Friday, December 27, 2019

January 2020 Theater Openings – Ripe for an Adventurous New Year!

Eric Ankrim and Allison Standley in She Loves Me at Village Theatre (Danielle Barnum)

January theater openings ramp back up in the usual robust way with significant world premiere productions, classics in both plays and musicals, and lots of politics! If you can’t find something that appeals to you, you just aren’t looking! Make your New Year resolution to go to a production from a company you’ve never tried before, or never heard of before! Get your adventuresome calendars out!

The Rivals at Seattle Shakespeare Company (HMMM Productions)
The Rivals, Seattle Shakespeare Company, 1/7/20-2/2/20
Not by Shakespeare, but by Richard Sheridan, an 18th Century reverie on the elusive magic of true love filled with extravagant characters and hilarious circumstances. Young and wealthy Lydia Languish insists on finding and marrying a poor man for the sake of true love. Captain Jack Absolute pretends to be a poor army officer. Aiding and thwarting Jack’s pursuit are a collection of comic characters including his cranky father, Sir Anthony, Lydia’s meddling and misspoken aunt, Mrs. Malaprop, and a pair of adversaries: the jovial Bob Acres and the salty Sir Lucius O’Trigger. Director George Mount and his design team create a twist to the story that involves both the original setting in the 1780s and the 1980s.

Reparations, Sound Theatre Company, 1/8/20-2/2/20 (world premiere) (at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute)
The idea of reparations (making some repayment to progeny of those brought as slaves to our country) resonates now more than ever as we navigate questions of ownership and accountability within ourselves, society and the American government at large. By examining the secrets and traumas we carry in our bloodlines, playwright Darren Canady urges us to inch closer and closer to decolonizing and deconstructing the dominant narrative.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Charming “Mrs. Doubtfire” Needs Fixes For Broadway

Rob McClure is Mrs. Doubtfire (Tracy Martin)
Mrs. Doubtfire
5th Avenue Theatre
Through January 4, 2020

There is a huge trend in recent years to turn movies into stage musicals. Some end up in the trash heap of historical flops (think Flashdance – the awful musical that toured into the Paramount in 2013). Recently, Tootsie the Musical gained a Broadway run for a time and now the 5th Avenue Theatre is hosting the out-of-town warm-up of Mrs. Doubtfire (the musical) before it enters the competitive Broadway world in February, 2020.

What that means is that right here in our fair city, you can see essentially the Broadway show just before it hits New York! So, the stellar cast, headed by multi-talented Rob McClure, already celebrated for his popular Broadway turn in Something Rotten, is here in Seattle strutting their stuff in what is sure to be very close to what people in Broadway theater will see.

There is no doubt that the cast of this show is top-notch. While adapting a tour-de-force performance by Robin Williams in the film into a stage musical was no sure thing, I can report that there are some very solid belly laughs to be had in this surprisingly charming show.

McClure demonstrates his talents throughout, and dominates the show. He juggles, he sings, he dances, he changes clothes and voices and personas, and all are excellently done!

Friday, December 06, 2019

It’s Definitely December! (Stage Openings)

The cast of The Bishop's Wife at Taproot (Erik Stuhaug)

As we close out the year and wait for the holidays, there are reprises galore and some counter-programming for those needing a break from the routine. Here are some of the productions opening in December.

The Bishop’s Wife: A Live Radio Play, Taproot Theatre, 12/1-28/19
Based on the classic Lux Radio Theatre broadcast starring Cary Grant, this original adaptation of the beloved holiday tale, adapted by Karen and Mark Lund, will fill you with warmth and nostalgia for the golden age of radio. Dudley is an angel and the answer to Bishop Brougham’s prayer to build a new cathedral. But when the angel turns his attention to the bishop’s friends and family, Dudley’s minor miracles require divine intervention.
The cast of A Very Die Hard Christmas at SPT(Truman Buffett)
A Very Die Hard Christmas, The Habit Comedy and Marxiano Productions, 12/1-28/19 (at the Bathhouse Theater)
This musical parody borrows from the iconic film and promises lots of action, 80s jokes, smooth soft rock jams, and snarky German terrorists.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

