Friday, October 31, 2008

The Drowsy Chaperone -- 5th Avenue Theatre

The 5th Avenue Theatre
October 29 - November 16 2008
Tickets and Information


If you’re feeling a little blue at the onset of winter weather, the 5th Avenue Theatre has an antidote for you in The Drowsy Chaperone, a musical comedy that staunchly defends its right to simply be entertaining. The show was originally conceptualized as a bachelor’s party present spoofing the raucous Marx Brothers’ musical comedies, popular in the 1920s. After taking home 5 Tony Awards, the national tour makes its final stop here in Seattle.

The Drowsy Chaperone starts off in the eclectic apartment of the musical theater obsessed Man in Chair (Jonathan Crombie). Fighting off “non-specific sadness,” he asks us to indulge him while he plays his favorite musical, the “classic” Drowsy Chaperone. As soon as he sets needle to record, the show transports itself to his living room—a Broadway story of a young couple on the eve of their wedding. But of course this is a musical comedy in every classic sense, and so catastrophes occur in the form of mistaken identities, random tap numbers, and a drunken diva of a bridesmaid.

However, we would be doing this Tony Award-winning book (by Bob Martin and Don McKellar) and score (Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison) a disservice to categorize them as a ‘classic’ musical. From the first moment of the show, the fourth wall comes “crashing down around us,” as the Man in the Chair talks directly to us, about theater itself. The Man in the Chair is the only real character in the framing play; every other character explodes out of his record collection. In some ways the show is more about the Man than anyone else; throughout the whirligig of color and sound and vaudeville, he interrupts to tell us to watch for his favorite moment, or jumps up to sing and dance along with the others—though they, of course, do not notice his presence. Each time he engages with the “unreal” actors or with us, we learn more about him, and why musicals—especially The Drowsy Chaperone—are so desperately important to him.

Director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw won Tony Awards for both duties, and it is not difficult to see why. Directing a show with two such distinct layers—a one-man show plus a nearly-farcical comedy—needs a careful hand, and the transitions between the two are handled masterfully. The comedic timing of every moment is perfect, to both Nicholaw’s and every actor’s credit, and the precision required for this style is there in spades. The choreography of the internal musical plays off the styles of the 1920s, from a sweeping balcony-set ballad to an impressive tap number, while still looking fresh and interesting.

All of the outrageousness brought by the choreography and performances is matched bar for bar by the clever set and lavish (also Tony Award-winning) costumes. David Gallo’s scenic design constantly transforms the Man in the Chair’s drab furniture and d├ęcor into decadent balconies and romantic gardens with the upturn of a Murphy bed or the addition of curtains. Gregg Barnes earns every ounce of his Tony with dozens of sequin-bedazzled gowns and outfits that grace the stage throughout the show. Both artists clearly worked in concert to visually differentiate between the dull reality of the Man in Chair’s apartment and the opulent fantasy of The Drowsy Chaperone.

The Drowsy Chaperone is the epitome of a two-for-one production; as we experience the show in all its glory, we are simultaneously let into the life and journey of one die-hard musical fan. The show manages to be much more profound than perhaps it set out to be; but it lets us reflect, by proxy, on our own hunger for musicals, and why “it’s simply entertaining” is sometimes the best (and most important) reason of all to enjoy one.


Review by Gwynn Garland and Lia Morgan

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Henry IV

Seattle Shakespeare Company
October 23 - November 16, 2008
Get tickets online at Seattle Shakes Online

As is the same with every Seattle Shakespeare show I have attended, Henry IV did not disappoint. The twist that was added this night was the binding of parts 1 and 2 of Shakespeare’s piece into 1 night of entertainment. One would think this would make for a long night, but the talent, excitement and energy of the production makes time a non-issue. The cast’s communication not only aids their effectiveness in relating the story, but drives the audience into England and makes the characters come alive.

Henry IV follows the story of King Henry IV (David Pichette) and his relentless struggle with his estranged son, Hal (Tim Gouran), who has given over to a life of drinking and parties with a man named Falstaff (Richard Ziman). As the plot progresses, unrest boils in the King’s realm and Hal is finally forced to face his father and decide how his transition into responsibility and manhood will progress. This powerful interaction brings into question fate, passion, devotion and responsibility, bringing the relation to modern day and human reality to the thoughts of the audience.


Tim Gouran and David Pichette
Photo Credit: John Ulman

The momentum of the production was strong and kept the action moving from scene to scene. Even the set (Pete Rush) and its simple display effectively aids the action, allowing the movement to flow easily from moment to moment while clearly defining the setting. As part of the set, a row of hanging chains plays a pivotal part in fight sequences, heightening the anticipation and artfully bringing a new dynamic to the seating arrangement, which placed two audience spaces facing each other across the stage. Complimented by a descriptive lighting display (Tim Wratten), the story and its concepts were made even clearer and apparent.

