Sunday, May 27, 2018

June Theater Busts Out Singing

The Picture of Dorian Gray (John Ulman)

June is bustin out with musicals in our fair town. Classics and world premieres seem to demand that we sing all month long!

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 5th Avenue Theatre, 6/1-24/18 (opens 6/8)
Joshua Castille stars as Quasimodo in this local edition of this remarkable work, complete with a 30-person choir. A reimagining of Victor Hugo’s epic masterpiece, this powerful tale of love, faith and prejudice will provide a lush, beautiful score. Songs are included from the Disney animated feature along with new music from legendary composer Alan Menken and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. This 5th Avenue staging will be directed by Glenn Casale, who staged the acclaimed production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid at The 5th Avenue Theatre last winter.

Journey West! The Legend of Lewis and Clark, Copious Love Prods., 6/1-23/18 (at Theatre Off Jackson) (world premiere)
Andrew Lee Creech (book and lyrics and music) and Evan Barrett (music) have created a new musical skewering the story of the westward journey of Lewis and Clark that we’re taught in history class in school. In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson enlisted Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's Corps of Discovery to explore the uncharted West and find an all-water route across North America to unite sea with shining sea. This whimsical and irreverent send-up re-blazes the historic trail to the Pacific through song, dance, and Sasquatch. If history is written by the victors, then what does it look like through the lens of the disenfranchised? Who gets to tell their story vs. who gets their story told for them? …and who becomes a footnote? Our diverse, genderqueer cast and crew bring this adventure to the stage.

Friday, May 25, 2018

“5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche” is a fluffy dish

The cast of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche (Alex Garland)
5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche
Fantastic. Z Theatre
(at Ballard Underground)
Through June 2, 2018

You are cordially invited to attend the 1956 Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein Annual Quiche Breakfast. Bring your quiches to be judged. Their Golden Rule is “No Men. No Meat. All Manners.”

A semi-interactive playlet (I’m not sure you can call it a full-fledged play), 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, is being produced by the LGBTQ-focused theater company, Fantastic.Z Theatre. You make your way to the basement known as The Ballard Underground, and get a name tag with your assumed name for the evening. This allows the leadership of the SBASFTSOGS to call you by your name.

If you want to be extra sweet, you might bring them gifts of boiled eggs. Eggs are about all these ladies can talk about, putting aside all the horrid politics outside their hermetically sealed bomb shelter that is guaranteed to protect them from the invasion of communists that might happen At Any Moment!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

“Arroyo’s” is a Great Place to Visit

Welcome to Arroyo's (Dave Hastings)
Welcome to Arroyo’s
Theater Schmeater
Through June 2, 2018

It’s hip hop and altruism and history and idealism and art. It’s finding out what you’re made of and finding out how to see what is offered right in front of you. It’s so many things rolled up into one small, delightful play: Welcome to Arroyo’s by Kristoffer Diaz, and it’s at Theater Schmeater, right now.

Expertly guided by director Jay O’Leary, this kick ass cast tells the story of a brother and sister reeling from the recent loss of their mother. The sister, Molly (Ashley Salazar), after years of hiding her graffiti-art-spraying identity, has suddenly started openly tagging, daring a local beat cop (Naa Akua) to arrest her. The brother, Alejandro (Tony Magana, Jr.), has turned his mother’s deli into a bar, in the tradition of “if you build it, they will come,” but so far no one’s coming.

Two budding DJs, Nel (Michael Cercado) and Trip (Richard Sean Glen), keep trying to convince him to add their hip hop flare to draw the neighborhood, but they have trouble getting through to Alejandro. Into the bar walks Lelly (Anasofia Gallegos) and Alejandro immediately wants to know what she thinks.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

God blessed us with a great puppeteer in “Hand to God” at SPT

Hand to God (John Ulman)
Hand to God
Seattle Public Theater
Through June 3, 2018

For most people, puppet shows are mostly for kids, these days, though if one takes a turn through theater history, puppets have been used for thousands of years to augment stories and are celebrated art forms in many cultures.

In Seattle, a handful of folks have steeped themselves in puppetry in a variety of forms. Three that come to mind cross the gambit of puppetry formats. Brian Kooser has created some enormous puppets in shows, though he hasn’t created his own production in quite awhile. Scot Augustson uses shadow puppetry almost exclusively in his subversive political-social commentary plays. Jean Enticknap uses Bunraku puppets (with Kooser’s help) for her children’s Thistle Theatre. Ben Burris, a young performer who worked with Thistle for years, has graduated to making his own puppets and is now starring in Robert Askins’ Hand to God at Seattle Public Theater.

