Thursday, June 25, 2009 Homepage!

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Andrew J. Perez,
Founder and General Manager

Friday, June 19, 2009

the break/s-- ACT

the break/s: a mixtape for the stage
June 17-July 12, 2009
Tickets and Information

“This story begins in the middle.” With the breaks, you step right into the mind and world of playwright and performer Marc Bamuthi Joseph. You hear and feel the world as it exists for him through his cross-cultural journeys in life and hip-hop. Thanks to the Hansberry Project at ACT, Bamuthi Joseph brings his unique spin and experience to the table for all to enjoy in this bountiful feast for the senses that is the breaks.

Bamuthi Joseph exudes the confidence and control of a mastermind at work. From the minute he walks out and bows at every corner onstage (is he praying or marking his territory?) he times every muscle movement and facial expression to the internal beat of the moment. He comfortably jumps in and out of the characters and emotional states that are weaved beautifully into his stories and magically related to specific people in the audience.

Photo by Bethany Hines.

But Bamuthi Joseph would be just another guy on a stage without his backup crew of Tommy Shepherd (aka Soulati) and DJ Excess. The beats and scratches that Excess and Soulati throw down are simply ‘sick’, but not as sick as how perfectly they timed their actions to invisible cues from Bamuthi Joseph. It is obvious that they rehearsed with and studied his actions to create such a fluid performance of music, soul, and story.

The technical elements (video by David Szlasa, lights by James Clotfelter, and set design by both) supported the performances exactly. Szlasa’s video clips acted alternately as the mood setter and action creator. Clotfelter’s lights created intimate scenes for Bamuthi Joseph to connect deeper with the audience.

Photo by Bethany Hines.

Michael John Garces handled fabulously what must have been the difficult task of reigning in the forces of this production. Every beat (musical and theatrical) was as tight as it could have been in this 80-minute drive-by of a show. Whether or not you particularly enjoy hip-hop, this is not an event to be missed. At the heart, Bamuthi Joseph is a master storyteller who will weave you through the delicacies and heartbreaks that come with the assumptions made about hip-hop, and human culture in general.

Review by Kacey Shiflet

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Tempest -- Seattle Shakespeare Company

The Tempest
Seattle Shakespeare Company
June 4-28, 2009
Tickets and Information

The Tempest is one of Shakespeare’s later plays—many believe it to be his last—and the themes of forgiveness, the hope of the next generation, and the cycle of life are all ripe for inspiration and interpretation. Seattle Shakespeare Company and director George Mount have created a Tempest set in a dreamscape, slightly filtered through the sorcerer Prospero’s own memory and mind, as he brings all of his friends and enemies together to his enchanted isle for revenge, and ultimately reconciliation.

Michael Winters as Prospero. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

SSC has talked up their casting of Michael Winters as Prospero, and he does not disappoint, bringing a gravity and quiet discovery to the role that humanizes the sorcerer. Hana Lass brings a sideways sensibility to the role of Ariel, her appropriate but slightly odd reactions reminding us that this creature, however elegant, is not at all human. As the comic denizens of the isle, Kerry Ryan as Trinculo, Eric Ray Anderson as Stephano, and Peter Dylan O’Connor as Caliban form the perfect off-kilter trio, blundering their way drunkenly with spot-on comic timing. The rest of the cast also serve their characters well; from the conniving lords of Italy to the innocent young lovers, there is not a weak link in the entire ensemble.

The design for this production is striking, and guides the audience easily into the dream-like world of the play. The set designer, L.B. Morse, seems to open the small theater out and backwards, and strings the stage with sailing tackle, masts and ropes hanging at the edges of the playing space—which some actors make full use of, climbing and swinging. Roberta Russell’s lights play across the blue and white shades of the set, creating soft pools of warmer tones or harsh flashes of stormy reds, and L.B. Morse’s occasional projections on the back wall of the set add to confusion or to the spirits’ magic. Doris Black’s costumes referenced Victoriana, Steampunk, and a little Cabaret style, nevertheless creating a cohesive and striking world.

Hana Lass as Ariel. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

The sound design (Robertson Witmer) and music (Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher) became an integral part of the production, showcasing the magic that Prospero and Ariel wove around the visitors to the isle. Sykes and Wandscher composed original music for this particular production, and their haunting melodies and simple guitar lines, paired with Ariel (Hana Lass)’s smooth voice, made for an otherworldly effect.

George Mount succeeded in bringing together this particular concept, the considerable talents of the cast, and the beautiful designs into a cohesive and spectacular whole; every person involved in every element embraced their tasks, and the play, wholeheartedly. That commitment, and the talent to back it up, shines through in this retelling of a tempestuous story.

Review by Kenna Kettrick & Kacey Shiflet