This smooth transitional element is also evident in the direction that Stephanie Shine applies to the production. Aside from the difficult blocking that allows both sides of the audience to see the action and experience the emotion, the character development of the key roles, Prince Hal’s move from boy to man and King Henry’s change from ruthless leader to falling legend to name a few, were developed with an ease that speaks to the humanness of the situation.

The aforementioned talent the cast displays is apparent in the way that transition can be made instantaneously between side-splitting humor, which at times manifested itself in skillfully directed eye contact with audience members, and gripping dramatic moments. The beautiful skill of Shakespeare’s writing reflects this quick pace change as the key pivotal moment in the show where Hal hears of the imminent unrest explodes out of a raucous party filled with mocking humor and high frivolity. To follow these very human ideas of frivolous excitement to immense responsibility is a challenge, and one that the production carries through.

Adorned with rich colored costumes (Pete Rush) that accentuate the standing in society and aid the set in telling the story, the cast along with the production crew, design team and all members of the Seattle Shakespeare Company pull off a great evening of talent and entertainment to tickle the senses. Catch Henry IV at the Seattle Center – Center House Theatre Oct. 23 – Nov. 16, 2008.

Reviewed by: Rick Skyler

Friday, October 24, 2008

Becky's New Car - ACT


ACT
October 23 - November 16 2008
Tickets and Information
206 - 292 7676


After a week of previews, Steven Dietz’s Becky’s New Car, a world premiere at ACT and commissioned as a birthday present for a patron’s wife, finally opened to a full house and a well-deserved standing ovation. It also kicked off ACT’s New Works for the American Stage Program. Several more productions are in the works for this new program, giving faithful Seattle theater-goers fresh plays to look forward to in subsequent years.


Becky’s New Car is a comedy, and like all successful comedies it is based in usually painful truth told with often brutal honesty. Becky (Kimberley King), an accountant for a local car dealership, is the typical suburban working mother. She has a reliable husband, Joe (Charles Leggett); a freeloading student son, Chris (Benjamin Harris); and a co-worker friend, Steve (R. Hamilton Wright), who uses Becky as his makeshift grief counselor. All is going predictably ‘okay’, until Walter Flood (Michael Winters), an eccentric billionaire and widower, stumbles into the deserted dealership one night as Becky is working late. Walter’s one misconception and Becky’s missed chance to correct him lead her down an alternate path, into a life very different from the one she is used to- one with the new car smell! Of course, life in comedy is never that easy; the addition of Walter’s daughter Kenni (Anna-Lisa Carlson) and old friend Ginger (Suzanne Bouchard), on top of Becky’s mounting list of cover-ups, ends up in a hilarious disaster.

Photo by Chris Bennion


The foundation of a successful production is always the script; the more rich and colorful the text, the farther the collaborating artists can take the piece. Steven Dietz paints a fearlessly honest portrait of a world where tact is thrown to the wayside and thoughts spew forth like an exploding Sprite can. Dietz’s characters are so carefully constructed that you hardly notice that they are creations at all, until one of them shatters the fourth wall with a polite offer of a soda or a request to collate copies in a file (yes, really!). King herself tells her story directly to the audience, easily shuttling between living room and office with a word to the light booth and a saunter across the stage. The play’s meta-theatrical style draws the audience in, quite literally, to the life of the characters and enhances all of the hilarity that ensues. What is remarkable is that we feel sympathy equally for all parties; every character is a good person with noticeable flaws. This is due both to Dietz’s witty dialogue and the actors’ superb talents.


Director Kurt Beattie (also ACT’s Artistic Director) has done an admirable job choreographing such a madcap comedy, as well as drawing out the best of each performer. In particular, King’s every reaction was completely uninhibited, heightened enough for comedy while still natural enough that we identified with each one. Leggett’s Joe was quietly phenomenal; as each scene unfolds Leggett reveals another layer of character, until we simultaneously admire and pity him. R. Hamilton Wright’s Steve is a tightly wound packet of neurosis and vulnerability; he is constantly reaching out for human contact, but too socially awkward to ever achieve it. It cannot be stated enough that there was not a weak link in this chain of a cast.

As is (almost) always the case at ACT, the technical side of the production is seamlessly integrated with the rest of the show. William Bloodgood’s set is composed of painted car silhouettes, garishly lit car advertisements that flew in and out to represent the dealership, and several smaller pieces that swooped on and offstage, each particular to their respective space but general enough to let the acting carry the scene. Rick Paulsen’s lighting design perfectly complemented the meta-theatrical style of storytelling, at once highlighting individual spaces and evoking a variety of environments, whether the harsh light of an office or the graceful wash of a billionaire’s balcony.


