Thursday, February 28, 2019

New Company, As If Theatre, Presents Lovely "The Clean House"

The cast of The Clean House (Rosemary Dai Ross)
The Clean House
As If Theatre Company
Extended through March 3, 2019

As often happens in the Seattle area, a group of like-minded folks get together and decide to create a new company. Sometimes it's to produce one particular script and sometimes the goal is a bit larger. Out in Kenmore, a group of mature women (as in "not eager 20-somethings") have created As If Theatre Company, in an area that doesn't have a lot of theater going on there. 

Since I live nearby and like the idea of theater in Kenmore, I was pleased, as well, that they chose to produce Sarah Ruhl's The Clean House. I'd seen the production at ACT Theatre a decade ago and I remembered that I really loved the play but didn't remember enough about it and wanted to revisit it.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

“Rock of Ages” is a Big Cheeseball You Eat Anyway

Diana Huey and Galen Disston in Rock of Ages (Tracy Martin)
Rock of Ages
5th Avenue Theatre
Through February 24, 2019

Piles of snow didn’t stop the crew of Rock of Ages from puttin’ on a show! Some of the hardier audience members were even able to snag $20 tickets. 5th Avenue admin made the decision to help entice people who were able to get downtown to come in from the cold and have fun.

The musical is mostly an excuse for talented singer/performers to belt their faces off to well-known rock-and-roll songs from the 80’s and 90’s. It’s got some good jokes and a barely-palatable “story” to hang the songs on. You don’t go for deep and thoughtful story content, you go to sing along with the performers. They know all the words, you just chime in when you remember a few! (I don’t mean you actually are supposed to sing along, but it’s kind of inevitable if you already know the song.)

A robust cast of local talents bring the fun to life, with an assist from “she who we claim as ours,” Diana Huey, as the lead young-girl-from-a-small-town-who-wants-to-be-a-star-and-runs-away-with-her-parents’-disapproval-to-a-big-bad-Los-Angeles Sherrie, and a “real” rock legend, Mickey Thomas from (Jefferson) Starship as club owner Dennis. A bashful-looking Galen Disston, lead singer of the local rock band, Pickwick, takes on a new challenge as Drew, the-boy-who-wants-to-be-a-rock-and-roll-star-and-starts-as-a-bar-back. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Watching “American Junkie” is Hard, But Worth It

Ian Bond in American Junkie (Studio 19 Photography)
American Junkie
Book-It Repertory Theatre
Through March 10, 2019

Watching someone act out shooting heroin and hearing them describe it is definitely discomfiting. Hearing in the description that they are removing wads of tissues from holes in their body that reach the bone to find flesh decent enough to shoot into could make the hearer feel like running to the bathroom to vomit. Yet, that is part of what is in store for audiences of a searing, yet compelling new work at Book-It Repertory Theatre.

American Junkie, an adaptation of a novel by former junkie, Tom Hansen, by Jane Jones and Kevin McKeon, is an intense experience. If you’re naïve about what junkies go through or experience, this ride will certainly fill in a few blank spots.

So, why would you want to put yourself through that? Because it’s important to understand people who are different from you, or to understand your relative or friend or friend’s friend who is going through something similar. We’re currently living through what is being termed “an opioid crisis,” yet those whose lives are unaffected probably don’t understand why it’s so hard to get ahead of these addiction issues.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

“Fire Season” Smolders Over Opioid Crisis

Mike Dooley and Kathryn Van Meter in Fire Season (Truman Buffett)

Fire Season
Seattle Public Theater
Through February 17, 2019

Seattle Public Theater launched a new playwriting prize, The Emerald Prize, in 2016. It’s a pretty large prize of $10,000. It was a long process that involved getting submissions from selected professionals who were tasked with providing five plays, three of which had to be from women or LGBTQ-identified writers or people of color, or an intersection of these categories. Aurin Squire, an eclectic writer of plays, docudramas and documentaries, journalistic efforts and television episodics, won the prize.

Squire came to Seattle and workshopped the play and eventually the play was chosen for SPT’s season and is now on stage. Fire Season is set in a small rural Washington State community. 

The program tells us that Squire has a sister who is a physician working in a rural area who had her prescription pad stolen and used for the purchasing of a lot of sedatives. The play includes a woman doctor in just such a circumstance as it tells the story of the scourge of opioid addiction in this small town. Dedra D. Woods plays the doctor and she details the difficulties faced by a doctor of color in a small town that is mostly white. 

Sunday, February 03, 2019

February 2019 Theater Openings

Diana Huey and Galen Disston in Rock of Ages (Mark Kitaoka)
A big musical, two different takes on Uncle Vanya, and a lot more is in store for your February theater-going pleasure. Check out what’s coming up!

Rock of Ages, 5th Avenue Theatre, 2/1-24/19 (opens 2/8)
Diana Huey comes back to town to headline this ‘80s rock ‘n’ roll homage. It’s the story of a small town girl and a city boy who meet on the Sunset Strip while pursuing their Hollywood dreams. Their rocking romance is told through the heart-pounding hits of Styx, Foreigner, Joan Jett, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister and more.

The Devil and Sarah Blackwater, Annex Theatre, 2/1/19-3/2/19 (world premiere)
Singer-songwriter Sarah Blackwater’s rock and roll tour is rudely interrupted when the Devil comes calling about a debt - the eternal soul of her partner, Sam. With love as her compass, Sarah goes through hell and back to discover what’s worth holding on to.

Uncle Vanya, The Seagull Project, 2/1-17/19 (at ACT Theatre)
Uncle Vanya is the second major play written by Anton Chekhov and premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre in 1898. A provincial family is in turmoil, after the esteemed Professor Serebryakov and his wife, Yelena, arrive to stay at the family estate after coming to the end of their fiscal rope. The desires of the family begin to boil under these new circumstances.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Maybe This Time For “I Do, I Do”, It’s “I Don’t”

Kendra Kassebaum and Peter Saide in I Do, I Do (Tracy Martin)
I Do, I Do
Village Theatre
Issaquah: through February 24, 2019 Everett: March 1-24, 2019

The little operetta, I Do, I Do, is not done very often, so I anticipated it a treat to be able to see an almost-lost musical such as this on stage. Village Theatre is mounting this show with two solid performers: local firebrand, Kendra Kassebaum, and imported leading-man, Peter Saide. Saide is lovely in the role, as a good singer, an adept dancer to director/choreographer Michael Arnold’s old-timey dances, and provides solid acting in the range of emotions the character goes through. (I just still wonder if there was a need to bring in talent with all the available men here who might easily do the role.)

I Do, I Do is pretty formulaic and there is almost nothing surprising about it. You can guess it’s the story, through song, of the life of a marriage. This one happens to begin, per the story it was built on, in 1895 and extend to 1945. The play, The Fourposter, by Jan de Hartog, was the genesis of the musical.