Thursday, January 28, 2016

Good actors in pleasant Village show

Brenda Joyner, Sydney Andrews and Rhonda J. Soikowski in Crimes of the Heart (Mark Kitaoka)
Crimes of the Heart
Village Theatre
Issaquah: Through February 28, 2016
Everett: March 4-27, 2016

It’s easy to see why women actors love playing the characters in Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart. Strong actors are cast in the Village Theatre production, now on stage in Issaquah. The women get to have all kinds of emotion and demonstrate their familial bonds and struggles. Subject matter is a full plate of difficult situations, and most actors love to really dig in and chow down on a role.

The play is a slice of life in 1974 Mississippi, but it’s not “normal” life, by any means. Three sisters are in turmoil. Lennie (Rhonda J. Soikowski) has called Meg (Brenda Joyner) back from her failing music career in Los Angeles to tell her that their youngest sister, Babe (Sydney Andrews), has shot – but not killed – her lawyer husband, and has been arrested! Babe won’t say why she did it, except to say that she didn’t care for his looks.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Find out who "The Motherfucker with the Hat" is at Washington Ensemble Theatre

Erwin Galan and Anna Lamadrid in The Motherfucker with the Hat (photo Chris Bennion)
The Motherfucker with a Hat
Washington Ensemble Theatre
Through February 1, 2016

Maybe you shouldn’t trust an addict… When, in recovery, do you think you could start trying to trust an addict? Do we ever really know what someone is thinking or feeling? These questions, and a focus on humans relating in general, are the kind raised by Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play, The Motherfucker with the Hat. It’s being produced by Washington Ensemble Theatre at 12th Avenue Arts. While the language is blunt and crass, with lots of “fucks,” the fundamentals of love and trust and relationship are really at stake.

Jackie (Erwin Galan) is a recovering addict with a girlfriend who waited for him while he was in the joint, Veronica (Anna Lamadrid), a jerky, narcissistic sponsor, Ralph (Ali Mohamed al-Gasseir), and a cousin who used to adore him, Julio (Moises Castro). He’s proud of himself, having gotten out of jail and found a job. He wants to celebrate with Veronica, until he sees a man’s hat on the table, and instantly decides she’s been cheating on him. Just who is the motherfucker with the hat?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Drum Roll, Please! The 2015 Gypsy Rose Lee Award Winners Are...

Sam Hagen and Emily Chisholm, Gypsy Winners 
for The Flick by New Century Theatre Company (photo John Ulman)
Broadway-bound new musical, Come From Away, presented by Seattle Repertory Theatre, wins four Gypsys, tying with another new musical, Lizard Boy, also produced by Seattle Repertory Theatre and also with four Gypsys, a company that has been known for years as a powerhouse dramatic non-musical play playhouse!

Every single actor in the trio of Lizard Boy won in his/her category! Writer/composer/performer (and big Gypsy winner, this year, for Composing and Lead Actor - Male) Justin Huertas, with the rest of the team, is back at work refining Lizard Boy for future efforts, which many guess could easily mean an Off-Broadway mounting.

Jeffrey Herrmann, Managing Director of Seattle Repertory Theatre, said that Seattle should definitely expect more musicals from the Rep in the future. He suggested they will be a "Seattle Rep" type of musical, though exactly what niche the musicals will fill isn't yet clear.

Other standouts on the Larger Theaters side were The Flick at New Century Theatre Company and Slaughterhouse-Five at Book-It Repertory Theatre (5 and 3 awards respectively), and in Smaller Theaters, Water By the Spoonful by Theatre22 and The Art of Bad Men by MAP Theatre (3 and 2 awards respectively)!

The 2015 Gypsy Rose Lee Award Winners are:

Excellence in Production of a Play
(Larger Theaters):
The Flick - New Century Theatre Company

(Smaller Theaters):
Water By The Spoonful - Theatre22

Excellence in Production of a Musical
Come From Away - Seattle Repertory Theatre

Excellence in Direction of a Play
(Larger Theaters):
Josh Aaseng - Slaughterhouse-Five (Book-It Repertory Theatre)

(Smaller Theaters):
Kelly Kitchens - The Art of Bad Men (MAP Theatre)

Excellence in Direction of a Musical
TIE!!
Eric Ankrim - American Idiot (ArtsWest)
Christopher Ashley - Come From Away (Seattle Repertory Theatre)

Excellence in Performance in a Play as a Lead Actor (Male)
(Larger Theaters):
Robert Bergin/Erik Gratton/Todd Jefferson Moore - Slaughterhouse-Five (Book-It Repertory Theatre)

(Smaller Theaters):
Tyler Trerise - My Mañana Comes (ArtsWest)

Excellence in Performance in a Musical as a Lead Actor (Male)
Justin Huertas - Lizard Boy (Seattle Repertory Theatre)

Excellence in Performance in a Play as a Lead Actor (Female)
(Larger Theaters):
Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako - Little Bee (Book-It Repertory Theatre)

(Smaller Theaters):
Kathy Hsieh - Chinglish (ArtsWest)

Excellence in Performance in a Musical as a Lead Actor (Female)
EmilyRose Frasca - Are You There, God? It's Me, Karen Carpenter (STAGEright Theatre)

Excellence in Performance of a Play as a Supporting Actor (Male) - any non-lead
(Larger Theaters):
Sam Hagen - The Flick (New Century Theatre Company)

(Smaller Theaters):
G. Valmont Thomas - Water By The Spoonful (Theatre22)

Excellence in Performance of a Musical as a Supporting Actor (Male)
William A. Williams - Lizard Boy (Seattle Repertory Theatre)

