Thursday, September 21, 2023

Huey Thrills (Again!) with Help of Fab Hometown Ensemble!


Cassi Q Kohl, Diana Huey, and Shaunyce Omar (Photo: Tracy Martin)

The Little Mermaid
The 5th Avenue Theatre
Through October 8, 2023
As good as any Broadway NYC show, our area is blessed with a wealth of gorgeous performers who get to shine now in The Little Mermaid! We then are double-blessed to have Diana Huey return “home” to let us hear her crisp, clean, soaring voice – every bit as good as the first time she starred as Ariel on the 5th Ave stage in 2016. Maybe even better!
Huey broke the mold in 2016 to star in a national tour as the first Asian American performer to star in the show. Rumors had it that there were some ugly adventures in some parts of the country where people somehow could not fathom how a mermaid could be Asian. It was also her biggest role, at that point, carrying a huge Broadway hit show on her shoulders. Now, seasoned by a move to NYC and dozens of performing opportunities, she is sure-finned and in perfect voice to do it again.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Expansive September List Provides Great Entertainment Options

I’m working on expanding this list to include nearby cities and towns and hamlets that are near enough to get to easily. But that means the list for September is pretty massive. It’s exciting because it truly seems “back to normal,” and is wonderful to see. Get outcher calendars!

Deep Purple Wiggle, Theatre Battery, 9/1-10/23 (opened last week) (world premiere)
Milo Cramer writes about Bro and Sibling who are twins in their thirties who, up until now, have self-identified as dudes. When one comes out to the other as non-binary (without either of them fully knowing what it means), a queer Pandora's box is opened. A new comedy (with music) about contemporary masculinity. Theatre Battery practices Radical Hospitality: No-Cost Admission for All!
Matt & Ben, Artswest, 9/7/23-10/1/23
From the mind of multi-award-winning writer and actress Mindy Kaling,Matt & Bendepicts its Hollywood golden boys – before J-Lo, before Gwyneth, before Project Greenlight, before Oscar… before anyone actually gave a damn. When the screenplay for Good Will Hunting drops mysteriously from the heavens, the boys realize they’re being tested by a Higher Power.A hilarious satire on the real and imagined difficulties of pursuing a dream.
Autocorrect Thinks I'm Dead, Sound Theatre Company, 9/7-30/23 (at 12th Ave Arts) (world premiere)
Local playwright Aimee Chou writes about three deaf friends moving into an old house during the centennial anniversary of Alexander Graham Bell's 1922 death, unaware that things go bump in the night. But when a vintage teletypewriter phone (TTY) becomes a landline to the afterlife, the trio finds themselves in a madcap caper of portals - between the hearing and deaf, and living and dead. Meshing historic and technological realities with the theatrical absurd, this tale is both a homage and a home to horror fans of all generations.
Dream Hou$e, Washington Ensemble Theatre, 9/8-25/23
Set in a rapidly changing neighborhood, two sisters sign up for a reality tv show to sell their childhood home after the passing of the family matriarch. As Julia and Patricia perform for the camera, they confront their own desires, aspirations, and the sacrifices they are willing to make to achieve them. What is the cultural cost of progress in America? Is cashing in always selling out?

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Go See Bethany Seeing the Stars - Copious Love at WOL

Bethany Sees the Stars
Through September 9, 2023

What if you got a letter telling you to apply to go to Mars, and then you get a letter saying you've won a spot, but you will have to leave Earth forever?

That's what happens to 15-year-old Bethany (Jade Guillory-Kaub), who dreams of escaping from her life and heading to the stars. She tells her momentous news to her best friend, Fay (Lauren Megan McCarthy), and eventually to a nerdy loaner, Atlas (Lola Rei Fukushima) who joins them to become the Heroic Trinity.

But how are the teens supposed to cope with their friend leaving them? 

This is the premise of a sweet and thoughtful script, a world premiere by Emily Golden. It's fanciful (constellations come to life and speak to Bethany), and manages to tackle a number of real-life conundrums while helping us explore our own reactions about wanting to escape our own realities.

