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Reviews & Articles - Chocolate Confessions by Joan Freed

Reviews & Articles - Chocolate Confessions by Joan Freed

Chocolate Confessions

Music, comedy and chocolate highlight one-woman show


Lovers of chocolate and musical theater will satisfy their cravings at a special Valentine event, “Chocolate Confessions,” performed by Lake Oswego playwright and actress Joan Freed.

     Presented by Lakewood Theatre Company, the one-woman musical comedy will be performed three evenings, Feb. 14 to 16. Curtain time is 8 p.m. and doors open at 7:30 p.m. for the cabaret-style seating at LTC’s Side Door Stage at Lakewood Center for the Arts, 368 S. State St.  The show focuses on chocolate shop owner Coco Bliss as she welcomes a variety of amusing and offbeat characters into her shop.

     “There’s quite a variety of customers,” said Freed, “and each one is compelled to share their chocolate confessions through a song.”

     Beside the customers’ tantalizing stories, Freed shares vignettes about chocolate, ranging from the origins of M&Ms to the secret life a professional chocolate taster. Her original monologue is joined with rarely heard musical theater songs that are as different as the characters she portrays.

     “There’s a little of everything, “ Freed explains, “from classical to country, rock to rap, lounge-lizard to lullaby and lots of traditional musical theater songs in between."

     Setting is important to Freed, and she felt a chocolate shop was a good vehicle for her characters. With a chocolate theme throughout, she had to do chocolate research – an easy task for someone with a life-long love of the famous candy – and search for the appropriate music.

     “It’s like opening a box of chocolates and picking out the best ones,” said Freed, referring to the music she chose to perform. “The show allows me to perform great songs that are often buried. And I found out all kinds of new things about chocolate!”

     Her characters also require time to perfect. Shop owner Coco Bliss – described by Freed, as most like herself – needed a name appropriate for the owner of a chocolate shop. One evening at the Oregon Symphony, while enjoying a YoYo Ma concert with her husband, Freed thought of “Coco Ma.” The name eventually changed to Coco Bliss when Freed remembered a college friend of her brother’s named Felicity Bliss.

     Just like Bliss, Freed’s success with musical comedy had to evolve. Before moving to Lake Oswego in 1980, Freed and her family lived in Los Angeles where she was born and raised. After earning a master’s degree, she worked as an actuary, but felt life was too short and it was important to do different things. She was attracted to theater through her children when they took drama classes at Lakewood Center.

     “Wow, it was really exciting,” explained Freed, remembering her first feelings about theater.  Eventually she tried out for – and got – a part in the LTC production of “Kiss Me Kate.” That was eight years ago, and since then she has performed with Portland’s Musical Theatre Company, Broadway Rose, and more parts with LTC.

     “As time went on, I realized my opportunities would be greater if I created them myself,” Freed continued.

     About two years ago she began her one-woman musical comedy performances, and “Chocolate Confessions” is her most recent production.

     During the show, Lake Oswego vendors will offer chocolate samples (Bernard C. Chocolaterie), plus chocolate desserts (La Provence Bistro and Bakery), wine (The Elegant Basket), coffee (Pacific Coast Cookies and Coffee) and more Bernard C. chocolate for sale. Seating is limited and advance ticket purchases are strongly recommended. Tickets are available at LTC box office at Lakewood Center for the Arts of by calling 503-635-3901.

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