“Howls Moving Castle” Casts a Charming Spell

Rachel Guyer-Mafune and cast in Howl's Moving Castle (Aaron Wheetman)
Howl’s Moving Castle
Book-It Repertory Theatre
Through December 29, 2019

A charming-though-complicated musical, Howl’s Moving Castle, has been crafted from a complicated book and is now making an updated and streamlined presentation at Book-It Repertory Theatre. Justin Huertas (music and lyrics) and Myra Platt (book adaptation) have mostly successfully captured the story, though if they’d trim a few more confusing details, it would feel a little less overwhelming to audiences that don’t already know the book or the movie.

The story focuses on the Hatter family, the mother, Fanny (Alyssa Keene), and daughters Sophie (Rachel Guyer-Mafune), Lettie (Fawn Ledesma), and Martha (Varinique “V” Davis). In the land of Ingary, a kingdom of magical properties where the story takes place, everyone has a particular job to do. Fanny decides that Lettie should apprentice at a bakery, Martha should learn spells, and Sophie should help run their hat shop. Sophie thinks her lot in life is to “never be successful” and tries to resign herself to it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

“Head Over Heels” is Go-Go Fun

Cast of Head Over Heels (John McLellan)
Head Over Heels
Through December 29, 2019

Head Over Heels, a somewhat silly and slight musical, is very like another silly and slight musical, Xanadu, without roller skates. It’s also got a Greek theme for the story, and instead of original music, writer Jeff Whitty chose the musical canon of the girl-group The Go-Gos to include as the songs.

The Go-Gos’ music is really well integrated into the plot which makes familiar songs pop as story-forwarding content. That’s hard to do well, and is a credit to the writers.

What makes this musical a teeny tiny bit more substantial than Xanadu is that the language is somewhat Elizabethan, rather than American Teenagan, and the characters include a non-binary Greek oracle and lesbians. Still, it’s a feel-good and farcical evening that most of the family can enjoy together.

Friday, November 22, 2019

"Shout Sister Shout" - Great 'Jukebox' Musical or more?

A moment from Shout Sister Shout (Bronwen Houck)
Shout Sister Shout
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through December 22, 2019

Did you know that Down By the Riverside was written by Sister Rosetta Tharpe? Did you know she was a prolific song writer of significant gospel songs, aside from being a virtuoso guitar player who can be credited with creating “rock and roll” and who influenced Elvis, Little Richard, Johnny Cash and more? I certainly didn’t know this.

In a rousing introduction to Rosie-etta at Seattle Repertory Theatre, you can learn more about this extraordinary woman and her life’s journey. The cast is stellar. Many are new to the Seattle stage and have been drawn in as if they are getting ready to charge back into New York City and take it by storm. Maybe that’s the plan for this play-with-music, Shout Sister Shout, by playwright Cheryl L. West, with support from her director Randy Johnson.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Fresh Choreo Enlivens “Guys and Dolls”

Cast of Guys and Dolls (Mark Kitaoka)
Guys and Dolls
Village Theatre
Issaquah: through December 29, 2019
Everett: January 3, 2020-February 2, 2020

“What’s playing at Village? I’ll tell ya what’s playing at Village: a thing about a guy who wants a doll but can’t stop gambling and needs a thousand bucks so his blood doesn’t make a big spillage. That’s what’s playing at Village!” (with apologies to Frank Loesser)

It’s an oldie but goodie, Guys and Dolls is! The almost three-hour musical classic is so good that you can examine it through and through and still probably can’t figure out what to cut to make it shorter. That’s class!

A splendid version is now at Village Theatre, helmed by stage vet Billie Wildrick who is making her name as a musical director more often these days. You might have seen Wildrick as Miss Adelaide at the 5th Avenue in 2011.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Guest Post: Nathan Cox Writes About Saving "Jet City Improv"

Courtesy Jet City Improv
On the north end of the Ave in the University District, nearly every day of the year, there are people laughing at live theater in an old, bright yellow building with Jet City Improv painted across the front of it. In about a year that building will be gone, replaced by apartments. You’ve probably heard a similar story before, but you can do something about it now. We need your help and here’s why you should.

