Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Virtual Smorgasbord of Treats from Seattle Men's Chorus


Seattle Men’s Chorus Holiday 2020
(through December 31)
https://www.seattlechoruses.org/attend/concerts-events/holidayspecial/
 
Also! A second little treat to watch to celebrate the advent of vaccinations:
A terrific song by the Seattle Women’s Chorus starring Andi Alhadeff
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q85-e-dM9A0
 
We know you can’t go without every Holiday Comfort just because you can’t go out. And what about that annual treck to Benaroya to attend a Seattle Men’s Chorus Holiday Extravaganza? I’ll bet you think that’s just an impossible dream for 2020.
 
Hold On! You absolutely can still get almost all the grins and feels of an in-person event, because Seattle Men’s Chorus managed to somehow rehearse ! and perform !! their Holiday Concert this year and even found the perfect guest star to host!
 
With the help of Nina West, and an inventive new Muppet-like little guy called Holiday Harold (think Herald, too, from the mind of Chip Sherman), the whole family can gather around a streaming screen and enjoy an hour of all the “normal” entertainment you’re used to. They’ve even included a dance number - Festival Gloria (graced with Nahshon Omari’s original dance accompaniment).
 
They’ve put together an hour’s worth of wonderful productions and patter, and this year, you don’t have to cover the kids’ eyes for even a second. The whole thing was undertaken way, way back in the late spring as they contemplated what would surely be a dark winter.
 
Paul Caldwell, artistic director of the Men’s and Women’s Choruses, and dozens of people, worked for many months to learn new technologies, apply new techniques for rehearsing and suddenly become able to create a professional-looking holiday concert to stream. Caldwell talked to SGN about how that worked.
 
“We realized we weren’t going to be able to do an in-person holiday show,” he said, “But we wanted to do something. We started with the instrumentalists recording their part alone and then it was sent around to the other musicians and they sent their parts to an audio engineer who took them all and stacked them together so they sounded like a band.”
 
In fact, because this is zoom-like, you get to see the musicians up-close and personal, too, which is a special treat.
 
Caldwell continued, “Then I sent the instrumental to select section singers and they recorded their section part - alone - and sent that back and at the end of the day, I had the instrumental and a quartet.
 
“Once we had the quartet, it went to the whole chorus and each person put the track on their headphones and each singer would put their phone in front of them and video themselves singing just their part. We were able to get individual recordings from 140 of our members! Of Each Song!
 
“Then the video guy accessed the individual videos of singers and he was sort like making a quilt out of all the swatches of singers. They’re like music videos of each song with visual wizardry!”
 
Along with standard choral sounds of Here We Come A-Caroling, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Deck the Hall and Auld Lang Syne, they’ve sprinkled in some original music, too.
 
Largely written and production-managed and directed by the amazingly versatile Kathryn van Meter, our local songmeister Rich Gray was enlisted to create an original song, Your Recipe is Perfect to Me, for Nina to sing that goes along with the funny framework of Fruitcake.
 
van Meter recruited a slew of adorable children who are quizzed about their fruitcake knowledge by Harold and give some hilarious answers.
 
The Supertonics, their “pocket choir,” brings in the macabre with an original Eric Knechtges composition called 12 Days of Quarantine.
 
On the first day of Quarantine
My true love gave to me
A roll of the fancy T-P!
On the second day of quarantine
My true love gave to me
Two facial masks….
Three French wines
Four frozen pizzas
Five hours on HOLD!
 
On the sixth day of Quarantine
My friends all said to me
Six feet of distance!
 
On the seventh day of Quarantine
Netflix gave to me
Seven episodes of Tiger King
 
On the eighth day of Quarantine
Thanks to Uber-Eats
Ate some Chinese food…
 
On the ninth day of Quarantine
I managed to stress eat
Nine pints of ice cream
 
On the tenth day of Quarantine
Insta-Cart was free…
Ten bowls of cereal
 
On the eleventh day of Quarantine
My eyes began to bleed
Eleven hours on Facebook
 
On the twelfth day of Quarantine
The Feds gave to me
Twelve hundred dollars…

 
(oh, but it doesn’t end there…….)
 
There’s more to see and enjoy, so get comfy and get ready to be fulfilled and grateful that your holiday traditions are not entirely missing!
 
https://www.seattlechoruses.org/attend/concerts-events/holidayspecial/


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Kathy Hsieh Reflects – Zoom Edition

Kathy Hsieh (John Ulman)

Kathy Hsieh is all things arts-related, really. She knows virtually anyone/everyone in the theater community (at minimum) and has headed up her own theater company (SIS Productions), written many plays, directed plays, acted in scores of productions on stage, and been an employee of the City of Seattle in the Office of Arts and Culture for 17 years!

