Friday, June 29, 2007

Stuff Happens


June 22nd - July 22nd

Tickets and Information

With the issue on Iraq still in hot debate, political playwright David Hare’s recent play, Stuff Happens, makes its way to ACT’s stage. This play puts forth a documentary style commentary that reviews the birth of the Iraq situation through the use of historic facts and staged internal government interactions. The words and events presented hold weight and are at the same time evenhanded; leaving out the playwright's bias for the most part and presenting interests from many sides.

ACT’s rendition of this play effectively uses its vast arena theater to present the varying locations and “audiences” the plot encounters. Through dynamic lighting (Mary Louise Geiger), effective sound (Dominic CodyKramers) and the mechanical uses of the set design (Robert A. Dahlstrom), the actual audience is transported from intimate conversations between Colin Powell and George Bush to the UN or large assemblies where they take the part of the assembled listening to speeches. Varied blocking is used to separate the factual narrative from the dramatic action, keeping the audience focused as testimonials and conversations present themselves from various sides of the discussion.

Photo Credit: Chris Bennion

Very powerful performances are given from the ensemble cast which boasts a great deal of well-known and talented actors, notably Charles Dumas in his depiction of the honest and conflicted Colin Powell. The collective force of the cast leads to moving moments, and effectively sways the audience to consider each character’s point. This play puts forth reasoning from many different angles, and members of the audience commented on their need to restrain anger or their admittance to better understanding of the issue; a testament to the actor’s portrayal and the director’s (Victor Pappas) abilities.

Mixing political thought, documentary narrative style and a dash of satirical humor, a dramatic and memorable account of the recent conflict is produced. Come see ACT’s and David Hare’s oval office/stage as it tackles the Iraq conflict June 22nd – July 22nd.

Review By Rick Skyler

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Etta Phifer's Testimonial Shoe Kismet - World Premiere

The Hansberry Project at ACT
June 16th - July 8th
Tickets and Information

This two women show, intimately set and performed, captures the audience’s attention at the very top. Imagine the setting; an elderly lady up early on the morning of her 80th birthday contemplating the course of her life through testimonial conversations with her shoes located throughout her apartment which each hold a significant position in the course of her life. From the beginning this show proves to be unique.

The playwright herself takes the role of the kismet, accentuating the emphasis that the shoes had on Etta’s personal life and ultimate fate as is now present on her birthday. The set (designed by Patti West) accommodates this dichotomy of reality vs. transcendence using different levels and colors, making the worldly apartment lower and washed in rich earthy tones while the realm of the kismet was white and situated upstage on a higher level. The intertwining of these two worlds lay in their strong use of shoes, but at times left one confused as to the true significance behind their connection, leading to some slow points in the story.

Photo Credit: Victoria Lahti

This intriguing show culminates in an ending that does a great job of making the final connection between the two realms, employing the significance of color in the costume changes and the connection between the two characters to address Etta’s struggle. Overall, the simplistic set, intriguing lighting design (Patti West) and dynamic character portrayals by both Demene E. Hall (Etta Phifer) and Shontina Vernon (Kismet), gives rise to a show that is enjoyable and leaves one with thoughts to discuss. There is a beauty that comes through in the honesty of the playwright on human condition and from this questions come forth.

Shontina Vernon’s talent has been recognized through being the first recipient of the Louise Jones MicKinney Playwriting Fellowship Award, which she received for the development of this show. Through the collaboration of Louise Jones McKinney, The ACT Theatre, and its collaborative partner, The Hansberry Project, a theatre that hopes to, “…become a center where the entire community can be enriched by the voices of professional black artists,” great works are produced such as Vernon’s unique and intriguing story.

Check out Etta Phifer’s Testimonial Shoe Kismet at ACT until July 8th.

Review by Rick Skyler

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Smokey Joe's Cafe - Dimitriou's Jazz Alley

Smokey Joe's Cafe
Dimitriou's Jazz Alley
June 12-17, 2007
Tickets and Information

Aside from the exquisite tuna appetizer and sophisticated environment, this portrayal of the longest-running musical review in the history of Broadway was not only exciting to experience but well received by the audience, who gave the performers a well-deserved standing ovation by the end of the evening. Many members of the audience were captivated by the one on one attention that the cast lavished upon them. This invoked much pleasure and encouragement from everyone, including the wives of the men who were being flirted. Through flirting, rhythmic involvement, and occasionally vocal additions, the audience experienced a concert to be remembered.

Mixing talent stemming from Seattle and extending to New York, the instrumentals and vocals in this performance wove together in a beautiful, harmonic tribute to the classic gift of enjoyment. From powerful ballads to upbeat classics of Leiber and Stoller, the alley was in a constant state of swaying and clapping. Throw in some accent lighting and dashing outfits, and despite choreography that had something to be desire, a spectacle emerges.

The songs ranged from ballads such as Fools Fall in Love, to more upbeat numbers such as Baby That is Rock and Roll and Love Potion #9; they included classics such as On Broadway, hilarious numbers such as Poison Ivy and Don Juan, and crowd energizers like I'm A Woman and Hound Dog.

Each member of the company had a distinct voice quality, with different tones, inflections and personalities, but every voice was extremely talented. Solos were carried with strength and style, but the singers were able to harmonize as well, blending their strong voices.

Join the Alley-goers through this Sunday the 17th as they dance in their seats in front of a divine meal. Tickets are $26.50, and reservations are recommended (contact Jazz Alley via the link above).

Reviewed by Rick Skyler and Lia Morgan

Friday, June 08, 2007

Seattle Public Theater’s Alumni Ensemble to perform Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia

Carnal embrace, hermits, waltzing, dueling, and the breakdown of the Romantic Imagination all find their way to Green Lake when Tom Stoppard’s landmark production comes

to the Bathhouse for one weekend only

"If ideas were flesh and all conception carnal, Tom Stoppard would be the sexiest writer of the modern stage."— Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Examiner

SEATTLE—Seattle Public Theater will be producing its Alumni Ensemble’s rendering of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia , playing June 28-29, 2007. This is the inaugural production of the alumni ensemble, a group of college students who share the experience of being shaped by Seattle Public Theater through their middle and high school years, who then return in the summer to produce a show of their choosing.

Arcadia is a brilliantly inventive play that moves back and forth between centuries, populated by a varied and vastly entertaining cast of characters who discuss such topics as the nature of truth and time, the difference between the classical and the romantic temperament, and the disruptive influence of sex on our orbits in life--according to the author, "the attraction which Newton left out.”

“That they chose Arcadia is no great surprise”, observes director Shana Bestock. “This is a smart and passionate group of young people, and I’m delighted to be working on Stoppard with them. I am honored that our education program has expanded to include college students. I expect audiences to be as thrilled as I am by watching the energy and verve that are trademarks of the youth program combined with the intelligence and sensitivity that define our Mainstage productions.”

Arcadia will be playing June 28-29, 2007, Thursday-Saturday at 7pm, with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. Attendance is free with suggested donation going to the SPT youth program.