Well-directed by Kathryn Stewart, the tiniest of quibbles is that it could have a slightly faster pace, but she brings out a great level of emotions from the cast without overwhelming our own, allowing us to feel our own feelings. Set design by Jordan Gerow is spare and quick to change, keeping the pace up. Lighting by Adem Hayyu and sound by Alison Kozar bring the atmospheres needed to life.

The cast is cohesive and engaging. The young people are real and relatable. Daniel Christensen as the father brings a leavening presence that is also very relatable to those of us who are parents. Similarly, Olivia Lee is a warm and funny mother. Lee and McCarthy get to play the constellations Cassiopeia and Andromeda, and become very different characters, and show their range to good effect.

There's only one more weekend to see this moving play. It's well worth your time, if you're a teen or a parent or someone who also has looked to the stars to wonder or escape.


Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Super Musical at Taproot: The Hello Girls ends this weekend

Rebecca Cort, Miranda Antoinette, Cassi Q Kohl,
Lauren Engstrom, and Jessica Ziegelbauer
(Photo by John Ulman)

The Hello Girls
Taproot Theatre
Composer/Lyricist Peter Mills, Book/Lyricist Cara Reichel
Through August 19, 2023
This musical is a treat from start to finish. It is also such a pleasure to be able to experience full-blown musicals on stage again. Taproot’s choice is a wonderful summer treat!
Likely, you won’t know the true history this musical is based on. But boy! is it fun to find out about it!
During World War I, at a time when women were sorely underemployed and shunted into very specific “pink” jobs, some women found themselves employed as telephone operators. It was a newer profession, since telephones themselves were pretty new. Operators used large banks of plug-in boards where they had to learn which cords to specifically plug into which switch, quickly and seamlessly. This was a good job across the country.
Logically, the need for seamless, fast telephone service applied to the Armed Services, particularly in a war situation. As the war heated up, the generals realized that telephone connections were crucial, and that the reality was that the best operators were women. They were needed in France and had to be bilingual. This is the story of how a bunch of pioneering, brave women fought their way into the military and became unsung heroes of the military communication network.
The cast at Taproot is top-notch. It is mostly an ensemble piece with one star turn from Cassi Q Kohl as Grace Banker. Kohl is onstage almost every minute as the woman with natural leadership skills and an innate sense of self-esteem. She is indefatigable, with a belting power that lasts throughout the entire show – which is about two and a half hours. She is riveting.

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

August Theater In Seattle Includes Classics, Parodies And….Ms. Pak-Man!


Ms. Pac-Man (courtesy Shoes and Pants Productions)

Here's your opportunity this summer to revisit classic works from Ibsen and Shakespeare plus new plays and campy comedies to amuse us between barbecues. Get outcher calendars!

Hedda Gabler, General Gabler’s Theatre (GGT), 8/4-12/23 (at West of Lenin)
Hedda, a 19th Century woman with plenty of will but no room to exact it, thought she made a wise deal with the man she just married. She would be his wife, and he would provide her with the safe and respectable means to occupy her active mind. When it becomes clear that her husband can’t fulfill his end of the bargain, her mind quickly turns dangerous.
Ballabhpur Ki Roopkatha, Pratidhwani, 8/4-13/23 (at Ethnic Cultural Theatre)
Once (upon a time) there was a King. His name was Bhoopati Rai. He had a Quee... Nope! He had no queen. That doesn't work! What kind of a fairytale has a king with no queen? To tell you the truth, this isn't a very good tale at all. In fact, it is quite weak in some spots. But if you come to listen to our tale, we will be glad to tell it to you! A Hindi translation of Badal Sircar's original Bengali play.
Titanish, Marxiano Productions with Seattle Public Theater, 8/10/23-9/17/23
Crashing onto the shores of Green Lake this August, this musical parody (that lampoons the epic film) will showcase the wit and creativity that The Habit Comedy writers are acclaimed for. If you missed it last summer, here’s your chance to see and hear all the silliness, and enjoy a giant ship recreated in a tiny theater.

