Thursday, July 11, 2019

Huertas Wins with “Octopus Wrestling Champion”

The cast of The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion (John McLellan)
The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion
Artswest
Through July 28, 2019

For a few years now, I’ve been attending readings and productions of new musicals around town. I’ve been fortunate to attend Village Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals for many summers, now, where at least five new musicals try to capture momentum, and attended most of their new Beta Series readings of fully produced but still in-development new works.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Free parks shows start in July! See what else is opening!

Sarah Harlett and Conner Neddersen in The Events at Intiman (Joe Moore)

July is, of course, the month when FREE OUTDOOR THEATER begins all over the area (donations always accepted). The official launch is at Volunteer Park for the whole weekend of July 13 and 14, all day long (see below for the link to the schedule). This month, there are a couple of world premieres and a revamped Gilbert & Sullivan operetta along with other varieties of shows.

Bon Appétit! The Julia Child Operetta, 7/1-29/19 (at the Rendevous)
Spend a Monday evening with memories of Julia Child while Anne Allgood bakes chocolate cake on stage and sings opera and host Julia Child Prud’homme dishes up remembrances of her great aunt. Anne and Julia will be joined by Mark Anders, musical accompanist, who -- like a fine wine -- provides the perfect musical pairing for a decadent evening of savory delights. Following the performance, you’ll be invited to share a slice of chocolate cake lovingly created from Julia’s original recipe!

Monday, July 01, 2019

PRIDE Profile: Film-maker Wendy Jo Carlton

Wendy Jo Carlton (in hoody) directing Good Kisser (Rafael Rodriguez Ochoa III)

Film maker Wendy Jo Carlton is a self-effacing and privacy-seeking artist. She’d rather talk about her films than her personal history. She says, “I feel like it’s not about ‘me,’ it’s about my art.” Still, SGN wanted to do a profile for Pride and that meant talking about how she got to this place of success and significance through the lens of where she’s come from.

Wendy Jo Carlton directed her first feature, Hannah Free, starring Emmy-winner Sharon Gless, in 2009. Carlton wrote and directed her second feature, Jamie and Jessie are Not Together, (said to be the first lesbian romance musical). Her LGBTQ digital series, Easy Abby, received 50 million views for its 13-episode Season One, and Seasons 1 and 2 are now distributed by Revry.tv.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

“The Drag” is a great tribute to Pride!

Visage “Legs” LaRue as Hell's Kitchen Kate in The Drag (Shay Sooter)

The Drag – A Homosexual Comedy in Three Acts
Play Your Part
(At Gay City)
Through June 29, 2019

Michael Raimondi came to town a couple of years ago and actualized a dream to start a new theater company. Play Your Part produced some evenings of short pieces and then he began looking for a full length piece to present around Pride Month.

Michael says, “I was looking for (previously) censored LGBT plays that haven’t been commonly done and a board member had heard about Mae West’s play, The Drag, from college. I was a huge fan of Mae West as a boy and knew exactly who she was and how her style of acting was done in the ‘30s. We found the play and decided do it.”

Actually, The Drag – A Homosexual Comedy in Three Acts is part of a Mae West trilogy in a book called Three Plays by Mae West. Michael and company’s research cannot find any other full production ever done of The Drag besides the ten days (only!) it was performed in New Jersey in 1927! It was raided by police and shut down for “indecency”!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Searing “Pass Over” Can’t Be Just “Described”

Preston Butler III, Treavor Lovell, and Avery Clark in Pass Over (Chris Bennion)
Pass Over
ACT Theatre
Through June 23, 2019

Moses (Treavor Lovelle) and Kitch (Preston Butler III) are stuck on this one block. It’s not clear if they are homeless with nowhere else to go or stuck because violence ranges all around them and they’re afraid to leave or stuck because they’ve been told they must stay on this block (the audience hears commands to stay put). Perhaps it’s all of the above.

In playwright Antoinette Nwandu’s intense 80-minute play at ACT Theatre, Pass Over, these two are not waiting, like Didi and Gogo, for Godot to show up, they’re aching to leave. In frustrated, angry, hopeful, anticipatory, poetic, ‘n’-word-filled friendship-language, they’re waiting to leave.

Nwandu seems to be writing in a way that needs to penetrate White America. It’s not very subtle, for the most part. The entire piece is metaphor-heavy, trapping the two black men into scarcity and despair (there’s nothing to eat, see, read, do but make up games to pass the time), and sending in a tut-tutting Colonial-style (read “colonizing”) white man who unbends himself to graciously feed them and a white police officer to harass them for even thinking about leaving (both roles played by Avery Clark).

