Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Treasure Island might be great counter-holiday programming

Geoffrey Simmons and Alex Silva in Treasure Island (John Ulman)
Treasure Island
Book-It Repertory Theatre
Through December 24, 2016

Shiver me timbers and hey ho me hearties, argh! If you haven’t read Treasure Island in longer than you want to remember, you might want to sail on over to Book-It Repertory to catch their new adaptation of Treasure Island, now on stage. This might be a brilliant idea of counter-programming against the regular holiday fare.

This is not a simple book to adapt. Not that they take on simple books! It has all kinds of adventures and a complicated plot involving double-crossing pirates and honor and treasure and doing right by your friends. It has sword fights and mutinies, and cannon fire.

In the middle of it all is an almost-thirteen-year-old boy, Jim Hawkins (a terrifically poised and talented Alex Silva). Jim’s life as a help-meet to his mother at an inn is turned upside down when his father dies and a blustery pirate, Billy Bones (Jim Gall), draws other disreputable types to the inn to find Bones’ treasure map.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Intriguing “King Charles III” at Seattle Rep

Robert Joy in King Charles III. Photo by Michael Doucett.
King Charles III
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through December 18, 2016

The new and much anticipated play at Seattle Rep is King Charles III and it has a very intriguing premise. We all know that Queen Elizabeth II will die, like we all will at some point. That’s not very startling, and her son, Prince Charles, has been on tap to be king for a long time. Playwright Mike Bartlett supposes what a newly inherited King Charles might be like, and chooses some very contemporary problems to fold into the fantasy.

As the pomp and ritual of the Queen’s burial is ending, the new King Charles is presented with a bill to sign from the British Parliament by the Prime Minister. But it happens that the bill fundamentally restricts freedom of Britian’s famously rowdy and incendiary press. As Prime Minister Evans (a suitably restrained Ian Merrial Peakes) explains it, it seeks to reasonably prevent invasions of privacy like tapping of royal cell phones and then leaking photos and emails to the public (which we heard really happened in 2011).

Monday, November 21, 2016

Tapping and “Singing in the Rain” at Village

Singing in the Rain (Mark Kitaoka)
Singing in the Rain
Village Theatre
Issaquah: Through December 31, 2016
Everett: January 6-29, 2016

Village Theatre has perfectly cast its tap-happy production of Singing in the Rain! The entire ensemble has great energy and many of the roles have just the right actor on stage for it.

You have seen the movie numerous times. It’s a new experience on a theater stage, especially when people must perform all the way through what might have been many takes for the screen version.

The storyline is about the advent of the “talkies” when silent film suddenly finds itself dead in an instant, once audiences find out technology is capable of melding voice with picture. Lockwood and Lamont are a famous silent film duo and the studio has made a love story out of their relationship, for publicity only. With the advent of The Jazz Singer, they need to make a talkie, but Lina Lamont (the supremely funny and on-point Jessica Skerritt) has a terrible, screechy voice and can’t sing or act a lick. What to do?

Friday, November 18, 2016

New SMC/SWC Artistic Director Paul Caldwell introduces himself to Seattle

Paul Caldwell (Miryam Gordon)
Silver and Soul
Seattle Men’s Chorus
Benaroya Hall
December 4-22, 2016

You’ve probably heard by now, if you pay attention to the Seattle Men’s and Seattle Women’s Choruses, that iconic artistic director Dennis Coleman retired and that the Choruses are now being led by Paul Caldwell. If you were lucky enough to have attended the recent concert by the Women, you already know that the Choruses are clearly in great hands and ready to Sing Out, loudly and proudly, into the future.

SGN had an opportunity to interview Paul on the eve of concert series #2 for him: the Seattle Men’s Chorus annual Christmas-time holiday extravaganza. We sat down with him and Executive Director Steven Smith for a chat.

The Wonderland of Zinzanni

Lady Rizo as the Red Queen (Alan Alabastro)
Welcome to Wonderland
Teatro Zinzanni
Through February 26, 2017

An inventive new storyline is now playing at Teatro Zinzanni. They’ve chosen an Alice in Wonderland theme for their newest dinner/show and in a Zinzanni kind of way, they keep the magical and mystical flavor of that story, as well.

Economics has clearly put some pressure on the speigeltent folks. They’ve apparently realized that it’s enormously expensive to change all the characters and themes every three months and have decided to elongate the run of a show. That is simply smart, and it also allows for more thinking and planning and a smarter execution of a concept.