She’s also a delightful and thoughtful conversationalist and a deep-thinker on subject matter. She has presented talks about aspects of arts-and-communities-of-color all over the world.

So, I thought it would be fascinating for me, and hopefully also for my readers, to discuss various aspects of the arts during COVID-time. We’re all going to be making huge changes in how, when, and where we experience the arts. None more particularly than theater, dance, and other live in-person events.

For our first conversation, we took on the explosion of theatrical events that are being presented either on Zoom or the free streaming opportunities from theaters like National Theatre Live, Lincoln Center, BroadwayHD, and local events (many on YouTube channels).

The question: Is it theater?

KH: Theater is its own experience and Zoom is its own. Film scripts (for instance) are very different from stage plays and you can’t take film and plop it on stage or vice versa. A lot of writers, when they’re writing, envision the arena it might be best done and the Zoom platform needs to be thought of as a specific place to write to and a way to take advantage of the unique aspects it provides.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Lots To Stream (Free or low cost)

Macbeth (Carol Pratt)

Theater lovers have a bounty of filmed stage productions from various companies around the globe that are providing free entertainment on their websites or on YouTube. Listed below are mostly Shakespearean productions. 


Here are some specifics and their date ranges:
NOW to 5/27/20
Much Ado About Nothing
This bold interpretation of Shakespeare’s comedic masterpiece features Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black, Broadway’s The Color Purple) and Grantham Coleman (Buzzer, The Americans) as the sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick. Filmed in the summer of 2019 at the Delacorte Theatre in New York’s Central Park, this Public Theatre production was directed by Kenny Leon.

NOW - $10/ticket each stream for a one week “rental”
Henry IV Part 1 and Part 2
These two productions feature former Seattle Shakespeare Company actor David Anthony Lewis (Wooden O Henry IV, Measure for Measure, Othello) as King Henry. See the streaming versions of American Shakespeare Center’s staging of this thrilling and poignant coming-of-age story.
American Shakespeare Center.com

NOW – 7/1
Macbeth – Parts 1 & 2
Shakespeare’s chilling Scottish tragedy is realized by Emmy-winning magician Teller (of Penn & Teller) and director Aaron Posner as a startling, supernatural show brimming with magic, mayhem, and madness.
Folger Theatre – FolgerLibrary YouTube

Thursday, March 12, 2020

“Jitney” – Theater At The Top Of Its Game

A moment from Jitney (Joan Marcus)

Jitney
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Suspended for the time being

I know. This is a time of uncertainty and now many theaters are announcing temporary closures. This includes the touring production of Jitney by August Wilson, now presenting at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Since it is a tour and all the personnel have traveled here, it’s unknown if the production can be continued in a few weeks or not. Having said that, it is one of the finest productions you’ll see in a long time.

The evening is a master class in directing by Ruben Santiago-Hudson! Each moment has been considered and planned. Each of the many actors performs at the top of his (similar to many Wilson plays, this one only has one woman in it) game. All the subtle humor is teased out and gifted to the audience.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Special One Night Performance of Jason Robert Brown with Roosevelt High!


Jason Robert Brown in concert (Erika Kapin)


Roosevelt High students performing The Trumpet of the Swan (James Bernard)
The Trumpet of the Swan

Roosevelt High School

March 7, 2020



A very exciting event is happening this weekend (3/7, Saturday night, 7:00p.m.) at Roosevelt High School! Their theater department has paired with their orchestra program to present composer/musical writer Jason Robert Brown’s The Trumpet of the Swan. Not only that, but Jason Robert Brown is going to be there! Not only that, but he’s going to perform a special benefit concert after the school’s 70-minute presentation as a benefit!



The benefit is to help pay for subsidized tickets of K-8 students and for buses to bring them to hear the work. Tickets are on sale now at www.rhstheatre.net.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

March Brings Fresh Theater – even if it showers


 
Lisa Estridge in Sister Act (Mark Kitaoka)
At least five world premieres are opening this month. That’s an impressive number! Look for puppetry and programming for the youngest audience member to the oldest. Find a company you’ve never been to before and take a chance on their work! Broaden your artistic horizon. Get outcher calendars!



