American Night: Meet the Cast!

Milagro's 32nd season is coming to a close with the wild odyssey through US history by the pen of Richard Montoya, a madcap romp titled American Night: the Ballad of Juan José!

The show features Ozzie González (Oedipus El Rey) in the title role, accompanied by an outstanding cast made up of Milagro favorites as well as newcomers. Read on to meet the cast, and get ready to laugh and think with this sharp-witted take on the land of the free, and get your tickets today!

ENRIQUE E. ANDRADE (Ensemble) originally from Mexico City, is a graduate of the University of Oregon. Enrique has performed in numerous Milagro productions since 2008.   Enrique is also expanding his classical Shakespearean repertoire with Portland Actors Ensemble in the role of Tubal/The Prince of Aragon in the Merchant of Venice in 2013 and as Mardian/Menecrates in Antony & Cleopatra in 2014.  He performed in Astor Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires at the Aspen Festival of Music in 2005 and 2007 as well as with 3rd Angle Music Ensemble, and in 2013 with the Lexington Philharmonic in Kentucky.  Enrique’s Television credits include TNT’s Leverage season 4 as Professor Humberto Garcia as well as NBC’s Grimm. Enrique is well known for being the Spanish voice of the MAX, as well as various TV/radio/internet commercials in both English and Spanish and also as a  story teller at Portland Story Theater, and most recently as Judge Hathorne in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible for Bag & Baggage in Hillsboro.  

ORION BRADSHAW (Ensemble/Dance & Fight Captain) Orion is so elated to be spending his 3rd spring in a row with Milagro! He also appeared in Learn To Be Latina, and Dance For A Dollar. He played Caucasian males in both those shows, but his character assignment in this show will keep you guessing, so stay tuned! Orion is a locally-based actor/ educator, as well as a proud company member of PDX’s Post5 Theatre ( He has performed with many companies in town, and is a teacher with PlayWrite, Inc. (playwrighting), Maverick Mainstage (dance), and the Northwest & Oregon Children’s Theaters (acting). Enjoy the show, people of every background!

MICHELLE ESCOBAR (Ensemble) This is Michelle’s third show with Milagro after Guapa (2013) and Learn to be Latina last spring. Michelle also directed this season’s Posada Milagro last December. In 2012 she graduated from Amherst College and is an avid practitioner of Karate-Do.
Joe Gibson (Ensemble) is excited to be working with Milagro, Elizabeth, and this very talented cast. In the past year Joe has kept busy touring his solo show with Portland Playhouse, working with the Red Door Project on the August Wilson Monologue Competition, and of course acting. Some of his past projects include, NBC’s Grimm,  Masque of the Red Death, Phaedra’s Love, Macbeth, and The Lion in Winter.

OSVALDO “OZZIE” GONZÁLEZ (Juan José) has been a performing artist since he was in 10th grade.  His first role was Ebenezer Scrooge in a high school production of A Christmas Carol in Los Angeles and his love of performance has branched out into music and dance.  He was a Mariachi during his college years and most recently performed as Creon in the five-time Drammy-award winning production of Oedipus, El Rey.  He is a regular contributor to Portland Story Theater’s Valentine’s Show and makes occasional appearances as guest vocalist at local open mics.  When not on stage, Ozzie is designing buildings and supporting the community through his work as President of the Jardin Portland Foundation, Board member of the Regional Arts and Culture Council, and “Sustainability Moment” speaker at the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs.  After serving a four year term as Miracle Theater Board Member, Ozzie is thrilled to be back on the Milagro stage.

ANTHONY GREEN (Ensemble) holds a BFA in Theatre Arts and a Master of Theatre Studies in Production and Design from Southern Oregon University. Tony takes pride in returning to the Milagro main stage for the fifth time. Most recently he was seen here playing Shakespeare in last fall’s ¡O  Romeo! Other credits at Milagro include, How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, BoomCrackleFly and the Drammy Award winning Oedipus El Rey. This is also Tony’s fifth time working under the direction of Elizabeth Huffman and he thanks her for her continued trust in collaboration. Recent credits include his critically acclaimed role as Davison in Northwest Classical Theatre Company’s Mary Stuart and as Enobarbus in Anthony and Cleopatra with Portland Actors. Other Portland credits include Albany in King Lear at NWCTC, Cardinal Pandolph in King John Borachio and Friar Francis in Much Ado About Nothing, the Duke in Two Gentlemen of Verona and Persuasion. 

