Thursday, September 08, 2022

September Theater Feels More Like It Used To!

What The Constitution Means To Me with Cassie Beck (Joan Marcus)

As we go back to school somewhat normally, and fall weather starts to get a bit more cloudy and damp, Seattle theater companies are bringing back more and more productions! This month, we get some major plays people have been hoping to see (Choir Boy, in a co-pro of ACT Theatre and 5th Ave, my favorite tour play by ex-local Heidi Schreck – What the Constitution Means to Me) and world premieres! And we get a gift from stalwart company, Theatre22, as they bid us adieu (maybe just for now).
Where We Belong, Seattle Rep, 9/8/22-10/9/22 (tour from Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co)
An indigenous theater-maker, Madeline Sayet, journeys to England in 2015 to pursue a PhD in Shakespeare. She finds a country unable to acknowledge its ongoing role in colonialism.  Madeline echoes a journey to England braved by Native ancestors in the 1700s following treatise betrayals – and forces us to consider what it means to belong in an increasingly globalized world.
The Griswolds' Broadway Vacation, 5th Avenue Theatre, 9/9/22-10/1/22 (world premiere) (opens 9/22)
They’ve been to Wally World, they’ve been to Vegas, and now the Griswolds are going to… Broadway! Yes, the characters you know and love from the hit Warner Bros. Vacation movies are back—and they’re taking their biggest vacation yet. So, get in your family truckster and join Clark, Ellen, Audrey, and Rusty on their big New York City adventure—where of course, everything goes exactly according to plan!
Nonsense and Beauty, Theatre22, 9/9/22-10/2/22, at The Bathhouse (T22’s last show)
The play follows the eminent British novelist E.M. Forster as his romance with Bob Buckingham, a policeman 23 years his junior, falls prey to his fear of discovery. After Bob marries May, a compassionate young woman, Forster remains ensnared in a turbulent and unique love triangle until his death nearly 40 years later. Based on a true story, Nonsense and Beauty captures the wit and wisdom of one of the last century’s great writers.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Sleepy August Theater still has new surprises

Talking buildings in People in the Square (photo by Jane Richlovsky)
Theater in the parks is winding down and August is a bit on the quiet side, but there are three shows opening that you can consider. People In The Square is a sweet music-and-narrative new show in a new/old space. There used to be a Skid Road Theatre, and now the folks at Beneath the Streets have opened their location to include stage events, again! So it’s the NEW Skid Road Theatre. At 65 minutes, it is an homage to Pioneer Square and all the various sorts of people who populate it, visit it, and swing through it.
Pork-Filled Productions has a swashbuckle show to check out, She Devil of the China Seas, with a female pirate who truly was the most formidable bad-ass ever known, I think. Centerstage is focused on the Pacific Northwest with The Oregon Trail.
People In The Square: The Pioneer Square Musical, Creative Hiatus Prods., 8/4-27/22 (at The New Skid Road Theatre, 102 Cherry St.)
People in the Square is a cabaret-style musical revue which invites the audience a glimpse into the many different inhabitants, past and present, of Pioneer Square. A four-member cast and three-piece band bring to life this musical history lesson through time. Based on historical people and events, the show is a collection of songs and short scenes, celebrating the diversity and fascinating stories of Seattle’s first neighborhood. This musical ranges in time from the original inhabitants of the Duwamish and Suquamish Tribes, early pioneers and gold miners, fast-forwarding to those who frequent Pioneer Square today. Converging on the Square are the wealthy, the poor, occupants, visitors, sports fans and art dealers, most never being truly aware of the other, despite occupying the same three acres together. Join us to experience this incredible journey through time of the ever-evolving melting pot in the heart of Seattle!
She Devil of the China Seas, Pork-Filled Prods., 8/11-27/22 (at Theatre Off Jackson)
Pirate queen clashes with immortal sorceress in a mashup of true history, sword/sorcery and Marvel Comics! She Devil is based on the real-life figure, Zhang Tse, history’s most successful pirate. She defeated both Imperial Chinese and European fleets in her spectacular career in the 19th Century and ruled over a fleet of hundreds of thousands of pirates!
Tse knew one thing: survival. She clawed her way up, using any means possible to aid her injured sister, Hei. But when China’s pirate king, Zhang Ngoi, offers her a chance for more, the sorceress Moh and her dark forces gather to destroy her before she can even accept…and fulfill a destiny from the gods!
The Oregon Trail, Centerstage Theatre, 8/19/22-9/11/22
Funny, provocative, and intelligent, The Oregon Trail follows 90’s kid Jane from Middle School, where she takes solace in her favorite 8-bit video game, to adulthood, where the game seems to follow her with its all-knowing gaze, helping her navigate her growing pains. As she grapples with what it is she truly wants, Jane meets someone entirely unexpected: her own great-great-grandmother, on the Oregon Trail…in 1848.
For more articles, please go to and subscribe to get them right in your in-box!

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

July Starts Theater In the Park Time

Titanish picture (Truman Buffett)
As most summer-theater-park-goers know, a whole weekend is devoted to “park shows” all in one lovely location to fit them all: Volunteer Park. Known as Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival, a combination of all the Shakespeare shows and some kid-specific entertainments are spread throughout the park and throughout both weekend days. Organized mostly by the folks at Greenstage, you can find the schedule here: Yes, they are all free. But yes, you could consider donating to all the hardworking companies getting out in the (hopefully) hot sun to entertain you with merriments!
Drum and Colors: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Cymbeline, Seattle Shakespeare Company and Wooden O Productions, 7/7/22-8/7/22 (at various parks in the area)
Midsummer Night’s Dream
When two pairs of mixed-up lovers, along with a troupe of amateur players, stumble into the forest of two feuding fairies, it results in an enchanting mix of merriment. After a love potion plan goes awry, the fairy queen’s heart is captured by an unlikely community actor transformed into a donkey. Mischief maker Puck not only creates romantic chaos, but also has to fix things right, again. (Includes puppets.)
Follow Imogen on a magical journey. With their lover banished and family torn apart, Imogen sets out on an adventure to reclaim their love and reconcile the family. Forbidden love, mistaken identities, banishment, and a magic potion— Shakespeare combines multiple styles in this endlessly inventive fairy tale.

