Friday, December 30, 2016

January 2017 Theater Openings - an eclectic month

By Heart (coming to On the Boards) (Magda Bizarro)
January 2017 promises something for everyone as this very eclectic month in theater maybe hints at a very unusual year to come. Check it out and plan your month!

The Trojan Women, Civic Rep, 1/6-29/17 (at Slate Theater)  
British playwright and poet Caroline Bird's radical retelling of Euripides' The Trojan Women. Bird transports this famous anti-war tragedy to the modern setting of a prison hospital. Beyond the prison walls, Troy and its people burn. Inside the prison, the city’s captive women await their fate. Their grief at what has been before will soon be drowned out by the horror of what is to come.

Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie, Seattle Repertory Theatre, 1/6-29/17
The legendary Woody Guthrie defined an American era of social consciousness and political expression with songs such as "This Land is Your Land" and "The Ballad of Tom Joad." This musical portrait, featuring Woody's stirring ballads and joyous anthems, celebrates the colorful life and rich musical legacy of America's great folk troubadour.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Best Theater of 2016!

The Royale (Dawn Shaefer)
It’s time for Crazy 2016 to be over…. That means it’s time for the annual attempt to bring to mind the best experiences of the year. As usual, there are so many aspects of good work to cover!

Local Writing:
First up, I want to acknowledge the incredible amount of Local Writing that exploded onto our stages this year! Seriously great work from talented writers! Two favorites of 2016 were Do It For Umma by Seayoung Yim, mounted at Annex and Theatre Off Jackson, and A Hand of Talons by Maggie Lee, mounted by Pork Filled Productions. A favorite adaptation was Laura Ferri’s A Tale for the Time Being at Book-It Repertory Theatre.

Exciting writing also included: Can’t Talk Right Now by Scotto Moore, Chorestia by Beth Raas-Bergquist, Puny Humans by Bret Fetzer and Keiko Green, Bernie’s Apt. by Rose Cano, Terra Incognita by Benjamin Benne, Trump the King by Nick Edwards, The Lost Girls by Courtney Meaker, From Kings to Controllers by Stacy Flood, Nick Stokes’ Duels, and Roz and Ray by Karen Hartman. Sara Porkalob created two new iterations of her solo piece about her amazing grandmother and will bring another one to Café Nordo in January (Madame Dragon’s 60th Birthday Bash).

Two Companies’ Outstanding Work:
I also want to acknowledge two companies who have done some of the best work of their history in 2016: ArtsWest and Ghost Light Theatricals.

Friday, December 16, 2016

“Vietgone” Should Not Be Forgotten – Try to see it!

Amy Kim Waschke and Jeena Yi in Vietgone (Navid Baraty)
Vietgone
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through January 1, 2017

“Write what you know.” That’s a lot of what people are told when they embark on writing anything and aren’t sure where to start. Playwright Qui Nguyen, in Vietgone, has done that in this trenchant, funny, hip-hop spouting, immigrant-experience-explaining road trip through the fall of Saigon and the evacuating of some thousands of South Vietnamese in helicopter rides to battleships.

“Vietnam was a huge mistake.” That is what most of us know, if we know anything about that war besides how badly the vets coming back were treated. From a U.S. point of view – and don’t we always take the truth from a U.S. point of view? – U.S. participation in and escalation of the war in Vietnam is looked at as a huge disaster. Partly because the reason for our participation, aka The Domino Effect, was only a theory and because so many of our young men died or were maimed for life. Money spent was thought to be wasted and we reached beyond our shores for bad reasons.

Also, we lost. We pulled out of South Vietnam in 1975 and they fell and it all became one communist country anyway. But there are other points of view.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Help save Christmas from aliens - and eat reindeer!

Christmas is Burning (John Cornicello)

Christmas is Burning
Café Nordo
Through December 30, 2016

You too can be part of the Holiday Defense League “as they valiantly struggle to save the most wonderful day of the year.” How? By coming in from the cold to Café Nordo and being on the ship the HMS Whooville. Also by eating reindeer!

It’s nice to have crew there who will keep up your calories by feeding you well during the flight. You’ll need them to fight off the killer robots who are infiltrating from a warp in time.