In this adorable show, Lewis and Carol (get it?), a sweet couple of innocence, get lost in Wonderland and find themselves separated while the Red Queen Rizo tries to cut off their heads. Of course there is the ubiquitous “just missing them” routine, and this Queen is not so hard-hearted that she won’t stop to let people eat soup or supper.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Quick Take: Farewell Funny Men - The Habit Bites the Dust

The Habit (WestCoast Bell)
The Habit
Bathhouse Theater
through November 26, 2016

Six guys walk into the Bathhouse....for the last time. I don't know about you but I really really really needed something to laugh at that had nothing to do with politics. The guys of The Habit provided that to me tonight for their opening night of their Last Stand. They've been making sketch comedy together for too many years and there are families and dispersings and I guess it's harder and harder to hang out and make jokes with each other.

The six "guys" are David Swidler, Jeff Schell, John Osebold, Mark Siano, Ryan Dobosh (all of whom you see on stage) and Lucas Thayer (who shall remain anonymous). They've put a show together with some of their best pieces from over the years.

It's silly, it's smart, it's fun, and they don't take themselves too seriously, either. It's the perfect antidote to what just happened and what may yet appear. Do 'em a favor and go see 'em and laugh. You might do yourself a favor, too. or call 800-838-3006.

New Meaker play, "The Lost Girls," has some spooks

The cast of The Lost Girls (Dangerpants Photography)
The Lost Girls
Annex Theatre
Through November 19, 2016

Courtney Meaker writes engaging and untypical and very “current” dialogue in her plays. Her characters do and say things you don’t often expect and talk about life in often-blunt and sometimes funny ways. Having lived here for a number of years, she’s off in Iowa studying how to be an even better playwright.

Her latest work, The Lost Girls, is on stage at Annex Theatre. It contains aspects that Meaker likes to include: women characters (in this case, only women characters) and characters of fluid or Gay sexual orientations. These aspects are still far under-represented in the vast theatrical universe, so her additions are generally making up for that, one play at a time.

The successful parts of this play include a lot of the dialogue and relationship building among the five camp counselor college-aged women who all have been recruited for the very first time to this spooky camp. Except one of them attended camp as a teen and tells them the tale of the foundation of the property and why it has that haunted reputation. And there’s an interesting “women empowered girls and got killed for it” story in there.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

“The Big Meal” doesn’t fill one up much

The Big Meal (Chris Monsos)
The Big Meal
New Century Theatre Company
Through November 19, 2016

New Century Theatre Company aka NCTC has done some wonderful productions and for this play, The Big Meal, they have assembled a really good cast of actors and a good director, Makaela Pollock. This particular script by Dan LeFranc, however, didn’t convince me that it was essential to produce.

Since NCTC programs itself, it’s not always clear what drives them to choose the works they choose. In this case, this play is a progression of scenes over the course of one couple’s journey through meeting cute at a casual-dining restaurant and spanning some 40 or 50 years of their life together. Some have compared it to A Long Christmas Dinner by Thornton Wilder.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Taut, terrific “Dangerous Liaisons” takes the stage at ACT Theatre

Dangerous Liaisons
ACT Theatre
Through November 20, 2016

Begin with a beautiful “moment” of set (an ornate door here, a small French desk there, a divan) and add two handfuls of beautifully dressed and coiffed actors sailing through and around the set, mix in some biting sarcasm on love and fidelity, sprinkle a dash – or maybe two or three – of seduction, and you have the delicious recipe for a murderous dramedy. This is the world of Dangerous Liaisons at ACT Theatre.

The world of these pre-revolutionary French aristocrats is one of cards, wine, social one-upmanship and appearance of propriety. Christopher Hampton’s play, which you might have seen as a movie, strips away the velvet coating so we might see the toxic underground of a few particular combatants. Two in particular are hell-bent on revenge and winning. Or maybe winning and revenge.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Some of the biggest theater openings of the year are saved for November

Cast of Big Bad (Dangerpants Photography)
Three of the biggest musicals of the year are crammed into November. The 5th Avenue kicks off the new national tour of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, starring our local favorite Diana Huey, who moved to NYC to forward her national career. She’ll be on the road for a year, after the Seattle debut! We wish her the best of experiences.

Village Theatre presents Singing in the Rain, which few of us have seen on stage. Make it rain, folks! ArtsWest brings us Peter and the Starcatcher, continuing the new efforts of this stalwart West Seattle theater to musicalize up our town.  In addition to that excitement, we also have upstart Reboot Theatre Company giving us the local premiere of a new off-Broadway musical, Fly By Night.

Then there is the anticipated arrival of King Charles III at Seattle Rep. It’s a big month!