Growing up in Seattle, my parents surrounded me with all of the arts experiences that they could on a meager budget. This city felt like a vibrant, thriving space where you could experience most anything, but everything still felt like Seattle. I moved away to Whatcom County in 1995 and before I returned in 2011, I had fallen in love with improv, or improvisational theater. I’ve been performing, teaching, directing and watching a lot of shows in the past 15 years. Jet City Improv fast became my artistic home in Seattle, even if the arts friendly Seattle I grew up with has changed. 

Saturday, November 09, 2019

“Dracula” cast sinks their teeth in!

Brandon O'Neill as Dracula and Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako as Lucy (Chris Bennion)
ACT Theatre
Through November 17, 2019

It’s not often that a published play by a playwright, done in dozens of productions around the country, is rewritten by the same playwright for a major theater. But Steven Dietz did that rewrite for this new production of Dracula, now performing at ACT Theatre.

To a large extent, the new version seems to re-center the character of Mina as the hero of the play, the one who ultimately vanquishes Dracula, despite all the misery he visits on her person. For those who know the characters in the book, there is no Van Helsing in this stage version. Much of Van Helsing’s dialogue is now delivered by Mina, herself.

So, Khanh Doan, as Mina, must carry the play through force of personality, which she excels in throughout. She is strong, compassionate, determined, “pure,” thoughtful, well-reasoned (in a complicated play of faith versus science), and sexy.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

November Theater is full of Music

The puppets of Faerystruck at Annex Theatre (Brett Love)

Somehow, November is full of musicals! Five big musicals are opening in our area, including world premieres. Since Mrs. Doubtfire is already slated for a Broadway opening, Seattle has the opportunity to see the Broadway cast, first. We’ve had that chance for shows like Shrek, Young Frankenstein, Catch Me If You Can. Get your calendars ready…

Faeriestruck, Annex Theatre, through 11/23/19 (world premiere)
A fantastical show written by Kyleigh Archer about a young runaway who sells their family out to a changeling in exchange for an adventure in Faerieland. Featuring puppetry designed by Kyleigh Archer with found and recycled materials, it is a touching and simple tale with bigger environmental ramifications. Faeriestruck is a bizarre spectacle for adults and children alike.

Guys & Dolls, Village Theatre, Issaquah: 11/7/19-12/29/19, Everett: 1/3/20-2/2/20
Considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy, this brassy and colorful musical has been an iconic crowd-pleaser since it first hit Broadway in 1950. Infamous gamblers, woebegone yet determined missionaries, a troop of dancing showgirls, and one momentous craps game come together on the streets (and in the sewers) of New York City. This beloved multi-award-winner is a non-stop treat full of romance, hilarity, and irresistible charm.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Spooky Fun with “The Brothers Paranormal”

The Brothers Paranormal (Roger Tang)

The Brothers Paranormal
Pork Filled Productions
(at Theatre Off Jackson
Through November 16, 2019

Prince Gomolvilas kind of hit the jackpot with a “rolling world premiere” for his play, The Brothers Paranormal. It’s a new kind of world premiere where several theater companies across the country choose to present a brand new play all around the same time. In the past, a new play was “world premiered” at one theater company and then no other company really wanted to do the “second” production! So, as an innovation to get over that dumb hump, this new way was invented.

So, Seattle and Pork Filled Productions were a part of the roll-out of this new play. PFP is presenting it at Theatre Off Jackson. Gomolvilas was there for opening night and the company was so delighted that they were able to surprise the playwright: They innovated a creepy special effect that he hadn’t seen any other company do where an actor was swallowed by a wall grate.

