Uncle Vanya

This is Vanya in a sweaty cabaret.

This is Vanya in a brawl between love and redemption.

This is Vanya just like any family get-together.

Join us for the hangover after the holidays.


Featuring live music

by Ralph Huntley (Klezmocracy, Livewire), Andrei Temkin (Chervona), and Courtney Von Drehle (Three Leg Torso, Klezmocracy).



“…this new adaptation of Uncle Vanya from PETE is much better, more visually interesting, and funnier than the agèd workhorse of Sad Russian Plays has any right to be, thanks to a new translation by Lewis & Clark’s Štepán Šimek, wise casting, inventive staging that includes almost-continuous live music […] and an ambitious set design.”  -Megan Burbank, Portland Mercury

“Uncle Vanya, newly translated by Štepán Šimek and directed by Cristi Miles, surpassed my very high expectations… Jacob Coleman’s performance as Vanya is remarkable. Director Cristi Miles has crafted a punishing role that brings Vanya’s inner torture into the physical realm… Ultimately, it’s funny and gut-wrenching, and it perfectly captures the anxiety of boredom, the irresistible allure of shiny things, and the hopelessness of realizing that this is it. Plus, there’s live music!”  -Krista Garver, Broadway World

“PETE makes the case for the comic version [of Vanya] in the best possible way, which is to say on stage, with real actors taking real chances in front of a live audience. World weariness is easy; comedy is hard… It’s easier when you have a solidly updated script, a sharp jazzy trio to provide an almost constant musical score that interacts cleverly with the action onstage, a quick pace to the languors of the upper classes and their attraction to long speeches, and a cast in tune to the inner logic of the farce inside Uncle Vanya… Fortunately, Vanya’s in the hands of Jacob Coleman, who can go from drunken unconsciousness to full rant in under five seconds. So distracted by Yelena, so angry at and envious of the professor, so filled with self-disgust, this Vanya dances about, flops around, cajoles lasciviously, drinks heavily, and collapses dangerously, often on his bottom but sometimes in full belly-flop mode. I think of it as clowning of a very high order, because it feels so spontaneous, but Coleman is in service to an idea about the play that he never loses sight of.”  -Barry Johnson, Oregon Arts Watch

“PETE brings their [Vanya] to life with live music and imaginative staging… [they] manage to make the 1899 play feel fresh, but still recognizable as Uncle Vanya… Director Cristi Miles manages to bring everything together into one cohesive dramatic movement, making it feel thought-provoking but not laborious. As Vanya, Coleman’s natural comedic ability pairs well with the deep-seated anger in the character… Often, Chekhov’s plays seem like they’re staged for soulless academics like Professor Serebryakov. But instead of treating Uncle Vanya with either too much or too little reverence, PETE’s production simply attacks Chekhov’s text with gleeful enthusiasm.”  -R Mitchell Miller, Willamette Week

This project continues our work on the series of new Chekhov translations that began with our production of The Three Sisters in 2014, and continues with our current work on The Seagull and Uncle Vanya.

For our production of Uncle Vanya, PETE is thrilled to be collaborating with three incredible guest musicians: Courtney Von Drehle (Three Leg Torso, Klezmocracy), Ralph Huntley (Livewire, Klezmocracy) and Andre Temkin (Chervona). As composers, live musicians, and onstage characters, these three incredible artists are woven throughout our take on Uncle Vanya. Read on for a little more about each of our guest artists.


About Courtney Von Drehle (Composer, Multi-instrumentalist, Performer) – Since 1980 Mr. Von Drehle has worked extensively as a composer, bandleader and multi-instrumentalist (Saxophones, Accordion, Guitar, Slide Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion). He has received numerous commissions for music to accompany film, commercials, radio, dance, theater, and performance projects. In 2003 he was awarded a fellowship at the Sundance Institute to participate in their film composers lab. His film scoring work has included working with filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky on her 2008 Academy Award nominated H.B.O. documentary The Final Inch, working with Academy Award winning animator Joan Gratz, and working with multiple award winning short film maker Chel White, amongst others.

In addition to Mr. Von Drehle co-leading, composing and making orchestral arrangements for 3 LEG TORSO, he has been a member of the Afro-Hebrew ensemble KLEZMOCRACY, a resident composer for DOJUMP THEATER, and half of VONIGA, which received a 2010 Caldera Artist Residency Grant. Mr. Von Drehle’s accordion skills are in demand as a studio musician and he can be heard on the Disney show Jake and the Neverland Pirates, on the upcoming release of Nebraska, a film directed by Alexander Payne and scored by Mark Orton. Mr. Von Drehle has a B.A. in music from Marylhurst University and has studied North Indian classical singing.

About Ralph Huntley (Piano, Accordion, Guitar, Percussion, Vocals, Composer) – Ralph Huntley is a 25+ year veteran of the Portland music and theater scene.  He is a founding member and was musical director of the nationally syndicated public radio show Live Wire from 2003-2015. He has performed and/or recorded with Bill Frisell, Esperanza Spaulding, Alejandro Escovedo, Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Scott McCoughey (R.E.M.), Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Willy Vlautin,  Richmond Fontaine, Fernando Viciconte, and award-winning animator Chel White. He has composed music for and performed with NPR’s Marketplace, DoJump Theater (with whom he recently performed in New York on Broadway and in Washington D.C. at the  Kennedy Center with his Klezmer-fusion band Klezmocracy), Powell’s Books, the Oregon Lottery, and Artist Repertory Theater.

About Andre Temkin’s band Chervona: Chervona started practicing in 2006, and within weeks they were playing at “Gypsymania” – gypsy dance discotheque created by Gogol Bordello’s debaucher D.J. Dimon. In addition to countless street performances Chervona have played quite a few big stages, among them Slavic Festival, Oregon Country Fair, Red Marines Festival, April Fool’s Day Carnival, Revolution Party, Folk Life Festival, and special appearances with Manu Chao and Gogol Bordello. Mixing together taste and passion for the best Gypsy, Russian, Ukrainian, Klezmer and Balkan musical traditions, Chervona brings the fire of Eastern European carnivals to the land of America.

About Don Henson:

Don Henson first played piano at a Baptist church at the age of eight. Since then he has toured the country with his band Sneakin’ Out, playing Arlene Schnitzer Hall opening for k.d. lang. Boston Opera House and Carnegie Hall. Don also played percussion on tour with Portland Cello Project and his duo Groovy Wallpaper and appeared with Pink Martini playing glockenspiel on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He lives in Portland, OR with his partner of ten years.


Uncle Vanya is made possible with support from the Oregon Community Foundation, The Miller Foundation, the Kinsman Foundation and Reed College.