Becky’s New Car is that perfect blend of hilarious comedy and substantial weight, a story about choices and consequences that could believably happen to anyone. And just a tip for those of you who enjoy a cold one with your entertainment: sit in the front row!

Review by Lia Morgan and Gwynn Garland

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Three Musketeers

The Seattle Repertory Theatre
October 2 - November 15, 2008
Tickets Online at: seattlerep.org

As the Seattle Repertory Theatre’s Production of The Three Musketeers unfolded, more than just the actors found humor in the dynamic character interactions and ridiculous succession of plot points. This comedic show carried the audience along, keeping the laughs rolling, the verbal tomato throwing active and the excitement bursting forth. The show made no pretenses as a serious dramatic story, but rather fed off the comedic drive inherent in the writing directing and acting.

From the moment the curtain rose, the audience was pulled into another one of the treats the show had to offer; the various fight scenes, artfully choreographed and consisting of weapons ranging from swords to muskets, and duos to octets. The staging of the fights was done by the renowned Rick Sordelet, fight choreographer for over 40 Broadway shows, including all the Disney shows. This production did not disappoint his reputation, in fact it was so gracefully employed that the plot seemed to stem from the fighting. The action scenes truly knew no bounds and utilized every aspect of the situation available.

One of those situations was the grand and industrial set, designed by John Arnone. With self-gliding props from candles to stairs to an altar that rose like an angel and descends like a demon, the playing space was surprisingly simple for its infinite shapes.

The ensemble worked very well together and played to their end with much gusto. The acting was appropriately overdone, with a laugh around every corner and no joke left un-chewed. With the exception of a few instances that were unnecessarily overblown, the characters fit the action perfectly.

The show meshed period and modern day styles by means of the costuming done by Nan Cibula-Jenkins, blocking and language. The show is suitable for all ages, so if your looking for a night of laughs and a great opportunity to be wowed with humor, come see:

The Three Musketeers

Running October 2- November 15, 2008

And remember, All for one, …well you know the rest.

Reviewed by: Rick Skyler and Frederick Van Englehousen

Weekly Update - 10/10/2008

Lee Center for the Arts
Information
Melancholy Play >November 13 - 23, 2008

Seattle Shakespeare

SEASON TICKETS ON SALE NOW- *NOT SINGLE TICKETS
Henry IV >October 23 - November 16, 2008
The Servant of Two Masters >January 8 - February 1, 2009
The Turn of the Screw >January 13 - 28, 2009
The Merchant of Venice >March 12 - April 5, 2009
The Tempest >June 4 - 28, 2009

Taproot Theater Company
SEASON TICKETS ON SALE NOW
Susan and God >September 24 - October 24, 2008
Gee's Bend >January 28 - February 28, 2009
Tuesdays With Morrie >March 25 - April 25, 2009
Around the World in 80 Days >March 20 - June 20, 2009
Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming >July 18 - August 15, 2009
Enchanted April >September 25 - October 24, 2009

Seattle Children's Theater
SEASON AND SINGLE TICKETS ON SALE NOW
Bluenose >October 17 - December 14, 2008
The Wizard of Oz >November 21, 2008 - January 17, 2009
Tomas and the Library Lady >January 9 - March 1, 2009
Pharaoh Serket and the Lost Stone of Fire >January 30 - March 7, 2009
The Tale of Two Cities >March 20 - April 12, 2009
Goodnight Moon >April 10 - June 14, 2009
I Was a Rat! >May 1 - June 14, 2009

Intiman Theater
ALL ON SALE NOW
All the King's Men >October 3 - November 8, 2008
Black Nativity >November 29 - December 27, 2008

Seattle Repertory Theatre
SEASON AND SINGLE TICKETS ON SALE NOW
The Night Watcher >September 25 - October 26, 2008
The Three Musketeers >October 2 - November 15, 2008
Boom >November 13 - December 14, 2008
You Can't Take It With You >November 28, 2008 - January 3, 2009
Waiting for Godot >January 15 - February 14, 2009
Rollick >February 5 - March 28, 2009
The Seafarer >February 26 - March 28, 2009
Betrayal >March 26 - April 26, 2009
Wishful Drinking >April 2 - May 3, 2009

ACT Theater
ALL ON SALE NOW
PROJECT ORPHEUS >September 13 - October 4 (Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm)
Becky's New Car >October 17 - November 16, 2008

Seattle Opera
ALL ON SALE NOW
Elektra >October 18 - November 1, 2008
Pearl Fishers >January 10 - 24, 2009
Bluebeard's Castle & Erwartung >February 21 - March 7, 2009
Marriage of Figaro >May 2 - 16, 2009

Paramount
ALL ON SALE NOW
A Chorus Line >August 5 - 10, 2008
The Phantom of the Opera >September 10 - October 4, 2008
Spring Awakening >October 14 - 19, 2008
The Color Purple >December 16 - 28, 2008

