Monday, November 23, 2015

"Come From Away" will make you want to kiss a cod! Go SEE it!

Cast and musicians of Come From Away (Chris Bennion)
Come From Away
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through December 13, 2015

Here is the best holiday tip I can give you: Before you read this review, go to the computer or phone and arrange tickets for this musical immediately. The Seattle Repertory Theatre is already reporting that tickets for Come From Away, the feel-good musical phenomenon about a small Canadian town taking care of dozens of strangers forced to land on 9/11, are flying out the door!

Part of the reason is that it’s a short run from opening night. That is very “normal” when a musical is new and in development. Part of the process is to have preview performances where the writers continue to work on refinements up until opening night. In fact, the production opened November 18, and allows for four full weeks of performance. Sometimes, new musicals only have two or three weeks after opening!

But by far the biggest reason tickets are flying out the door is that this is undoubtedly the best musical to hit Seattle in…. a long time. It has a kick-ass major cast (all 12 are Broadway vets or Broadway-ready, some with extensive Canadian credits). That’s good because there is every expectation that the show will get to Broadway and soon! The book, sharp and refined, and music, and lyrics by Canadians Irene Sankoff and David Hein are catchy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Loverly “Lady” waltzes into Village Theatre

Allison Standley, Priscilla Hake Lauris, Mark Anders in My Fair Lady (Tracy Martin)
My Fair Lady
Village Theatre
Issaquah: Through January 3, 2016, Everett: 1/8-31/16

Allison Standley has not, until now, been cast as the lead in a local musical, though she won a Gypsy Rose Lee Award for her Supporting Role in Wild Party by Sound Theatre Company in 2013. Now, you can see her triumphantly starring as Eliza Doolittle in Village Theatre’s My Fair Lady. Her foil is Mark Anders, who inhabits Professor Higgins indubitably, and cutely and annoyingly throws tantrums when he’s frustrated, which makes the character a bit more human.

Standley does Eliza justice, most particularly in the spectacular, iconic songs she sings once she arrives at Higgins’ estate. She could use a bit more distinct diction in the more difficult to understand beginning songs, though her acting throughout is lively and alive.

In case you don’t know the basic story, a recap. An upper class British phoneticist bumps into a lower class flower girl and bets a friend that he can turn her into a princess in six months. Through tribulation and struggle, eventually the flower girl goes to a great ball and charms everyone. In the process, do the professor and the flower girl fall in love? Only the slippers know.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: Do you want a musical with your brunch? Mama Tits has it for you!

Mimosas with Mama
(at The Unicorn)

Mama Tits is a bossy, bitchy, big bombshell of a drag queen. If that description sets your teeth on edge, you probably won’t want to go to her Mimosas with Mama Sunday Brunch at The Unicorn! However, there are probably some good reasons for her ordering the crowd around and some of them might be mimosas!

If you’re going to have a boozy brunch, you might want to make sure those freely imbibing frequent flyers (it appears that many people like to attend frequently) stay in line and don’t bug the performers overly much, or cause any safety issues. And if you follow the rules, you’re bound to have fun with Mama and her cohort of faux chanteuses.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Interview: Rodney Hicks talks about originating musical roles - "RENT," "Scottsboro Boys," now "Come From Away!"

Rodney Hicks in Come From Away (Kevin Berne)
Rodney Hicks is a talented actor/writer, husband to Portland Center Stage’s artistic director, Chris Coleman, and has originated multiple roles in Broadway musicals to great acclaim! He is ready to open the brand new musical, Come From Away, at Seattle Repertory Theatre, after a lauded run at co-producer La Jolla Playhouse, November 18th.

Come From Away is a heart-warming story about a little known aspect of fall-out from 9/11. When planes were caught in flight during the no-flight mandate over the United States, planes had to land somewhere. 38 planes were grounded in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada! It is a tiny town unaccustomed to so many visitors. The town springs into action to support all these passengers.

