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.