Saturday, April 29, 2017

May Stage Flowers a'Bloomin'

Rehearsal photo for Skin by Deaf Spotlight (Patty Liang)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Seattle Shakespeare Co., 5/3/17-5/21/17 (at Cornish Playhouse)
This version of the classic “who loves who” comedy is placed in the realm of 1930s movie musicals about show business. George Mount says, “They're called backstage musicals. They’re movies about people on Broadway putting on plays. So we're going to do a play, based on the movie genre.” A band of local tradespeople gets mixed into the madness when one member is transformed into a donkey. The fairy Puck, who initiated the foolery, sorts it all out in time for a grand wedding and a nutty comic skit.

Skin, Deaf Spotlight, 5/4-7/17, 5/12-13/17 (at 12th Avenue Arts)
Deaf Spotlight is pleased to this story, which follows four Deaf Queer women who are struggling to make sense of violence, sex, love and friendship amidst a changing landscape, Seattle’s Capitol Hill. This will be performed in ASL and subtitled English.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

“Love” is not all there is

Here Lies Love (Navid Baraty)
Here Lies Love
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through June 18, 2017

So many “why?” questions… The huge, immersive production of Here Lies Love at Seattle Repertory Theatre has the company investing tens of thousands of dollars (maybe hundreds?). Why? What makes this idea, this musical so worth the money? The company has invested months in the making of it, remaking their largest theatrical space into a “nightclub” atmosphere with a movable light-up stage. Why?

There are many ways to construct a nightclub. Why have they built something that limits their usual 800+ seats to less than 300? Why must the stage move? That must have cost an enormous amount more. It shrinks the allowable dance floor by a lot!

They must believe in what they’re doing. That also has to mean that doing so is worth all of it. The experience of attending Here Lies Love is different, somewhat, if you’re sitting in the balcony above or the sides of the nightclub or on the floor where you have to stand for most of the 90-plus minute show. If you’re standing, perhaps wanting to dance the night away, you might get to dance a bit, but for most of that time, you’re watching a fairly standard musical theater production with set songs – many of them power ballads, not terribly danceable to.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The stereotype of the delicate Asian flower - "Nadeshiko"

Mi Kang and Maile Wong in Nadeshiko (John Cornicello)
Sound Theatre Company
Through May 16, 2017

An ambitious, vigorously mounted production from Sound Theatre Company seeks to weave together Japanese societal-cultural after-effects of World War II with a family’s modern descendants. Adventurous local writer Keiko Green uses some unconventional theatrical devices in Nadeshiko, along with traditional storytelling.

The main character in the play is a 20-something young woman, Risa (Maile Wong), who is struggling with formulating her path in life, and affording it. Taking a cue from her cousin, Sue (Mi Kang), our first introduction to her is as a hired sex object to a “White Haired Man” (Greg Lyle-Newton). When she accidentally runs away with money after not completing the task, she comes back a bit later to offer an apology (but no money because she says she needs it).

Monday, April 17, 2017

Excellent Production (by The Horse in Motion) Can’t Overcome Script Flaws

Wellesley Girl (Colby Wood)
Wellesley Girl
The Horse in Motion
(at 18th & Union)
Through April 29, 2017

The Horse in Motion is probably a small theater company you have never or rarely heard of. It was started as a collective of UW theater grads a few years back and has produced ensemble-created shows in particular. Their mission is to “expand the traditional conception of theatre.” If you attended their staging of Attempts on Her Life at the University Heights Center, that was a promising debut.

Sometimes, though, ya just have to do a “regular” kind of theatrical production. Their choice, now on stage, is a brand new play (2016) by Brendan Pelsue, who has a very solid East Coast playwrighting background. He was brought out by the company to work on tweaks to his new play, Wellesley Girl.

I’m going to flip my usual pattern of writing “about the show” and then “about the production” for this review, and I’m going to use first-person much more than usual. Sometimes, I see productions that are well done, but the play is perhaps not as good as the production. That’s the case here. This production is excellent!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Discover the “Unseen” at Taproot

Most of the cast of Evidence of Things Unseen (Erik Stuhaug)
Evidence of Things Unseen
Taproot Theatre
Through April 29, 2017

These days, a lot of attention is beginning to be paid to people with “unseen disabilities” and maybe, to some extent, that might be any one of us. We have tendencies to look at people and judge what we see, for better or ill. Have you ever seen someone use a disabled auto tag for parking and then seem to walk quickly and easily away from the vehicle? But perhaps you saw them take the only 100 comfortable (maybe pain-free) steps of their day. We don’t know. We can’t tell.

We all carry baggage and stories around with us, most of which are unseen. The world premiere play at Taproot Theatre, Evidence of Things Unseen by local playwright Katie Forgette, cracks open the secrets of a small family for us to discover.

Sisters Abigail (Christine Marie Brown) and Jane (Jenny Vaughn Hall) have been dealing with the death of their mother in very different ways. Abigail has been pushed away from her religious background and Jane has been pushed toward it. Their relationship has become rocky from those shifts. Since this issue is one of the key issues of the play, it seems that it becomes part of the unseen “things” that we would never know by looking at these sisters.

Monday, April 03, 2017

"A Proper Place" - Pleasing musical if you don't mind the problematic themes

The cast of A Proper Place (Mark Kitaoka)
A Proper Place
Village Theatre
Issaquah: Through April 23, 2017, Everett: April 28-May 21, 2017

If you don’t think about the substance of the brand new musical, A Proper Place, making its world premiere at Village Theatre, you can enjoy the peppy songs and (as usual) impeccable cast and have a pretty good time.

The story is based on J.M. Barrie’s 1902 play, The Admirable Crichton. Barrie wrote the much more famous Peter Pan books and plays. An upper crust British family goes on a cruise in their pleasure boat with a skeleton servant crew. They’re blown off course and land on an island with little hope of rescue.

None of the wealthy family knows a thing about survival, so they depend on their butler and a scullery maid/turned resourceful ladies’ maid to manage shelter and food and everything else. How the butler and maid know how to survive is an open question, but again, if you don’t look at it very hard, it’s just a stereotype and can be fun.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Sleek production might not be enough

Dry Powder (Jenny Graham)
Dry Powder
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through April 15, 2017

A handsomely mounted and handsomely directed (by Marya Sea Kaminski) and acted production at Seattle Repertory ought to mean that the brisk 95 minute play, Dry Powder, is a no-brainer to put on the calendar. Indeed, it’s even somewhat funny, though it’s about high-flying executives of a company that invests in businesses to make a profit – and only a profit, which may mean taking a company over and gutting its operations and staff and remaking it overseas.

The dialogue is fast-paced, full of economic jargon, enough so that the program gives you language to understand before you watch the play. You learn, if you didn’t know, that “dry powder” is the amount of unspent capital the company has left to invest in another business.