Dancing at Lughnasa, SecondStory Repertory, 8/11-27/23
This intimate portrait of a country and a family at a crossroads, set in rural Ireland in 1936, tells the tale of five unmarried sisters -- the proud Mundy sisters -- staving off the hardships of daily life through talk, laughter and dance. But after they welcome their frail missionary brother home from Uganda, several intersecting events threaten to irreparably burst the Mundy women's fragile bubble of happiness.

Festival of New Musicals, Village Theatre, 8/12-13/23
The premiere developmental workshops for new musicals has again drawn major musical theater-writing talent to Issaquah for a weeklong process with professional actors, directors and music directors. The culmination of the work will be presented over two days. “Festival” is a fun-filled and exciting annual summer event, and this weekend is a significant marker in the post-Covid theater landscape!

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

July Theater - Hot Outsides or Cool Indoors!


Get ready to get outside! Mainland or islands, there's plenty to soak in at parks in the wide area. There are also choices if you don't want to sit in the hot sun, so get outcher calendars!

Falsettos, Harlequin Productions, 7/1-22/23
Winner of two 1992 Tony Awards for Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical and set in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, Falsettos revolves around the life of a charming, intelligent, neurotic gay man named Marvin, his wife, lover, his about- to-be-Bar-Mitzvahed son, their psychiatrist, and the lesbians next door. It’s a poignant look at the infinite possibilities that make up a modern family.
The Tempest, Seattle Shakespeare Company/Wooden O, 7/6/23-8/6/23 (various parks)
When you’re stranded on an enchanted island for twelve long years with only your daughter and magical spirits for company, it turns out you have plenty of time for plotting revenge. Enter Prospero, the erstwhile Duke of Milan who was usurped by his brother Antonio. Prospero’s ire at his brother is given glorious life when Antonio and his crew sail too close to the island, and with the aid of his magical spirit Ariel, he conjures a supernatural storm to shipwreck the passengers. But his plot goes awry as the island becomes a wondrous playground for romance, trickery, and spectacle, ultimately leading to forgiveness and reconciliation.
The Fairy’s Bottom: A Midsummer Burlesque, Marxiano Productions, 7/6-16/23 (at The Triple Door)
From the creators of the absinthe infused hit Bohemia and Seattle Vice comes a new show that undresses the Shakespearean classic A Midsummer Night's Dream, and reveals a clever and sexy new cabaret. Original music by hosts Mark Siano and Opal Peachey will invite audiences into the fairy's bower where some of the Northwest's hottest dancing nymphs and dryads will entertain adventurous human guests.

Monday, June 05, 2023

June Sprouts Interesting Stage Options

 Kay Taylor Yelinek & Jasmine Lomax in All New Cells (Kirk Hostetter)

Good weather sprouts some very interesting theatrical choices this month. Unique world premieres and a long-awaited covid-paused production, dance/theater, a challenging series of directors’ work, and diverse and neuro-untypical content abound.
All New Cells, Shattered Glass Project, 6/1-18/23 (at Theatre Off Jackson) (world premiere)
When Nils's ex-girlfriend dies suddenly, he is dragged back into a toxic online roleplay scene he swore he'd never return to. He'd been doing okay sticking to his seven-year plan for getting over their breakup - but now, everyone either blames him or expects him to have answers, and he's getting nasty anonymous messages that might be coming from beyond the grave. A nuanced examination of identity, trauma, assault, grief, and mental health through an online world.
Glorious: The True Story of Florence Foster Jenkins – The Worst Singer in the World, Phoenix Theatre, 6/2-25/23
In 1940s New York, the performer who everyone wanted to see live was Florence Foster Jenkins, an enthusiastic soprano whose pitch was far from perfect. Known as "the first lady of the sliding scale," she warbled and screeched her way through the evening to an audience who mostly fell about with laughter. But this delusional and joyously happy woman paid little attention to her critics, instead she was surrounded by a circle of devoted friends who were almost as eccentric as she was.
Cost of Living, Sound Theatre Company, 6/8/23-7/1/23 (at 12th Ave Arts) (opens 6/10)
Breathless reviews greeted the Broadway production of Martyna Majok’s play, Cost of Living, in late 2022. Now we get to see this 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning play (finally, after a 2020 covid-hiatus) in Seattle, where Sound Theatre Company showcases the play along with several disabled (wheelchair-assisted) crew and cast. The play peeks into the rarely-seen world of Disabled individuals and their caregivers. Class divisions, safety nets, financial haves and have-nots, and interdependence emerge.