Sunday, June 02, 2019

June Flowers with Choices

Cast of The Agitators at West of Lenin (Josiah Epstein)
June is frontloaded with 9 shows opening in the same weekend! There is a ton of variety in choices from old-made-new to world premiere. Time to get your tickets!

Blackbird, White Rabbits Inc and Libby Barnard, 5/30/19-6/15/19 (at 18th & Union)
Ray, 56, has a new identity and has made a new life for himself, thinking that he cannot be found. Una, 27, upon seeing a photo of Ray in a magazine, arrives unannounced at his office. Guilt, rage, and raw emotions run high as they recollect the illicit relationship they had 15 years ago, when she was 12 and he was 40. Blackbird is a story about living with the consequences of abuse and trauma, and demanding a new future.

Don’t Call it a Riot, Ten Auras Productions and Trial and Error Productions, 5/31/19-6/23/19 (at 12th Avenue Arts)
Amontaine Aurore writes about the history of Seattle activism from the height of the city’s 1960s Black Panther Party to the 1999 WTO protests, uncovering the toll that a commitment to social justice can take on the day-to-day lives of activists. Reed, a 20-year-old college student who is expecting her first baby is also an active member of Black Panther Party. The effect that fighting for liberation has on the foundations of her home life flows through her 31-year journey. Turmoil challenged the Black Panther party and caused a dream deferred.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

“Take Me Out” is a Home Run!

Craig Peterson and Lamar Legend in Take Me Out (John Ulman)
Take Me Out
Strawberry Theatre Workshop
Through June 22, 2019

It’s an emotional rollercoaster of a play that might instill a love of baseball in even the baseball-hatingest person! It’s a cautionary tale that words really matter. It’s a microcosm of society’s attitudes regarding the LGBTQ community with an offhand, high-self-esteem lead character. It’s an intensely well-written play by Richard Greenberg that won the 2003 Tony Award.

All of this is Take Me Out, now performing on stage by Strawberry Theatre Workshop at 12th Avenue Arts. The tale tells of a superstar major league outfielder, Darren Lemming, played with pitch perfect swagger by Lamar Legend, whose contract is stratospherically high. In the middle of a normal press moment, Lemming casually implies that he’s gay, thinking it’s not really a big deal and nothing important will come from it. However, that casual utterance pings through the rest of the play like a pinball banging out crazy points.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

From Stage to TV Back to Stage - “Kim's Convenience” Charms

Lia Lee and James Yi in Kim’s Convenience (Robert Wade)
Kim’s Convenience
Taproot Theatre
Through June 22, 2019

You might wonder how a Canadian television show is playing on stage at Taproot Theatre. They’re presenting Kim’s Convenience. It happens that the play preceded the tv show and Netflix tv producers loved the idea and turned it into a show and included the efforts of writer Ins Choi to continue the story started in his play.

In a pre-show talk, Choi described several aspects of the play that were very intentional. He said that he wasn’t used to seeing a lot of Koreans on television and most of them were intense and angry and he really wanted to show humor and lightness. He described his own family as really funny and cracking each other up.

He also didn’t want to sugarcoat the flaws of the family on stage. He said there were many Koreans with a lot of prejudices against non-Koreans. This particular characterization made its way firmly into aspects of the main character, Appa (father in Korean). It’s not meant to be acceptable; it’s meant to be true to real, complex individuals.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

“Curious Incident” is a Great Story

Michael Krenning and Kathryn Van Meter in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Kitaoka)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Village Theatre
Everett: through May 19, 2019

Christopher didn’t kill the dog! But his neighbor, and Wellington’s owner, Mrs. Shears, thinks he did. So she calls the police. The policeman probably thinks Christopher killed the dog and makes a lot of warning noise at him, and then tries to touch him. Christopher hates being touched and he strikes out at the policeman. That gets him a written warning, a humiliation, and potentially a lot more trouble if he touches another policeman that way!

So begins the creative and absorbing story, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, currently at Village Theatre, Everett. The play does not specify that Christopher is not neurotypical, but makes it pretty clear that he thinks fairly differently and behaves differently than many people. What it does make clear is that the world does not accommodate Christopher’s differences very well and that he needs champions to help him succeed. The play makes the audience empathize so much that it’s likely most want to be his champion by the end!