What? Yep, swallowed by a wall grate. The Brothers Paranormal is a wonderfully creepy, mostly funny, play with a hint of dark reality that gives it a fuller feeling than “just” having fun. It is, of course, masterfully positioned at the end of October so you can go to it as a timely celebration of spookiness.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Theatre22 Presents “Festival of Revolution”

The Revolutionists (Truman Buffet Photography)

White (Truman Buffet Photography)
The Revolutionists and White
Through November 9, 2019

Theatre22 is present two plays in rotation and they are calling this a “festival of revolution.” The plays are The Revolutionists by Lauren Gunderson and White by James Ijames. To accommodate both plays, set designers Parmida Ziaei and Margaret Toomey had to design a set that works for both plays and lighting designer Ahren Buhmann had to arrange suitable lighting for both – with wildly different subject matters and different projection designs (Buhmann is one of the masters of projection design in town) and lighting emphases. I think Buhmann had the harder overall job there.

The Revolutionists
Gunderson’s play takes a look at four French revolutionist women from the lens of today. Her dialogue is current and slang-filled and also is clearly from a 21st Century perspective on women, what their rights and responsibilities should be, and how they felt about their circumstances. She has real-life writer Olypme de Gouges (Angela DiMarco) being sought by blended-character Marianne (Anjelica McMillan) - who represents the real Haitian ex-slaves who somehow successfully managed to free their country from colonial overseers. Marianne wants Olympe to write exciting pamphlets for her to entice help for Haiti.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

“Austen’s Pride” - Enchanting and Fulfilling

The cast of Austen's Pride (Laura Michelle Kelly seated) (Tracy Martin)
Austen’s Pride
5th Avenue Theatre
Through October 27, 2019

Pride and Prejudice and other books by Jane Austen have been favorites for tens of dozens of years. There are whole Austen societies out there and you may have seen a few of the Puget Sound variety ( if you attended a performance at the 5th Avenue Theatre recently. They would be the ones in garb reminiscent of those in Austen books circa 1813.

Their ardor is for a world premiere musical called Austen’s Pride. Writers Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs must be lovers of Jane Austen themselves, because they’ve fashioned a love letter to her in the form of this musical.

As the curtain rises, we meet Jane (a transcendent Laura Michelle Kelly – though somewhat hilariously also quite pregnant IRL, which would be terribly scandalous for a spinster such as Austen)  in the middle of a success that also causes a quandary: she has had such success with Sense and Sensibility that her publisher wants more work, and she isn’t ready with anything new.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Sandra Bernhard Brings “Quick Sand” to JCC Nov. 2!

Sandra Bernhard (Brian Ziegler)

Sandra Bernhard, performer, actor, celebrity, writer, has long been known as a proud, bold supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and one of the early celebrities that somehow was able to openly own her own sexuality while cutting a path through the bullshit of censors and erasers of others’ rights. Those who have followed her career will be excited to hear that she’s coming to Seattle for the first time in a lot of years!

In an exclusive interview on a range of topics, Sandra wants you to be prepared for a great evening, November 2nd at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island at 8:00PM. She debuted this new piece, entitled “Quick Sand,” at Joe’s Pub in New York City in December 2018, so this is her newest touring production.

Sandra says, “The important thing is that I’m coming to Seattle, and it’s been a very long time since I’ve been in town and I don’t want people to miss it. People know I do a hybrid of storytelling and music and comedy, and it’s a very entertaining hour and half of what I do.”

Friday, October 18, 2019

Village Presents a Highly Amped Up “Spelling Bee”

A moment from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Mark Kitaoka)
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Village Theatre
Issaquah:  Through 10/20/19, Everett: 10/25/18-11/17/19

Village Theatre is presenting a favorite of many high schools and colleges because it is about middle schoolers and eminently appropriate to stage for them. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee can be quite subversive, though, and a lot of fun for grown ups to watch.

