Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Failures of “A Dolls House Part 2”

Pamela Reed and Michael Winters in A Doll's House, Part 2 (Alan Alabastro)

A Doll’s House, Part 2
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through April 28, 2019

Ordinarily, a strong cast of well-known Seattle thespians, like Pamela Reed, Michael Winters, Laura Kenny, and Khanh Doan lends itself to an anticipation of a great production. Ordinarily, a script that garnered 8 Tony award nominations, including for Best Play, would augment that anticipation. That would be the case for Lucas Hnath’s play, A Doll’s House, Part 2, that opened at Seattle Repertory Theatre last week.

Following along as a sequel to the celebrated Henrik Ibsen play, A Doll’s House, Hnath imagines what happened after the famous “door slam” in Ibsen’s play. It’s incumbent, for this play, that you know and understand, already, the preceding play, in order to pull from it all its meaning.

Friday, March 22, 2019

“Always” Go See Ilika and Jaeger in “Always…Patsy Cline”

Cayman Ilika and Kate Jaeger in Always...Patsy Cline (Robert Wade)
Always…Patsy Cline
Taproot Theatre
Through April 6, 2019

“Anytime” I can hear Cayman Ilika sing like Patsy Cline and watch Kate Jaeger worship her in adorably fanciful ways, “I Fall in Love” and go “Crazy” and want to “Come On In and Sit Right Down” and give them both “True Love!”

Seriously folks! This is the shit! These two did the expertly-crafted musical homage, Always…Patsy Cline by Ted Swindley, back in 2009 and were terrific. I have remembered it very fondly over the years, and I’m pretty sure it was my first exposure to Ilika and her luscious, smooth, and warmly comforting voice.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Sugartime Trio sings in sweet harmony

Sugartime Trio (courtesy Sugartime Trio)
If you're ever having an event where you wished to yourself, "If only the McGuire Sisters were still around to serenade our guests!" then I have a great surprise for you! A local trio of performers have mastered the tricky three part harmonies and smooth delivery of those famous sisters.

Recently, the newly constituted trio, Meg McLynn holding down the low ranges, Caitlin Frances standing strong in the middle, and Kim Maguire soaring mostly toward the high notes, performed at University Heights to an enthusiastic crowd. They took on recognizable songs such as Blue Skies, Banana Split, Good Night Sweetheart, Makin' Whoopee, and Sincerely.

Ooh Ooh "Trevor" is the MAPpiest!

Teri Lazzara and Brandon Ryan in Trevor (Shane Regan)
MAP Theatre
(at 18th & Union)
Through March 30, 2019

MAP Theatre loves themselves play-oddities! You'll never see a "kitchen-sink" drama from them unless the kitchen sink is really a spaceship and the family is aliens that look like giraffes.

Their current play, Trevor, by Nick Jones, features Brandon Ryan in the kind of role that Ryan and few others can master with abandon - that of an adult chimpanzee! While adults around him pretend that he can understand Human and that he behaves in ways they understand, Trevor obsesses about his one chance at tv-stardom when he performed in a commercial with Morgan Fairchild of long-ago tv-hit Falcon Crest

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

“Sheathed” Fulfills Sci-Fi Fantasy On Stage!

A moment in Sheathed (Joe Iano Photography)
Macha Theatre Works
(at Theatre Off Jackson)
Through March 24, 2019

An epic struggle of philosophies – vengeance versus reconciliation – plays out on stage at Theatre Off Jackson in Maggie Lee’s world premiere play, Sheathed! Powerful women, highly trained in sword combat, debate and spar, verbally and physically, about whether it’s better to follow through with the honor-code of vengeance or if the world is better off trying to accept prior battle-strife and the thousands of dead combatants in order to build a more lasting peace.

The feeling of the play is akin to the science-fiction fantasy on the shelves of your local bookstore. By the end of the play, you’re pretty sure that Lee’s premise is that vengeance doesn’t work out so well, but the journey is one great ride, with a lot of laughs sprinkled in to leaven the debate.