HEATH HYUN HOUGHTON (Ensemble) Previously seen at Milagro in ¡O Romeo!, he is proud to be making his second appearance with such a fantastic company. A founding company member with Anon It Moves (Hamlet) and Theatre Diaspora (The Dance and the Railroad, Breaking the Silence), he currently serves as program director for Well Arts Institute (Fixed, The Unexpected Guest, Fierce Love). Portland stage credits include Imago Theater (The Black Lizard), Oregon Children’s Theater (The Stinky Cheese Man), Portland Shakespeare Project (The Tamer Tamed), CoHo Productions (Enjoy, Maple and Vine). Upcoming Broadway Rose (Thoroughly Modern Millie).

GARLAND LYONS (Ensemble) American Night marks Garland’s first appearance with Milagro and he is proud to be sharing the stage with such a talented group.   He was last seen in CoHo/Many Hats Collaboration hit production The Snowstorm.  Additional recent credits include Bradley in Profile Theatre’s Buried Child, Tartuffe in Tartuffe with Post 5, and The Judge in Romance for Theatre Vertigo (Supporting Actor Drammy Award).  In addition, Garland has worked locally with Portland Center Stage, Artist Repertory, defunkt, NW Children’s Theatre, Lakewood, Stark Raving, Public Playhouse, Quintessence, Portland Actor’s Ensemble, and NW Classical among others. Favorite roles include Ernie in Rumors, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Aaronow in Glengarry Glen Ross.  Film/TV credits include: Grimm, Portlandia, Leverage, Emeril, The Falls, Vicious and Restless. Garland holds degrees in Theatre and Psychology from the University of Washington.  
LOUANNE MOLDOVAN (Ensemble) is delighted to be part of la familia de Milagro.  She is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Cygnet Productions, a 20-year-old literature-based theatre company, for whom she has directed dozens of stage productions.  A longtime actor of film, television, stage, and improvisation, she is also a freelance casting director for feature films, commercials, music videos, and voiceovers, and is an accomplished playwright and screenwriter. She won the Oregon Book Award for Drama for co-authoring a play about the Algonquin Round Table writers. As an acting coach/teacher, she has worked with aspiring and professional talent and in creative programs for psychiatric patients and paroled teen girls.  

SHELLEY B SHELLEY (Ensemble) is humbled and excited by the opportunity to take the stage at Milagro!  A veteran stage and film actor, some of Shelley’s recent stage work includes Black Nativity (PassinArt), My Walk Has Never Been Average (August Wilson’s Red Door Project), For Colored Girls (Portland Center Stage/PassinArt), No Room of Her Own (Fertile Ground), and Slipped In Between Things (Well Arts Institute).  Her film work includes Mama Earth, The Music Within, and Grimm.  She can be seen in commercials for Dr. Pepper, Consumer Cellular, Courtesy Ford, and Legacy Health.  Shelley gives thanks to God for life, family and talent. 

Don't miss your chance to watch this amazing ensemble in the Portland premiere of American Night: the Ballad of Juan José, playing at Milagro April 30 - May 23, 2015!

A few words with a Culture Clasher

Photo courtesy LA Theatre Works
via The Hollywood Reporter
Richard Montoya, author of our upcoming, season-closing show American Night: the Ballad of Juan José, has become known for satirizing aspects of society, especially as founding member of the comedy troupe Culture Clash. Recently, Marketing Assistant Vicente Guzman-Orozco had the chance to ask him some questions about the show and Portland:

Vicente Guzman-Orozco: What are some of the stronger reactions you have encountered throughout your history creating provocative works?

