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.