What to do while you’re not in Cancun

Okay, so when the term ends, chances are good that you won’t be winging your way towards a sunnier clime and possible immortality (or should it be immorality?) on “Girls Gone Wild.”

Chances are even better that you will be so depressed by this fact that you will lock yourself in a darkened room, watch MTV’s Spring Break special, and mutter, “I coulda been a contenda …” And, while we here at The Vanguard cannot (legally, that is) prescribe you some tasty anti-depressants to lift you out of your edited-for-TV funk, we can prescribe the next-best thing: exciting things to do in Portland during spring break!

Cat-less, roof-less theater

Ah, the theater. There’s nothing like a bit of drama and sexual tension to liven up your spring break. That’s right, we’re talking about Portland Center Stage’s production of Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” It’s like being in Cancun, only with better acting and less nudity, but the same amount of drunkenness.

Veteran PCS director Chris Coleman tackles one of Tennessee Williams’ best-known plays and ends up with a thoroughly absorbing production. Strangely enough, though, there is no cat and no hot tin roof. Despite these two major flaws, “Cat” promises to be one of the highlights of the 2004 Portland Center Stage season.

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” opens Friday, March 12, and runs through April 4. Performance times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and Thursdays at 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets range from $27.50 to $46. Call the PCS box office at 503-274-6588 or visit www.pcs.org for more information.

Ahhh, William Hurt

If sexual tension and drunkenness aren’t your thing, then perhaps William Hurt is. That’s right, William Hurt. As in, Best Actor Oscar winner for “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” William Hurt. Hurt stars in the Artists Repertory Theatre production of “The Drawer Boy” alongside ART artistic-director, Allen Nause (most recently seen in the critically acclaimed “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?”).

The play follows two Canadian farmers/boyhood friends as their lives are interrupted by a young actor who asks to live and work alongside them as research for a play. As the young actor becomes a part of their lives, acting and life begin to blur together revealing the mysterious secret the two men share, and the vagaries of memory. Time Magazine named it “one of the ten best plays of 2001.” Did I mention that William Hurt is in it?

“The Drawer Boy” opens Sunday, March 14, and runs through April 25. Performance times are Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., and Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for students.

For more information (and, no, they aren’t giving out William Hurt’s phone number) call 503-241-1278 or visit www.artistsrep.org.

Insane puppet madness!

Maybe you just don’t like sexual tension, drunkenness or William Hurt. To which we say: What the hell is wrong with you? Then we calm down, take a deep breath and think about our happy place.

What? A happy place sounds good to you, too? Oh, well then, why didn’t you just say so in the first place instead of griping about everything else? Sheesh.You want happy? We’ll give you happy. Happy, served Hungary-style … with puppets.

Created by Oregon Symphony violinist Jonathan Dubay (in collaboration with Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre and director Amy Gray), “The Wooden Boy” is an original adaptation of Romanian and Hungarian folktales. The production uses composer and ethnomusicologist B퀌�la Bart퀌_k’s little known 44 Duets for Violin as the score for the action.

Bart퀌_k originally wrote 44 Duets for children based on the folk melodies he gathered in his expeditions through the Romanian countryside. The story follows Bart퀌_k on a journey in a Romanian village where he meets a young girl and her father, who also happens to be a … (If you think you can guess where this is going, you’re wrong.)

The father is not a wood carver, but a storyteller who enchants Bart퀌_k with the story of a carved Wooden Boy, who comes to life. From there, you can probably guess the rest, but the little detour saves the play from clich퀌�. And it has puppets. Not quite William Hurt, but not too shabby.

Sounds a little … childish, you say? Childish? Childish?! We ask you: Who dislikes like puppets? Show us someone who doesn’t like puppets, and we’ll show you … an autographed picture of William Hurt!

“The Wooden Boy” is performed March 21 and 22, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Winningstad Theatre inside the Portland Center for the Performing Arts on 1111 S.W. Broadway. Tickets are $10. For more information, contact the box office at 503-228-1353 or visit www.orsymphony.org.