Richard Montoya: We've performed in hard core red country - Tea Party land - we love it - its exciting, but we will not be bullied in the theater. The problem with the far right is that they are so thin skinned - we laugh at ourselves - the other side of the aisle does not do that so well - I see Obama laugh all the time - I never see Rush or O'Reilly laugh - Jon Stewart: a laugher! Our politics and satire have always worked best when there is a laugh or an emotion connected to it; it serves to make human, in this case, Juan José -  in this fashion we take back the town hall where not the loudest voice is heard but maybe the funniest or most sincere.

VGO: There have been attempts recently to embrace revisionist history (Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Georgia, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas) that became national news. In your view, why is that happening now?

RM: If you take slavery out of the history books we are doomed to repeat it - some might argue that the I-5 corridor from Seattle to Portland is a human trafficking zone - and it might be - we may be closer to repeating history that we thought - and remove history? 

A very scary thing - Culture Clash plays were banned in Arizona - we felt very close to another part of history where books were burned - history is our greatest too for not repeating dark chapters of our past.

VGO: What has changed since the 2010 premiere at OSF?

RM: Since 2010 there have been 2 high school versions, which kick major butt; shows in La Jolla, Denver, LA, Oakland, Yale Rep and a live cast recording! I've learned a lot - keeping it fresh - the headlines on race and class are moving fast; we need to keep pace - Emmett Till is there as a warning - a reminder that Ferguson and Washington State are keeping us from moving forward as a united nation.
VGO: Do you have any thoughts or predictions on American Night being performed in what’s often referred as the “whitest big city in the country”?

RM: I really want Juan José to brush up against the Portlandia hipsters - in LA and San Francisco's Mission district the hipsters have pushed everybody out  - so while there might be an upscale Latin fusion eatery there are no Mexican families any more - no artists!!  

It becomes a cultural tourism - where we sample something but not the real thing ...

I was impressed with Portland because I met so many people that had actually helped build the city - all the little pubs and cafes and bookstores were owned and operated by, yeah some white kids, maybe hipster. But I met multi-cultural people in the mix but mostly people that deeply cared and helped make Portland one of the most interesting cities and destinations in the country - that's different than a kid with a CBGB t-shirt on pissing on your mother's lawn who never walked a foot in the Bowery of NYC where CBGB was or cares that the 'hood he's urinating on was home to Chicano families as well as the likes of Upton Sinclair! All true in my neighborhood of Echo park in LA - I felt there was a measure of respect in Portland. 

From that we can build and tell our story of immigrants then go have a pint at the pub and head bang a bit!

Don't miss Richard Montoya's thought- and laughter-provoking show, which will have its Portland premiere this May 1 (preview April 30). Join us for a post-show conversation with the playwright on May 2nd, and maybe join him for a pint afterwards!

Happy Earth Day from Milagro and Super Ana!

Happy 45th Earth Day!

This happy salmon scene is a detail of the backdrop recently completed by muralist and designer José Solis. (You can see the entire thing below.)

This will be the basis for the backdrop scenery to accompany the latest addition to the touring productions, Super Ana! (Saving the world - by choice!). Teatro Milagro, the touring arts and education arm of the company, continues to partner with Metro to make our local government's  recycling work easier, and also make it easier for all of us to do our part!

Written by Artistic Director Olga Sanchez, Super Ana! tells the story of a little girl who discovers the power of thoughtful choices, going beyond recycling as a heroine for the environment. A great message for all ages, with special appeal to elementary students, the new show will begin its tour May 2015.

The play will be the first one directed for Teatro Milagro by Jeffrey Levy, and features new faces to the touring program, including Milagro veteran Nelda Reyes, Paul Chavez, and in the title role, Monica Domena, who recently made her debut on the tour of Searching for Aztlán. Long-time collaborator Vicente Guzman-Orozco completes the cast.

Stay tuned, and make sure to catch Super Ana! in its upcoming tour. It's a fun way to figure out why Reduce-Reuse-Recycle come in that order!

Photo of the Day: American Night, all marquee'd up

We're super-excited and counting down the days to the Portland premiere of American Night: the Ballad of Juan José, but our marquee is all ready for this fun run!

Get tickets or sign up to usher today!

Something new in the neighborhood

Our neighborhood, the Central Eastside Industrial District is getting hotter day by day, with great eateries and bars, in addition to the cultural institutions that are OMSI, Oregon Ballet Theatre and Milagro. We'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate our neighbors from Kachka on being shortlisted for the James Beard award this year... good luck in May!

