Thursday, May 25, 2017

June Theater Openings are Busting Out in the Beginning of the Month

Ben Gonio as Sweeney Todd at ArtsWest (John McClellan)
Seven shows are opening in the beginning of June on our local stages! But the back half is pretty quiet. Maybe that will give you a chance to catch up with all the stuff you’d love to see but can’t fit into two weekends! While there’s a lot of great stuff many have been waiting for, you may want to make a special effort to catch ArtsWest’s Sweeney Todd, with an multi-ethnic cast you won’t often see.

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, ArtsWest, 6/1/17-7/1/17
Stephen Sondheim's bloody masterpiece tells the tale of an unjustly exiled barber returning to 19th century London to seek vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. The road to revenge leads Todd to Mrs. Lovett, a resourceful proprietress of a failing pie shop, where her integration of an ingredient into her meat pies has the people of London lining up. An exemplary cast of people of color adds to what will transpire.

Lydia, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, 6/1-24/17
Lydia centers on two young women who move across borders—one between nations, and one across metaphysical borders between unknown, unseen worlds. Although technically hired as a maid, Lydia's primary responsibility is caring for the family's near-vegetative teenage daughter named Ceci, who was left in a coma after a mysterious accident that occurred right before her quinceanera, or 15th birthday. Unlike the family that surrounds her, Lydia is able to translate Ceci's thoughts—an adolescent stew of childhood memories, criticism and carnality.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Seattle Men’s Chorus at the Symphony

A rehearsal photo from Broadway Rocks (courtesy Seattle Symphony Orchestra)
Broadway Rocks
With the Seattle Men’s Chorus
Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Benaroya Hall
May 19-21, 2017

Seattle Men’s Chorus had a wonderful opportunity this last week to join the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in concert. About fifty of the members augmented three absolutely top-notch Broadway talents in a “Broadway Rocks” concert. This is part of the Symphony’s “Seattle Pops” concert series.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Three Times the Charm - Money & Run Trilogy at The Schmee

Money, Take Run (Dave Hastings)
Money & Run –
Money, Take Run
Of Nuns and Ninjas
Save the Last Dance For Run
Theater Schmeater – in repertory
Through June 10, 2017

Wayne Rawley really got his opportunity to begin seeing plays he wrote at Theater Schmeater in 1999. He told me, in a brief conversation in a marathon night of seeing all three of his Money & Run shows in one evening, that he wrote the very first episode of Money & Run for a Schmee late night run. Late night shows were on fire back then and got huge audiences. Usually, they are funny and made more funny by drinking a few before and during the show.

So, he wrote this episode about a young man named Run and a young woman named Money who “meet cute” by sticking up a bar at the same time – not planned together! And then they go count the money and fall in love. He ended up writing eight more episodes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tragically Small Audience for Impeccable Solo Show - "Ode"

Nike Imoru (front) in Ode (Navid Baraty)
Ode: A Stage Song
West of Lenin
Through May 20, 2017

Nike Imoru has many hyphenates. She teaches and casts the TV show Z Nation and produces and directs and coaches and writes and acts. She has a PhD and has worked around the world. So, to get to know her in an autobiographical solo show is to find out a little more about how she came to be the many parts of who she is.

Her solo show, at West of Lenin, is called Ode: A Stage Song. She performs it with actor-dancer Simone Bruyere Fraser. Fraser is mostly silent, but in many ways becomes the emotional center of Imoru's narration.

Friday, May 12, 2017

1930s "Midsummer" Musical Is Most Fun When It's Shakespeare's Script

The "mechanicals" from A Midsummer Night's Dream (Chris Bennion)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Seattle Shakespeare Company
(at Cornish Playhouse)
Through May 21, 2017

Did you know that Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the most performed play in the world? It’s a comedy and it’s Shakespeare and apparently that’s the golden ticket. Seattle Shakespeare Company is mounting it again, as we can certainly bet that they will continue to do, every four or five years. There’s always a new way to try, and audiences love to come.

This year’s production is in the style of a 1930s movie musical. There’s singing and dancing, the Busby Berkeley kind – they even use lighted props!! (thanks to the ideas of choreographer Crystal Dawn Munkers who also plays Hippolyta). There are a few head scratchy types of decisions by director/Theseus George Mount, like the entire play being performed “back stage” of a theater. “It’s a play within a play, see.” That and some other ideas don’t help, but then mostly they don’t hurt that much either.

Mount and his actors have a very firm grasp of the comedic elements, which are a joy. MJ Sieber, last year’s Gypsy Rose Lee Award nominee for a similar comedic master turn in A Winter’s Tale, also a Seattle Shakes production, is wonderful as Bottom, the simple man turned into a donkey by magic. Most of the common folk in the play-within-a-play (now –within-a-play!) are great fun. Steven Davis, a soon-to-be graduate of Cornish, is quite hilarious as Starveling, the Moon.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Cherdonna Plays House Until She Doesn't - And It's Kinda Great

Cherdonna's Doll's House (Jeff Carpenter)
Cherdonna’s Doll’s House
Washington Ensemble Theatre
Through May 15, 2017

Cherdonna Shinatra is a unique presence on the Seattle arts scene. She is the creation of performer Jody Kuehner who was awarded one of The Stranger’s Genius Awards in 2015. She might be described as a clown dancer. Her lithe body is ready to contort into many a dance move as her performance entity enlarges and amplifies her feelings.

She has teamed up with Washington Ensemble Theatre and Ali Mohamed el-Gasseir to create a unique experience of the Henrik Ibsen play, A Doll’s House. There are so many aspects of this evening that are intriguing and beguiling, at least from the beginning on toward the end.