Archive for the ‘theater’ Category

On sale: Taproot Theater’s 2010 season

Taproot Theater will be back in action later this month, re-opening its newly-restored Greenwood playhouse damaged in the October fire. Single show tickets are now on sale for all five plays by phone at 206.781.9707 and online at their website. As the final finishing touches are put on the restoration work walk up sales are delayed until the theater reopens in late January.

The first show in the 2010 series is The Great Divorice, running from January 27 through February 27. George Drance and The Magic Theater have adapted C.S. Lewis’s original work in which the author spends a drizzly afternoon going on a fantastic bus ride from the mysterious “grey town” to a beautiful destination that seems to be just ever-so-out of reach, a journey through heaven and hell with a cast of eccentric and funny characters who just might remind you of people you know.

March features Brooklyn Boy, a story of growing up, coming home and making sense of it all; May features the charming classic Charley’s Aunt. Mad Don Quixote tilts at windmills with his trusty sidekick Sancho Paza in a restaging of Man of La Mancha, opening in early July and the season wraps up late September through October with the regional premiere of Wedding Belles, a sweet new comedy by the creator of Smoke on the Mountain.

Rockettes kick off holiday season with Toys for Tots toy drive

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The world-famous Radio City Rockettes are arriving in Seattle for the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” that opens at the Paramount Theater this Saturday, December 12, and runs through January 3.

To kick off the celebration of the season, the Rockettes and the US Marines are collecting toys for needy children with the Toys for Tots campaign. Follow the searchlights to the Paramount by 7:00 pm for the arrival of the Rockettes and a dozen USMC members decked in full Dress Blues as they are conveyed to the theater by Duck, courtesy of Ride the Duck.

Inside the theater, the Mosaic Arts NW Choir will sing carols and Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus will read “T’was the Night Before Christmas” on stage.

At 8:00 pm the curtain rises on a show filled with music, dancing, a trip to the North Pole, a “Living Nativity”, and, of course, a whole bunch of leg kicks.

Tickets for all performances can be purchased at Ticketmaster or through the Paramount Box office. The Sunday, January 3rd 2:00 pm matinee will be ASL translated by Lisa Reynolds and Ginevra Deianni; the 5:00 pm show the same day will feature Open Captioning.

It’s a Wonderful Life at Taproot

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photo by Erik Stuhaug

Everyone knows It’s a Wonderful Life: George Bailey is having a horrible day and is on the brink of ending it all when he meets novice guardian angel Clarence and gets a chance to see just what an impact he’s made on the world. While Taproot Theater waits out repairs to their arson-damaged Greenwood theater, they’ve taken up temporary residence at North Seattle Community College to present a live radio play version of the classic Christmas story.

Audiences are transported back to 1947 where they become the live studio audience for an imagined radio broadcast starring Grant Goodeve and Mark Lund and featuring Jesse Notehelfer, Eric Riedmann,Alex Robertson and Candace Vance.

The show continues Tuesdays through Saturdays except for Christmas Eve and Christmas day until the end of the month. Since the Taproot Box Office is currently being reconstructed, tickets can be purchased over the phone at 206-781-9707 Tuesday – Saturday, noon – 5pm or in person 30 minutes before the show.

Xanadu on sale at the Paramount

Xanadu084
image courtesy STG Presents

Despite the fact that Xanadu, the 1980 movie musical starring Olivia Newton-John as a roller-skating muse to struggling artist Michael Beck and the legendary Gene Kelly in a reprisal of sorts of his role in 1944’s Cover Girl. is a seriously bad movie, I’ve always liked it. Not because of its badness, but in spite of it. Most people who like it–and there are quite a few, despite barely breaking even at the box office and being soundly panned by critics, Xanadu later went on to cult film popularity–see it the other way around, which is totally understandable to anyone who has ever seen it. Still, I wasn’t the only one to see some potential in it; Douglas Carter Beane (whose playwriting credits include The Country Club, 2007 Tony Award for Best Play nominee The Little Dog Laughed and As Bees in Honey Drown) wrote Xanadu into a stage musical which went on to be a big hit on Broadway, earning Tony nominations and winning Outer Circle Critics and Drama Desk awards as well as selling out show after show after show.

