PCS Blog

Oh What a Beautiful Season! Announcing the 2011-2012 Season

Posted by Natalie Gilmore | 11 March 2011

Oh, What a Beautiful Season!

Portland Center Stage announces 2011–2012 Season

Take an illuminating road trip through the American heartland, survive the chaos of a somehow hilarious revolution, look inside the creative genius of one America’s greatest visual artists and re-imagine one of Shakespeare’s most fantastical tales with Portland Center Stage’s 2011/2012 season.

It all begins with an iconic musical from one of the most legendary teams in theater history and ends in a mind-bending musical event blending two of the most incendiary voices of the mid-twentieth century.

Are you ready for the ride?

Without further ado, Portland Center Stage is pleased to announce the 2011–2012 season lineup:



Music by Richard Rodgers
Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs
Original dances by Agnes de Mille
Main Stage

September 20, 2011–October 30, 2011


“Things are changing. The country is changing. Gotta change with it.”

Those words express familiar sentiments often heard these days, but are spoken in this case not by a politician of 2010, but by Curly, the cowboy who takes the notion of change and wrestles it to the ground in Oklahoma! Part charming love story, part stirring retelling of American history, and many parts beloved songs, stunning dance, and often darkly shaded humor, Oklahoma! is the show that made its own history. This first collaboration by what became the legendary team of Rodgers and Hammerstein was a milestone in the development of American musical theater for its fusion of song, story and dance. It also created box office history, setting new records in its day, and is an enduring hit today, with new productions in New York and Washington DC once again breaking records in recent history.


The Real Americans

By Dan Hoyle
Ellyn Bye Studio

September 6, 2011–November 6, 2011


“Imagine a society with no beer,” a veteranback from Iraq tells Dan Hoyle in Wisconsin. “I’d start blowing up stuff too.”

Frequently described as an actor/journalist, Dan Hoyle has focused his form of “theater journalism” in this new piece on a months-long road trip to some of the not-on-the-coasts parts of the U.S. The idea, he says, was to get outside the “latte liberal bubble,” find out what people in rural America are thinking and savor some small-town café pie.

Beneath the masterful humor that Hoyle brings to the piece—as he takes on the personas of the many people he encountered—a rich texture of human connections asserts itself. It surfaces in stories of unemployment and in the frenetic form of a Dominican from New York he meets on the road; it gathers heart-wrenching impact in a Vietnam vet’s reflections on the kids coming back from Iraq, and one of his San Francisco friend’s concern for her sister in Alabama.

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that The Real Americans should be seen in and outside every liberal bubble in this country, and that Hoyle “displays a gift for mime and vocal mimicry that recalls solo artists John Leguizamo, Sarah Jones or Lily Tomlin.”


A Christmas Story

By Phil Grecian
Based on the motion picture written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown & Bob Clark
Main Stage

November 20, 2011–December 24, 2011

“Wacky and wistful, and fresh as a fir.” – San Jose Mercury News

Based on the beloved movie, this classic holiday comedy is a funny and sweet tale of growing up in the 1940s, by American master storyteller Jean Shepherd. Ralphie pines for an official Red Ryder Model Air Gun for Christmas, and his machinations to try and make sure Santa delivers, while his father obsesses over his “major award” (an abominable lamp), guarantee that nothing about the family Christmas will be filled with heavenly peace. After a nearly sold-out run in 2010, we’re bringing this family hit back to enliven the 2011 holiday season!


Special Holiday Offering
A special engagement offered outside subscription packages.

The Santaland Diaries

By David Sedaris
Adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
Ellyn Bye Studio

November 29, 2011–December 31, 2011


Based on the outlandish, and true, chronicles of David Sedaris’ experience as Crumpet the Elf in Macy’s Santaland display, this hilarious cult classic features comic encounters during the height of the holiday crunch. PCS brings a holiday favorite back to Portland as a special Studio Theater presentation.


World premiere!

