Archive for the ‘play review’ Category

The Schoolyard presents Cabaret

Monday, April 30th, 2012

When the Open Circle Theater went under, I wondered where the players would end up. If I understand things correctly, The Schoolyard is made up of some of those folk. That’s what the guy who recommended them to me said, anyways. Anywhoo, they had a Kickstarter for their next show, I pitched in, and Saturday night was my turn as VIP, for my reward. In typical style, I had a completely different show in my head, having not fully read the project description, but still ended up entertained.

Cabaret is a classic musical of love in Berlin, before the war. They had the Re-Bar set up with a tiny stage in the center of the room, and the audience surrounding all four sides. My seat was at a table on the venue’s actual stage (along with two other sets of VIPs), a old-style-looking phone on my table, and one of the other VIP tables. I should have realized what that meant, but when the male lead came and sat down at my table during the phone-club scene, and started small-talking with me, I was unprepared for improvisation, and just had to smile and look pretty =p

The cast did a great job, the german landlady was played extremely well, as were all parts. The live band providing the musical background did a good job as well, with the intermission costume-change a subtle clue to the impending inevitable tragedy of the second act.

The audience was an interesting mix. One guy in the front row looked like he was in love with the stage, a sort of dumbstruck smile on his face almost the entire time, especially in contrast to his date, who looked mostly bored the whole evening. Another front rower, something must have gone wrong during intermission, as he came back with a scowl that never left his face.

Not a bad way to spend a saturday night.

Rocky Horror at OCT

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Went and saw the 4pm Sunday production of Rocky Horror at the Open Circle Theater in Belltown. The show was sold out, with a fair number of people paying for the upgraded ‘VIP’ experience. In the end, we didn’t get any special seating, but we did get a couple of crackers and a handful of cheese, with our bubbly. Our ‘surly’ service was amusingly provided by Magenta (Terri Weagant), who also provided the title song. I found it especially amusing to overhear one guy, before they’d opened up the house for seating, asking his date, “so, I’ve never seen the movie, what’s this all about anyways?” Then again, I didn’t get to see it in a theater with all the trimmings when it would have been age appropriate myself either.

They used a live band, complete with Theramin. At times, they overpowered the on-stage singers, but eventually the sound guy found a zone where things seemed to be working OK.
Andrew Murray was a very sexy Rif Raf, must catch him in more productions where skin will be involved =p He does a very good sneer and leer. Josh Hartivgson’s Frank N Furter was interesting. He made a suitably shocking transvestite, tall and decidedly masculine no matter what he was wearing. Full of enthusiasm for the part, he made a good centerpiece for the production. Tadd Morgan and Monica Wulzen provided good straight-men performances as Brad and Janet, and Peter Farrar was definitely a well-muscled Rocky.

There’s blood on the stage when Eddie (Billy Hollman) makes his brief appearance, and again when the bag of what’s left stops by, and lots more when the end comes to the aliens left on earth, leading to a perfectly placed puddle for the final spotlight to iris into darkness upon.

An excellent production of a classic musical tale, all involved performed admirably. I was suitably entertained for sure.

Bugsy Malone at Youth Theater Northwest (PR)

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Went out to Mercer Island on Saturday to check out a performance of Bugsy Malone, by the Youth Theater Northwest.

The space is pretty nice for a youth theater, not really surprising, since it is mercer island. They had a bunch of items out for whatever-is-the-name-of-the-auction-style-where-it’s-a-list-of-prices-you-sign-up-and-highest-priced-signer-wins, at least marginally themed to go along with the show. I put my name down for the pasta and bowl combo.

I attended a 2pm Saturday show, so the crowd was mostly parents with children, many of whom I suspected would be a bit young for a two hour production, and indeed, the family sitting next to me never came back from intermission. Given the crowd makeup, there were amazingly few outbursts or distractions from the action on stage.

The casting was well done. Sasha Conley seemed ideal for the vampish Tallulah character, portraying her world-weary cynicism well for someone who by all rights shouldn’t have the emotionally damaging experiences necessary to inspire it, yet. And she does a great job when it’s her turn to sing. Jay Rosenstein did a good job with Bugsy as well, with the proper mix of bravado and insecurity. Noah Davenport played Fat Sam a little less over the top than the movie version, and wasn’t even remotely fat, like not even TV-fat; side-wonder if it’s difficult to find a young kid willing to play a character named ‘fat’ if said kid is actually hefty, kids not being known for acceptance of their differences. Nathaniel Zang seemed a very studied professional, playing Dandy Dan. It’s hard to know how much the perception of his greater maturity versus the rest of the cast is associated with his size (were 14 year olds really that big when I was his age?) and how much was his spot-on delivery. It’s funny, I still can’t recall Dan having a major song in the movie, but Nathaniel did a memorable-good job with the one he had.

They had a girl play the character who sings “Tomorrow”, but I can’t tell from the program who it was because they didn’t use the same character name (Razamataz) as the movie. She did a good job whomever she was.

I enjoyed the production, the scenery is reasonably done, not too sparse, not too overbearing. They use silly string for their splurge guns, and only splat one pie during the production, presumably trying to keep the mess down. The costume and hair were done really well. According to Sasha, one of the benefits of the 21st century is the availability of how-to videos for flapper stylings on youtube.


Oh, it’s IN Polish?

