Opening This Week

Serenade/Lady Lucille and the Count
One of these dances is about Dracula. Oregon Ballet Theatre, 818 SE 6th, 222-5538, Oct 13, 18-20, 7:30 pm, Oct 14, 2 pm, $5-80

Closing This Week

Big Belly presents 3 + 3 + 3
Improv fans, you know the drill: Three improvisers, three acts, three suggestions. The rest is talent, timing, and a little bit of luck. Russell Street Theater, 116 NE Russell, 306-0870, Fri-Sat 10:30 pm, through Oct 13, $8-10

* a 2 X 4
Chaos is the goal here in a night of two one-acts by the surreal, child-of-the-'60s playwright, Sam Shepard. defunkt company members James Moore and Tom Galup are the stars of both pieces, and their chemistry is apparent. Moore's wide-eyed innoncence is a perfect match for Galup's burning intensity in the first piece, Cowboys #2, in which two men seem lost in a fucked up world of make believe. In the second piece, Action, things get even more fucked up. Fortunately, Moore and Galup's riveting performances save things from slipping into audience-losing depths of weirdness. defunkt, at the Back Door, 4319 SE Hawthorne, 993-9062, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through Oct 13, $8-15

A Little Night Music
Based on Ingmar Bergman's film, Smiles of a Summer Night, this Sondheim classic tells a lightly mocking tale of tangled romances among the guests at a sumptuous house party. Lakewood Theatre Company, 368 S State St, 635-3901, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Oct 14, $19-21

Bloody Poetry
Cygnet assumes you are smart. Their latest depicts the ever-shifting sexual alliances of those two wacky romantic poets, Percy Bysshe Shelly and Lord Byron. Cygnet Productions, 116 NE Russell St, 493-4077, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through Oct 13, $12-15

Count Time Count Time
There are three likeable characters in this play. They are Sasha, Danna, and Courtney; three inmates who the audience must watch suffer through the monotonous, yet grueling routines of prison life. These women compromise half the total number of characters in the play, and unfortunately are only on stage for about half the time. The rest of the show is comprised of a statistics-spouting Greek chorus type lady, a real-life poet who sits on a stool and reads her poetry, and an ex-convict who now delivers prophetic warnings from the outside. The first three spin a magical web of gritty human interaction that is oft-broken by the artsy fartsiness of the latter three. Back Door, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 230-2090, Fri-Sat 10 pm, Wed 8 pm, through Oct 13, $8

* Icarus
Some cheesy dialogue and heavy-handed symbolism can't stop this unique story of a paraplegic and his facially deformed sister from attaining emotional impact. The characters--which also include a washed out Hollywood starlet, a crazy man who is in the nuthouse with the paraplegic, and a really handsome dude who shows up wearing a ski mask--are each funny and poignant in their own way. The Miracle Theater, 525 SE Stark Street, 736-1027, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Oct 13, $15-17

Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music
A divorcee meets a Houston bar owner in one of the most lamely-titled productions of the year. Jack Oakes Theater, 2820 NE Sandy Blvd, 238-9692, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through Oct 13, $7-10

The Crucible
A great script with a mediocre production. Director Allen Nause has taken the stripped-down approach, with a set composed of a few wooden flats and a little violin music. It all looks very stark, which is an accurate representation of Puritania, but the drawback is that there are no frills to distract from the acting, which is only sporadically good. Artists Repertory Theater, 1516 SW Alder St, 241-1278, Tues-Thurs 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Oct 14, $15-28

Three veteran improvisers: Brian Kameoka, Kerry Leek, and Tom Johnson, create a world of different stories and characters. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Oct 13, $8

Current Runs

Fateful Encounter
A film noir style thriller, on stage, and inspired by the writings of Raymond Chandler. Firehouse Theater, 1436 SW Montgomery St, 972-5613, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sat 10:30 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Nov 3, $10-12

Gypsy is worth seeing for beautiful Kate Shindle's performance alone. Her transformation from the neglected, nerdy daughter of lunatic show-biz mom, Momma Rose (Susannah Mars), to the sexy and elegant stripper, Gypsy Rose Lee, is a sight to behold. Plus, Gypsy has some of the best showtunes ever. If you are not one of the 80-90 percent of humans who despise showtunes, you will feel great pleasure at hearing them. Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Thurs 12 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm & 7 pm, through Oct 21, $12-44

No, No Nanette
There's nothing better than a scandalous summer weekend of love affairs, broken marriages, and blackmail, brought to vivid life through showtunes! The Musical Theatre Company, 531 SE 14th Avenue, 916-6592, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Oct 21, $16-30

The Man Who Came to Dinner
A play amongst the romantic. St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 7600 N Hereford Ave, 285-6577, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Oct 20, $6-8

The Tempest
Prospero, Calaban, and the gang take the stage for one more romp through their island in the sky. Tygres Heart Shakespeare Company, 1111 SW Broadway, 288-8400, Thurs 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sat-Sun 2 pm, through Nov 4, $12.50-33.50

Johnny Stallings presents: Show and Tell
The man who once performed King Lear by himself has unveiled a new show featuring art, music, storytelling, and various guest artists. The Drawing Studio, 3614 SE Division, 281-1616, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Nov 3, $5-15