Friday, July 28, 2017

Check Out What’s Opening in August

Cast of Goblin Market at Sound Theatre Company (Julia Nardin)
There are still plenty of shows to see in August, especially in neighborhood parks, but only a few debuting this month. Including a show that didn’t make the July cut off, here is a list of productions opening in August.

American Archipelago, Pony World Theatre, July 27-August 12 (at 12th Avenue Arts)
This new play examines the joys and heartaches of being an American today. The script was collaboratively composed by Holly Arsenault, Kelleen C. Blanchard, Tré Calhoun, Vincent Delaney, Brendan Healy, Maggie Lee, Sara Porkalob, and Seayoung Yim. We welcome you to a quaint little neighborhood called the United States of America. Upscale and working class, where suburban streets wind through packed city blocks, this neighborhood feels like a community - and a powder keg. White picket fences will blur and the American tapestry will start to unravel. Eight next door neighbors from Nashville and New York and Montana and San Francisco will gather at the big block party cookout to grill hotdogs, share recipes, fall in love, murder chickens, and finally tell each other what they think. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

eSe Teatro Reaches Out to Less Fortunate

Cast of MUD (Maryssa Lagervall)
eSe Teatro
(at Slate Theater)
Through July 30, 2017

eSe Teatro is producing MUD (or Barro), by Maria Irene Fornes, as both a Spanish-language and English-language production at the versatile Slate Theater (in the INS Building). The three actors, Monica Cortes Viharo, Marco Adiak Voli, and Fernando Cavallo, perform in both languages.

The play is a plaintive drama about three people surviving in poverty and depravation who still have desires and aspirations like all of us. The effort by director (and formidable power behind eSe Teatro) Rose Cano is clearly to open our minds and hearts to those who live on the edges and who strive to find joy. The company’s dedication to elevating those who have little to none was written about recently in The Seattle Times as Cano was shown reaching out to the local homeless shelter to invite clients to come to her production.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

“Alex and Aris” Has a Dual Audience

Alex & Aris (Chris Bennion)
Alex & Aris
ACT Theatre
Through August 6, 2017

I expect large chunks of people to like something I might not and vice versa – nature of criticism… But sometimes when I feel very intrigued, I get startled when I become aware of others who don’t feel the same way. Attending opening night of ACT’s world premiere play, Alex & Aris, I heard about a fair amount of intermission-leavers and people who just plain didn’t care about the characters.

I understand it and therefore will focus this review around what “they” (the playwright, Moby Pomerance, and director John Langs) may be attempting to demonstrate in this play about the historical but murky period of time, four years, that the great philosopher, Aristotle, spent tutoring the young man who would go on to become Alexander “the Great”. 

The genesis of the play was essentially a “commission,” where Langs asked Pomerance, who had a play chosen as ACT’s New Play Award, The Piano Men, if Pomerance had any more to look at. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Beautiful Blues of “Hoodoo Love”…

Porscha Shaw, Andre G. Brown, Corey Spruill in Hoodoo Love (Margaret Toomey)
Hoodoo Love
Sound Theatre Company/Hansberry Project
(at Armory Theatre)
Through July 30, 2017

The atmospherics of Sound Theatre Company/Hansberry Project’s new production of Hoodoo Love are beautifully rendered with two shanty shacks and Depression era props by designer Margaret Toomey, lots of blues music interludes by designer Ben Symons (and music played by Chic Street Man), and moody, depressed lighting by Matthew Webb.

It is a tough and tough-minded play by Katori Hall (The Mountaintop) that demonstrates the kinds of daunting challenges and outrages that women, black women in particular, had to overcome and find a way to thrive through. Director Malika Oyetimein clearly feels this play clear through (partly from having directed it already before she went through grad school at UW) and uses every moment to make the theme shine.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

“Fun Home” Has a FuneREAL Sense of Humor! See It!

Kate Shindle as 'Alison,' Abby Corrigan as 'Medium Alison' and Carly Gold as 'Small Alison' in Fun Home  (Joan Marcus)
Fun Home
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through July 30, 2017

You may not know about Alison Bechdel, or her graphic novel that took the graphic novel world by storm, as she drew about her unique family growing up in a funeral home. They called it the “fun home” for short, giving rise to her title. 

If you love theater and watch the Tonys, you might have seen a snippet of the musical, Fun Home, that is based on her not-so-fun life growing up with a tortured father who tried hard to give her everything he had but also passed along his self-hatred as he lived his own difficult life as a gay man in the closet.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

If You Love Jane Austen and Musicals Or Maybe Even Just Musicals, See What's Opening at Taproot!

Cayman Ilika (and Nick DeSantis) and Matthew Posner in Persuasion (Erik Stuhaug)
(World Premiere musical)
Taproot Theatre
July 12 to August 19, 2017

Taproot Theatre is undertaking a brand new effort for their company, but one that is already looking to pay off solid dividends. Friday night, they will open a world premiere musical in their “summer musical” spot. Tickets are already getting difficult to buy on select popular dates!

Why? It seems a whole lot of people like Jane Austen stories and the fact that local musical-writers Chris Jeffries (music and lyrics) and Harold Taw (book) have chosen to musicalize her novel, Persuasion, is making a lot of folks very excited.

Persuasion is Austen’s last book, published just after she died in 1817, and is the moodiest of her canon. Her heroine begins the book as a kind of “past her prime” older sister who had been persuaded (see the word, here, suggesting the title of the book and musical?) to dump a suitor, Wentworth, at the usual marriageable age of 19, because her godmother Lady Russell convinced her that he was not an appropriate alliance and it would haunt her and her children to be brought socially low by the match. However, ever since, she has regretted her choice.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Kevin Lin Mows Down “Greensward”

Greensward (Shane Regan)
MAP Theatre
(World Premiere at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through July 29, 2017

Kevin Lin is fast becoming one of the go-to solid actors in our little town. Last year, he had two prominent roles in two very good productions. In Caught, at Seattle Public Theater, he played an artist and in Book-It’s adaptation of A Tale for the Time Being, he played a man forced to become a soldier even though he could not kill. In Ghostlight Theatricals’ January production of The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, he played three different Watsons with very different personalities.

Now you can catch him in the middle of a sci-fi dystopian thriller-comedy by MAP Theatre. It’s also a world premiere by R. Hamilton Wright called Greensward. Lin stars as scientist Dr. Timothy Hei who has invented a most amazing kind of grass – it never needs watering or fertilizer or weed-killer or thatching or even any particular soil, and it only needs mowing once a year!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Donald Byrd, Could You Do (IM)PULSE Again, Please?

(IM)PULSE (Nate Waters)

Spectrum Dance Theater
(at Seattle Repertory)
June 15 to July 2, 2017

Mia culpa! I apologize to myself and to readers for not going to see (IM)PULSE earlier and letting you know how great it was so you would be motivated to go. This effort by Donald Byrd and his company, Spectrum Dance Theater, was a direct gut punch of excellence!

Byrd wanted to create a performance response to the shootings last June at the Pulse Nightclub in Florida. He wanted to make the point that it involved not just gay people and allies, but gay people of color in particular that were the predominant attendees. To do so, he created dance around two written pieces – a short verbal description of a horrific gay-bashing of a friend (by David Wojnarowicz who died of AIDS in 1992), repeated over and over, and a longer play by Brian Quirk, Marrow, that was adjusted to be performed by a solo performer.

The effect folds in aspects of historic gay-bashing and AIDS issues, and the effects on the internal struggles with anyone discovering s/he is LGBTQ and therefore not quite part of the mainstream America zeitgeist.