Thursday, April 25, 2019

May Blooms on Seattle-area Stages

Christian Quinto and Naho Shioya in Office Hour at Artswest (John McLellan)

Musicals, old and new, vie with drama, and some comedy this month. Seattle companies excel in diverse offerings to tempt every palate. What do you want to see?

Office Hour, ArtsWest, 5/2-26/19 (opens 5/3)
(Written by Julia Cho) Alarmed by a troubled student’s grisly writings, a professor invites him to her office to shed light on - and build a bridge across - the dark clouds that surround him. As tensions rise, she learns that notions of "good" and "bad" are dangerous illusions. This searing play tackles thorny issues of gun violence, immigration, and "the other" to reveal our essential, human need for connection.
The Spitfire Grill, Showtunes Theatre Company, 5/4-12/19 (at The Cornish Playhouse)
Based on the award-winning film, the musical depicts the journey of a young woman just released from prison who decides to start her life anew in a rural Wisconsin town. She finds a place for herself working at Hannah's Spitfire Grill. It's for sale, but there are no takers for the only eatery in the depressed town. Newcomer Percy suggests to Hannah that she raffle it off, choosing the best essay on "why you want the grill." Soon, mail arrives by the wheelbarrow, and Percy's ability to see beauty and worth in both the town and the people who live within it leads the community on a journey of recovery and redemption. (This is a concert-style presentation.)

Aesop’s Fables, Thistle Theatre, 5/4/19-6/2/19 (various locations)
Families aged 3 to 103 will delight in this puppet production of Aesop's Fables.  Aesop was born a slave in 6th Century BC and is heralded as one of the great moral teachers of all time.  Three entertaining stories tell of animals that have human foibles and strengths. “The Raven and the Swan” comically illustrates the lesson that true beauty is found within. “The Lion and the Mouse” shows how a small mouse can help a mighty lion. “The Tortoise and the Hare” tells the classic story of how “slow and steady wins the race”.  Thistle Theatre specializes in the tabletop Bunraku-style of puppetry.

Million Dollar Quartet, Village Theatre, Issaquah: 5/9/19-6/23/19, Everett: 6/28/19-7/28/19
The blockbuster true story of a night that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins gathered returns to Village Theatre’s stage – 12 years after shaping its triumphant premiere. It returns home complete with the hit songs of the 1950s you know and love, plus a few new visual surprises.

Kim’s Convenience, Taproot Theatre, 5/15/19-6/22/19
The Kims are a loving, if imperfect, Korean family making their way in Toronto. As they face an uncertain future Appa (dad), Umma (mom), their unmarried daughter Janet and disappointing son Jung learn to see each other in a new light. This hilarious and heartwarming story reminds us that family isn't always convenient, but it might be the best deal out there.

The Arsonists, The Horse in Motion, 5/17/19-6/3/19 (at Gallery Erato in Pioneer Square)
Stories of arsonists burning down houses fill the news, but it could never happen here, right? The site-specific production in Gallery Erato - Pioneer Square is where the Seattle Great Fire raged over a century ago. With tough questions about fate, responsibility, and hair rejuvenator, this play asks the burning question of what it could mean to burn it all down.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Seattle Musical Theatre, 5/17/19-6/9/19
A rollicking hootenanny of a musical, based on the true story of a legendary Texas brothel, operated from the 1840s to 1973. This happy-go-lucky view of small-town vice and statewide political side-stepping recounts the good times and the demise of the Chicken Ranch, known as one of the better pleasure palaces in all of Texas. Governors, senators, mayors, and even victorious college football teams frequent Miss Mona’s cozy bordello.

The Call, Seattle Public Theater, 5/17/19-6/9/19
(Written by Tanya Barfield) When Annie and Peter decide to adopt, they come to set their sights on a child from Africa. But when the reality of this choice sinks in, it opens a well of uncertainty that speaks to their very identity as White Americans. Politically-charged, the play is a startling portrait of cultural divide, casting global issues into the heart of an American home.

Tiny Beautiful Things, Seattle Repertory Theatre, 5/17/19-6/23/19 (opens 5/22)
(Written by Nia Vardalos, adapted from the book by Cheryl Strayed) Anonymous online columnist "Sugar" receives thousands of letters asking for advice, and with her own particular brand of brutal honesty and incisive empathy, helps those seeking guidance for life obstacles both large and small. It is later revealed that "Sugar" is author Cheryl Strayed. A play that personifies the unfathomable questions that are at the heart of being human.

Take Me Out, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, 5/23/19-6/22/19 (opens 5/25)
What happens when a superstar player on a major-league baseball team announces that he is gay?  What outfielder Darren Lemming receives is disarming—and often hilarious—candor from his teammates, manager, and agent. Setting his play entirely in the team's clubhouse and shower, playwright Richard Greenberg traps a dozen (often naked) men in one room with their most intimate thoughts and no place to hide. A rookie relief pitcher's unfiltered television interview opens a locker of complicated insights about masculinity, democracy, race, and identity for the twenty-first century. (This show contains nudity, sexual language.)

Pass Over, ACT Theatre, 5/31/19-6/23/19 (opens 6/6)
(Written by Antoinette Nwandu) Moses and Kitch, two young black men, chat their way through a long, aimless day on a Chicago street corner. Periodically ducking bullets and managing visits from a genial but ominous stranger and an overtly hostile police officer, Moses and Kitch rely on their banter to get them through a day that is a hopeless retread of every other day, even as they continue to dream of their deliverance.

West Side Story, 5th Avenue Theatre and Spectrum Dance Theatre, 5/31/19-6/23/19 (opens 6/7)
With a cast of 40 of the finest performers in Seattle, a 25-piece orchestra and the highest levels of talent and artistic dedication – and including the gifted ensemble of Spectrum Dance Theatre – the 5th will recreate the original Jerome Robbins choreography on Broadway. On the harsh streets of the upper west side, two gangs battle for control of the turf. The situation becomes complicated when a gang member falls in love with a rival's sister. The musical was an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, modernized.

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