The North Plan

By Jason Wells
Main Stage

January 10, 2012–February 5, 2012

After a ruthless cabal seizes power in Washington, Carlton Berg, a bureaucrat for the State Department, runs off with the new regime’s top secret Enemies List. Unfortunately for Carlton, the chase has come to an end in a police station in the Ozark town of Lodus. With a pair of DHS agents on the way, Carlton’s last chance is in the people around him: an unsympathetic police chief, an ambivalent administrative assistant, and fellow prisoner Tanya Shepke, motor-mouthed recidivist and alcohol enthusiast, who appears to have an attention-deficit disorder and thinks Skynyrd should be on the new money. Let the revolution begin.

The North Plan was an audience favorite at JAW 2010.


World premiere!

Shakespeare’s Amazing Cymbeline

A new adaptation by Chris Coleman
Ellyn Bye Studio

January 31, 2012–April 8, 2012

Based on legends about early Celtic kings, Cymbeline is one ofShakespeare’s most fantastical creations—familiar Shakespearean themes of jealousy and innocence wronged are joined with divineintervention from the gods. A lovely princess, an evil queen, amisguided king and a thoroughly rotten clown inhabit this fairy tale-like story of life, and love, renewed.

One of Shakespeare’s charming romances, this production of Cymbeline marks two firsts—our first production of the Bard in the Ellyn Bye Studio, and the first production of this fresh adaptation (calling for five actors and a pianist) by Artistic Director Chris Coleman.



By John Logan
Main Stage

February 21, 2012–March 18, 2012

An intense bio-drama of the renowned modern artist (and Oregon-raised) Mark Rothko, Red earned critical laurels in its New York run last season.

Set in the 1950s, when Rothko was commissioned to create a series of large pieces of art for the new Four Seasons Restaurant, Red tackles big questions about art—what it takes to create it and where it belongs in our world. But perhaps more importantly, the play invites us to experience a legendary artist through the lens of the assistant brought on to help him with a project Rothko is not so sure he can accept completing. The New York Times described it as “a portrait of an angry and brilliant mind that asks you to feel the shape and texture of thoughts…as much as any stage work I can think of, Red captures the dynamic relationship between an artist and his creations.”

PCS and the Portland Art Museum are working together to celebrate Rothko during the run of this production.


World premiere!

Anna Karenina

Adapted from Tolstoy by Kevin McKeon
Main Stage

April 3 – 29, 2012

“He avoided looking at her as the sun,but seeing her as one does the sun, without looking”

Tolstoy’s classic story of love and marriage in Imperial Russia comes to our Main Stage in a new adaptation by Kevin McKeon, adaptor of Snow Falling on Cedars.

This tragic love story has been called by some the greatest novel ever written—it certainly has one of the most famous first lines: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” When Anna’s husband refuses to release her from their marriage to pursue her love for Count Vronsky, the wheels are set in motion for the ultimate sacrifice. Anna Karenina isn’t concerned with observing the minutiae of social etiquette, like Jane Austen, nor with righting social injustices, like Dickens. It’s about uncontrollable passions and emotional and sexual betrayal, set against one of the most romantic periods of world history.


Black Pearl Sings!

By Frank Higgins
Ellyn Bye Studio

April 24, 2012–June 17, 2012

In 1935 Texas, Susannah, an academic and song collector for the Library of Congress, visits a high-security prison where she meets Pearl, an African-American woman imprisoned for murder who longs to leave prison and find her lost daughter. Hoping to record the treasure trove of spirituals and folk songs that only Pearl knows—and make her reputation on the discoveries—Susannah bargains for Pearl’s parole and arranges for several public performances. The two women soon find themselves walking a delicate line between exposure and exploitation.

Featuring beautiful a cappella renditions of little-known African-American folk songs, Black Pearl Sings! chronicles a powerful story about being a woman in a man’s world, being black in a white world andfighting for one’s soul in a world where anyone can be a commodity.


World premiere!

Universal Mind

Conceived by Randy Johnson
Choreography and Musical Staging by Debra Brown
Featuring the music of The Doors and the literary works of Allen Ginsberg
Main Stage

May 22, 2012–June 24, 2012

The Universal Mind merges the musical landscape of Jim Morrison and The Doors and the enduring literary legacy of Allen Ginsberg into one unique American night—an evening at a Doors concert in 1969. Inspired by the tradition of early classical Greek theatre, which blended poetry and music with highly stylized movement and choreography, Randy Johnson has created a theatrical representation of how the incendiary voice of the Beats in the 1950s influenced the music of the man who invited us to “light my fire” in the 1960s.

