member of Portland Opera’s studio artist program, Ms. Penn sang the roles of Diana La Calisto, Thisbe in Cinderella, Mercedes in Carmen, Flora in La Traviata, and Nancy in Albert Herring.

She also sang her first Carmen with Portland Opera, which garnered critical acclaim. Ms. Penn has since returned to Portland Opera several times as a guest artist, most notably as the child in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges. A strong proponent of new works, Ms. Penn has performed in the American premiere tours of John Adams’s El Niño and Sven-David Sandstrom’s High Mass, and has been involved in the American premieres of Anthony Davis’s Wakonda’s Dream, Richard Rodney Bennett’s The Mines of Sulphur, and David Carlson’s Anna Karenina.


Guided Discussion: How Race Is Portrayed in Show Boat, Past and Present

Show Boat is a landmark American musical–a “first” in many categories, not least among them, its treatment of race. Dr. Carmen Thompson along with Portland Opera Show Boat cast members Angela Renee Simpson and Arthur Woodley, will join Alexis Hamilton, Manager of Education & Outreach, and Bob Kingston, Portland Opera’s Resident Historian and Lecturer, to examine how race has been portrayed in Show Boat.

Tuesday, April 7 at 7pm | Highland United Church of Christ (7900 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97213) | Free

Film Screening: 1936 version of Show Boat directed by James Whale

This version of Show Boat was the second of the three films based on Show Boat to be released. It features Paul Robeson – and is the most critically acclaimed.

Sunday, April 19, 7-9pm | Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97212) | $8 general admission/$6 student, senior, children/$5 Hollywood Theatre members

Opera in Depth       

Learn about the historical context and social implications of the music and story behind Show Boat from Alexis Hamilton, Manager of Education & Outreach, and Bob Kingston, Portland Opera’s Resident Historian and Lecturer.

Monday, April 20, 2015, 7:30pm | Hampton Opera Center (211 SE Caruthers St., Portland, OR 97214) | $20 adult/$10 student | call to order: 503-241-1802

Show Boat Preview

Portland Opera’s Assistant Conductor and Chorus Master Nicholas Fox leads a 50-minute preview of Show Boat, with musical examples provided by the company’s Resident Artists.

Sunday, April 26, 2015, 2pm | Multnomah County Central Library | Free

Show Boat Preview

Portland Opera’s Assistant Conductor and Chorus Master Nicholas Fox leads a 50-minute preview of Show Boat, with musical examples provided by the company’s Resident Artists.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 7pm | Beaverton City Library

Bob’s Opera Overture

These free and informative sessions, led by Resident Historian and Lecturer Bob Kingston, focus on the music and history behind the evening’s opera, to make each performance even more satisfying.

One hour prior to each performance | First Balcony level | Free

Back Talk

Immediately after each performance, audiences are invited to join General Director Christopher Mattaliano and guests for a conversation that will include fresh-from-their-dressing-room performers, directors, and conductors for a 20 to 30-minute Q&A.

Orchestra level | Free


Fri. 5/01, Tues. 5/05, Thurs. 5/07, Sat. 5/09 at 7:30pm  |  Sun. 5/03 at 2pm

Tickets, starting as low as $25.00, can be purchased:

BY PHONE:      Portland Opera Box Office, 503-241-1802, Toll-free 866-739-6737, (Mon – Fri, 9am-5pm). Ticketmaster, (800) 982-ARTS (days, evenings, and weekends).

ONLINE:           PortlandOpera.org  – or – ticketmaster.com

IN-PERSON:       Portland Opera Box Office, 211 SE Caruthers St. (just south of OMSI, off Water Ave.), M-F 9am-5pm Ticketmaster outlets.

RUSH:              Students/Military $10 per ticket, Seniors $20 per ticket, 2 hours prior to show only, all available unsold seats. 1 ticket per person, valid ID required.