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Reviews & Articles - Chocolate Confessions by Joan Freed

Reviews & Articles - Chocolate Confessions by Joan Freed

The Many Faces of Joan Freed

Portland actress brings her one-woman show to Art Museum


  Joan Freed was contentedly singing in choirs and taking her kids to acting classes when she got bit by the acting bug 10 years ago. Since then she’s performed in numerous shows – mostly musicals – at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, Lakewood Theater Company and numerous other theater companies in town. Music is definitely in Freed’s blood.

     Her grandmother was singing a song the first time her grandfather saw her and it was a voice and song so captivating that he felt he must meet her.

     Now, Freed’s youngest brother Ken Gould is the cantor at the oldest synagogue in The Hague in Amsterdam.  While in Portland for a family reunion this year, Gould performed “Songs My Mother Taught Me” for residents at the Rose Schnitzer Manor.

     Three years ago, her quest for good musical roles got her bit by another bug – the writer’s bug.

     “I thought there were not many roles for women in my age bracket,” Freed said. “It finally dawned on me that I had to produce my own material. So I started writing and performing my own one-woman musical comedies.”

     Her first – “Crossword Puzzle” – was performed in 25 venues in the Portland area including the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Scottish Rite Theater, McMenamin’s Kennedy School Theater and numerous retirement villages.  That show focused on one quirky, intellectual woman relaxing in a café with her latte and crossword puzzle.

     But Freed said she soon decided she wanted to do a show that was “pure comedy” and that gave her the chance to do a lot of distinct characters.  She began by collecting songs from obscure places, such as Fiddler on the Roof composer Sheldon Harnick’s “The Shape of Things to Come” with quixotic lyrics like: “Completely round is the perfect pearl the oyster manufactures. Completely round is the steering wheel that leads to compound fractures.”

     Each of the characters in her new production “was initiated by a particular song I became enamored with,” said Freed.  The main character in “Chocolate Confessions” is Coco Bliss, the owner of a chocolate shop who serves as everyone’s confidante – a chocolate “bartender.”

     “Chocolate Confessions” opened in October 2001 to a full house of about 600 people at the Scottish Rite Theater.  In February, Freed played for three sell-out crowds at the Lakewood Center and in April she drew rave reviews during four performances at The Old Church.

     Now with a 10-week run scheduled at the Portland Art Museum, Freed is hoping people who have heard about the show by word of mouth finally will be able to see it.

     Freed said it’s impossible to watch a show about chocolate without wanting to eat some, so seating at the Art Museum will be cabaret-style with refreshments including chocolate available before the show and during intermission.  For a taste of “Chocolate Confessions” visit the Web site

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