Burris has decamped to Los Angeles in the way of young actors seeking more fame and fortune and … acting, one supposes, but has returned here for a showing of his incredible mastery of this particular art. My personal impression of the focus of this very odd, funny, intense play is that the subject of the play is really “the mother,” but Burris’ ability to manage the subtleties of acting with a hand puppet – that really does seem to become The Devil while attached to a generally mild-mannered teenage boy – is a major blessing.

Monday, May 14, 2018

“Love Never Dies” is the usual dying sequel

Gustav and Christine in Love Never Dies (Joan Marcus)

Love Never Dies
Paramount Theatre
Through May 13, 2018

Andrew Lloyd Webber hit the goldmine with his musical about The Phantom of the Opera. It came out and then seemed to go everywhere and get produced in every place. Some years later, after not having anything remotely like a hit for some time, it seems like he wanted to take advantage of that magic by creating a sequel. Love Never Dies was an attempt to prolong the 20 minutes of fame that Phantom brought. Created in 2010, it has recently been touring the U.S. and came to the Paramount last week.

The cast list looked good, with a host of opera-based singers. A few of those singers didn’t quite live up to the challenge of even this most boring of musicals. Gardar Thor Cortes starred as The Phantom with a hefty resume, but his acting was wooden and overblown. It would seem clear that the only reason Christine would still love him is due to some kind of magic and not really because he was such a lovable person.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

“Shakespeare in Love” at Seattle Shakespeare Co.

Chiara Motley in Shakespeare in Love (John Ulman)
Shakespeare in Love
Seattle Shakespeare Company
(at Cornish Playhouse)
Through June 3, 2018

The movie, Shakespeare in Love, is a delicious, funny Elizabethan slice-of-life, if you imagine what it might have been like to be a relatively poor playwright toiling away as fast as possible to create pages of script while not even knowing what play you’re writing. Will Shakespeare is the playwright and he’s writing a play on the fly that is tentatively called Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter. The delightful movie by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard has been adapted by Lee Hall into a stage play that retains huge chunks of the movie script.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Funny family themes feel “Familiar” at Seattle Rep

A moment from Familiar (Navid Baraty)

Seattle Repertory Theatre (with the Guthrie Theater)
Through May 27, 2018

There is something very familiar about the brand new (2015), incisively-written, Zimbabwean family wedding play, Familiar, now at the Seattle Rep. Clearly, it’s not the Zimbabwean portion, since that is not a culture we’ve seen on stage here in Seattle. That is a refreshing aspect, even as the accents present a challenge for audience members not so used to the musical cadence of “Zim”-inflected English.

What is familiar about the story are the many ways families fight, disagree, have secrets, and display their love and affection for one another when all is said and done. If you have heard that this story is about a Zimbabwe-American woman (Shá Cage) marrying a “white” American man, you might think you’re about to see strain about race. However, the Chinyaramwira family of Minnesota does not, apparently, have any qualms about Chris (Quinn Franzen) joining their family. 

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

It’s May, It’s May Theater Openings!

Broken Bone Bathtub (Zack DeZon)

So eclectic a month of offerings that there can’t be a single person who wouldn’t love some production on this list! On your mark, get set, go get tickets!

Pilgrims, Forward Flux Prods., 5/1-19/18 (at West of Lenin)
On a ship to colonize a newly discovered planet, a soldier and a teenage girl find themselves quarantined together in a cabin and are forced to explore their own traumatic pasts and roles in a dying society.

Crewmates, Annex Theatre, 5/1-16/18 (Tue/Wed nights) (world premiere)
A sensitive American-Muslim man from a conservative family starts a romance with an inspiring atheist Asian-American woman who was adopted by liberal white parents. Their relationship grows lovingly, but the invasive supernatural world just cannot handle all this fluffy saccharine goodness. Agendas play out against each other as djinn and angel alike struggle to accept the ever-changing narrative of human sexuality and morality. Even the Heavens are not immune to the power of the human condition.

Shakespeare in Love, Seattle Shakespeare Co., 5/2/18-6/3/18 (at Cornish Playhouse)
(Based on the movie.) Young Will Shakespeare is in dire need of inspiration. His next play is on deadline and the only thing he’s come up with is the title: Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. Then he meets Viola, a smart and beautiful woman who desperately wants to perform on the stage, even though it’s forbidden. Will is smitten and gets inspired to write the greatest love story the world has known.