Monday, May 08, 2023

May is Merry on Seattle Area Stages

Hometown Boy at Seattle Public Theater (John Ulman)

Musicals seem to be a theme for May, and local or ex-local talents display their works on stage (Keiko Green, Justin Huertas), which is exciting. It’s quite a fun set of shows to get onto your calendars. There doesn’t seem to be a frown in sight, this month.
Zach, ArtsWest, 5/4-25/23 (world premiere)
Christian St. Croix pens a satirical comedy that skewers the popular tropes of ‘90s teen sitcoms. Gina, a Black girl and budding fashionista, and P.J., a Latino lovesick surfer boy at an affluent, majority-white Southern California high school are both overjoyed when they’re invited into the inner circle of Zach, the white, charismatic, prank-happy new kid at school. But when Zach plans a new prank that goes too far, P.J. and Gina must race to stop him before it’s too late – and along the way, learn to see their peers, and themselves, with fresh eyes.
Hometown Boy, Seattle Public Theater, 5/4-28/23
Playwright Keiko Green, ex-local actor well-known to many, writes about James who hasn’t been back to his rural Georgia hometown in over a decade. Reluctantly, he returns to check in on his father, whose behavior has become worryingly erratic. The South has a way of holding onto secrets. He soon stumbles into a life he thought he had left behind as a child. That stench in the air isn’t just his father’s decaying house, but the rotten core of long-buried secrets teeming just under the surface and ready to explode.
Lydia And The Troll, Seattle Rep, 5/5/23-6/4/23 (world premiere)
Singer-songwriter Lydia feels held back. Maybe it’s writer’s block, maybe it’s her not-so-perfect boyfriend. But when a mysterious stranger offers her the chance to change her life, she may end up sacrificing more than she ever imagined. Inspired by fantasy and folklore, yet grounded in Seattle’s noted landscape and landmarks, actor and musical writer (often book/music/lyrics) Justin Huertas (Lizard Boy) conjures up Pacific Northwest magic in this intimate new world.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Not-To-Miss: “The Niceties” is Urgently Acted

Varinique 'V' Davis and Amy Thone (Joe Moore)

The Niceties
Intiman Theatre
At Erickson Theatre
Through April 29, 2023

The fierce arguments between Janine Bosko (Amy Thone) and Zoe Reed (Varinique “V” Davis) in The Niceties are as brutal, intense and absorbing as any political-polemic-on-stage you may ever see. Bosko, a history professor, and Reed, a whip-smart well-prepared junior in college, each implore, beseech, demand, and exhort each other to LISTEN.
And yet, they yell past each other, rarely even acknowledging some of the heart-rending details each reveals about their personal life. As intense as this is, it feels like Not To Miss Theater. Eleanor Burgess' playwriting is crisp and, while intellectual at times, beautifully encapsulates the various issues at hand between the white professor and the Black student.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Spring forward into theater!

Amy Thone and Varinique 'V' Davis in The Niceties (Joe Moore)

