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The Scene on Stage: August is a month of music and more posted on 07/31/2017

The audience at Clackamas Repertory Theatre’s (CRT) August production of “The Melody Lingers On” is sure to recognize some of the featured music written by Irving Berlin, even if they didn’t realize he’s behind the tune. Berlin wrote more than 1,500 songs in his life, with some of the more popular including “White Christmas,” “God Bless America,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and songs for the musical “Annie Get Your Gun,” including “No Business Like Show Business.”

 “It’s one of those shows that I think people are going to be dancing out of the theater,” said the director, David Smith-English, noting the show includes 46 of Berlin’s songs.

The production also offers some stories of the man behind all the music, with some pithy dialogue between songs about Berlin and the significant moments of his life. Smith-English added he wasn’t too familiar with Berlin until he saw a one man show at Portland Center Stage last year, which featured some of the same stories presented in “The Melody Lingers On.”

“The show kind of works through Irving Berlin’s life and gives you insights into where these songs came from, why he was writing them and what was happening in his life that was so personal,” Smith-English said.

Berlin arrived in America when he was five years old after his family fled Eastern Europe and the persecution of Jews at the time. He grew up in Brooklyn, but never had any formal training despite his success in the music industry. He served as an entertainer for troops during both World War I and World War II and displayed a strong sense of patriotism that Smith-English appreciates.

“In my sense of thinking, it’s the finest kind of patriotism, because he loved what the country gave him, the opportunity it gave him,” he said. “He loved the people; he wanted to bring people together. He wasn’t beating people up, but bringing together.”

Smith-English noted that Berlin was concerned about religious persecution and racism, adding that Berlin brought the first black woman to a Broadway stage with Ethel Waters singing in “Suppertime” about a wife who had just learned her husband had been lynched.

“It’s a pretty moving piece,” Smith-English said. “These are some of the things that are revealed in the show as you go along. He is remarkable.”

The show features five men and five women who are some renowned singers, including Mont Chris Hubbard, Susannah Mars, Merideth Kaye Clark, LaRhonda Steele and Don Kenneth Mason, choreography by Wesley “Angel” Hanson and a six-piece band directed by Lars Campbell.

“I think it’s a show that people are really going to enjoy,” Smith-English said.

CRT presents “Irving Berlin’s The Melody Lingers On,” directed by David Smith-English, from Thursday, Aug. 3 through Sunday, Aug. 27, at the Niemeyer Center on the Oregon City campus of Clackamas Community College, 19600 Molalla Avenue in Oregon City. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Ticket prices are from $20-$36. For more information, visit clackamasrep.org or call 503-594-6047.

Sandy Summer Sounds and Starlight Cinema continues a summer of free entertainment with a final performance for the Sunday Sounds at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, at the Theater in the Woods in Sandy’s Meinig Park, 17670 Meinig Avenue, featuring the Talbott Brothers, an alternative folk-rock duo.

Meanwhile, Wednesday Sounds kick off with the Sandy Hops & Blues Festival from 5:30-9:30 Wednesday, Aug. 2 at the Dale Nichols Main Stage in Meinig Park. The event features Hillstomp, an American punk blues duo, and Too Slim and the Taildraggers, a “whiskey” blues band, and the audience can bring a picnic or purchase food from Busy Bee Catering and Red Shed.

Wednesday Sounds will continue each week in August, with concerts from 6:30-8:30 p.m. featuring country/folk music from Kory Quinn & The Quinntessentials on Aug. 9, funk/soul/rock guitar player Scott Pemberton on Aug. 16, choral pop by Uplifting on Aug. 23 and Latin band Pura Vida Orquestra on Aug. 30.

The Starlight Cinema will offer family friendly movies at the Dale Nichols Main Stage every Saturday in August, starting at dusk. Audience members can bring a blanket or some lawn chairs. Movies include “Moana” on Aug. 5, “Lego Batman” on Aug. 12, “Pete’s Dragon” on Aug. 19 and “A Dog’s Purpose” on Aug. 26.

In case of rain, concerts will move to the Sandy Community Center, 38348 Pioneer Blvd., while festivals and movies will go on as planned (bring a raincoat or an umbrella).

For more information on Sandy Summer Sounds and Starlight Cinema, visit http://www.ci.sandy.or.us/Sandy-Summer-Sounds-Starlight-Cinema/

By Garth Guibord/MT

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