Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Beautiful Blues of “Hoodoo Love”…

Porscha Shaw, Andre G. Brown, Corey Spruill in Hoodoo Love (Margaret Toomey)
Hoodoo Love
Sound Theatre Company/Hansberry Project
(at Armory Theatre)
Through July 30, 2017

The atmospherics of Sound Theatre Company/Hansberry Project’s new production of Hoodoo Love are beautifully rendered with two shanty shacks and Depression era props by designer Margaret Toomey, lots of blues music interludes by designer Ben Symons (and music played by Chic Street Man), and moody, depressed lighting by Matthew Webb.

It is a tough and tough-minded play by Katori Hall (The Mountaintop) that demonstrates the kinds of daunting challenges and outrages that women, black women in particular, had to overcome and find a way to thrive through. Director Malika Oyetimein clearly feels this play clear through (partly from having directed it already before she went through grad school at UW) and uses every moment to make the theme shine.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

“Fun Home” Has a FuneREAL Sense of Humor! See It!

Kate Shindle as 'Alison,' Abby Corrigan as 'Medium Alison' and Carly Gold as 'Small Alison' in Fun Home  (Joan Marcus)
Fun Home
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through July 30, 2017

You may not know about Alison Bechdel, or her graphic novel that took the graphic novel world by storm, as she drew about her unique family growing up in a funeral home. They called it the “fun home” for short, giving rise to her title. 

If you love theater and watch the Tonys, you might have seen a snippet of the musical, Fun Home, that is based on her not-so-fun life growing up with a tortured father who tried hard to give her everything he had but also passed along his self-hatred as he lived his own difficult life as a gay man in the closet.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

If You Love Jane Austen and Musicals Or Maybe Even Just Musicals, See What's Opening at Taproot!

Cayman Ilika (and Nick DeSantis) and Matthew Posner in Persuasion (Erik Stuhaug)
(World Premiere musical)
Taproot Theatre
July 12 to August 19, 2017

Taproot Theatre is undertaking a brand new effort for their company, but one that is already looking to pay off solid dividends. Friday night, they will open a world premiere musical in their “summer musical” spot. Tickets are already getting difficult to buy on select popular dates!

Why? It seems a whole lot of people like Jane Austen stories and the fact that local musical-writers Chris Jeffries (music and lyrics) and Harold Taw (book) have chosen to musicalize her novel, Persuasion, is making a lot of folks very excited.

Persuasion is Austen’s last book, published just after she died in 1817, and is the moodiest of her canon. Her heroine begins the book as a kind of “past her prime” older sister who had been persuaded (see the word, here, suggesting the title of the book and musical?) to dump a suitor, Wentworth, at the usual marriageable age of 19, because her godmother Lady Russell convinced her that he was not an appropriate alliance and it would haunt her and her children to be brought socially low by the match. However, ever since, she has regretted her choice.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Kevin Lin Mows Down “Greensward”

Greensward (Shane Regan)
MAP Theatre
(World Premiere at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through July 29, 2017

Kevin Lin is fast becoming one of the go-to solid actors in our little town. Last year, he had two prominent roles in two very good productions. In Caught, at Seattle Public Theater, he played an artist and in Book-It’s adaptation of A Tale for the Time Being, he played a man forced to become a soldier even though he could not kill. In Ghostlight Theatricals’ January production of The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, he played three different Watsons with very different personalities.

Now you can catch him in the middle of a sci-fi dystopian thriller-comedy by MAP Theatre. It’s also a world premiere by R. Hamilton Wright called Greensward. Lin stars as scientist Dr. Timothy Hei who has invented a most amazing kind of grass – it never needs watering or fertilizer or weed-killer or thatching or even any particular soil, and it only needs mowing once a year!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Donald Byrd, Could You Do (IM)PULSE Again, Please?

(IM)PULSE (Nate Waters)

Spectrum Dance Theater
(at Seattle Repertory)
June 15 to July 2, 2017

Mia culpa! I apologize to myself and to readers for not going to see (IM)PULSE earlier and letting you know how great it was so you would be motivated to go. This effort by Donald Byrd and his company, Spectrum Dance Theater, was a direct gut punch of excellence!

Byrd wanted to create a performance response to the shootings last June at the Pulse Nightclub in Florida. He wanted to make the point that it involved not just gay people and allies, but gay people of color in particular that were the predominant attendees. To do so, he created dance around two written pieces – a short verbal description of a horrific gay-bashing of a friend (by David Wojnarowicz who died of AIDS in 1992), repeated over and over, and a longer play by Brian Quirk, Marrow, that was adjusted to be performed by a solo performer.