Last Days of the Tsars, Witness, 3/1/20-3/22/20 (at Stimson-Green Mansion) (world premiere)

A fully immersive experience, Last Days of the Tsars will plunge the audience into Imperial Russia circa 1917. Surrounded by figures such as Tsar Nicholas II, Princess Anastasia, and Grigori Rasputin, audience members will be free to roam throughout Stimson-Green Mansion and follow whichever characters they please. Watch the unraveling of the Romanov household from an intimate vantage point, and explore the dark and mystical final days of the Russian Empire.




The Highest Tide, Harlequin Productions, 3/1-21/20

The beach talks to Miles O’Malley. Obsessed with all things aquatic, 13-year-old, stature-challenged Miles loves combing the tidal beaches near his Puget Sound home in the middle of the night. When one of his discoveries lands him unexpectedly in the news, he is launched into involuntary celebrity, shaking his world in a way that is only topped by the Nisqually earthquake.




Ugly (Black Queer Zoo), Washington Ensemble Theatre, 3/5-16/20

GUSH is WET’s series that presents contemporary theatrical works from artists outside of Seattle, curated by the Ensemble. Written, directed, and performed by the internationally recognized choreographer Raja Feather Kelly, this event is part dance theater and part pop culture collage about black queer subjectivity in the mainstream.


Friday, February 28, 2020

Victorian Murder-Fest Takes Over Cafe Nordo


Creepy moment in The Angel in the House (Bruce Clayton Tom)

The Angel in the House

Café Nordo

Through March 15, 2020



You’re invited to the home of Mr. Edmund and Mrs. Amelia Brown (David S. Hogan and Angela DiMarco) for New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1899. They and their close friends Fletcher and Clara James (Ray Tagavilla and Ayo Tushinde) and Dorian and Bertha Williams (Robin Ian HallSmith and Tatiana Pavela) will lead you through a mysterious ceremony during the celebration.



You’ll meet their trusty servant Daisy (Maddie Brantz) as well. But when Amelia’s “cousin,” Henry Smith (Jordi Montes) arrives and is suddenly found dead, the evening turns dark and forbidding.



The story of the evening was written and directed by Sara Porkalob. She chose this Victorian theme of religious righteousness (with overtones of blasphemy) and includes a feminist retribution of pagan origins.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Artistic Dilemma – When No Stories Have Been Told, Who Tells Some?

The cast of XY, Festival of New Musicals 2019 (Sam Freeman)

We’re awash, these days, in commentaries about cultural appropriation and who gets to tell stories about marginalized populations. The book American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, sparked controversy as it was revealed that Cummins is not of Latinx heritage, though her book “tells the story of a Mexican mother whose husband is murdered by cartels and who flees to America with her son, “says an article in Daily Beast.

The article continues, “Despite the sky-high sales, the book has been dogged by claims of cultural appropriation for its representation of Latinos and the migrant experience. Author Jeanine Cummins is not Latina... Cummins, who is Irish-American, said she did hundreds of hours of research and interviews for the book but critics have said it simplifies and glosses over the reality of immigration.” (https://www.thedailybeast.com/myriam-gurba-author-who-sparked-american-dirt-controversy-placed-on-leave-amid-calif-teacher-abuse-probe)

But what exactly is cultural appropriation? A Huffington Post article states, “Cultural appropriation is defined as ‘the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.’ While this sounds simple enough, … the lines between something that's obviously offensive (blackface) and something that might be considered as embracing another culture (exotic cuisine) can be blurry.” (https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/10/25/what-exactly-is-cultural-appropriation-heres-what-you-need-to-know_a_23253460)

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Solving Nuclear Disaster So “The Children” Don’t Have To?

R. Hamilton Wright, Jeanne Paulsen, Carmen Roman in The Children (Nate Watters)

The Children
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through March 15, 2020

Lucy Kirkwood’s contemporary play, The Children, includes unusual characters – retired nuclear scientists, and focuses on climate disasters with surprising ideas. Performing now at Seattle Rep, the play is both a kitchen sink drama, literally in the kitchen of a dingy decrepit farmhouse, and an exploration of a world-class dilemma.

It begins slowly and builds slowly. So, one must summon patience. We first see Hazel (Jeanne Paulsen) in this kitchen who is interrupted by Rose (Carmen Roman), an old friend/adversary. Rose has separated herself for years and it takes a fair while for her reasons for returning to fully emerge.

Hazel and her husband, Robin (R. Hamilton Wright), are living outside of an exclusion zone after a huge nuclear disaster. The area of the disaster, this time, is on the coast of some portion of the U.K. Kirkwood developed this play after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. So, their home and farm, inside the area, has become toxically irradiated. Electricity is regulated and scarce, so they can barely use devices like cell phones and computers and therefore are thrown back toward an older, non-technical way of life. But they’re coping.