Friday, March 31, 2017

Theater in April - Time for World Premieres?

Nadeshiko (John Cornicello)
If it’s April, it must be World Premiere Month? Well, in Seattle it is! There is a ton of original work debuting this month, along with more musicals in unusual places. Spring open your calendar and get your tickets!

The Fog Machine Play, Copious Love Prods., 4/1-22/17 (at Slate Theater)
Local theater guy Brendan Mack purchased a fog machine for a production in 2013 but never actually used it. Then he decided to write a series of short plays about a fog machine. While The Fog Machine Play explores the various uses of theatrical fog, it also explores what it is like to produce fringe theatre in this day and age. This show will truly be “unforgettable.”

Here Lies Love, Seattle Repertory Theatre, 4/7/17-5/28/17
Seattle Rep transforms into a wild dance party, where techno beats spin and tell the story of the People's Power Revolution in the Philippines. Follow the meteoric rise and dramatic fall of the controversial First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos.

Friday, March 24, 2017

"26 Miles" a rewarding journey of personal discovery

Klara Cerris and Alma Villegas in 26 Miles (Michael Brunk)
26 Miles
Latino Theatre Projects
(at West of Lenin)
Through April 8, 2017

In 2015, Theatre22 produced a play by Quiara Alegria Hudes, Water By the Spoonful, which garnered 10 Gypsy Rose Lee nominations and three wins. It had also won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. Director-nominee Julie Beckman directed a super production of that play and has returned to Hudes at a different company for her 26 Miles, produced by Latino Theatre Projects.

So, this production was much anticipated, and does not disappoint. Hudes’ style here is different from Water By the Spoonful, but still smart, thoughtful, and very true to life. This play is very personal to Hudes. It reflects her own life growing up in Philadelphia. It is set in 1986 with a 15 year-old girl protagonist. That’s one of the small differences that “fictionalizes” the play, since Hudes was born in 1977, not 1971.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

ACT Theatre's "Tribes" explores deaf culture

Joshua Castille and Lindsay W. Evans in Tribes (photo by Chris Bennion)
ACT Theatre
Through March 26, 2017

Deaf culture gets a hearing (oh, oof) in ACT Theatre’s newest play, Tribes, by Nina Raine. The production is a solid one, with all six actors taking strong positions as well-constructed characters with vivid points of view.

Directed in the round by John Langs, a busy but effective homey set by Shawn Ketchum Johnson greets the audience as the home of Christopher and Beth (Frank Corrado and Anne Allgood) who still live with their three adult children, Daniel, Ruth, and Billy (Adam Standley, Kjerstine Rose Anderson, and Joshua Castille).

Monday, March 13, 2017

Solo show focuses on Black and American experiences

(photo by Dave Hastings)
Yankee Pickney
Written and performed by Jehan Osanyin
Theater Schmeater
Through April 1, 2017

A “yankee pickney” is translated, in this solo show by Jehan Osanyin, as “Americanized child.” Osanyin occasionally translates Jamaican patois to help the audience understand. Yankee Pickney is performing at Theater Schmeater, and it is a brisk 70 minute heart-opening walk through Osanyin’s life.

Solo biographical productions are hard to write about because when you see it, you should gain the information as you watch and not have someone tell you all the “spoilers” in a review. Osanyin’s story is unique and interesting. You are entirely encouraged to attend and hear her story.

Osanyin understands theatrical presentation and how to play with it. She begins by offering tea to her audience and takes time to help everyone become comfortable. Once she starts the story, she palpably creates “her home” on stage – with her goldendoodle at her side – and explores “kinds” of blackness.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Showtunes tackles The Unsinkable Molly Brown - this weekend

(photo by Chris Bennion)
March 11 (8:00pm) and March 12 (2:00pm), Showtunes Theatre Company is taking on The Unsinkable Molly Brown for their next musical presentation. If you aren't familiar with their style, you are missing out on the fun.

The company mostly mounts musicals that will not likely be produced on a local stage, either because it might have great music but not a really great story, or it just has too large a cast for a company to afford. This is a great opportunity to see this classic musical in a concert style.

The actors carry their scripts and they use minimal props and costumes, though they present the entire script and musical numbers. It's an intriguing way to experience musicals that are part of our rich musical theater canon, but rarely receive a full production.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Brandon Ivie, Village’s New Musical Whisperer

Cubamor (Sam Freeman)

To an extent, this is a “Where is he now?” interview! In 2009, Brandon Ivie was kind of a kid wonder in theatrical circles when he was first profiled in SGN.

He started his own theater company, Contemporary Classics, as a senior in high school, focusing on new musicals. Once graduated from UW, he landed a job as assistant to David Armstrong, Executive Producer/Artistic Director at The 5th Avenue Theatre. He calls that "the best first job out of college ever."

Ivie has already worked on a number Broadway shows – some of which premiered at 5th Ave, like Shrek, Memphis and Catch Me If You Can, and helped launch the Broadway production of ex-Village Theatre associate Brian Yorkey's next to normal, which won a Tony Award. He worked on multiple productions of A Christmas Story across the country. He helmed an Off-Broadway production of Jasper in Deadland and reprised it at 5th Ave.

He’s been working for several years with friend and protegee Justin Huertas on Huertas’ Lizard Boy, which premiered at Seattle Repertory and has had several backing presentations in New York City to try to get it produced Off-Broadway.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

A whole life in half the time - Bright Half Life

Tracy Michelle Hughes and Rhonda J. Soikowski in Bright Half Life (MJ Sieber)

Bright Half Life
New Century Theatre Company and The Hansberry Project
Through March 11, 2017

How does one get at the interior of a romantic relationship on stage? In the case of Bright Half Life, now presented by New Century Theatre Company and The Hansberry Project, playwright Tanya Barfield chose to throw ordinary women in ordinary moments together into a mixed-up time machine of a stew. Directed by HATLO, actors Tracy Michelle Hughes and Rhonda J. Soikowski portray a lesbian relationship that bounces (sometimes literally) from future to past to present to past in a seemingly random fashion.

The audience can’t just sit and let this play wash over them for a moment. You must come ready to engage.  In scenes that might last two sentences before a change of time and place, you can witness the first meeting of this couple, their awkward supervisor-employee attraction, their acceptance of their connection, and all the way through having children and growing older.