Mega Hero Rangers Go Go Go Supreme!!!
, The 14/48 Projects, 7/9-30/22 (at various parks in the area) We meet the Mega Hero Rangers, a group of friends and superheroes who meet their ultimate adversary and have their powers taken away! Deep-rooted tensions come to a head, splitting up the super friends... Will the Rangers discover how to navigate the world on their own, without their powers?
Black Coffee, Taproot Theatre Company, 7/13/22-8/13/22
The formula for a secret weapon has been stolen, and that isn’t the only mystery in the Amory house! When Sir Claude discovers the theft, he locks his family in the library. Moments later, there’s a dead body, a room full of suspects, and a Belgian sleuth at the door. Witness Agatha Christie’'s famous Hercule Poirot untangle a jumble of deceptions to discover whodunit.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

"The Bonesetter’s Daughter" – Beautiful and Moving at Book-It Repertory Theatre

Mara Palma and Desiree Mee Jung in The Bonesetter's Daughter (Anthony Floyd)

The Bonesetter’s Daughter
Book-It Repertory Theatre
Through July 3, 2022
If you are a “reader,” and you love how novelists artfully draw you into the world of the book, you might already revere Amy Tan. Tan’s writing is compelling, descriptive, and sketches the personalities she writes about in vivid terms. She is not likely everyone “cup of tea” in terms of being an “easy” read. While her first book became a blockbuster and a movie (The Joy Luck Club), a later book, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, is a more patient read, one that takes time to allow to unfold.
The Bonesetter’s Daughter has at least one story-within-a-story. It’s a fairly long book, and Desdemona Chiang and Book-It Repertory Theatre have decided to adapt it into a play using about a third of the entire book. Chiang’s choices, as adapter, seem well-decided and the experience of seeing this book come to life is delightful and intense. The production, at over two and a half hours, immerses you into China a century ago.
Ruth (Sunam Ellis) is a modern Chinese-American woman who has a busy life and a mother who is descending into Alzheimer’s. Ruth and her mother, like many relationships in Tan books, have a difficult relationship. Part of that is because the mother, Lu Ling (Desiree Mee Jung) was quite harsh with Ruth, strict and even abusive, as she demanded that Ruth “channel” the spirit of her mother’s “nursemaid” Precious Auntie (Khanh Doan). Precious Auntie was so maimed and disfigured around her mouth that she cannot speak, but Lu Ling understood her.
Ruth tries to support her mother, but there are emotional barriers. Then she finds a manuscript that her mother had offered her many times, but she never got around to translating it or reading it. Now, as her mother forgets, Ruth realizes that she must find out what the book says.

“Bruce” – A Musical About Tension With Absolutely No Tension

Jarrod Spector and E. Faye Butler in Bruce (Lindsay Thomas)
Seattle Rep
Through June 26, 2022
My question before I saw the world premiere musical, Bruce, at Seattle Rep was: What is it? And my question after I saw it was: Why?
So, quick rundown: “Bruce” equals JAWS the movie, the shark named by director Steven Spielberg when he was just 26 years old as he began planning it from the script, and The JAWS Log by last-script-doctor Carl Gottlieb as he worked on the film and subsequently published a book.
The musical is not a “bad” one… and in fact there are some very, very good parts. So, it’s not that it’s boring, exactly. But the entire musical is about the “making” of the movie we all know was a major blockbuster, the first summer blockbuster ever, and a world-wide phenomenon. But does that mean it should then get turned into a musical? Be worked on by people for several years? Have tens of thousands of dollars spent on it?

Saturday, June 04, 2022

June Is Flowering in Seattle Theater

The cast of LIZZIE (courtesy Just Us Girls & Co.)
Check out this list of productions opening this month and see if something meets your fancy. Get outcher calendars!
Air Play, Seattle Children’s Theatre, 6/1-12/22
Wmbrellas fly, fabrics soar over the audience, balloons swallow people, and snow swirls, filling the stage. Part comedy, part sculpture, part circus, part theater, this play has it all.  No translation necessary in this circus-style adventure of two siblings journeying through a surreal land of air, transforming ordinary objects into uncommon beauty.  Great for all ages (5 and up).
Skin Flick, The Phoenix Theatre, 6/4-27/22
Norm Foster is Canada’s version of Neil Simon – a prolific comedy playwright. The Phoenix Theatre loves performing Foster’s work! Here, Rollie finds himself in a financial bind. He’s always provided for his wife Daphne, but now he’s lost his job at the costume shop, and he’s going to have to come up with something fast! What he finds leads Rollie and Daphne to learn what’s at the heart of their marriage.
The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Book-It Repertory Theatre, 6/8/22-7/3/22 (world premiere)
Ruth wants to be a better daughter to a mother whose mind is quickly sliding into the haze of dementia. If only her mother—who spent Ruth’s childhood talking to ghosts, lamenting a family curse, and refusing to acclimate to life in America—was just a little easier to love. When Ruth rediscovers a stack of papers in the bottom of a drawer, carefully penned in calligraphy, she realizes that it may not be too late to meet a woman she thought had been lost to her long ago. The Bonesetter’s Daughter is a deeply moving chronicle of war and revenge, joy and connection, and the profound love that can exist between mothers and daughters. Adapted by Desdemona Chiang from award-winning Amy Tan’s intimate novel.