The show plays up the campy and ridiculous aspects of the movie, but it’s not all snark–it’s a colorful spectacle of story, song and skating. The play includes the ELO and Olivia Newton John songs that made the original film soundtrack a smash hit and throws in a couple extra by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar.

Xanadu hits the stage at Seattle’s Paramount Theater for a week in January, opening January 19 and closing January 24 as part of the ongoing Broadway Across America series. Tickets are going to be a hot commodity, so you’ll want to get yours as early as you can.

Tickets go on sale Friday, December 4, and are available at the Paramount box office, by phone at 877.STG.4TIX (4849) or online at Tickets.com, STG Presents or Broadway Across America. Ticket prices range from $20 to $60.

Mark your calendars: Taproot presents staged readings and holiday show

The Seattle P-I is reporting that Seattle Police have arrested a suspect in the recent series of Greenwood arsons. Greenwood residents and business owners are cautiously relieved. The police will continue their investigation into the fires and continue to patrol the neighborhood, but let’s all hope that they got the right guy and there just won’t be any more fires.

20091020_161One of the businesses damaged by fire is Taproot Theater, one of my favorite theaters ever since every time I go to one of their productions it seems like it is even better than the last one…and they started off for me at “excellent”. Taproot planned to present a world premier production of John Longenbaugh’s Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol this fall, but the fire changed all that. Unable to find an appropriate venue to host the play, they’re delaying it until 2010, but you don’t have to wait until then to get a taste of the show – Taproot will be presenting two staged readings of the play in December at SPU‘s McKinley Hall.

On Friday, December 4, and Saturday, December 5, cast members will perform a staged reading of the play which gives a Dickensian twist to the 1894 holiday season for master sleuth Sherlock Holmes. Tickets are available at the door on a pay-what-you-can basis–and please do pay as much as you can because proceeds go to the Greenwood Fire Relief Fund, helping out all the Greenwood neighbors affected by the fires.

Sine the full production of Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol won’t be on stage until next year, Taproot’s managed to find a worthy replacement in a live radio play presentation of modern Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life starting November 27 at North Seattle Community College’s Stage One Theater. As an added attraction to what’s certain to be a fun show, Taproot’s offering two special “dinner and theater” events on December 2 and December 9. Patrons get a delicious meal catered by Upper Crust Catering at the college, served to the accompaniment of the Dickens Carolers. For tickets or more information, check out Taproot’s site.

(Photo credit: Eric Stuhaug)

Peter Pan Opens Tonight at Seattle Children’s Theatre

Eric Ankrim as Peter Pan and David Pichette as Captain Hook in SCT's upcoming musical production of "Peter Pan." Photo by Chris Bennion

Eric Ankrim as Peter Pan and David Pichette as Captain Hook in SCT's upcoming musical production of "Peter Pan." Photo by Chris Bennion

Seattle Children’s Theatre is keeping their impressive momentum going this year with tonight’s opening of Peter Pan, the third production of the 2009-10 mainstage season.  This musical adaptation of James M Barrie’s original play will run through January 10th of next year, and is directed by SCT Artistic Director Linda Hartzell.  I should probably also mention that they’ve got a badass crocodile costume for your enjoyment as well.  And while “badass” may not be in the standard descriptive vernacular for children’s plays, I can’t help but stress how appropriate it is all the same.