The 5th Avenue Theatre
SEASON TICKETS ON SALE NOW
SINGLE TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR SHREK AND THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
The Drowsy Chaperone >October 28 - November 16, 2008
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers >December 3 - 28, 2008 - on sale Sep. 19
Memphis >January 27 - February 15, 2008, 2009 - on sale Sep. 19
Hello, Dolly! >March 8 - 29, 2009 - on sale Jan. 9
Sunday in the Park With George >April 21 - May 10, 2009 - on sale Jan. 9
Grease >May 12 - 30, 2009 - on sale Feb. 6

__________________________________________________________

Dimitrou's Jazz Alley
Tickets and Information

Want Salon Quality Hair Services for a Fraction of the Cost?
Gary Manuel Aveda Institute

Looking for a Great Read?
Brett Dean McGibbon's Different Fish Bookstore

Friday, October 03, 2008

Weekly Update - 10/3/2008

Weekly Update - 9/26/2008

Lee Center for the Arts
Information
UNREGISTERED: a political cabaret >Saturday Night Only!

Seattle Shakespeare

SEASON TICKETS ON SALE NOW- *NOT SINGLE TICKETS
Henry IV >October 23 - November 16, 2008
The Servant of Two Masters >January 8 - February 1, 2009
The Turn of the Screw >January 13 - 28, 2009
The Merchant of Venice >March 12 - April 5, 2009
The Tempest >June 4 - 28, 2009

ReAct
ON SALE NOW
Last Five Years >September 18 - October 10, 2008

Taproot Theater Company
SEASON TICKETS ON SALE NOW
Susan and God >September 24 - October 24, 2008
Gee's Bend >January 28 - February 28, 2009
Tuesdays With Morrie >March 25 - April 25, 2009
Around the World in 80 Days >March 20 - June 20, 2009
Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming >July 18 - August 15, 2009
Enchanted April >September 25 - October 24, 2009

Seattle Children's Theater
SEASON AND SINGLE TICKETS ON SALE NOW
Bluenose >October 17 - December 14, 2008
The Wizard of Oz >November 21, 2008 - January 17, 2009
Tomas and the Library Lady >January 9 - March 1, 2009
Pharaoh Serket and the Lost Stone of Fire >January 30 - March 7, 2009
The Tale of Two Cities >March 20 - April 12, 2009
Goodnight Moon >April 10 - June 14, 2009
I Was a Rat! >May 1 - June 14, 2009

Intiman Theater
ALL ON SALE NOW
All the King's Men >October 3 - November 8, 2008
Black Nativity >November 29 - December 27, 2008

Seattle Repertory Theatre
SEASON AND SINGLE TICKETS ON SALE NOW
The Night Watcher >September 25 - October 26, 2008
The Three Musketeers >October 2 - November 15, 2008
Boom >November 13 - December 14, 2008
You Can't Take It With You >November 28, 2008 - January 3, 2009
Waiting for Godot >January 15 - February 14, 2009
Rollick >February 5 - March 28, 2009
The Seafarer >February 26 - March 28, 2009
Betrayal >March 26 - April 26, 2009
Wishful Drinking >April 2 - May 3, 2009

ACT Theater
ALL ON SALE NOW
Eurydice >September 5 - October 5, 2008
PROJECT ORPHEUS >September 13 - October 4 (Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm)
Becky's New Car >October 17 - November 16, 2008

Seattle Opera
ALL ON SALE NOW
Elektra >October 18 - November 1, 2008
Pearl Fishers >January 10 - 24, 2009
Bluebeard's Castle & Erwartung >February 21 - March 7, 2009
Marriage of Figaro >May 2 - 16, 2009

Paramount
ALL ON SALE NOW
A Chorus Line >August 5 - 10, 2008
The Phantom of the Opera >September 10 - October 4, 2008
Spring Awakening >October 14 - 19, 2008
The Color Purple >December 16 - 28, 2008

The 5th Avenue Theatre
SEASON TICKETS ON SALE NOW
SINGLE TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR SHREK AND THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
The Drowsy Chaperone >October 28 - November 16, 2008
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers >December 3 - 28, 2008 - on sale Sep. 19
Memphis >January 27 - February 15, 2008, 2009 - on sale Sep. 19
Hello, Dolly! >March 8 - 29, 2009 - on sale Jan. 9
Sunday in the Park With George >April 21 - May 10, 2009 - on sale Jan. 9
Grease >May 12 - 30, 2009 - on sale Feb. 6

__________________________________________________________

Dimitrou's Jazz Alley
Tickets and Information

Want Salon Quality Hair Services for a Fraction of the Cost?
Gary Manuel Aveda Institute

Looking for a Great Read?
Brett Dean McGibbon's Different Fish Bookstore
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