Wednesday, December 20, 2017

What Could Happen if Trump Were President…? Oh, Yeah, He Is.

Shermona Mitchell and Tim Gouran in Building the Wall (Richard Sloniker)
Building the Wall
(at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through December 23, 2017

Robert Schenkkan’s blistering play, Building the Wall, is not a play of nuance. He wrote it in an apparent white-hot fury on the eve of the 2016 election and it’s been refined, slightly, since Trump won, to account for more real-time events. Since most of Schenkkan's career writing is of historic events and conversations that propel events rather than “dramatic” scenes, he has become a master at building energy in conversation.

This 75 minute play presents Rick in prison. Rick (Tim Gouran) has done something awful and Gloria (Shermona Mitchell), a professor of history (it seems), wants to understand how he got to this point. Her letter to Rick asking to interview him appealed to him, he says, because of its honesty, and so he allows her to visit.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Live Girls! Asks "If Abraham Lincoln Was Assassinated Before Inauguration, Would the U.S. Still Exist?"

The cast of SILON (Roberta Christensen)
SILON (The Secret and Impossible League of the Noosphere) in The Baltimore Plot
Live Girls! Theater
(at Theater Off Jackson)
Through December 16, 2017

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a sighting of the first play in a SERIES! Woot! Yay! How fun is that!

Ok, so there are a few more days to catch the world premiere Live Girls! Theater production of The Secret and Impossible League of the Noosphere) in The Baltimore Plot. Once you see the play, you’ll understand the outlines of a new series of SILON plays, all somewhat science-fantastical, all somewhat based in history. Not quite steampunk, but not quite not.

Darian Lindle has cooked up an engaging story of Nikola Tesla (Sherif Amin), Lord Byron (Daniel Christensen) and his daughter Ada Lovelace (Alyssa Kay) traveling along the side of Time as this Secret  and Impossible League, and realizing that they have a mission to prevent an anomaly that could disrupt History which could possibly destroy the United States of America! How? They have to prevent Abraham Lincoln from being prematurely assassinated in 1860, before he is first officially sworn in as President.

“The Humans” is a darkly funny slice of life

The cast of The Humans (Julieta Cervantes)
The Humans
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through December 17, 2017

Stephen Karam has filled his 2016 Tony-award-winning Best Play, The Humans, with a lot of human darkness, which then allows for some darkly funny commentary. The play, starting a national tour at Seattle Repertory Theatre, has a power-house cast (Richard Thomas, Pamela Reed, Daisy Egan, Lauren Klein, Therese Plaehn, Luis Vega) portraying an uneasy Thanksgiving family gathering.

In a somewhat stereotypical way, the family has: issues that complicate the holiday, secrets that get revealed, and sets of disappointed hopes and dreams of individuals. In less stereotypical ways, the family has: the oldest member suffering severe dementia that is dealt with in a loving way, a younger family member with gastrointestinal issues that will best resolve through surgery that results in an ileostomy – and some plain speaking about it, and a married couple as the sandwich generation who are in difficult financial straits.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Pleasing Show For All the Holidays

Cast of Holiday Inn (Mark Kitaoka)
Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn
5th Avenue Theatre
Through December 31, 2017

Ah, Lorna Luft! We are so happy you are gracing our local stage and bringing a lot of joy with you! You make Holiday Inn so much fun!

If you have never seen the 1942 oldy-but-goodie movie, Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Virginia Dale and Marjorie Reynolds, you probably know nothing about the new musical on stage at the 5th Avenue Theatre except the holiday-themed name. Jim Hardy, Ted Hanover and Lila Dixon (Eric Ankrim, Matt Owen, and Taryn Darr) are a song-and-dance trio working to make it big. Jim and Lila are engaged, but they have completely different goals.

Jim wants a quiet life in the country and Lila still has stars in her eyes. Jim finds an old farmhouse in Connecticut and snaps it up, but just then, they have a great six week offer. Lila wants to go and promises to come to Connecticut after, so they part. (This is a bit different from the movie, so if you know the movie, know that the musical won’t track exactly.) We’re not surprised that Lila doesn’t ever move there.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Heartfelt Play With Song Bites Off Too Much Story

Cast members in A Civil War Christmas (Robert Wade)
A Civil War Christmas – An American Musical Celebration
Taproot Theatre
Through December 27, 2017

An endearing and hard-working cast brings to life a tapestry of stories set around Christmas Eve, 1864. Figures of note in the Civil War are present, including President Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, General Ulysses Grant of the Union Army, General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate Army, and a whole host of then-notable and some completely unknown and fictitious characters.

The stories, chosen and interwoven by playwright Paula Vogel, are meant to acknowledge many issues present at that time of divided national interests. Slaves are being freed, North and South are still at war and full of enmity for one another, and Lincoln is under increasing threat of attack. There is much darkness, and the struggle for peace and for human connection is a difficult one to win.

An ensemble cast of 13 plays multiple roles. There are, I hear, 60 scenes, which is a lot of scenes. This is apparently less than the published version, and was cut by permission. Still, the tumultuous tales don’t blend easily and following their paths takes a lot of attention from audience members.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

December Shows to Lift the Gloom

Cast of The Secret and Impossible League of the Noosphere in The Baltimore Plot (Roberta Christensen)
December brings gifts of world premieres, and options of holiday cheer and a few options that can provide some relief from holidays, if you choose.

A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration, Taproot Theatre, 12/1-30/17
It’s a bitterly cold Christmas Eve on the banks of the Potomac River where the lives of abolitionists, assassins, soldiers, enslaved and free are woven together in an American tapestry. In their darkest hour, when peace seems impossible, the promise of Christmas breaks through despair in this musical celebration of compassion and hope by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel.