Wednesday, September 13, 2017

1964’s “Blues for Mister Charlie” Packs a Gut-punch

Cast of Blues for Mister Charlie (Bruce Tom)
Blues for Mister Charlie
The Williams Project
(at Franklin High School)
Through September 17, 2017

No matter that a piece of theater demands that the participants say the “n” word because it has to be said, it’s still a painful experience to me. How much more so might it be to people who have lived with the history of being labeled with such!

And say it they must for a historic play by James Baldwin, crafted as a memorial to the murder of young 14-year-old Emmett Till and Baldwin’s friend, Medgar Evers. Written in 1964, it reflects the language of the time, where people in small southern towns still peppered their speech with it and segregation was virtually the law of the land.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

September Blossoms With Theater Openings

The cast of The Who and The What at ArtsWest (courtesy ArtsWest)
If it’s back-to-school, that’s the signal for Back to Theater. 26 productions are listed here and there are likely others. Get out your calendars – you have some work to do!

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Lamplight Productions, 9/1-17/17 (at Bathhouse Theatre)
Christopher Durang plays with Chekhov’s themes and comments on age, entitlement, and social media with ridiculous comedy. Siblings Vanya and Sonia live in the family home in Bucks County, PA spending their days doing nothing but lamenting. Masha, the third sibling (who is funding their life with her movie star career), returns home with a beautiful and very young boyfriend and life as Vanya and Sonia know it is threatened.

The Tempest, Fern Shakespeare Company, 9/1-16/17 (at Slate Theater)
Marooned on a deserted island with a child for twelve years, Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, finds that those that conspired against him have shipwrecked and washed up on the same shore. Shakespeare asks difficult questions. What will happen when Prospero’s past and present life collides? What does it mean to be human?  Do we ever truly have control over the events of our lives and those we love? Or is the adage true, that if you truly love something you must let it go?

The Who & The What, ArtsWest and Pratidhwani, 9/7/17-10/1/17
Brilliant Pakistani-American writer Zarina is focused on finishing her novel about women and Islam when she meets Eli, a young convert to Islam, who bridges the gulf between her modern life and her traditional heritage. But when her conservative father and sister discover her controversial manuscript, they are all forced to confront the beliefs that define them. From Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Disgraced.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Solid "August: Osage County" Reflects Harlequin Productions' Stature

Ellen McLain and Ann Flannigan in August: Osage County (courtesy Harlequin Productions)
Many folks in the Greater Seattle area don't get out to any theater location they think of as "boonies." That might include Renton, Bellevue, Redmond, Edmonds, Tacoma, the West Sound, Federal Way, Burien, Kent, and certainly Olympia.

I'll encourage you to consider venturing farther afield than Capitol Hill and Downtown Seattle because there are a lot of solid theater producers out there, including SecondStory Repertory (Redmond), Phoenix Theatre and Driftwood Theatre (Edmonds), Renton Civic, Burien Actors Theatre, Centerstage (Federal Way), Theatre Battery (Kent), Tacoma Musical Playhouse, and Harlequin Productions (Olympia).

It's not easy to consider driving 66 miles (from Seattle to Olympia), but those who do generally find productions that are equal to our midrange Seattle theaters like ArtsWest, Seattle Public, and Taproot.