It is a strange-but-true aspect of putting on a show about middle schoolers at a theater like Village that means that all the middle schoolers are actually quite adult actors. Many of them still look close in age to middle school and the “suspension of disbelief” part of watching a play and pretending it’s really happening is pretty easy. One cast member here, though, is a bit too long in the tooth to have been cast as a thirteen-year-old.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

“The Christians” Sparks Heavenly Debate

Evan Whitfield and Fune Tautala in The Christians (Dangerpants Photography)
The Christians
Pony World Theatre
October 11 - 13: Plymouth Congregational Church, 1217 6th Ave. (Wheelchair accessible.) All shows are Pay-What-You-Can and ½ of ticket sales will benefit Lambert House!
October 17 - 26: St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 1610 S King St. (Sorry, NOT Wheelchair accessible)

While watching the masterful Lucas Hnath play, The Christians, unfold in a real church, it occurred to me that you could probably rather neatly divide the world into two camps: those who believe in Hell and those who don’t. It’s a pretty big issue, especially to fundamentalist churches, where many or most of them preach particularly that those who don’t believe in Jesus are doomed to Hell, and therefore family members with different beliefs could end up in different afterlives from each other.

That idea – being in different afterlives than other relatives you love – is a pretty big part of the imperative to make sure your relatives believe what you believe. It’s so important that it can dictate what kind of church or community you belong to, even if all the choices are “Christian” and if all the attendees “believe in Jesus as their lord and savior.”

Thursday, October 03, 2019

No Need to Go To NYC: Indecent at the Rep Is Just As Great!

Andi Alhadeff and Cheyenne Casebier in Indecent (Bronwen Houck)
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through October 26, 2019

First, you should know that this is one of the seminal productions in Seattle stage history and you should not miss it.

Paula Vogel has crafted a deeply Jewish play about deeply Jewish issues. She’s told a kind of “back story” about a play that Yiddish writer Sholem Asch wrote in 1906, God of Vengeance, that made its way to Broadway in 1923, only to be shut down abruptly as obscenity! But through writing about all the issues this particular play raised in the Jewish community, she also explores, in specificity, issues that bleed out into every specific culture in the world.

In Indecent, Vogel shows Asch, as a 21-year-old, having his play read aloud in the house of I. L. Peretz, another famous Yiddish writer, and getting the reaction from the men present that the play is a shocking depiction of Jewish life and they think it will cause people to judge Jews harshly, keenly aware as they are to anti-Semitism and the negative, embedded prejudices of the general population.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

October 2019 Theater Openings – Spooks Edition

Pork Filled Productions presents The Brothers Paranormal (Alabastro Photography)

A new musical, new plays, Seattle premieres, and some spooky fall offerings are on tap this month. Get outcher calendars!

Violet’s Attic: A Grand Ball for Wicked Dolls, Café Nordo, 10/1/19-11/24/19
This fall, you’re invited to Violet’s Attic, where playtime lasts forever. She’ll feed you treats and play games, but don’t cross her or it’s “IN THE BOX!” for you. The Nordo Culinarium will be transformed into a world scaled to be seen from the button eyes of Violet’s favorite dolls (you!) complete with a giant Jack in the Box and food fit for a doll party.

The Christians, Pony World Theatre, 10/3-26/19 (at Phinney Ridge Lutheran, Plymouth Congregational, St. Peter’s Episcopal churches)
Here’s a story of a church that grew over twenty years from a modest storefront to a congregation that numbers in the thousands. Led by Pastor Paul and his wife Elizabeth, the church now has classrooms, a coffee shop, escalators, and a baptismal font as big as a swimming pool. The church looks to celebrate its growth and paying off all its debt, but Pastor Paul tells his flock he now believes there is no such thing as Hell. His sermon ruptures the once happy, unified congregation and also threatens his marriage with Elizabeth. Can we still love each other if we hold different beliefs?

Monday, September 30, 2019

Some of “Everything Is Illuminated” Muddies a Great Story

The male cast of Everything is Illuminated (Aaron Wheetman)
Everything Is Illuminated
Book-It Repertory Theatre
Through October 6, 2019

The new Book-It Repertory Theatre stage adaptation of Everything Is Illuminated has some lovely elements and drives to some horrific revelations about people’s experiences during the Holocaust. The small cast of Sean Lally as the writer Jonathon Safran Foer, Peter Sakowicz and Michael Winters as Jonathan’s tour guides in Ukraine, and ensemble supports Shanna Allman and Susanna Burney, all do excellent work to bring this story to life.

