Oregon Children’s Theatre’s (OCT) 2021-2022 season Emergence! will mark OCT’s return to live performances since its closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. This is also the first in-person season to be led by Artistic Director Marcella Crowson since she took on the position in February 2020. “It’s not lost on anyone that the last 18 months have been a challenging time,” Crowson commented. “OCT’s staff and artists have done an extraordinary job of engaging with kids and families from afar, but we look forward to finding safe ways for people to experience live theatre again.”
Opening the 2021-2022 season is the acclaimed improv performance by the Young Professionals (YPs) at OCT’s award-winning improv troupe Impulse! Now in its fifteenth year, a new class of comedic comrades will create fast-paced scenes and games—all based on audience suggestions.
Next, audiences both young and old are invited to get into the holiday spirit with Merry Happy Everything!, an evening of nostalgia, hilarity, and musical performances. Every performance of this original production will feature a special surprise guest artist sharing stories about their holiday memories.
The Young Professionals take the stage again in February with WROL (Without Rule of Law), a darkly comic coming-of-age story by Michaela Jeffery. Convinced the world can’t be trusted to prioritize the well-being of adolescent girls in the event of a cataclysmic event (or just in general!), a determined troupe of 8th grade ‘doomers’ are committed to preparing for survival in the post-collapse society they anticipate inheriting. The Young Professionals will close their season in April with a 90-minute adaptation of Twelfth Night.
The second half of this season will continue where it left off back in March 2020, with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Last Stop on Market Street.“It feels especially important to honor the time, creativity, and work of artists and technicians who invested so much in a season that was cut short,” Crowson explained.
First, OCT will bring back The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, this time featuring two new stories, complete with a menagerie of beautifully crafted, larger-than-life puppets that will help convey messages about the value of creativity, belonging, and growth. The production is recommended for all ages, and will include a sensory-friendly performance for neurodivergent children.
Closing out the 2021-2022 Season is Last Stop on Market Street, based on the best-selling and award-winning children’s book of the same name by Matt de la Peña, opening at the Newmark Theatre on May 1. The musical follows CJ and his Nana on the Number 5 bus, discovering that looks can be deceiving, everyone has a story to share, and beauty can be found anywhere…if you know how to look for it. The musical features a blend of hip-hop, Motown, gospel, and rap, written by Motown legend Lamont Dozier and his son, Paris Ray Dozier.
Also new this season, OCT will be offering behind-the-scenes looks into new works in development, beginning with the creation of a youth advisory board made up of children ages 8 and up. This group will be working together alongside Crowson and OCT’s teaching artists and learn insights into the inner workings of a theatre company, leadership development, artistic explorations and collaboration with peers. The group will also read scripts, meet OCT staff members, and lift up their voices to shape the vision for Oregon Children’s Theatre.
Other projects underway include a workshop of a new play by Ramón A. Esquivel and “The Ism Youth Files” in partnership with Dmae Roberts and MediaRites.