One issue that people are concerned about when coming to one of our performances or workshops is the parking. The regulations apply as the signs indicate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, unless other restrictions for days or hours are posted (but are not enforced on city-recognized holidays).

Central City Parking has just added another lot servicing our neighborhood, conveniently located at SE Washington and SE MLK Jr, sharing the lot with the Central Eastside food cart pod.

Thanks to CCP for adding this convenience for our patrons so close to us!

Caution! Art in rapid progress

Some times art just seems to flow and the time flies as we are creating. Other times, the inspiration just pours out and soon you are in front of a beautiful work. In this case, the award-winning designer and muralist José Solis (and his assistant) are progressing at breakneck speed while creating the mural that will serve as the backdrop to Super Ana!, the newest offer from the touring troupe, Teatro Milagro (more on that soon). 

The three pictures above were taken in the space of 24 hours and take us from the blank, stretched canvas, through the outline sketch and into a full-color sketch!

You can learn more about Jose Solis and his work on his website, and read a brief bio below:

Jose Solis was born in the colonial City of San Luis Potosi (Mexico), home of many artists, he grew up admiring the work of famous Mexican muralists like Diego Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros. At age 14, while an art student he was admitted as an apprentice at a sign & commercial art studio learning brush lettering and mural design. In the 70s he became famous painting airbrushed murals on custom vans while studying at Customizing Center near Los Angeles, CA. his work in the style of Frank Frazetta was showed on National magazines like Hot Rodding. In 1983 He founded Creative Art Services in Portland, Oregon. That same year The Oregonian published a full page article and photos of his original work a 70’x15’ oil painting on concrete he did at Ascension Catholic church in SE Portland. One of his first commissions was to paint a large Oregon Lottery wheel for a TV commercial. To this date his work has included:
  • Scenic painting for many feature films including the stop animation movie “Coraline” by Laika Entertainment, etc., 
  • Set design for Nike, Adidas, Doc Martens, Portland Trailblazers, video & photography projects, among others. 
  • Art direction for the Oregon Lottery & many other national TV commercials. 
  • Mural art & custom lettering for museums, churches, schools, private residences, etc. 

Jose’s work has been recognized for his unique style with awards including: Silver Medal Award at the International Film & Television Festival of New York, Best Spiritual Documentary Judge’s Award winner and People’s Choice Award Winner, & more.

Smile! You and Amazon can help Milagro

Everyday more and more businesses reward your loyalty by supporting your values. Amazon has now joined the trend, creating, and they can help you continue to support Milagro!

The concept is simple: log into your existing Amazon account (or create one) though the smile page and select the charity you would like to support, such as Milagro (listed under Miracle Theatre Group) and shop as you normally would. Amazon will donate 0.5% of your qualified purchase price to us! And in case you didn't know, your Fred Meyer rewards card also helps you contribute.

We appreciate your support, and thank you for all the ways you continue to make Milagro possible!

Photo of the Day: Enter (America) at your own risk

Fresh on the heels of Jewish Theatre Collaborative's ingenious dark satire, The Ministry of Special Cases, Milagro is busy building the set for our upcoming, season-closing show, American Night: the Ballad of Juan José, preparing for its Portland premiere on May 1 (preview on April 30).

Perhaps representative of the land of opportunity, the set for this sharp-witted ride through US history features a lot of doorways. Then again, the design by Megan Wilkerson may just need all these entrances for the dozens of characters played by our cast of 10 actors.

Stay on top of all the news on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as American Night gets closer by the minute!

Happy 135th Birthday to the Mother of Social Security!

Secretary Perkins stands behind President F.D. Roosevelt as he signs the Social Security Act

Our season-closing show, American Night: the Ballad of Juan José sheds lights on some of lesser known moments and figures in the history of the country. Frances Perkins is not portrayed on stage, but on the 135th anniversary of her birth, we take a look at the extraordinary life and contributions of the first female US Cabinet member.

