Friday, November 23, 2018

Great production of “Matilda the Musical”

Nava Ruthfield as Matilda, and Ann Cornelius and Chris Ensweiler as her parents (Mark Kitaoka)
Matilda the Musical
Village Theatre
Issaquah: Through 12/30/18, Everett: 1/4/19-2/3/19

Village Theatre reports that their current production of Matilda the Musical is selling better than any show in history! One can’t call it a holiday show, but you might guess that a lot of kids would be excited to see it. They would be especially interested if they have read the Roald Dahl books.

Village’s production is as good a production of this musical as you’ll likely see anywhere! It’s particularly good to see it in a more modest theater than the cavernous Paramount or even the large 5th Avenue because – no matter what – the lyrics are going to be hard to understand. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

“Framed” asks – Is it Art or is it Hobby?

A moment from Framed (Tom Chargin)
Snowflake Avalanche
(at 18th & Union)
Through November 25, 2018

There’s that marital saying that’s supposed to be true: “Happy wife, happy life.” Y York’s latest production, Framed, attempts to explore that idea in two very different marriages. Joan and Nick DaSilva (Susanna Burney and Joe Seefeldt) are the older couple with a long, successful marriage. May and Jake Carter (Maile Wong and Jeremy Steckler) are the very young married couple who may not have quite got the hang of it, yet. But York likes to mix things up and what you see on the surface might not be what’s going on underneath.

Joan is an artist and Nick is a successful businessman. They appear to be successful in all areas of their endeavors, with Joan selling her paintings moderately well at decent prices. Jake works as a car mechanic but longs for a “better” life and doesn’t want May to work. He wants her to do whatever she wants, like have hobbies, which she does not yet have any idea about.

Monday, November 12, 2018

We Are Each a “Lonely Planet”

The cast of Lonely Planet (John Ulman)
Lonely Planet
AJ Epstein Presents at West of Lenin
Through November 18, 2018

Steven Dietz’ play, Lonely Planet, was “about” AIDS as the background of the society and culture that two unlikely friends interact in, circa 1993. Jody (Michael Winters) and Carl (Reginald Andre Jackson) are about as different as you can get, and yet reflect that many unknowable connections can draw us together.

Carl presents as homeless… a rangy, hyperactive, rootless guy who likely would be diagnosed with ADD and/or on the autism spectrum today. 25 years ago, when this play was first produced, that kind of diagnosis would be less useful and with fewer medical supports.

Jody presents as a more mainstream business owner, a map store owner, but one who, more and more, cannot leave the store to face what’s outside in the big world. At the beginning of this “relationship play,” Jody seems to tolerate Carl, even as he knows Carl’s foibles, like lying and not taking “no” for an answer.

It starts with a chair. A chair just shows up in the map shop. Jody knows where it must have come from, but not why it appeared.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Mike Daisey's "A People's History" - a riveting historic look at the U.S.!

Mike Daisey ready to begin (Angela Nickerson)
A People’s History
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through November 25, 2018

Mike Daisey has an uncanny ability to cut subject matter down to bite-sized incisive bits of information. If you have never heard him opine, you owe it to yourself to pay a visit, at least once, to his current sit-down at Seattle Repertory Theatre!

This iteration, in A People’s History, Mike has decided to compare, in his roundabout, talk-about-everything-at-once way of discussing, his own public school history education during high school (the textbook used in his classroom) to Howard Zinn’s seminal book, “A People’s History of the United States.” He started, with Chapter 1, in 1492 when Christopher Columbus “sailed the ocean blue” over toward the New World. He’ll end, 18 specific performances later, in 2018. He says that is 27 hours of planned speaking, but those who attend Daisey performances know his 90 minute events are often at least 15 minutes longer. (There are 18 monologues; these are the "chapters"; they repeat once each during the run of this Seattle production.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sing Out, November! (Theater Openings)

Y York's play Framed (Tom Chargin)

Somehow, November programming seems to be primarily MUSICALS. If you love musicals, you’ll be really happy this month!

Lonely Planet, West of Lenin, 10/24/18-11/18/18
An intimate portrait of two friends at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Lonely Planet is set in small map shop on the oldest street in an American city. Growing increasingly fearful of the outside world, Jody, the shop owner, retreats inside his store and refuses to leave. Jody’s quiet denial is in sharp contrast to his fantastical and extroverted friend Carl, who repeatedly urges Jody to leave the store. Through Carl's surreal extravagance, the friends are forced to confront their lives and a vanishing community and come to terms with their place in a changing world.         “Lonely Planet was born in Seattle and written in Seattle, dedicated to two of Seattle’s finest actors [Laurence Ballard & Michael Winters],” states playwright and director Steven Dietz. “I am delighted to have the chance to bring it back home to Seattle.”

Monday, October 29, 2018

Muhammad Ali started life as Cassius Clay – Get to know him at SCT!

A moment from And in This Corner: Cassius Clay (Elise Bakketun)
And in This Corner: Cassius Clay
Seattle Children’s Theatre
Through November 25, 2018

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” That quote might immediately bring Muhammad Ali to mind. He was known for pithy poetic sayings and poetry and rhyming were signatures of his career. But before he was Muhammad Ali, he was Cassius Clay, a young boxer who trained hard and went to the Olympics, winning a gold medal in boxing.

Cassius Clay’s early days and the tumult of the Civil Rights era are the focus of a new play at Seattle Children’s Theatre, And in This Corner: Cassius Clay, by Idris Goodwin. Directed by newly-minted University of Washington MFA Malika Oyetimein, a robust cast beats out a rhythmic telling of his life from age 11 to his Olympic victory and the challenges along his way.