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Reviews & Articles - Chocolate Confessions by Joan Freed

Reviews & Articles - Chocolate Confessions by Joan Freed

Freed steps up with one-woman show


PORTLAND – After a couple of successful trial runs, Joan Freed plans to make her one-woman musical comedy “Chocolate Confessions” a downtown Portland mainstay – at least for the next couple of months.

     Freed already has performed the show this year in Lake Oswego and at the landmark Old Church with great success, either to sellouts or near capacity audiences. The February performances in Lake Oswego drew 115 people per night for three nights. In April, she attracted 200 a night for four performances in downtown Portland’s Old Church.

     “The art museum for (at least 10 weekends) is a big step up,” Freed said. “But we want to see where this can go.”

     Freed said she has the option to extend the run at the museum through February, with cabaret-style seating – four chairs per table, 50 tables. Desserts (mainly chocolate) and drinks are available.

     The piece is set in a chocolate shop, where owner Coco Bliss interacts with a range of offbeat characters. Each amusing patron comes with a song, mainly lesser-known tunes primarily from musicals. But there are some familiar ones, too, including “Good Morning” from “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Just in Time” from “Bells Are Ringing” and “It Had to Be You” from “Is Everybody Happy?”

     Freed considers herself a late bloomer as a performer, not getting heavily involved in theater until the early 1990s, when her children did it in school and at the Lakewood Center for the Arts.  Trained as a mathematician, including a master’s degree from UCLA, Freed worked as an actuary for 20 years before giving up the corporate consulting work to spend more time with her children and on stage.

     She made her debut in the ensemble of “Kiss Me Kate” at Lakewood in 1993 and since has had increasingly more challenging parts with such groups as Oregon Children’s Theatre, The Broadway Rose Theatre Company and Clark College Theatre.

     “I eventually was getting character roles,” she said, “but to do what I wanted to do, I knew I needed to create my own material.”

     She started with another one-woman piece, called “Crossword Puzzle,” that she took around to various spots in Portland in 1999. Her love for eating chocolate inspired her to create this new play, which she describes as a departure from the previous one and “a funny show.”

     She said, “At times, I’ve asked myself, ‘Is my work meaningful enough?’ And I feel that life is so fragile, and there is so much to be distressed about, that if I can tell clever stories and perform enjoyable music and I feel like people have had a good time, then it’s been a successful evening.”

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