However, the adaptation by Josh Aaseng, an experienced adaptor who also directs this production, is of a book whose style is so specific and special that it’s probably impossible to put over as a successful stage play. If you have not read the book, you would do well to read it ahead of time or to read at least a synopsis.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

“Blood, Water, Paint” Renews

(Joe Iano)

Blood Water Paint
Macha Theatre Works
(at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through October 6, 2019

2015 brought us the world premiere of a play by Joy McCullough about a little known 17th Century painter, Artemisia Gentileschi, titled Blood Water Paint. As good art often does, it may have galvanized audience members to find out more about this amazing painter and appreciate her for many other aspects beyond her paintings.

In particular, we find an amazing tale of a 17-year-old girl in a highly restricted, patriarchal society, who was able to identify a sexual attack as rape, say so publicly, and accuse the man, Agostino Tassi, a well-known painter who had been her tutor, in court! How do we know? The transcript of the trial still exists!

However, the trial backfired on this young woman because in order to “prove” that she was telling the truth, they applied a torture mechanism to her fingers that destroyed her hands! This, in order to make sure she was really telling the truth, and to a painter! Somehow, she withstood the torture and the man was exiled.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

So You Think You Know What Is Going To Happen?

Monika Jolly and Quinlan Corbett in People of the Book (Chris Bennion)
People of the Book
ACT Theatre
Through September 29, 2019

The Greek myth of the relationship between Jason (of the Argonauts) and Medea, a king’s daughter is one that can be seen to be a devil’s bargain. Medea bargains to help Jason in his quests if he marries her and takes her away with him. But while Medea is a great help to Jason, she also turns out to have uncanny and murderous tendencies and a lot of people end up dead.

An audience member of Yussef El Guindi’s world premiere play, now playing at ACT Theatre, could keep that myth firmly in mind as they watch the story of newly-celebrated author Jason (Quinlan Corbett) who has published a memoir about being a soldier in Iraq and saving and then marrying an Iraqi woman, Madeeha (Monika Jolly).

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

“Is God Is” channels mythology

Maya Burton and Kamaria Hallums-Harris in Is God Is (Chris Bennion)
Is God Is
Washington Ensemble Theatre and The Hansberry Project
Through September 23, 2019

It’s not likely that playwright Aleshea Harris is that familiar with local Book-It Repertory Theatre, but her dialogue-as-narration in her play, Is God Is, is strikingly like the “Book-It style” we’ve gotten used to. Twin sisters Racine (‘Cine) and Anaia (‘Naia) describe each other to the audience as they discuss a letter that has arrived from God. It’s from their mother, who they believed was dead, and from whom they have not heard for at least 18 years!

They describe their lives growing up in horrific-sounding foster care as they try to cope with the sudden news that their mother wants to see them. They speak of her as God because she “made” them, so therefore, they are beholden to her in the way they’d be to God.

They determine they need to go see her. The letter comes from a rest home in “Oscarville, MS/AL/FL/TX/TN/AR/KY, Dirty South” followed by a zip code so long that you lose track of the numbers. This helps put the journey on track to be “mythic” in nature. Outside of or bigger than real life.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Atmospheric “Bulrusher” is enjoyable, a little long

Allyson Lee Brown and Ayo Tushinda in Bulrusher (Naomi Ishisaka)

Intiman Theatre
(at Jones Playhouse)
Through September 14, 2019

Eisa Davis’ play, Bulrusher, presented by Intiman Theatre and directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, is steeped - like black tea - in atmosphere. Infused with music and poetic dialogue, there is a measured pace, enough time to consider things. Set in a northern California townlet, Boonville, everyone there knows everyone else and most of the folks in the small nearby towns as well.

Boonville even has its own language, Boontling, that is a real dialect they all made up together in the 1800s. But you don’t really have to “harp the lingo” to understand what’s being said when they use those terms. It’s pretty clear what anyone is saying.

