Saturday, February 28, 2015

Coming up: Theater in March 2015

Ryan Higgins in the 2011 production of Live! From the Last Night of My Life (Dave Hastings)
(as published in Seattle Gay News)

March theater is bringing some plays very very new (The Flick, New Century Theatre Company – 2014 Pulitzer Prize, and Seattle Repertory Theatre’s Lizard Boy – a world premiere musical) and some plays very very old (Tartuffe, Seattle Shakespeare Company). A 2011 play improbably comes back to life with almost the same cast and crew (Live! From the Last Year of My Life, Theatre22). And a lot in-between, as usual. Here is the list by date order.

NCTC opens its season at 12th Avenue Arts with The Flick by Annie Baker, 3/5/15-4/4/15. Avery, Rose, and Sam work at a rundown movie theater that still shows films reel to reel. They discuss life and movies in a journey of self-exploration through issues of race, sexual identity, and family.

ArtsWest and SiS Productions co-produce Chinglish, 3/5/15-3/29/15. This comedy by David Henry Hwang (his Yellowface was presented by ReAct in 2011), explores the challenges of doing business in a culture whose language—and ways of communicating—are worlds apart from our own. A na├»ve American business man goes to China to score a lucrative contract for his family's firm, only to encounter miscomprehensions and malapropisms galore. But business miscommunications with dignitaries are easy compared to sexual misunderstandings.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Locally Grown solo performances well worth the gamble

Sara Porkalob and duck heads (Truman Buffett)
Jose Amador (Truman Buffett)

Solo pieces are often stories that you've never heard before. They don't have to be "true" or autobiographical, but as with many types of writing, solo pieces are written by people who write "what they know." 

Sometimes, a one-person show will be performed only as one person, and sometimes the performer becomes multiple people in the story. In the recent "festival," Locally Grown, Jose Amador performs as himself throughout his piece and only becomes his father for a moment. In contrast, Sara Porkalob becomes many characters in a flurry of quick changes that sometimes are accomplished by slight movements from one side to another.

Both of these plays are autobiographical and both deal with cultures and families and traditions far from the white-bread American norm (she says tongue just a bit in cheek). Jose tells about returning for a visit to family in Puerto Rico and shares his growing emotional connection with a land he left. Sara recreates a bit of family history as she becomes her grandmother and tells a rather amazing tale of Filipino gangsters and single motherhood and hints at even more.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Sweet Charity" has a lot of heart and some good dancin'

Cast of Sweet Charity headed by Megan Tyrrell (Jeff Carpenter)

Sweet Charity
Through March 1, 2015

The newest production at Seattle Musical Theatre, Sweet Charity, has a lot of heart and a lot of really nice choreography. It’s not the most polished production ever, but it’s an enjoyable way to see a musical that doesn’t get stage time very much anymore.

It’s definitely a throw-back to the ‘60s or in some ways even older. Charity Hope Valentine (Megan Tyrrell) is a taxi dancer – dancing for money with assorted men – at the Fandango Club. Of course, she’s really looking for love and finds it over and over again; even when the man in question is so ambiguous he actually steals from her!

The book (script) is by Neil Simon, so it’s fast patter and kind of funny, and the music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields has some of the most iconic musical songs in it, including Hey, Big Spender and If My Friends Could See Me Now.

"Carousel" more dance extravaganza than you thought and spare, muscular production

Brandon O'Neill and Laura Griffith in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel (Mark Kitaoka)

Through March 1, 2015

The fluid, muscular choreography of Donald Byrd and Spectrum Dance Theater makes this spare, engaging production of Carousel soar to new heights. Director Bill Berry both lightens and darkens the tones, bringing a depth of expression to this sometimes taken-for-granted musical.

The dance tone is set right from the start with the Carousel Waltz, a full on dance sequence introducing the amusement park and its attraction for the townsfolk. With few words, we meet Julie (a stubborn Laura Griffith) and her bestie Carrie (enthusiastic, bubbly Billie Wildrick) and see the attraction of rough-hewn carousel barker Billie Bigelow (powerful Brandon O’Neill). We note that amusement park owner Mrs. Mullin (Cynthia Jones) might be a bit jealous of the fawning girls.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Live Girls! takes on 16th Century rape culture in "Blood/Water/Paint"

a painting by Artemisia Gentileschi

Live Girls! Theater
at Theatre Off Jackson
through March 14, 2015

(as posted on StackeDD Magazine)

Live Girls! Theater is debuting Blood/Water/Paint, a play by local playwright, Joy McCullough-Carranza. LG focuses on women writers, and the subject matter of the play is a 16th Century Italian painter, Artemisia Gentileschi. We can assume, correctly, that Artemisia (it seems more appropriate to refer to her by first name) had a tough time being recognized as a painter. But more than that, Artemisia’s story is amazing in part due to a still-surviving trial transcript of a trial where she testified against her rapist, even after being subjected to torture! Her fight to convict her attacker makes her an even more appropriate heroine today.
STACKEDD interviewed playwright McCullough-Carranza about bringing this play to life. Joy described for us her writing process and what drew her to try to put this story on stage:
“Some time in 2001, I was reading a Margaret Atwood novel that made passing reference to a famous Artemisia. I had never heard the name, so out of curiosity I looked it up. It was early days of Internet, so I only found a bit about the Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi. But what I found was enough to send me off to the art history section of the library.
I knew very little about art history, but I’d minored in Women’s Studies in college, so I was not surprised to learn that in the Baroque Italian art world, women were not apprenticed, or given access to the career tracks required to become painters. But Artemisia Gentileschi was apprenticed to her father and even as a teenager, the quality of her work was already surpassing his.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Seattle Women's Chorus: Reel Women - Reel great singing, some reel weird song choices

Hooray for Hollywood - Seattle Women's Chorus (Conrado Tapado of eQuality Images)
This past weekend, Seattle Women’s Chorus presented several nights of shows at the Cornish Playhouse with the theme Reel Women. This concert shows that the Chorus continues to grow in depth and execution. It was the best they have sounded, as their cohesion and comfort as a chorus deepens!

The focus was on movies and music from movies. Some terrific song choices were made and a lot of fun clips of movies accompanied many of the choral arrangements. So, Let the River Run by Carly Simon included footage of the movie Working Girl which featured the song. And I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton was shown along with footage of the movie The Bodyguard.

A special partnership was highlighted with Reel Grrls, a non-profit that encourages young girls to participate in movie-making. Two shorts were included that perfectly encapsulated the subject matter and point-of-view of these young filmmakers.

Some of the highest highlights included another beautiful pairing of Maureen Warren and Virginia Daugherty, singing Dome Epais from the opera Lakme, which has been used often in films. They sounded sublime. Their execution would stand up in any operatic evening anywhere in the world, I would think! Just gorgeous.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Seattle Public Theater's "Humble Boy" a well-done production

Jason Marr and Macall Gordon wrestling over funeral ashes (Paul Bestock)

Humble Boy
Seattle Public Theater
Through February 15, 2015

As posted in Seattle Gay News

If you boil Shakespeare's Hamlet down, you might get something like: a young man broods after his father's death, while his mother quickly marries his uncle. If you ignore all the palace stuff, the royalty and inheritance and deaths, you might then focus on the family drama. 

Charlotte Jones' play, Humble Boy, now at Seattle Public Theater, can be summed up similarly: a young man broods after his father's death, while his mother quickly takes up with a family friend. Felix Humble (Jason Marr) is an astrophysicist with a distinct dis-ease about social interactions. He arrives home after hearing about his father's death to find his mother, Flora (Macall Gordon), has gotten rid of all of James' things, including the bees from the family hives.