Oh, and just in case you’ve suffered total cultural amnesia or have been trapped on a deserted island since you were 3, here’s a synopsis of the production (spoiler alert!):

One of the greatest American musicals for any age—join Peter, Wendy and all the characters we know and love as we fly away to where dreams are born. Peter Pan flies in the Darling’s nursery window and tells the children that if they just believe and think lovely thoughts, they can fly to Neverland with him. There, they join Peter’s Lost Boys for fun and grand adventures. When Wendy and Princess Tiger Lily are captured by a menacing band of pirates, however, it takes Peter’s wily wit and Tink’s resolve to free them. Finally, with the help of one tick-tocking crocodile, Peter manages to turn the pirates against their Captain. When Wendy, John and Michael return to London, Peter Pan continues to visit Wendy once a year, until one day he finds that she has grown up and had a child of her own. Now it is little Jane’s turn to journey to the place where dreams are born with the wonderful Peter Pan.

Further details, including showtimes and ticketing information, can be found on the SCT website.

August, Osage County at the Paramount

August3Violet Weston is not a nice woman. She’s a cantankerous, acid-tongued drug addict whose greatest joy in life seems to be destroying other people’s happiness. Confined by age and infirmity to that narrow world of her home in rural small town Oklahoma, Violet has a limited range of targets for her bile, but she makes the most of every opportunity she gets. Maybe that’s why her husband Beverly hires a young woman to be a live-in housekeeper, cook and aide – with someone else there to take care of her needs, he might be able to get some distance from her.

A short time later, he gets all the distance he needs as he first becomes a missing person and later a corpse. His disappearance and death give Violet a chance to broaden her scope of attack as these events bring all three of her daughters and their familes (a husband and a daughter for one, a fiance for another), as well as Violet’s sister, brother-in-law and nephew, to the house to first wait for news of Beverly and then to deal with the news once they get it.

What is it that makes Violet so black-hearted? One of the strengths of August: Osage County, now playing at the Paramount Theater through November 1, is that there’s really no reason for her venom, that’s just the way she is. Oh, sure, there’s a bit in the second act where she talks about the hardness of her childhood, but her sister Mattie Fae had just as bad and she’s not nearly as mean as Violet. (Then again, it might be easier for Mattie Fae to be more pleasant to more people since she saves all her ire for just one.) Violet’s simply just not a nice person. Throughout the play it is suggested that Beverly killed himself to get away from Violet and the only thing shocking about the idea is that he waited until becoming elderly to do it.

It would be easy for an actor to make Violet a charicature, but Estelle Parsons does a tremendous job of keeping her at a human level. She stumbles on the stairs, she stumbles over own tongue, but still she persists; always nasty but sometimes very funny and insightful, too. Violet may be emotionally stunted and frequently hazy (she’s taking enough drugs to stock her own pharmacy) but she’s nobody’s fool, except maybe her own. Although Tracy Letts’s script smartly avoids turning her into the secret softie who deep down really and truly loves those she wounds, Parsons’ strong performance keeps her from becoming a one note gorgon; you’ll never really like her, but you’ll never really disengage, either.

Her loss is the audience’s gain, however, as her slings and arrows are clever, witty and well-spoken, full of sardonic humor. All of the characters in August speak well–this is a play where the talking is always the main focus, the primary action–but Violet stands heads and shoulders above them all. Miss Parsons gives us a complex woman who is sometimes mystifying, often infuriating, and always, always interesting to watch.