The Universal Mind is a collective and creative collaboration between Randy Johnson and renowned choreographer Debra Brown, principal choreographer for Cirque du Soleil for the past 20 years.


Current subscribers may renew online if they are renewing without making any changes to their subscriptions. Click here to renew.

If you're interested in purchasing a new subscription to the 2011–2012 season, you may do so at any time. However, we will not be able to confirm your seating options until we complete renewals of current subscribers. But the sooner you subscribe, the higher priority you'll have for seating! To review package and pricing options, click here.

Comments (11)

Susan, thank you so much for your feedback! We do hope that you’ll be able to join us next season. We’ve got some amazing shows picked out, and you’re right - we want them to be easily accessible, so that everyone can get excited for our upcoming productions! Thanks again, Kinsley Suer

  • Kinsley Suer
  • 08 Jun 11 06:04


I have been a season ticket subscriber for the last two seasons but for financial reasons may not be able to continue. I wanted to review next season’s offerrings. I found them but it would be handy if the next season was listed underneath the current season at the top of the page. Think about making this suggested improvement.

Thank you for considering my request.


Susan Taylor

  • Susan Taylor
  • Vancouver, WA
  • 08 Jun 11 01:08

In response to “Art,”

You make some valid comments about the use of the words “world premiere,” and I’d like to respond to several of them. But right off the bat, I have to say that your assumption that the use of the term “world premiere” is a marketing ploy is incorrect. In fact, the selection of a “world premiere” as part of a season is more of a challenge for marketing, versus an advantage—the general public is usually more inclined to gravitate to something they know, or have at least heard of, than a brand new, unknown product. There are always patrons, of course, who are thrilled at the idea of new work, and as a company it’s something we relish, but if your point is that the use of the label “world premiere” drives ticket sales, I have to say that while I wish it to be true, it’s not. If it was, I suspect most theaters around the U.S. would be producing nothing BUT world premieres.

And to continue to your two examples of us using the label, to your mind, inaccurately. As we’ve discussed elsewhere on this blog, “futura” was a joint world premiere among three theaters—one in New York, as you note, but also with a company in L.A. This was the playwright’s choice, as he continued to work on the play with each of the three productions. An awkward designation, certainly, but one that we acknowledged from the beginning and which began with our own workshop of the production at JAW in the summer of 2009, prior to all. You can certainly argue that you don’t agree with the designation; but it was all choreographed openly from the outset.

As for “The North Plan,” you are incorrect about the Steppenwolf presentation. It was part of their “First Look” program, which is akin to our JAW festival: they describe it as “developmental productions,” meaning it is a play development program. We workshopped “The North Plan” in last summer’s JAW; Steppenwolf then continued the development process this past fall in the “First Look” program. Our announced production for next season is, in fact, the world premiere of the first fully produced version of the final script of the play—and that designation was made in cooperation with Steppenwolf, who also had the play under consideration for a “world premiere” in their upcoming season.

There is a lot of debate today about how much workshop attention a script should get, and if in fact the play development process in the American theater has become Byzantine, with a network of workshops and play festivals and very few new plays actually making it to full productions and full runs. It’s a valid and fascinating discussion, and has been active for several years. Todd London’s article in “American Theater” from 2002 is a fascinating one to read: http://www.tcg.org/publications/at/2002/shape.cfm. And if you’re interested, there are many more out there.

While we all struggle with the challenges attached to creating new work, including the aforementioned challenge of finding audiences to support it, I think that most theaters in the U.S. remain deeply interested in it, and are seeking the most creative solutions to overcoming those barriers.

