Our Guide to Portland Fall Theater

From World War I–era Bavaria to an ice-bound ship in the Arctic, via Havana under Fidel and the Sacramento Gold Rush, here are 15 plays to put on your fall calendar.

By Fiona McCann and Ramona DeNies September 2, 2015

Alessandro sciarroni folk s will you still love me tomorrow photo by paolo porto o5bg1b

Alessandro Sciarroni's FOLK-S Will you still love me tomorrow? Performed as part of TBA (see below). Photo by Paolo Porto

It's almost Labor Day, which means summer is on the wane. The good news is that its now time for a brand new season of theatrical delights, as evenings darken and warm stage lights beckon. We've culled from the myriad offerings for this list of the 15 plays we're most excited about this fall. 

1. The Best of Everything Sept 10–27 (BAG&BAGGAGE)

Rona Jaffe’s 1958 potboiler about female secretaries struggling to get ahead in 1950s New York is the source for Julie Kramer’s play of the same name. “Think Mad Men meets Peyton Place,” says B&B artistic director Scott Palmer. Venetian Theatre.

2. Our Town  Sept 12–Oct 11 (PORTLAND CENTER STAGE)

PCS opens their 2015/16 season with a cast of 20 performing this Pulitzer Prize-winning Thornton Wilder classic, about life and death in a small New England town. Gerding Theatre.

3. Little Gem Sept 24—Oct 4 (CORRIB THEATRE)

This award-winning play from Elaine Murphy, which in its initial production travelled from Dublin to New York and Australia, tells the personal stories of three generations of ordinary Irish women grappling with life, death, sex and the occasional Sambuca. After a run at Kells Irish Pub last February, it’s revived here in a co-production with CoHo Theatre. CoHo Theatre.

4. Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure Sept 25–Oct 10 (MAGENTA THEATER)

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Scene from Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure. Photo courtesy Magenta Theater. 

Vancouver’s Magenta Theater got permission from playwright Steven Dietz to stage their production in 1960s London, where the great detective’s last adventure unfolds.

5. How We Got On Sept 30–Oct 25 (PORTLAND PLAYHOUSE)

Three midwestern teenagers in the 1980s grasp at adulthood, catching, in the process, a sense of early hip-hop’s limitless possibilities. Jennifer Rowe directs Idris Goodwin’s play, which premiered three years ago at Kentucky’s Humana Festival.

6. Or, Sept 18–Oct 10 (THIRD RAIL REPERTORY)

The company kicks off its 10th season with a witty Restoration-era spy thriller in the vein of Tom Stoppard. Philip Cuomo—recently seen nailing last season’s masterful Belleville—directs. Imago Theatre.

7. Passion Play Sept 9–Oct 24 (PROFILE THEATRE)

Play I and II (Sept 9–13) Sarah Ruhl’s three-part homage to ancient Christendom’s Eastertime passion plays kicks off, appropriately, in medieval England, before hopscotching the Channel (and a millennia) to World War I-era Bavaria. Play III (Sept 25–Oct 24) In the final work, we find ourselves in Spearfish, South Dakota, at the onset of the Vietnam War. Reagan makes an appearance, as do lots of fishies.


Director Dámaso Rodriguez’s “Broadway-scale” world-premiere musical counts as its house band none other than blistering, Grammy-bedazzled Tiempo Libre. A cast of 21 delivers the man-caught-between-worlds plot from California playwright Carlos Lacámara.

9. The Homecoming Oct 9–Nov 11 (IMAGO THEATRE)

Director Jerry Mouawad has made the staging of Harold Pinter’s tense, minimalist early works something of a specialty. For The Homecoming’s fall run at Imago, Mouawad animates what some critics have called the best of Pinter’s “plays of menace.”

10. Remme’s Run Oct 16–Nov 7 (COHO THEATRE)

The Sacramento Gold Rush, a 1855 Portland bank bust, a French Canadian cattleman who must race the clock to rescue his life savings: local playwright Wayne Harrel’s high-intensity script got workshopped at 2014’s Fertile Ground Festival and now makes its world premiere.

11. Carrie the Musical Oct 22–Nov 8 (STUMPTOWN STAGES)

For spooky season, Stumptown Stages turns to the master Stephen King, with a musical version of his horror novel Carrie—about a bullied high school teenager who uses telekinetic powers to wreak havoc on her tormentors—adapted for stage by the screenwriter of the 1979 movie version with music from Academy Award winner Michael Gore.

12. Ain’t Misbehavin’ Oct 24–Nov 29 (PORTLAND CENTER STAGE)

Fats Waller could tickle a piano like nobody’s business; this award-winning musical revue culls two dozen early jazz gems from the Harlem Renaissance legend’s extensive discography—from “Cash for Your Trash” to the titular song. Gerding Theatre.

13. All Well [A Sightless Play] Oct 29–Nov 1 )(PORTLAND EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE ENSEMBLE)

Set on an icebound ship in the midnight Arctic, this original “sound-play” from PETE is experienced through eyes, ears, and touch. A hammock serves as your seat; soundscapes by Mark Valadez aim to evoke the drift of explorers lost at sea. Imago Theatre.

14. The Dissenter’s Handbook: A Collection of Riotous Tales by Dario Fo Dec 4–26 (SHAKING THE TREE)

Actor Michael Kerrigan reprises a role from CoHo’s 2015 Summerfest for this series of glittering political jibes from Italian folklorist Dario Fo. Samantha Van Der Merwe directs.

15. Zoozoo Dec 11–Jan 3 (IMAGO THEATRE)

Imago brings back its peripatetic production, replete with conga-dancing polar bears and insomniac hippos. The New York Times said "Just watch." This may be your last chance to do so before Zoozoo zips off on a final national tour.



The annual art extravaganza is back, this year with performance and visual artists from far-flung locales like Italy, Tunisia, Japan, and Norway. Watch for extra TBA treats, given that it’s PICA’s 20th anniversary. (Tip: you need a circa-1995 ensemble, stat.) The Redd. 

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