Tuesday, July 31, 2018

“Lauren Weedman Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” doesn’t know where to go

Lauren Weedman (Chris Bennion)
Lauren Weedman Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
ACT Theatre
Through August 12, 2018

Lauren Weedman used to live in Seattle and developed a lot of her theatrical skills and instincts here before moving on to more national recognition of her unique talents. She’s a naturally funny person (there are many aspects of comedy that just can’t be taught, since a lot of timing is something innately understood). She also has bravely mined her own insecurities and foibles to create solo shows about aspects of her personality that also apply to lots of other people in the world.

Many solo performers use autobiographical history to create performances that make statements about the larger world. The most successful hone in on one or two particular events or aspects, develop a theme incorporating other characters, and weave together a whole story they perform all the roles within.

The last time Weedman had a long-run Seattle show was in 2007 with Bust, a play about her time volunteering at a Los Angeles women’s lock-up, where she tried to listen, but often talked so much that she put a foot in her mouth. It was a beautifully distilled performance where characters included a host of different incarcerated women and their jail-house visitors, and Weedman’s sometimes ham-handed interactions with them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

“Disenchanted” is Enchanting

Camilla Smith in Disenchanted (photo by Fiely Matias)
Disenchanted
Mamches Productions
(at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through August 18, 2018

Brad Cerenzia, it turns out, is a social media frenzy – and he’s applied it to his new company, Mamches Productions, for his new production, Disenchanted. It’s a musical he fell in love with when it came out in 2014and waited to produce here as soon as rights became available. It’s an anti-Disney-style “what happens after the ‘married happily ever after’” spoof.

He then cast six powerhouse local actors to take on all these princesses and tell you their wry stories of what didn’t really work any more. Led by force-of-nature Caitlin Frances as Snow White, writer/lyricist/composer Dennis T. Giacino includes Cinderella (Jessie Selleck), Sleeping Beauty (Ann Cornelius), The Princess Who Kissed the Frog (Camilla Smith) , Belle and The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel (all Gloria Alcala), and Pocahontas, Mulan and Badroulbadour (all Aimee Karlin).

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The immigrant story of “Sweet Land” at Taproot Theatre

Molli Corcoran in Sweet Land (Erik Stuhaug)
Sweet Land
Taproot Theatre
Through August 18, 2018

Taproot Theatre has a summer tradition of choosing a musical to perform. This year, they’ve found a new musical, one that’s only been performed once before, so Sweet Land will be completely new to everyone in Seattle-land. An immigrant tale told by book writer Perrin Post, book and lyric writer Laurie Flanigan Hegge and composer Dina Maccabee, the story is based on a small, independent film by Ali Selim, made in 2005.

The immigrant is Inge Altenberg. It’s 1920 and she has traveled from Norway to meet and marry the farmer son, Olaf (Tyler Todd Kimmel), of her Norwegian employers. All the couple has ahead of time are grainy photos of each other. The plucky Inge, played with verve and heart by the lovely Mollie Corcoran, has the strength of mind and conviction to travel all the way to the middle of Minnesota, not knowing the prejudice she will face immediately.

It turns out that she is not Norwegian, but German. It’s just after World War I and the small town inhabitants, particularly the pastor (Hugh Hastings) and the town clerk, refuse to marry Inge and Olaf, leaving her without a home while she somehow persuades the town that she’s a good person.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Well-done “Family Matters” by ReAct Theatre

Cast of Family Matters (David Hsieh)

Family Matters
ReAct Theatre
(at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through July 28, 2018

ReAct Theatre is presenting a new play by local playwright Rachel Atkins called Family Matters. Atkins has fashioned a tender, stressed-out family dramedy that focuses on themes of family responsibility, elder pitfalls, adoption, and race. It’s a pretty full pot of stew!

The story, involving four female family members and a new boyfriend, is set on Mother’s Day and the Horowitz family elder, Nana (Walayn Sharples) gets to have an outside celebration at her family home because it’s tradition to do it that way. What’s new is that Nana goes in and out of remembering things, and her daughters Pearl (Serin Ngai) and Lena (Katie Tupper) and granddaughter Gracie (Mika Swanson) try to figure out how to celebrate around the forgettings and the moments of outright dementia. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Ibsen's "League of Youth" is a strange hybrid

The League of Youth (Michael Brunk)
The League of Youth
Theatre9/12
Through July 29, 2018

Theatre9/12's production of Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's play, The League of Youth, is a strangely hybrid affair. Hatcher's adaptation was done in 2017 and while Ibsen's work is said to be his only comedy, it is essentially a farce - not necessarily a comedy. Sometimes "farce" is not funny. In this case, it skewers politicians and small towns and, since it was written in the mid-1800s when women were either married or servants or nuns, it skewers that state of affairs, too.

On a Fourth of July picnic, a newcomer to a small town, Stensgaard (Tom Ryan), decides their rituals and traditions are stodgy and he challenges the town by announcing a new political party called “The League of Youth.” He claims he can stop the corruption and it's time for a new generation to take over.

He's quickly informed that his goal of becoming the town's highest politician has a requirement - he must "own property." Since the vote is that night, he has to be married - or at least engaged - by nightfall. While the youth of the town meet elsewhere and someone else writes his manifesto, he pursues the marriageable women in town with property rights. 

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Not just big hair – “Hairspray’s” little moments also please

Nick DeSantis, Shaunyce Omar and Callie Williams in Hairspray (Tracy Martin)
Hairspray
Village Theatre
Everett: 7/6-29/18

There is plenty to enjoy in the Village Theatre production of Hairspray, and a lot of it is in tiny moments that make it clear that directors Steve Tomkins and Timothy McCuen Piggee have thought about every detail. It’s also a bit bittersweet for those who have enjoyed Tomkins’ directing at Village, because this is his last official production as artistic director at the theater.

This production has heightened the revolutionary part of the story of a young woman who puts her dreams on the line in order to desegregate her local television dance program. It’s a particularly good message for these turbulent times.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

July Theater Openings mean park Shakespeare, musicals, and world premieres

Disenchanted (Erin Ewing)

The weekend of July 14 and 15 is the annual Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival! (http://greenstage.org/sotf/) with free Shakespeare and kid plays for an entire weekend! It is the official launch of the summer park plays all over the area. In addition, there are two big musicals, Lauren Weedman coming back to town with a solo show, and a few world premieres to check out. No one is sitting out this summer seaon doing nothing – so get out yer calendars!

Family Matters, ReACT Theatre, 7/6-28/18 (at 12th Avenue Arts) (world premiere)
Local playwright Rachel Atkins has crafted a new play, set in the backyard of the Horowitz-Yamasaki-Bloom family home. This multi-generational Jewish-American-transracial family gathers for their traditional Mother’s Day celebration with bagels and lox and Korean potato salad. Everyone arrives with secrets, and as the afternoon progresses, their revelations bring out their complicated hidden truths, while examining the myriad expectations, responsibilities and roles that women face in every modern family. An insightful, humorous and affecting new look at the ties and traditions that bind.

The League of Youth, Theatre9/12, 7/6-29/18
A Henrik Ibsen play, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher in 2017, focuses on a young liberal, frustrated by the cronyism of politics. He creates a “League of Youth” to lobby against the establishment. Ibsen’s only comedy caused rioting in the streets: conservatives claimed it was an attack on their party, and liberals claimed it was an attack on theirs!