Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dinner with unicorns - "The Glass Menagerie" Nordo-style

The Glass Menagerie (Jeff Carpenter)
The Glass Menagerie
The Williams Project and Café Nordo
Through September 3, 2016

I have never eaten with the Wingfield family, so it was with hope for a unique experience that I went to the Culinarium, Café Nordo’s home, to experience what eating with the Wingfield’s would be like. If you don’t know who they are, they’re the family in the play, The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams.

The Williams Project, a group of east coast actors who seem to be coming to Seattle for summer residencies, focus a lot of their attention on their namesake’s work. They also seem, in the experience I’ve had with two Williams plays they’ve done here, to work particularly hard at deconstructing and reconstructing Williams in a fresh and far from stereotypical way.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The most explosive September in memory!

Dedra Woods in a rehearsal of Wedding Band at Intiman Theatre (Alex Garland)
It’s that time of year again! Theater in Seattle explodes and there are too many wonderful productions to see at once! Anyone up for a contest? Who will see the most September performances? How many can you fit into a week? Some of the most anticipated shows of the year are opening now….

The 39 Steps, Lamplight Productions and KTO Productions, 9/1-11/16 (at Bathhouse Theatre)
Based on the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock spy/romance film, this hit play is sure to please anyone who enjoys spies, hi-jinks, handcuffs, murder, missing fingers, kissing, secrets, chase scenes, more kissing, trains, planes and yes, automobiles. A cast of four actors tackle over 100 characters in what is guaranteed to be a good time.

Scab, Many Hats Theatre, 9/2-10/16 (at Ballard Underground)
In this unconventional comedic-drama, Anima's sphere of desperation and self-destruction is invaded by the arrival of her perky new roommate, Christa. Prompted by a malevolent talking statue of the Virgin Mary and a bloodthirsty houseplant named Susan, Anima and Christa enter into a friendship that incurs traumatic results.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fun Farce Faces Final Forays

David Roby in One Man, Two Guvnors (Ken Holmes)
One Man, Two Guvnors
Sound Theatre Company
(at Armory Theatre)
Through August 27, 2016

David Roby is everything one would want in a classic prat-falling (hey, anyone know what a “prat” is?) door-slamming British farce, like One Man, Two Guvnors, playing now by Sound Theatre Company. In Richard Bean’s slick adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s 1746 play, Servant of Two Masters, Roby pulls out all the stops to make us laugh as he moans about needing to eat and then hankers after love.

Bean’s adaptation hews closely to the original. A young woman (Kayla Teel) disguises herself as her dead brother, trying to find the man who killed him. She doesn’t realize that that man is her lover (Luke Stubbers). But she also needs money, so she goes to the father (John Clark) of her brother’s betrothed (Christine Riippi) to collect the dowry, not knowing that the betrothed wants to marry someone else (Daniel Stoltenberg).

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dual ways of looking at "Duels" by Nick Stokes

The cast of Duels (Andrea Sassenrath)
(at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through September 10, 2016

In a metaphorical and concrete way, Irene tends her garden, in the premiere of Nick Stokes’ play, Duels, mounted with the help of director Jose Amador, and presented at 12th Avenue Arts. But this garden has more than vegetables in it. It has become the graves of her husband and lover.

Walking into the room at 12AA, one is immediately met by the pungent smell of dirt packed into inverted triangles with a path between them. Plantings immediately bring to mind a vegetable garden, but lying there, as well, are the two men in the play. Carter Rodriquez and Daniel Christensen play Juan and John, the two men in Irene’s life.

At first, we see Irene (Marianna de Fazio), coping confidently and graciously with birthing a new calf, sure of her ability to manage the facets of country urban farming on her own. But suddenly, Juan and John arise and face each other in an inexplicable duel, while she explains that they’ve killed each other and walks them through the process of doing it again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2016 Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals Wrap-Up

Jessica Skerritt, Lauren DuPree and Sara Porkalob in String (Sam Freeman)
Musicals are one of the forms of theatrical presentations that take just about the longest to get on their “feet” since they are often the most collaborative, with the most fingers in the pie, and the most complicated, with music, dance and story inter-mingling. So, in order to support them from an idea to a fully complete stage-ready vehicle, a system of presentation opportunities has developed around the country to propel them forward, often a presentation at a time. This is a “festival” system.

Those in Seattle who love new musical development may be well aware of where new musicals have opportunities to develop. Aside from some internal supports from the two major musical theatre companies, Village Theatre and The 5th Avenue Theatre, there has been, for 16 years now, Village’s Festival of New Musicals, on the second weekend of August. The 5th Avenue has now added a “festival” of their own, which this year will take place in October.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

New company, Studio 18, catches Seattle premiere: musical Bonnie and Clyde

Cast of Bonnie and Clyde (Ashley Joncas)
Bonnie and Clyde
Studio 18 Productions
(at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through August 13, 2016

How to Mount a Production of a New Musical When You’ve Never Produced a Show Yourselves: I guess the answer is: “Be Studio 18 Productions!” Somehow, the young folks (Matt Lang and Alia Collins-Friedrichs) heading up this effort to bring the Seattle premiere of Bonnie and Clyde (the musical) to town found a way to get the rights, get a highly sought after venue (12th Avenue Arts) and a stupendous cast for this effort, and they pulled it all together!

Bonnie and Clyde debuted on Broadway in 2011 and is written by Frank Wildhorn (music), Don Black (lyrics) and Ivan Menchell (book). The show did not do very well and only lasted a month before closing. It is, of course, based on the lives of the infamous duo who lived, loved, and robbed in Texas, destined to die in a hail of bullets. Laura Osnes originated the role and she probably was able to elevate the production by force of will.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Benne’s "Terra Incognita" has something to crow about

Gretchen Douma and Lillian Afful Straton in Terra Incognita (Shane Regan)

Terra Incognita
Annex Theatre
Through August 20, 2016

Annex Theatre’s current theatrical opening is a world premiere. That’s not unusual for the tiny (only in physical space), volunteer collective. What’s a bit unusual is that this play, Terra Incognita, by Benjamine Benne, only has four actors. Some of their recent world premieres have had a dozen or more characters.

This is Benne’s first fully-mounted production, but he’s been extremely busy generating product over the last several years, getting noticed by Eugene O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference, and will be leaving us to serve for a year in Minneapolis’ Playwright Center as a Many Voices Fellow. That’s not to say that more of his plays may well be produced here! He has a unique energy and commitment to his craft.