The play’s main subject area is race and how the town handles it. Boonville, as set in the mid-1950s, apparently was not nearly as segregated as much of the rest of the United States. Black residents did not have to use a back door and could buy things at local establishments. The play’s namesake and main character is a mixed race 18 year old girl who didn’t know she was “black” until she was 5, says Logger (Reginal Andre Jackson), when he told her she was.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

September “Back to Stage” Edition!

A moment from Blood Water Paint (Joe Iano)
September means “back to theater” as many companies launch their new seasons. There are some very exciting world premieres and major productions happening this month. Options abound for young children to old young-at-hearts! Check out this great list and mark your calendars!

My Son The Waiter – A Jewish Tragedy, Kirkland Performance Center, 9/5-29/19
Actor/comedian Brad Zimmerman’s story about the grit and passion required to ‘make it’ as an artist and the sweet rewards that come from never giving up on your dream. Specifically, Brad moved to New York City and “temporarily” waited tables for 29 years, while continuing to pursue his dream of comedic acting.

People of the Book, ACT Theatre, 9/6-29/19 (world premiere)
Playwright Yussef El Guindi’s new play mixes lust, jealousy, and post-traumatic stress bringing things between old friends to a boil. Jason is a veteran of the Iraq War who returns home to literary glory after writing an international best-seller, a heroic account of his wartime experience. His celebrity is underscored by his marriage to Madeeha, an Iraqi woman he saved in a house-to-house raid. When he reunites with old friends, Amir and Lynn, questions start to emerge about the veracity of the book and its particular patriotic American gaze.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Spoofing "Tomb Raider" is Hella Fun!

Raiha and Roundhill singing (Marcia Davis)
Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark 
The Habit
(at the Bathhouse)
through September 28, 2019

If you like farce and bad jokes and good jokes and spoofing innie jokes and physical comedy - all on the theme of Indiana Jones movies, look no further than The Habit's newest show: Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark. Casey Raiha as Indy and his side kick Marion (Helen Roundhill) - the woman he hates to love or who hates to love him or who loves to hate him or he loves to hate - brandish whips and climb mountains and battle nefarious Mark Siano characters with different accents. And they sing, too!

With help from onstage musicians and a cast of comic actors that are 150% serious about their comedy, this production goes great with generous libations and hot summer days and nights.

The Habit is known for their spoofy comedies. If you've seen them before, you know just what you're in for. If not, try mixing in The Sound of Music and other non-sequiturs to guess at while you laugh.

Kudos to Robin Macartney for pulling off inventive props for the show that have to hit their marks when the lights hit them! Costuming from Valerie Snyder is spot-on, too.

For more information, go to Some shows may be sold out. Check for waitlist information.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Honoring Black Male Sexuality with "Black D*ck Matters"

Black D*ck Matters
Brownbox Theatre
(at Gay City)
August 22/24, 2019

I had the honor of seeing and hearing this provocative evening that it seems that no one besides playwright/poet Kathya Alexander has seen fit to write about. Her inspiration was a personal video a friend showed her that was pornographic in content, but it also celebrated black men and their sexuality.

Alexander decided to write a play "about" black male sexuality. It turned into this evening of a string of pieces, some very poetic, some more pornographic, all focused on holding up black men to honor and recognize as whole people.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Only Three More Days to See Unique "Peeling"!

The women of Peeling (Ken Holmes)
Sound Theatre Company
Through August 24, 2019

“Three disabled actors walk into a play…” A unique production, both in style and substance, is being produced by Sound Theatre Company. Peeling, by Kaite O’Reilly, a playwright known for her focus on and inclusion of disabilities, uses a play-within-a-play structure to introduce us to the Chorus.

The first noticing an audience sees are three mounds of fabric fixed on stage. Differently colored and layered, they appear somewhat like beehives. Then, as a vocal announcement and written projection demands that they appear for the start of the play, three actors appear and climb inside the mounds which become the belled bottoms of great gowns.

