Stage Fight

Portland thespians tackle the Tonya Harding scandal.

By John Chandler May 19, 2009 Published in the February 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

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TODD POZYCKI is hoping Oscar Wilde got it dead wrong. Because if life imitates art, the local thespian might consider upping his life insurance policy. On the morning of his audition for the part of Shawn Eckardt, Pozycki learned that Tonya Harding’s former bodyguard had passed away in Beaverton only the day before.

“He was 40 and I’m 41,” Pozycki says gravely.

Pozycki is one of a dozen people huddled in the lobby of the Historic Firehouse Theatre on a chilly December day trying to score a role in what Triangle Productions director Don Horn hopes will be the town’s most talked-about musical this winter: Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera, which opens February 21. Horn, known for flamboyant productions, is an unapologetic fan of Harding and has made it his mission to adapt and expand a little-known chamber opera about the clubbing incident at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

“I want the audience to make up its own mind about Tonya,” insists Horn, who invited Harding to act as an unofficial consultant. Thus far, there’s been no reply.

Inside the theater, Portland State music student Katie Davis channels her inner Tonya as she sings “Watch Your Back.” She’s good, but too pretty in a girl-next-door sort of way; she doesn’t really look “hard” enough for Harding. Nothing a little black eyeliner and a perm couldn’t fix. “We used to play Tonya and Nancy when I was in third grade,” Davis recalls. “Two of us would get up on the play structure and twirl around. And down below there would be a boy waiting to chase Nancy with a stick.” In the end, the role of Harding goes to local folksinger Beth Willis.

With her striking looks and superior pipes, Lilla D’mone, who’s fresh off a plane from Shanghai (where she sang backup for the winner of the Chinese version of American Idol), is a shoo-in for the part of Nancy Kerrigan. Baritone Jason Coffey handily snags the role of knee-whacker Shane Stant. And of course, there’s Pozycki. The pear-shaped IT specialist’s spirited rendition of the spy-jazz number, “Tonya’s New Bodyguard,” secures him the role of the recently departed Eckardt. “Well,” says Pozycki as the audition winds down, “at least I won’t have to worry about him being in the audience and getting offended.”

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