Ren (Ayo Tushinde) is a young woman on a quest to find and duel the last of five generals who she believes conspired to betray her father-general during an epic war. She meets Bala (Sunam Ellis), a veteran fighter from the recent war, who can hardly be bothered to associate with the young quester, but grudgingly agrees to travel “in the same direction.”

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Great Staging Makes You Jump with “The Woman in Black”

The Woman in Black (Roger Mastroianni)
The Woman in Black
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through March 24, 2019

A tour from London is the special event currently at the Seattle Rep this month. It’s a celebrated production of The Woman in Black, and director Robin Herford recreates Stephen Mallatratt's original staging of Susan Hill’s book from London’s West End. The play is considered one of the longest playing productions in London history.

It is intricately staged, but could probably still scare the pants off people even if it dispensed with some of the multi-layered scenic crafting, because it’s really pretty much a ghost story told around a campfire. That’s due to much of the other tricks of theatrical staging they employ with loud sound effects and other sound devices, to great effect.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

March Roars With Theater Openings!

Sunam Ellis and Ayo Tushinde in the world premiere of Sheathed by Maggie Lee (Laura Dux Photography)
The start of 2019 has seen a few exciting productions, but at a sort of “measured pace.” March is changing all that immediately with 21 productions listed here! Children’s productions from Thistle Theater and SCT vie with major musicals and some of the most anticipated shows of the year. Two shows that were presented with the same casts years ago make a much-anticipated return – if you did not see Always…Patsy Cline or Returning the Bones before, both of them are sure to be as marvelous the second time around (although very, very different subjects)! Get your calendars out and start “puzzling!”

Romeo + Juliet, ACT Theatre, 3/1-31/19 (opens 3/7)
Yes, it’s still Shakespeare’s play, but with Joshua Castille as Romeo, the classic story of two young star-crossed lovers who are kept apart by feuding families is performed like it’s never been seen before. ACT is partnering with leaders in the Deaf community to create a production in both spoken English and ASL and makes it accessible for Deaf and hearing audiences alike.

Man of La Mancha, SecondStory Repertory, 3/1-24/19
An imprisoned man must tell a story to the other prisoners or risk dying. He tells one of a dying old man who refuses to relinquish his ideals or his passion, and inspires them all. The celebrated score includes "The Impossible Dream," "I, Don Quixote," and "Dulcinea.”

Magic Teakettle, Thistle Theatre, 3/2-17/19 (various locations)
In a Japanese temple, a teakettle is placed over the fire for the tea ceremony. Suddenly, it sprouts a tail, a head and the four legs of a Tanuki (a raccoon-like animal found in Japan).  Fearing the strange creature with the body of a teakettle, the Priest returns it to the peddler woman who sold it to him.  She gives the Tanuki a home and food and grateful for her kindness, the Tanuki reveals he is Bumbuku Chagama, a teakettle of good luck. Together they start a theatre and the Magic Teakettle of Good Luck performs acrobatic tricks. (Bunraku puppetry)

Saturday, March 02, 2019

SMT’s “Aida” was great, but it’s over

Matthew Lang and Tanesha Ross in Aida (Jeff Orton)
Seattle Musical Theatre
Through February 24, 2019

I regret to inform you that Seattle Musical Theatre presented a terrific production of Elton John’s musical, Aida, but you can’t see it because it’s closed. It was only three weekends long and one of those weekends was the Snow Event of the Century.

A lot of the praise for this production lies with Troy Wageman as director/choreographer. Troy has been a musical theater performer for years and done some terrific work on stage. But it’s his development into a musical theater director to be reckoned with that may be his best contribution to the art, because he truly has an eye for how to take a little and make it look like a helluva lot.

SMT doesn’t have a lot of money for sets or costumes or lights or sound. Sound in that Magnuson Park skinny rectangular theater, especially as managed by the patched together sound board, can be extremely hit or miss. But Troy knows how to manage that and knows who can manage it for him, and apparently Martin Sisk is a genius with that sound board. Why? Because the lead singers in this production sounded effing amazing. Loud and clear!