A talented roster of performers, including locals Eric Ankrim, Chad Kimball, and Kendra Kassebaum create this ensemble-driven piece playing multiple roles. Directed by Christopher Ashley, artistic director at La Jolla, the production is still being heavily revised by writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein (My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding). They are certain to be working to bring the production to Broadway, though the exact route there is unknown at this time.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Jeanne Paulsen leads strong cast in "Mother Courage"

Mother Courage (John Ulman)
Mother Courage and Her Children
Seattle Shakespeare Company
Through November 22, 2015

Jeanne Paulsen provides a strong and appropriately stalwart performance of the title character in Mother Courage and Her Children at Seattle Shakespeare Company. This is the most well-known of Bertolt Brecht’s plays, though seldom performed.

The character’s real name is Anna Fierling, but she’d been given the nickname Courage while dashing among fighting soldiers to sell them moldy bread. She’s to small businesses what Trump is to towers: the ultimate example, augmented by PR.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Guaranteed big laughs if you buy tickets to "Buyer and Cellar!"

Scott Drummond in Buyer and Cellar (Chris Bennion)
Buyer and Cellar
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through November 22, 2015

Are you a Barbra Streisand aficionado? Or do you yawn when you hear her name? Or are you not quite sure what all the fuss is about? The main character, Alex, in the wonderfully funny and sweet solo show at Seattle Repertory, Buyer and Cellar, is kind of the latter. Yes, he’s Gay, but nope he really doesn’t know all that much about Babs.

Until however, he gets a call, in between looking for acting gigs, to work for a rich person living in Malibu… and takes on one of the strangest hourly jobs a person might have: working in Barbra Streisand’s basement!

This is the set up for this charming show full of belly laughs and gently poking into financial inequity and our obsession with celebrity. At the start of the show, Scott Drummond, the New York-based actor getting a work out in this complex piece by Jonathan Tolins, tells us that we need to remember that none of this actually happened. It’s all the imagination of the playwright.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

"My Dear Miss Chancellor" - an evening sure to please

Sophia Franzella and Tracy Leigh in My Dear Miss Chancellor (Joe Iano Photography)
My Dear Miss Chancellor
Annex Theatre
Through November 14, 2015

There are thousands of Regency Romance novels with debonair, dashing young eligible bachelors and demure young debs daring to throw their caps at them. There are horses and carriages and gowns and corsets. Scandal might be when a young lady is seen unchaperoned and out with a young man, flouting convention and gossip. But where were the Gays and Lesbians?

There must not have been any. At least until Oscar Wilde. He was the first, right?

Not according to a spanking new play by local thespian Caitlin Gilman. My Dear Miss Chancellor dives deep into hidden Lesbian culture in the London social scene. In her vision, Lesbians daringly gather in secret societies, where they know each other and keep each other’s secrets. Where, if found out, they are certain to be drummed out of fashionable society and never heard from again.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Warm up with musicals for November 2015 Theater

Sgt. Rigsby - aka Scot Augustson (Tiffany Diamond)
What is it about November? We’ve got four big musicals and a musical sketch review, all opening this month! Musical lovers, you’re going to be in hog heaven, as they say! My Fair Lady, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, (world premiere) Come From Away, and The Sound of Music all get major productions. Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales return with a holiday skewering. 

There is a new subversive puppet extravaganza from Sgt. Rigsby & His Amazing Silhouettes. And Theater Schmeater gives us another installment of Twilight Zone – Live!

My Fair Lady (Mark Kitaoka)
My Fair Lady, Village Theatre, Issaquah: 11/5/15-1/3/16, Everett: 1/8-31/16
Based on George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, the story explores societal prejudices towards class and gender through the tale of lowly Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Allison Standley) and her unlikely run-in with linguistics teacher Henry Higgins (Mark Anders), who embarks on an experiment to transform Eliza into a proper lady.

The Ballad of Karla Fox, Printer's Devil Theater (at Theatre Off Jackson), 11/5-21/15
A new Scot Augustson and Sgt. Rigsby & His Amazing Silhouettes puppet world premiere, performed with radio show-style voices supplied by live actors, original live music, and a menagerie of two-dimensional puppets, the story follows the adventures of orphan Karla Fox, inspired by classic thrillers such as Gaslight and Rebecca. After her parents die in a suspicious accident (involving a drunken bulldog driving a moving van full of pianos), Karla Fox goes to live with her strange, stern Aunt Sadie. But soon Aunt Sadie’s particular brand of crazy gets too real and Karla is forced to flee in the night for her very life. (Not For Children)