Excellence in Performance of a Play as a Supporting Actor (Female)
(Larger Theaters):
Emily Chisholm - The Flick (New Century Theatre Company)

(Smaller Theaters):
Rose Cano - Water By The Spoonful (Theatre22)

Excellence in Performance of a Musical as a Supporting Actor (Female) - any non-lead
Kirsten deLohr Helland - Lizard Boy (Seattle Repertory Theatre)

Excellence in Performance as an Ensemble
(Larger Theaters):
Come From Away - Seattle Repertory Theatre (Eric Ankrim, Petrina Bromley, Jenn Colella, Joel Hatch, Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kassebaum, Chad Kimball, Lee MacDougall, Caesar Samayoa, Q Smith, Astrid Van Wieren, Sharon Wheatley)

(Smaller Theaters):
The Art of Bad Men - MAP Theatre (Grace Carmack, Peggy Gannon, Ben McFadden, Ben Burris, Brandon Ryan, Sean Schroeder)

Excellence in Set Design
(Larger Theaters):
Andrea Bryn Bush - The Flick (New Century Theatre Company)

(Smaller Theaters):
Paul Thomas - Dump Site (Seattle Immersive Theatre)

Excellence in Costume Design
(Larger Theaters):
Deb Trout - Mr. Burns, a post-electric play (ACT Theatre)

(Smaller Theaters):
Ali Rose Panzarella - 99 Ways To Fuck A Swan (Washington Ensemble Theatre)

Excellence in Lighting Design
(Larger Theaters):
Andrew D. Smith - The Flick (New Century Theatre Company)

(Smaller Theaters):
Lindsay Smith - Mud (New City Theater)

Excellence in Sound Design
(Larger Theaters):
Evan Mosher and Robertson Witmer - The Flick (New Century Theatre Company)

(Smaller Theaters):
Evan Mosher and Andre Nelson - Slowgirl (Seattle Public Theater)

Excellence in Musical Direction
Ian Eisendrath - Come From Away (Seattle Repertory Theatre)

Excellence in Choreography or Movement
Trina Mills, Shadou Mintrone and Gabe Corey - American Idiot (ArtsWest)

Excellence in Local Playwriting
Josh Aaseng - Slaughterhouse-Five (Book-It Repertory Theatre)

Excellence in Local Composing
Justin Huertas - Lizard Boy (Seattle Repertory Theatre)


Congratulations to the winners! Go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters to “like” them and see reviews during the year, and watch for the 2016 nominees next January!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"Disgraced" at Seattle Rep: Powerful, provoking, maybe painful production – the effects of racism, within and without

The cast of Disgraced (Liz Lauren)
Disgraced
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through February 6, 2016

I can totally see what the Pulitzer judges would appreciate in the searing script by Ayad Akhtar, Disgraced. The play not only punches through racism, religion, art, and fear-of-others, it breaks open taboos everywhere it turns. Now, Seattle gets to experience it in an air-tight production at Seattle Repertory Theatre that barely lets anyone breathe after the first 20 minutes until the end.

The play is by no means flawless. In fact, the drive toward the ending demonstrates the youth of the playwright in playwriting – it’s his very first play. To my mind, the ending becomes “undeserved” in terms of the development of the characters and what we have learned about them. But it is undeniably brave and strong.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Ghostlight Theatricals presents a fascinating history of the King of Comics

Rick Espaillat as Jack Kirby in King Kirby (photo Omar Willey)
King Kirby
Ghostlight Theatricals
Through January 23, 2016

Michael Chabon wrote a fictional book about a couple of young Jewish men in New York who created many of the iconic comic characters of our age, in a novel called The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Book-It Repertory Theatre adapted it a couple of years ago for our local stages. It was a great story.

Chabon credited a lot of his inspiration “to the work of the late Jack Kirby, the King of Comics.” Kirby, born Jacob Kurtzberg, established dozens of comic book characters, beginning with Captain America. Now, Ghostlight Theatricals is presenting a new play about Kirby, King Kirby, in their Ballard Underground space. It’s written by cartoonist Fred van Lente with playwright Crystal Skillman.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

And the Nominees Are... Seattle Theater Writers announce the slate of nominees for the 2015 Gypsy Rose Lee Awards!

One of two big musicals, Come From Away, nominated for Gypsys! (photo by Chris Bennion)
It’s always an exciting time to reflect on the past year’s glorious presentations! Seattle Theater Writers, the local critics circle, compiles an annual slate of nominees (and next week, winners) of Gypsy Rose Lee Awards. Gypsy Rose Lee was born in Seattle and spent a number of formative years here. She became an expert businesswoman and was one of the first women to achieve a large amount of power in her industry.

The critics circle comes together over several rounds of nominating and a final meeting where all the wrangling, give and take, and decision-making is done, and the slate reflects diverse opinions coalescing into agreement. So, drum roll, please!

The 2015 Gypsy Rose Lee Award Nominations are (in alpha order):

Excellence in Production of a Play
(Larger Theaters): Best of Enemies - Taproot Theatre Company
Orpheus Descending - Intiman Theatre Festival/The Williams Project
Our Town - Strawberry Theatre Workshop
Slaughterhouse-Five - Book-It Repertory Theatre
The Flick - New Century Theatre Company

(Smaller Theaters): Chinglish - ArtsWest
Dance Like A Man - Pratidhwani
The Secretaries - Theater Schmeater
The Tall Girls - Washington Ensemble Theatre
Water By The Spoonful - Theatre22

Excellence in Production of a Musical
American Idiot - ArtsWest
Come From Away - Seattle Repertory Theatre
Into the Woods - STAGEright Theatre
Lizard Boy - Seattle Repertory Theatre
The Great America Trailer Park Musical - STAGEright Theatre