With such a strong character as its focus, it stands to reason that the supporting characters won’t be quite as developed and here is August‘s first weakness. Since all roads lead to Violet, nearly all of the characters are presented just as they relate to her, but in its effort to give all of the supporting characters equal weight, August shortchanges all of them equally. Eldest daughter Barbara is the most developed of them all but that’s mostly because she’s the most like her mother. The rest are standard recognizable types – the self-sacrificing middle daughter who sticks around for her mother’s abuse because someone has to, the youngest daughter so desperately needy for emotional affirmation from a man that she willingly pretends not to notice how skeevy he is, the rebellious teenaged daughter who feigns a sophistication that she doesn’t really feel, the middle aged man who has left his wife for a younger woman but doesn’t understand why this angers his wife so, the Noble Other…and their secret truths are neither all that secret or all that shocking as they’re all stock soap opera subplots as well – the skeevy fiance is inappropriate with the not-as-grown-up-as-she-pretends teenager, the happily married couple aren’t actually happily married, the mother and father who’ve spent a lifetime treating their children badly didn’t really like them all that much – wait, that’s a secret? Perhaps the most frustrating of the multiple sub-plots that serve to spur the play forward is a secret love affair doomed to failure for one of the most cliched “twists” in all of literature. That the other characters seem genuinely surprised when Violet reveals that she knows all of this already is a credit to the skill of the actors portraying them because anyone else could see them coming a mile away.

It is the cast that really makes August: Osage County; most of the characters might be somewhat less than fully three dimensional but their lines are filled with depth and delivery is very, very important. While Estelle Parsons is definitely the star of the show, the whole cast deserves recognition for doing the best they can with what’s handed to them, particularly Shannon Cochran as eldest daughter Barbara.

August: Osage County continues through November 1 at the Paramount.

Three-alarm fire burns Greenwood

This morning I planned to make a post telling you that one of the best ways you could spend this dreary weathered weekend was by heading to the Taproot Theater for the final weekend of their charming production of Enchanted April, a play in which they yet again do magic by transforming a simple stage into a sun-soaked Italian castle.

And then I got a notice from the theater that they’re looking for an alternate venue to stage these shows. A fire struck Greenwood early this morning and due to related damaged, they can’t use their own stage this weekend. Local theaters and troupes: contact the theater if you have a venue available for their use.

**Edit: The Seattle Children’s Theater has generously offered to host the final performances of Enchanted April. Tonight’s show has been cancelled, but Saturday’s shows will take place at SCT at 2 and 4 pm. Taproot will be calling patrons to let them know about the change, so if you’ve already got tickets, no worries – they’ll work things out with you. There will be a limited number of new seats available at the box office, cash or check only, and I highly recommend heading down to the Center and checking it out if you can. Enchanted April has been yet another of Taproot’s successes in transporting audiences out of their own worlds and into another; it’s well acted, well staged and thoroughly enjoyable.

Per the reports at KING 5 and Phinneywood (the local blog that does an excellent job of covering Phinney Ridge and Greenwood), one hundred Seattle firefighters were sent out to battle the massive blaze which began early this morning at 208 N. 85th St, at either Pho Tic Tac or the Green Bean Coffeehouse. Both businesses were destroyed, as were Szechuan Bistro and C.C. Teriyaki.

A dozen apartments were evacuated and firefighters managed to rescue the cats in the PAWS Cat City Adoption Center.

Cause of the fire is as yet unknown.

For continuing coverage, head over to Phinneywood.

Condolences to everyone affected by the fire.

Become the show at ACT

Local poet and artist A.K. “Mimi” Allen creates some genuinely interesting and provocative art; her installation at this year’s Bumbershoot was one of my favorite parts of the festival.

Currently she’s engaged in a new project with the help of ACT Theater. Daily through December (except Monday) from 5 to 6 pm on weekdays and 1 to 2 pm on weekends, Mimi sits in a window at ACT and views the world as if it really were the stage and all of its people performers. After an hour of watching, Mimi will review the “show” she’s just seen and post it in the window so that people walking by the next day can read her review from yesterday.

Anyone who is interested is encouraged to come down and join the act: dance, pantomime, act out a scene, sing, shout (she can’t hear you in either case), or do whatever feels right to you. Your performance will be incorporated in the show as a whole.

Mark your calendar: Lord of the Dance

Fans of dance and spectacle take note: Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance is coming to the Paramount theater this November as part of its current world tour. Two shows on November 7th make up the entire local run, so if you want to go, you’ll want to be sure to get your tickets today when they go on sale at The Paramount box office or through STG Presents.

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