This is like nothing else on this planet. Guaranteed. Of course, just about anything written by Scot Augustson is like nothing else on this planet. Which means you may or may not understand much of it besides the keen focus on jokes. This iteration of shadow puppetry and food pairs talented food creator Erin Brindley with the mental hijinks of Augustson’s fertile (and furtive?) mind.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Have Yourselves a Hammy Little Holiday

Dweebs at camp - Peggy Platt and Lisa Koch (Chris Bennion)

Ham for the Holidays: Jurassic Pork
Tongueinchic Productions/ACT Theatre
Through December 24, 2016

Some people go to A Christmas Carol at ACT Theatre as part of their holiday tradition. Some go to The Nutcracker, and some go to Seattle Men’s Chorus. Those who know where to get their dose of funny know to flock to Ham for the Holidays and Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt!

Somehow, each year, they come up with new skits and new comic commentary that hit the funny nail on the head! The only people who might not have very much fun sitting through their skits are Drumpf supporters. So, if you’re not, you might get some solace from laughing at some of the aspects of the 2016 political season.

These women never fail to deliver smart comedy. A whole lot of that comes from the catchy and gut-busting lyrics penned by Lisa Koch in parody songs.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Little Mermaid is fun for the Whole Family

The wonderous visuals of Disney's The Little Mermaid (Mark Kitaoka)
Disney's The Little Mermaid
5th Avenue Theatre
through December 31, 2016

The new iteration of The Little Mermaid now at 5th Avenue Theatre is entrancing and delightful! And it has so many local talents who are going on a year-long national tour that it makes me so excited for them!

Diana Huey, Dane Stokinger, Matthew Kacergis, Allen Fitzpatrick, Connor Russell, Kristin Burch, Brenna Wagner, Becca Orts, Taylor Niemeyer, Frederick Hagreen, and maybe others, are all folks who have perhaps grown up here or at least have performed on multiples stages here, and whom I have gotten to love seeing on stage.

The musical has all the songs you’d recognize from the hit cartoon video and some more that add background and richness to some of the favorite characters. Ariel (played with complete Disney-style enchantingness by Diana Huey) has more reasons why she doesn’t quite fit where she was born. Prince Eric (the dashing and to-die-for baritone Matthew Kacergis) has some lovely new songs to sing about how he loves the sea and looking for the voice of his love.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Seattle Men's Chorus gets Soul-ful

Up close with Paul Caldwell (courtesy Seattle Choruses)

Silver & Soul
Seattle Men’s Chorus
Benaroya Hall:
December 11, December 18, December 21, December 22, 2016
Everett Civic Auditorium, December 17, 2016
Rialto Theater, Tacoma, December 10, 2016

You know you’re in for a great concert from the very first moments of Seattle Men’s Chorus’ holiday concert! Titled Silver & Soul, this is where most subscribers will be introduced to new artistic director Paul Caldwell. He starts out with a drum!

Drummer John Stout gets center stage with a box drum and leads the chorus in a haunting, insistent, rhythmic song called Guadete, a sacred Christmas carol, which is thought to have been composed in the 16th century. (Michael Engelhardt is credited, perhaps as the arranger). Soloists Matthew Sherman, Tyler Stoops, and Nathan Wilson sound wonderful.

The concert is full of solemn and sacred music, as well as fun from Captain Smartypants, a cadre of dancers, some scarcely-clad reindeer, and an audience sing-along. The arrangements are tight and the men seem ready to ring in the season.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge celebrates the Christmas spirit

The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge (Eric Stuhaug)
The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge
Taproot Theatre
Through December 30, 2016

While everyone, likely, is overly familiar with A Christmas Carol and Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey, playwright Mark Brown has come up with a twist that actually has some funny moments in it with The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge. It sounds like Scrooge is on trial, but that’s not exactly true. In fact, a year after his life-altering visits by ghosts, it seems that crotchety Scrooge is back!

Scrooge (Nolan Palmer) has decided to take the Christmas Ghosts and Jacob Marley to court on charges such as trespassing, kidnapping, and assault! In a snappy presentation by Taproot Theatre, there are moments to chuckle at while some absurdities are on the docket.

Defense attorney Solomon Rothschild (Bill Johns) has all these clients to manage as well as Scrooge-like Judge Pearson (Steve Manning). In fact, the judge is more Scrooge-like than Scrooge in this version!