Here comes Spring. There’s a lot of fresh theater to check out in the greater Seattle (and islands and Tacoma) theater community. (But allergies got me, so this is a little late.)
The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, Seattle Childrens Theater, 4/5/23-5/21/23
Growing tired of her life in Kansas, Dorothy and her little dog Toto discover a new adventure in the wonderful and magical Land of Oz after a cyclone swoops them “somewhere over the rainbow.” While following the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, who quickly become her new friends. Together, they overcome their fears of witches, flying monkeys, and a haunted forest to learn if the Wizard can make their dreams come true. Approx. 60 minutes/Recommended for ages 5+
Redd, Key City Public Theatre, 4/5-30/23 (world premiere)
Kat Agudo brings a Pilipino twist to the classic Little Red Riding Hood. Rue, a mysterious orphan with Babaylan royal ancestry, is planning to leave for Spain with their caretaker, Don Hunter from the sheltered town of Intramuros, Manila.. Accompanied by a spirit guide, Rin, they journey to Grandmother’s house. They engage in a fantastical battle fueled by the sacrifice of Rue’s ancestors and a chance for liberation of her people. KCPT commissioned this world premiere play.
I Hate Hamlet, The Phoenix Theatre, 4/7-30/23
Andrew Rally seems to have it all: celebrity and acclaim from his starring role in a hit television series; a rich, beautiful girlfriend; a glamorous, devoted agent; the perfect New York apartment; and the chance to play Hamlet in Central Park. But there are couple of glitches in paradise –
Andrew’s series has been canceled; his girlfriend is clinging to her virginity with unyielding conviction; and he has no desire to play Hamlet. In the midst of his confusion, he is visited by the ghost of legendary actor John Barrymore. Andrew wrestles with his conscience, Barrymore, his sword, and confronts the ultimate question: Who he wants to be, or not be?

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

March Roars On Stage Like a Lion

Between Two Knees at Seattle Rep (Photo © T. Charles Erickson)

Musicals, shorts fest, Shakespeare, world premieres – March has it all for you. Every person can find something to see they will like on stage! Put on a mask and get out your calendars! 

Short Play Festival, Deaf Spotlight, 3/2-5/23 (at 12th Avenue Arts)
Six new 10-minute plays, created by deaf and deafblind playwrights, centered around the theme “floral shop.” Deaf creatives and artists will act, direct and produce in the festival.
Between Two Knees, Seattle Rep, 3/3-26/23
The first play by acclaimed intertribal sketch comedy troupe The 1491s—best known for the hit television series “Reservation Dogs”—takes audiences on a searing and humorous series of vignettes through American history, centered on one family’s account of their experiences from the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 to the protests there in 1973.
Born Yesterday, Theatre9/12, 3/3-26/23
Born Yesterday is a scathing comedy about the idealism of the United States Constitution corrupted by greed, ignorance, self-service, and disillusion set shortly after World War II. Self-made millionaire, Harry Brock, has thieved his way up the ladder to buying Senators. Paul Verral, an international journalist, befriends Brock, endearing himself to the criminal who hires Paul to class up his main squeeze: a beautiful but improper “showgirl” who doesn’t like having to think. Without altering text or era, Theatre9/12 re-interprets play paralleling today’s events.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

World Premieres and more on Seattle-area stages

Lindsey Welliver and Calder Shilling in Sense and Sensibility at Village Theatre (Angela Sterling)

It is apparently “world premiere” month on Seattle-area stages – including an introduction to Iranian theater artists hosted by Macha Theatre Works, though I didn’t get that memo. But exciting new work is ready for you to experience! Get out yer calendars!
Sense and Sensibility, Village Theatre, Issaquah – 2/1/23-3/12/23 / Everett – 3/17/23-4/9/23 (world premiere)
This playful new adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved novel follows the fortunes (and misfortunes) of the Dashwood sisters—sensible Elinor and sensitive Marianne—after their father’s sudden death leaves them financially destitute and socially vulnerable. This classic-modern mashup layers the story with smart comedy and zany antics—underscored by a contemporary mix of your favorite pop songs.
The People Downstairs, Key City Public Theatre, 2/1-26/23
Miles, an aging funeral home custodian with a taste for whiskey, laughter, and hoarding, is moved to action when a court-appointed guardian threatens to take away the home he shares with his daughter Mabel, a middle-aged agoraphobic who spends her days writing letters to prison inmates, their rights, and their stolen poodle. Miles sets out to find a ‘good guy’ for Mabel. He finds Todd, an inept mortician who lives with his mother and pet hamster Stanley Kowalski. It is a father’s fierce determination not to accept his daughter’s fate that ignites an endearing human comedy about love, loss, loneliness, and the healing power of laughter.
I & You, Valley Center Stage, 2/3-19/23
A young teen struggles with a long-term illness mostly alone, until a classmate shows up to keep her company. Their work on a class project about a book of poetry leads them to some vulnerable conversation and a surprising ending.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Not Perfect Daughter Is Perfectly Fun and Expertly Done

