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?