Perkins (née Fannie Coralie Perkins) was by all accounts a woman with a remarkable life, being named Secretary of Labor little more than a decade after women were granted the right to vote, and she remains the longest individual to serve in that position. The cabinet appointment also made her the first woman with the possibility of succeeding the president in case of death, removal or resignation. An intellectual juggernaut, she earned a B.A. in chemistry and physics from Mount Hollyoke College, and a master's degree in political science from Columbia University. She also studied economics and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Before venturing into government, she taught at several institutions, including chemistry at the prestigious prep school Lake Forest Academy (then called Ferry Hall School) and sociology at Adelphi College. After her career in government, she would become a teacher and lecturer at Cornell University until her death in 1965.

A progressive activist, she volunteered during during the settlement house movement, an equity initiative seeking to integrate lower, middle and upper classes within the same neighborhoods. After witnessing the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of New York, she increased her efforts investigating and improving workplace conditions, which she had been engaged in as part of the New York Consumers League. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected governor of New York, he appointed her as the first Commissioner of Labor for the state. Upon his election to the presidency, he brought her to Washington, D.C. and into his cabinet. As Secretary of Labor, she would be instrumental in the development and establishment of much of the New Deal and a long list of labor protections we now take for granted, including: regulations for working women and children; federal policies to work with labor unions; minimum wage, overtime and unemployment insurance laws.

The even lesser known part of the story is heart-breaking in its personal details. In 1910, she had married economist Paul Caldwell Wilson, and sued successfully to retain her birth name. Wilson was institutionalized throughout much of their marriage, and the tradition of a cabinet member entertaining at home with his spouse as gracious host found an unusual form in her case. She had developed a relationship and shared a Georgetown home with railroad heiress Mary Harriman Rumsey, who gladly performed the role of hostess for Perkins's guests.

Secretary Perkins was at the height of creating the framework for what would become the Social Security Act when Rumsey died of complications after falling from a horse. Despite quietly mourning her companion, she soldiered on, calling the cabinet that same week to her home to hammer out the details of the groundbreaking legislation; she "sat a bottle of Scotch on the table, and announced that no one would leave that night until the work was done." Soon after that, she would have to leave the home she had shared with Rumsey, since it was the deceased's resources that had made renting the place possible.

In a revisionist move like those that American Night seeks to counter, in 2011 the conservative governor of her birth state of Maine, Paul LePage, ordered a mural depicting Perkins removed, as well as the renaming of her a conference room at the state's Department of Labor honoring this American hero.

Come be a part of this wild romp through more of our history that some may ignore or want to. American Night: the Ballad of Juan José runs April 30 through May 23, but you can be among the first to see our production by ushering at pre-previews, starting on April 24!

Who remembers Storefront Theatre?

José does!

Our fearless leader and founder will be speaking this weekend as part of a panel discussion on the history of theater in Portland. The Oregon Historical Society will be presenting, as part of their Second Sunday series, “Glimpses of Portland Theater History.”

The discussion will be moderated by the influential arts critic Bob Hicks (formerly of The Oregonian and current Performance and Visual Arts writer for Oregon Artswatch), and the panel will include Don Horn (Executive Director and founder of triangle productions) and Julianne R. Johnson-Weiss (actor with over thirty years’ experience performing throughout Oregon and Washington). The talk is tied to the upcoming show by triangle productions, "Storefront Actors' Review", which brings back some of the original and outrageous work of the legendary Storefront Theatre, a irreverent and daring company that led the way in visually striking and boundary-stretching creativity in Portland throughout the 70's and 80's.

Glimpses of Portland Theater History
Presented in partnership with triangle productions
Sunday, April 12 at 2 PM
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park
Free and open to the public

Two decades of theatre and health education

A slightly different version of this story was originally published in our newsletter, Miracle Insider. Click here to subscribe.

When Milagro Founder and Executive Director José González decided to quit smoking about a decade ago, he did it on April Fools' Day so he would always remember what a fool he was to begin. Today we take a look at the many ways Milagro has helped increase awareness and improve the wellness in our communities.

