Having weathered some rocky ups and downs, Portland theater locked into a reliable groove earlier this year, which means the 2022–23 season will be a big deal: the first “normal” year of programming since the pandemic took hold. With that in mind, you might expect safe, big-ticket titles to dominate marquees this fall. For the most part, you’d be mistaken.
After wrapping the 2021–22 season with Jonathan Larson’s Rent, Portland Center Stage will kick off the fall with Larson’s much lesser-known Tick, Tick ... Boom!, which entered public consciousness on the back of Andrew Garfield’s Oscar-nominated haircut last year. Shortly after that closes, the PCS mainstage will host The Ripple, the Wave That Carried Me Home, a coproduction with Artists Repertory Theatre about the integration of public swimming pools in 1960 Kansas; it will land in Portland just a month after its world premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California.
Those hoping for bigger-ticket fare need not worry: Aaron Sorkin’s talky To Kill a Mockingbird adaptation and Diablo Cody’s hyper-topical Alanis Morissette jukebox musical Jagged Little Pill will come to the Keller Auditorium in October and November, respectively.
Elsewhere, the always pro-risk Profile Theatre will begin its multiseason investigation of works by Kristoffer Diaz, Christopher Oscar Peña, and Lauren Yee with Diaz’s pro wrestling–focused The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity and Yee’s autofictional King of the Yees. Both will go up at Imago Theatre, following a world premiere by the space’s home company: Lumen Odyssey, a “metaphysical sci-fi adventure” about a tense intergalactic mother-daughter relationship. Call it Lady Bird on psychedelics.
Families looking to reincorporate theatergoing into their routines who want to stay on the familiar side will not be hung out to dry. Oregon Children’s Theatre will mount the youth-oriented musical Dog Man in October, and slightly older kids might get a kick out of Triangle Productions’ one-act take on The Play That Goes Wrong, a British comedy that has been delighting Londoners for a crisp decade. Grown-up families can head over to Portland Playhouse for Chicken and Biscuits, a good old-fashioned “kids come home for dad’s funeral” comedy whose late-2021 Broadway run was cut short by the omicron wave.
Out in the suburbs, there’s a dual helping of comfort food, both classic and contemporary. Lake Oswego’s Lakewood Theatre will greet the autumn chill with Noël Coward’s ghostly classic Blithe Spirit, and Broadway Rose in Tigard will put up the poppy rom-com The Evolution of Mann, about a New Yorker who receives a romantic makeover from his lesbian roommate.