Tuesday, November 21, 2023

"Beautiful" should Not Be Missed!

Jason Kappus and Sarah Rose Davis in Beautiful (Auston James)
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Village Theatre (
Issaquah: Through December 23, 2023
Everett: January 6 to January 28, 2024
I will absolutely rave about the perfection of Sarah Rose Davis as Carole King and the rest of the cast, in a minute. I promise! But OMG the SET! The set and the lights and projections!!! I’m so in love with Grace Laubacher, set designer, Robert J. Aguilar, lighting designer, and Ahren Buhmann, projection designer, right now.
You see, I have a “thing” about sets and set changes – so often there’s too much set, sometimes for no reason, and usually set changes just take time and are noticeable, and often also changed for no reason. This set was a thing of beauty because it changes in a Split Second!
That’s important because there are So. Many. Set. Changes. And it’s beautiful or useful. Also, the lighting here comes from the back to light up parts of the set, and the projection changes locations and I don’t know how they do that thing where when the set is moving you can see behind it, but when it stops, it’s a new location that is not see-through! Magic!
While I’m talking tech, the costumes by Melanie Taylor Burgess were absolutely spot on and there were Tons of them! Very 1960s and you could see the years change by the costumes in the scenes. There isn’t a credit for wigs, but there were Tons of those, too, also absolutely telling the story through their wearings. I’ll presume that Melanie coordinated/made those, too, and they hit every note.
OK. So.
Beautiful tells the story of the very early years of Carole King’s life, starting when she is 16 and already devoted to getting into the song-writing business. Douglas McGrath’s book (words spoken not sung) is funny and encompasses all the changes in Carole’s life with swift scenes that move the story along in a very satisfying way. All of the songs that are sung in the musical are either by Carole and her husband Gerry Goffin, or their friends and competitors in song-writing, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. You are likely to know many of them, since they wrote so many classics.
The show opens with Carole, played by the sublime Sarah Rose Davis, at a pinnacle of her success when she plays a concert at Carnegie Hall. She has achieved a massive success with her now classic perfect album, Tapestry.

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Thank Goodness It’s the Season on Seattle Stages

Rebecca Cort in Little Women (Seattle Rep) (photo by Sayed Alamy)

Sarah Rose Davis as Carole King in Beautiful (Village Theatre)
November stages have skipped Thanksgiving this year and gone straight to Christmas programming. There are quite a lot of choices for that, along with some interesting counter-programming. It’s a merry time to be back together in person and consider multiple family-friendly options! Get outcher calendars.
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Seattle Shakespeare Company, 11/1-19/23
Our old friend Falstaff has a ploy to make some easy money—woo Mistress Page and Mistress Ford and thus gain access to their husbands’ wealth. It shouldn’t be too challenging; he can be quite a charming and insightful man when it benefits him. He sends the mistresses notes with declarations of love, but in a small town like Windsor, everyone knows everyone else’s business and Mistresses Page and Ford soon realize their notes are exact copies. Rather than take that insult lying down, they make dates with Falstaff, scheming to be discovered in flagrante by their husbands and so to achieve their saucy revenge on the knight.
Hotdish, Pony World Theatre, 11/3/23-12/2/23 (at 12th Ave Arts) (world premiere)
Local playwright Brendan Healey presents his new play introducing Kayla and her older brother. Toby is unemployed and living with her in her cramped townhouse. But Toby believes he’s found the answer to all his troubles: winning his favorite reality TV cooking show, Champion Chef. As Toby falls deeper into this enticing fantasy, their mother, Evelyn, is hiding the truth about her own financial problems. Kayla is supposed to save them both, but she can barely keep her own life together. Guided by a magical being who just so happens to be the glamorous host of Champion Chef, the family will have to face what fractured their lives in the first place to find out if they can still love each other. Hotdish tells a story about family, food, and fixing the cracks in all our hearts.
Caligula, Theatre33, 11/4-18/23 (at 13243 20th Street NE, Bellevue, WA 98005)
(Presented in Russian with a summary in English) What do we know about Caesar, the Emperor of Rome? His name became commonly associated with ruthless tyrants. He was very young and ruled for only three and a half years prior to being killed by traitors. He squandered all the funds and was an unpredictable despot.  Historically, we know very little about him.  However, that is not the focus of Albert Camus’ play; rather, he explores the issues of power, integrity, freedom, corruption to address the existential questions.  What is the meaning of life? Does freedom exist? How to live knowing the inevitability of death?