Although touring educational shows have been part of our offerings since the early days of the company, since the mid-90's Milagro has ventured into the health field covering important issues like HIV, breast cancer and smoking. In 1995, Milagro produced En Este Valle de Lágrimas, a Spanish language play that was performed (sometimes literally) in the middle of migrant camps. The poignant story of a young family affected by HIV proved an effective vehicle for the message about testing and protection, and the project was reprised for three years.

In the next few years, Lágrimas was followed up by Fortuna de la Vida and Cenizas, shows addressing breast cancer and smoking, respectively. "People who have attended [Milagro] performances in Washington County have been enthralled with the stories presented to them. Our experiences with [Milagro] have re-affirmed our belief in the effectiveness of their education model," said health professional Linda Nilsen-Solares to El Hispanic News in 2000. The tour of Cenizas reached audiences in northern California and Washington State.

Milagro continues working in this important area as part of OYE (Opciones Y Educación), a coalition founded in 2008 to promote healthy sexuality in Latino communities in Oregon using theater and popular education. Subjects tackled by the project include open communication, LGBT issues, body image, and "the ins and outs" of sexual health. Milagro's partners in this alliance include diverse organizations like Cascade AIDS Project, Edúcate Ya, Latino Network, Planned Parenthood, and Causa. Their joint efforts were just recognized by the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners at the Public Health Heroes Celebration with the 2015 Social and Equity Justice Award.

OYE and its workshops empowering youth to stay safe and healthy will also be an integral part of our upcoming 32nd Season, complementing Broken Promises, a new touring bilingual play reflecting on the disturbing phenomenon of sex trafficking. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and read our blog to stay informed about all of the exciting projects, events and productions at Milagro this coming season!

History and its Malcontents: Howard Zinn & APHUS

Peter Esterhazy wrote, "History belongs to the victors, legends to the people, fantasy to literature," but in this Information Age, control over official accounts has been somewhat equalized by instant contact, citizen journalism, and more equitable access to education. Our next production, American Night: the Ballad of Juan José, takes us through the house of mirrors where our nation's history, legends and fantasies have made their home, using as our guide a text as controversial as it has been influential: A People's History of the United States.

Published in 1980 by US historian and political scientist Howard Zinn, APHUS remains among the non-fiction best-sellers, and has received multiple awards (and was runner up for the National Book Award) despite being mired in controversy from the beginning. Although criticism is not unwarranted, a great deal of the negative reaction may be due to Zinn's vision rather than the book's contents. This point of view is perhaps summed up by the author's statement "My hero is not Theodore Roosevelt, who loved war and congratulated a general after a massacre of Filipino villagers at the turn of the century, but Mark Twain, who denounced the massacre and satirized imperialism."
The recent conflict over the U.S. History Advanced Placement curriculum mirrors the mounting opposition Zinn's work faced, even after his death, and it illustrates the larger issue of how and why our past is recorded and taught. As new standards were announced, conservatives sought to cut or revise sections that threatened notions of American exceptionalism. APHUS continues to be reviled for presenting history "through the eyes of the common people rather than by glamorizing and extolling the lives of political and economic elites."

A People's History of the United States was not new or unique in bringing the unsung heroes of history to the forefront, but it is a defining example of what we now call historical non-fiction. It followed on progress made through the 60s and 70s as social groups became liberated and took ownership of their own narratives. Zinn hoped it would launch a "quiet revolution" as people questioned assumptions, simplifications, and what some would term "white lies" in our vision of our past. But even Zinn acknowledged and agreed with the simplest criticism lobbed against APHUS: it was not intended as an objective work. Although recognized in Academia, Zinn was open about his personal activism, even titling his autobiography You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train.

More than two decades and innumerable printings and translations later, A People's History of the United States remains pertinent and vibrant. Its iconoclastic perspective on the powers that be is used a fundamental text by the internet project History Is A Weapon (where you can read it online), and of course as a basis for Richard Montoya's American Night: the Ballad of Juan José. In the end, perhaps Zinn's most objective contribution was that, as Prof. Christopher Phelps wrote, "he sold two-million copies of a work of history in a culture that is increasingly unwilling to read and, consequently, unable to imagine its past very well."

Don't miss our Portland premiere of American Night: the Ballad of Juan José, and join us as we share, learn and laugh at our own great and not-so-great history!