Friday, August 18, 2017

Writers Go Through Musical-Writing Development in Festival

Kirsten DeLohr Helland and Janet Krupin in Afterwords (Sam Freeman)

The second weekend in August has become an annual summer ritual in Issaquah, Washington. Village Theatre produces the Festival of New Musicals. This weekend was the 17th such festival. After a rigorous process of winnowing down hundreds of submissions from all over, even a few other countries, they bring together writers of new musicals and top singing/acting talent from the region (and sometimes New York and Los Angeles among others) for what are termed “29 hour workshops.” They provide directors and music directors and it all culminates in a three-day celebration of musical creation.

This year, there was a musical about Nikola Tesla, one about a little-known burial island in New York City (Hart Island), a developing fantasy musical to be staged by Book-It Repertory Theatre this winter (Howl’s Moving Castle) and a zombie musical.

I was able to interview the women behind a new musical called Afterwords, focusing on a young woman’s quest to uncover more about a suddenly-killed mentor’s secret love life. When she inherits his journals, she then discovers the woman has also suddenly died, and is driven to connect with the woman’s two daughters. The musical has many themes about family and connection and legacy.

Friday, August 04, 2017

“Statements After An Arrest” - a Timely and Compelling Drama

Darian Upshaw in Statements.... (Dave Hastings)
Statements After An Arrest Under the Immorality Act
Theater Schmeater
Through August 12, 2017

A production of the Athol Fugard play, Statements After An Arrest Under the Immorality Act, is a kind of must-see production. It reminds that there was a time not that far in the past where intermingling and romance and sex between folks of different shades of melanin were declared illegal. This happened in South Africa with national laws, but also in the United States in various areas.

The play includes an even more difficult emotional situation because Errol Philander, a "colored" South African is married when he sneaks into the local library at night to meet librarian, Frieda Joubert. His immorality is doubly deep, in that aspect. Once the couple is arrested, they expose to community judgment both themselves and his family.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Café Nordo Presents “Sundown at the Devil’s House”

Rebecca M. Davis in Sundown at the Devil's House and band (Joe Iano)
Sundown at the Devil’s House
Café Nordo
Through August 6, 2017

“It's the Devil's last night on Earth, and she and her cohorts will titillate, beguile, and entertain the audience with stories of the Devil's greatest triumphs and darkest secrets.” So says the website information. If there is a reason in there, somewhere, why it’s the Devil’s “last” night, it escaped notice, but the cast of players certainly did their best to titillate, beguile and entertain.

They sing some songs, and tell a lot of stories. There are pseudo-Biblical tales with completely different, though recognizable components. One of the strongest aspects of the script is the explanation of the Devil as the Fallen Angel, though the description of the jobs that angels do in “Heaven” might not match almost any ideas you ever thought would be done in Heaven, including “doing God’s taxes.” That one is a not-very-appropriate job choice, since God probably is not financially beholden to any country’s laws, no matter which kind of God you believe in.