Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Take Note and See “The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes”!

King 5 New Day Northwest appearance!

The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes (Mark Kitaoka)
The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes
Village Theatre
Issaquah: through November 18, 2018
Everett: January 17-March 24, 2019

Musical theater lovers and theater lovers (in particular) should run right out to see the jaw-achingly funny world premiere musical, The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes! By the end of the long-one-act (100 minutes?), you’ll have given your smile muscles a really great workout.

The title might give you a moment’s pause. It seems a bit clunky in the titling department, but it’s reflective of the punny sense of humor of the writers Christopher Dimon (book and lyrics) and Michael Kooman (music). The main character is a sort of schlub (Yiddish Slang - “schlub - a stupid, unattractive, clumsy person. It is akin to hick or yodel. It comes from the Polish word żłób, from which the English word "slob" is also derived.”) A guy who usually doesn’t get noticed very much, doesn’t make much of an impact on anyone’s life.

That’s Howard Barnes. He’s not particularly “noteworthy.” Until! Until one day he starts hearing music that no one else hears. And sees people singing and dancing that no one else sees! And no, he’s not crazy, his life has become a musical and he can’t seem to find the way out.

Apparently, Howard doesn’t really know anything about musicals! Quelle Horreur! It turns out that a quiet, sweet co-worker, Maggie, actually does know quite a bit about musicals and she has ideas about how to help him in his quest to find a way out. In fact, she informs him that he is on a quest in the first place, which musicals are made of, and the person that probably can help Howard is Stephen Lloyd Rodgers Von Schwartzenheim.

(How many famous musical composers does this make fun of? Are you getting an idea of the vast numbers of puns there are going to be in this show?)

The concept of a normal person suddenly having a life immersed in a musical is so unrevolutionary that it’s a wonder it’s never been done before! That’s not a slam against the writers, it’s more like: once you’ve seen such a musical, you realize there’s never been one! And now that doesn’t make sense!

In the vein of [title of show] and Something Rotten, huge swathes of Howard make fun of musicals and theater tropes and also celebrate and love them. While many of the jokes will convulse theater practitioners, you needn’t worry about your friend who rarely goes to any theater. Your friend will have plenty to laugh at, as well.

Who wouldn’t laugh at a whole bleacher full of hockey fans who suddenly start singing at you to “Shoot the Puck” as a metaphor to Howard to get him to ask Maggie out? Or the mysterious janitor/train conductor/etc. who announces he’s just “a mysterious” whatever he is at that moment? It’s just SILLY.

Speaking of silly, the tech on this show is wildly silly support! Al Blackstone has created choreography that feels like another character in the show! So many dance moves are spoofed from moves from every iconic musical, particularly in the song Jazz Hands. Christopher Mumaw set changes just keep changing! It seems like the set almost never goes back to the same configuration. And the costumes from Rose Pederson spoof so many musical characters that there are too many to guess at!

Brandon Ivie herds this amazing cast of goofballs through the breakneck speed of changes needed. The one guy who has to be onstage reacting to the whole crazy mess is Joshua Carter, long known for his “everyman” genuineness on stage, as well as totally being a triple threat: singer/musician/actor.

Funnywoman Taryn Darr plays the sweet, musical-loving-but-maybe-giving-it-all-up Maggie. She definitely makes the audience root for Howard to give in to his feelings and fall in love with her.

There are so many funny actors in this show that it seems like no other comedies should be playing in the entire Greater Seattle area. If I started listing, I’d have to list … Jeff Steitzer, Jasmine Jean Sim, Greg McCormick All, Kate B. Cook, Alex Crozier, Nick DeSantis, Paul Flanagan, Danielle Kelsey, Mallory King, Richard Peacock, Sarah Russell, Hannah Schuerman, John David Scott, and Brenna Wagner.

This is a total homage to musicals and is full of heart and fun. If ever you needed a break from the terrors of nightly news, this will give it to you in spades!

For more information, go to or call 425-392-2202.

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