The effect folds in aspects of historic gay-bashing and AIDS issues, and the effects on the internal struggles with anyone discovering s/he is LGBTQ and therefore not quite part of the mainstream America zeitgeist.

Friday, June 30, 2017

July Theater is HOT

Statements After An Arrest Under the Immorality Act (Dave Hastings)

Persuasion (Erik Stuhaug)

It’s July, so that means the Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival, at Volunteer Park, July 15th and 16th. It’s an opportunity to try to see all the “park shows” in one weekend, if you’d like. 16 performances by nine local theater companies on three stages over two days. Participating companies are GreenStage (Richard II and The Comedy of Errors), Seattle Shakespeare Company's Wooden O (Pericles and Much Ado About Nothing), Last Leaf Productions (The Comedy of Errors), Theater Schmeater (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe), The 14/48 Projects (Coyote Tails), Freehold Theatre (Hamlet –Engaged), Jet City Improv (The Lost Folio), Young Shakespeare Workshop (Hamlet), and Shakespeare Northwest (Once Upon a Shakespearean Time). The full schedule for the festival is online. Of course, all these shows will be at other parks throughout July and into August.

There is also a lot of other really exciting theater to see this month, so take a look at this list and plan to catch some amazing entertainment.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

What’s Drag Got to Do With It?

Timothy McCuen Piggee and Adam Standley in The Legend of Georgia McBride (Chris Bennion)
The Legend of Georgia McBride
ACT Theatre
Through July 2, 2017

Adam Standley continues to show his considerable talent for captivating a theater audience in his latest outing: The Legend of Georgia McBride at ACT Theatre by Matthew Lopez. The show is a rollicking good time (though maybe a bit “old fashioned” by now) as it focuses on a straight man becoming a drag queen (gasp! how shocking!).

Casey is at his wits’ end when his boss, Eddie, fires him from being an Elvis impersonator in order to let the boss’s cousin perform a drag show. And right when he bounced the rent check and finds out his wife, Jo, is pregnant! He’s asked to bartend, but then suddenly a drugged out drag queen fails her duty and who else is there to step in? Hurry, hurry, you must put on that dress and mean it!

There’s not a lot of mystery to the show. There’s just a lot of good time entertainment! The small cast is clearly having fun and the costumes and wigs put the entire show over the top!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

“Braggsville” is Well Worth the Visit

The main characters in Welcome to Braggsville (Alabastro Photography)
Welcome to Braggsville
Book-It Repertory Theatre
Through July 2, 2017

The book, Welcome to Braggsville, by T. Geronimo Johnson, is branded as a sharp, incisive, and funny satire. The play, as adapted by Josh Aaseng and Daemond Arrindell for Book-It Repertory Theatre, is not particularly funny, though it keeps appellations such as sharp and incisive, and it is definitely challenging. It is extremely current, especially given the newly tragic death in “liberal Seattle” of another black person at the hands of the police. As much as we want to believe in some kind of post-racial society, we keep being shown that we have a long way to go to become what we may wish.

The topic at hand is whether our white, liberal conceits are pierce-able by reality on the ground and whether we can allow ourselves to learn and grow after setting aside our self-congratulations. The community that is teased the hardest, in the novel and play, is Berkeley college students. It begins with a diverse group of freshmen going to a party where one is supposed to put a dot “where you’d like to be touched.”

When they all put the dot in the middle of their foreheads, other party-goers excoriate them as lacking the sensibility to realize they were mocking Indians (the dots that are used to denote married or single) and after they are sent packing, they declare themselves the “four little Indians – from different tribes.” The four are: small-town Georgia white boy, D'aron (Zack Summers), feminist, white woman, Candice (Sylvie Davidson), the “kung fu comedian” Asian-American, Louis (Justin Huertas), and the black inner-city Chicagoan, Charlie (Dimitri Woods).

Friday, June 16, 2017

NCTC's "Realistic Joneses" Well Done but Reality Bites

Peter Dylan O'Connor and Brenda Joyner in The Realistic Joneses (Danielle Franich)
The Realistic Joneses
New Century Theatre Company
Through July 1, 2017

There is a terrific four-hander cast doing some lovely acting work and it’s easy to appreciate them doing so. The big problem with New Century Theatre Company’s production of The Realistic Joneses is that they’re doing The Realistic Joneses by Will Eno.

Will Eno’s play, Thom Pain (based on nothing) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 2005. It was produced at Seattle Repertory not long afterward in 2006 with stalwart actor Todd Jefferson Moore who has done many plays with great talent. However, my biggest memory of that experience was being yelled at by a solo actor for over an hour. I hated it. Not just didn’t like it…

That play is one of the number of times I have found a play to have won a Pulizter Prize or been a finalist and wondered just what the panel was smoking that caused them to make the choices they made.