The women are all disabled in different aspects: Alfa (Michelle Mary Schaefer) is deaf, Coral (Carolyn Agee) uses a wheelchair and Beaty’s (Sydney Maltese) aspect is one that may not be visible beyond her short stature.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Sara Porkalob writes a play with Café Nordo

The cast of 7th and Jackson (Dangerpants Photography)
7th and Jackson
Café Nordo
Through August 11, 2019

Although I’m reporting about the unique and well-executed show, 7th and Jackson, after the fact, which means you can’t attend and experience it yourself anymore, I can encourage you to attend other unique and well-executed programming at Café Nordo in the future. I can also encourage you to watch for and attend other events starring and/or written by uber-talented Sara Porkalob.

7th and Jackson is a newer venture for Ms. Porkalob, whose writing has most deeply been for her solo performances and digging into her own family’s extraordinary past. Best known for Dragon Lady, where she tells her grandmother’s story about being a Filipino gangster, Porkalob has extended that story to Dragon Mama, and soon to Dragon Baby, wending her way down the generations to her own beginnings. 

Friday, August 09, 2019

“Salty” – Also Sweet

David Hogan and Tony Magana Jr. in Salty (David Hseih)
ReAct Theatre
(at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through August 18, 2019

Have you ever tried to imagine some -oh – forty, sixty years from now when global warning has really taken firm hold? What animal species will be extinct? How will we be living? I’ll bet our diets will be very different because certain foods will be unable to be grown. Still, anyone living then will get up in the morning, go to some work or other, and come home to their family.

AJ Clauss did some imagining and wrote a play, Salty (produced by ReAct Theatre), that focuses on penguins and the humans who take care of them. The penguins are all in a zoo and they are pretty much the last ones left in the world, kept in a special enclosure at the right cold temperature. The cast doubles as the zookeepers who take care of them. Clauss calls it a ‘grim but hopeful look at the future.”

Clauss’ play is not at all hyperbolic or scoldy. It’s a lyrical and understated, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant reverie on relationships. Some of the relationships are between penguins and some are between people and some are between people at the zoo and their penguin wards.

In a strange way, you could think of it as a slice-of-life play. And there’s a bit of science thrown in there, as well.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

August Theater Openings Will Wake You Up!

David Hogan and Tony Magana Salty by ReAct Theatre (David Hseih)
There are some STUPENDOUS productions opening in August. Thought it was a sleepy month? Not in Seattle. Check out the interesting, ground-breaking and thought-provoking stuff you can see.

Salty, ReAct Theatre, 8/1-18/19 (at 12th Avenue Arts)
The future: at one of the last surviving zoos. Mother Nature is on her way out and She be SALTY! Meet an unforgettable pride of queer penguins and their human zookeeper counterparts as they all struggle to find love and belonging in an ever-destructive world.

The Neverborn, Annex Theatre, 8/2-31/19 (world premiere)
The unique Kelleen Conway Blanchard brings us a 1930s Dustbowl era world only somewhat like our own. Two orphaned sisters, Lotte and Bettina Black, murder the Matron at the Starling Home for Feeble Minded children and set out to find their–probably not dead–mother. Soon they are pursued by a tormented detective, a gifted Reverend’s son, and a vengeful haunted baby painting. (Annex has a/c now!)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

“Citizen” is Poetry with a Purpose! Don’t Miss It! (only 4 more performances)

Nicholas Japaul Bernard in Citizen - An American Lyric (Jovelle Tamayo)
Citizen – An American Lyric
Sound Theatre Company and The Hansberry Project
Through July 28.2019

“Because just getting along shouldn’t be an ambition.” That was a microphone-dropping moment among many in this event.

This “event,” a cooperative mounting of a dramatization of the book, Citizen – An American Lyric (written by Claudia Rankine and adapted for the stage by Stephen Sachs) by Sound Theatre Company and The Hansberry Project, demands attention and for every possible seat to be filled! I’m naming it an event rather than a “play” because it is a string of poetic narratives that are more like stones in a path or knots in a long rope.