Your point that if calling something a “world premiere” takes lengthy explanation then it’s not really a premiere? I think we should take that note; but I also think it’s not likely to be something that goes away soon, given the play development process. It would be extremely rare, I believe, for any theater these days to present a “world premiere” that hadn’t enjoyed some sort of public workshop(s) as part of its path to that premiere. It’s something we look at all the time in terms of selecting plays for the JAW Festival; has a play already been workshopped to the point where our involvement would bring nothing new to the process? Or is there still more opportunity to fine-tune the play?

I suspect we will continue to agree to disagree on the use of “world premiere” on certain titles—for instance, if we’re producing a brand new adaptation of a beloved classic story, what is your comfort level with calling that a “world premiere?”—but I hope that you will see that the most important point is that theaters continue to invest in the development of new work for the stage. We are particularly grateful and excited by a recent gift from the Perkins Coie law firm to launch a commissioning program at PCS. It remains to be seen what the development process for those commissioned plays will be, but you can count on several “world premieres.”

best regards,
Cynthia Fuhrman
Director of Marketing and Communications

  • Cynthia Fuhrman
  • 05 Apr 11 05:55

It’s disappointing and problematic to see PCS misusing or at best stretching the normally understood meaning of “world premiere” each year.

Most people would understand it to mean “this is the first production of the play”.  And yet FUTURA opened in New York before it was done here.  And THE NORTH PLAN opened at Steppenwolf last fall.  These are not world premieres.

This loose usage seems driven by marketing or some other motivation.  Does PCS believe its audience doesn’t know the difference?  But the thing is, they do.  I’ve heard several people wonder why this term is being used for plays that have been done somewhere else.  Misuse of the term contributes to a second or third tier perception of PCS.

You should restrict the use of this term to real world premieres.  If you need a long story to explain why, even though the play was produced somewhere else, this is REALLY the world premiere - then it’s probably not the world premiere.

If PCS believes that its audience responds favorably to the “world premiere” tag, then by all means bring us more REAL world premieres!

  • Art
  • 05 Apr 11 04:46

Thanks, J! Cymbeline is going to be a world-premiere adaptation, brought to us by our very own Chris Coleman! Very exciting stuff. I really like your idea of studying Shakespeare’s original version before coming to see the show; it will probably make for a much richer viewing experience.

And, luckily, we’ve got many great pricing options for all of our shows, so hopefully you’ll be able to find a performance to fit your budget…without having to sell a kidney! ; )

  • Kinsley Suer
  • 14 Mar 11 06:48

I’m REALLY looking forward to Cymbeline. I hadn’t even heard of it before seeing your season announcement. I am planning on reading/studying that play and becoming thoroughly familiar with it so I can just sit back and enjoy the production. I will seriously sell a kidney to afford a ticket if I have to… (I’m hoping to see Oklahoma! and Anna Kerenina too.)

  • J. Holgate
  • Tualatin, OR
  • 12 Mar 11 06:36

Thanks for your input, Sandra! I’ll be sure to pass it along.

  • Kinsley Suer
  • 04 Mar 11 09:44

I’m disappointed to see no women playwrights in this season. I’m always thrilled when I do see them, and of course always say so. I do appreciate that you’ve been using lots of local actors, women directors, and providing community labs. Thanks for that. Keep a sharp eye out for women playwrights for next year, won’t you? Thanks.

  • Sandra de Helen
  • Portland, Oregon
  • 04 Mar 11 08:19

Hi Jamie,

Sorry you missed the season announcement! We would have loved to have you. You’re more than welcome to view the new multimedia piece that played at the announcement here: http://www.pcs.org/blog/item/the-company-switch1/.  Enjoy!

Thank you for your support of PCS : )

- Kinsley

P.S. Which email address would you prefer PCS emails to be sent to? Feel free to email me at kinsleys@pcs.org or call the box office directly at 503-445-3700 to have your primary email address switched over.

  • Kinsley Suer
  • 03 Mar 11 09:19

Thanks Holly!

We’re excited about those - and all of our other shows - as well : )

Thank you for your comment,


  • Kinsley Suer
  • 02 Mar 11 07:05

This is an amazing collection of plays!  I’m especially excited to see Coleman’s adaptation of Cymbeline and McKeon’s adaptation of Anna Karenina.

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