Cast of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Nate Watters)

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Through 2/5/23
Director Juliette Carrillo directed one of the few plays that stay stuck in my mind for many years. Way back in 2011, Carrillo directed The Brothers Size at Seattle Rep. Images from that play instantly come to mind when I think of that production. Carrillo helmed a designer crew of sets, lights, sound, and movement/choreography that melded together perfectly. The trio of actors was magical.
Now, Carrillo has directed another play that may have that same lasting power for me. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is not a perfect play, in that it might need a bit of trimming from a jam-packed script, but this production is magical. From the amazingly simple but amazingly stunning set design of a massive beaded curtain by Efren Delgadillo Jr., to the costumes by Danielle Nieves that fit the actors within an inch of their lives (with an eye-popping quinceañera dress!). From the light by Robert J. Aguilar that went from tenderly subtle to a blinding crescendo and the sound design and compositions of John Nobori. Again, she has indeed assembled a fantastic cast of actors.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is about a 15-year-old Júlia (who ages to about 17 during the play) who has just lost her beloved but maybe-slightly-mysterious older sister and is trying to cope with what that means to the rest of her life. While surrounded by family, the relationships are not at all comforting. Júlia mother (Amá played by Jazmín Corona) might love her, but most of the time she seems as toxic as it might get. Júlia’s father (played by Eddie Martinez) is remote and removed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

"Becoming Othello" - Great Actor Needs a Better Script 

 Guest Reviewer Amy Pierce

Deborah Ann Byrd in Becoming Othello (Robert Wade)

Amy Pierce is a lifelong fan of the theater, an actor, a storyteller, and a Black woman, who hopes to encourage more people of color to embrace art in all its forms (but especially live theater).

Deborah Ann Byrd has great stage presence and has accomplished quite a lot as an actor and as a woman from severely disadvantaged beginnings. One can feel that from the moment she takes stage with a powerful singing voice, owning the stage. She is a vastly talented actor with a story that should be rich and compelling. Her struggles to find and express her talent and love for acting, particularly of acting Shakespeare is certainly worthy of being heard.

In her solo show now presenting at Seattle Shakespeare Company, Becoming Othello, A Black Girl's Journey, Byrd tells the story of those struggles and her unlikely journey to becoming a Shakespearean actor and to founding the Harlem Shakespeare Festival in 2013, a festival that continues today to provide professional opportunities to Black and underrepresented actors to perform any classical roles they might like.

Sunday, January 01, 2023

2023 Starts With A Bang in Seattle Theaters


William Eames and Bretteney Beverly,
A Woman of No Importance, Taproot Theatre (Photo by Robert Wade)

2023 is starting off with several bangs with productions of classic plays, world premieres, new to us stories, and intriguing plays referencing classic writing. There is something for everyone, this month. Get outcher calendars! Happy New Year!

The World’s a Stage: Becoming Othello, A Black Girl’s Journey, Seattle Shakespeare Company, 1/3-29/23
This autobiographical solo show from Debra Ann Byrd, the Founding Artistic Director of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival and Artistic Director of Southwest Shakespeare Company, is a living memoir of her life’s trials and triumphs. Through verses from Othello and dynamic multimedia elements, she chronicles her youth growing up in Harlem, her tumultuous teen years, and navigating race in classics as a gender-flipped Othello.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Seattle Rep, 1/13/23-2/5/23
As she grieves the death of her older sister, Julia Reyes faces pressure to put her own dreams of becoming a writer on hold. She finds herself caught between her family’s expectations and the less-than-perfect life she grapples with every day as a 15-year-old growing up in Chicago. A rich and poignant exploration of how to transcend your circumstances while remaining true to who you are.