Friday, January 14th, 2011

In retrospect, it’s one of those things that should have been obvious. When every member of the cast has a bio of films with names you can’t pronounce, it’s a good bet that the production won’t be in English. And I was right, there was someone who got naked on stage before the eve was done. He was even cute. But of course I’d sat on the side of the stage with the yelly guy. Oh well, next time =p

In the Solitude of Cotton Fields is self-described as “Styled like an Eastern European punk concert”. The music, the band Natural Born Chillers (99% sure not the same NBC that has an single of Rock The Funky Beat) plays live behind the actors for 90% of the show, was good. Moving somewhere between rock n’ roll and industrial techno, it was loud and effective in setting the moods as it changed paces through the night.

As I mentioned, there were two actors with ‘speaking’ parts. Lucky for me they had one of those overhead libertto display screens, with an english translation. I put quotes around speaking because one of the guys did a lot of yelling and crying, alongside some amazing expressions. The other guy did more dancing, and got naked. When that time came, it was a slow, piece by piece removal, with careful folding and stacking of each garment as it was removed, dimly lit from above, so strong on the shadows. He doesn’t stay naked long, just enough to underscore the sense of vulnerability and surrender (I’m guessing). When it comes time for him to re-dress, it’s done more in the dark, with our attention drawn back to the other actor by the spotlight.

I enjoyed the show, overall. The yelly guy…had I realized, I would have sat on the other side of the stage, or brought ear plugs? I would have hated to miss his facial expressions; he puts a lot of effort into them all, they both did. So much of the show had a sort of stereotypical artsy-ness to it. Edgy in a predictable way. They have a portion of the show that’s more video presentation. The actors face away from the audience and a large screen on the back wall takes over for 10-15 minutes. It occurs to me now, all the words that appeared on that screen were already in English, was that done for this show, or would they have been in english during a performance in Poland?

Judy Garland Christmas at Open Circle Theater

Monday, December 6th, 2010

A hopefully yearly tradition at Open Circle Theater, an ensemble cast recreates the infamous 1969 Judy Garland Christmas special. This year they offered a special pre-show-show with drinks and snacks, with “Judy” wandering through in full-on-drunken-stupor-character. There were quite a few people at the Breakfast with Judy pre-event, enough so that by the time “Judy” came in, everyone had broken up into little clique-circles and mostly ignored her, which kind of annoyed me, all the more so since I wasn’t in any of those cliques and was feeling somewhat bored waiting for things to start happening. The food was tasty =)

When the full show started, it was to an over-full house. Having never seen the TV show itself, I was often befuddled by some of the happenings on stage. After the played version, the second half of the show was watching the original video, with commentary by our “Judy”. Suddenly lots of jokes from the first half were layers of funny more so than they’d been on their own. “You thought we made that part up?”

Gloria’s Cause at On The Boards

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Went and checked out the show tonight. Got in the door early enough to be front and center, and a good thing too since it ended up a pretty packed show.
Overall, I have to say I was most impressed with the casting. Everyone in the group had to dance, speak in character, and play at least one instrument, and they seemed to be good at all three. Some people danced more than others, some people talked more than others. It was very abstract in it’s presentation of ‘history’. Full of amusing moments of word and movement that l found fascinating. It happens all in one go, no intermission break in the action. The music ranged from jam band drone to metal to folksy guitar strumming and tribal drums. Occasionally they had some video going on the screen above the dancers. It was well synchronized with the music and helped provide a bit of insight into the subject of a particular piece.

The space is interesting. The stage is not raised, but is carpeted and probably padded for dancing and tumbling. There is no curtain, so when two of the players have to start out on stage, they are sitting and standing there for ten minutes or so while people are getting seated. I am curious to see another show there, where a chunk of the stage isn’t taken up by a bandstand.

It’s only on for another two nights, so hurry and see it if you can.

It’s a Shpadoinkle day in Seattle!

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Cannibal the Musical is playing at the Market Theater in Seattle.  You should go see it.  If you are into gore and goo and comedy too, and some singing and dancing to silly profanity, that is.

The gore and goo is limited to two scenes where you might get some on you, if you sit in the front few rows.  Blood in one scene, and goo in the other.  The goo sprayer went out of her way to get the lady in the 3rd row who reacted the most, more than once.  She seemed happy for the attention on the whole, if icked out in the moment.

They use a live band, in costume, and at least one of the band members is also a cast member.  Even re-using several cast members for multiple parts, they end up with a decent sized cast for the size of theater.  They use the available space well, would have been nice to see a fuller audience, if just to see more people get messy.

Casting was well done.  The woman who plays horse and reporter did an excellent job of capturing the equinity required of the moment.

Arcana at Open Circle Theater

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Went to see the play “Arcana” at the Open Circle Theater, Saturday night.

Rather than one play, it was more a series of short pieces, loosely linked by a Tarot theme to their titles, if not literally their subject matters.  All the pieces were entertaining, in parts funny, other parts surreal.  During the piece with the nude, it wasn’t clear to me if the people were supposed to be on acid, ecstasy, or some post-death supernatural state of confusion.  It was all enjoyable, whatever it meant.  Check it out.

Wyrd Sisters at the Open Circle Theater (PR)

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Spent my Friday night in belltown, where I got to see the new police presence they are hoping will magically change the character of a neighborhood gone to the bars.  The reason I was there was a board meeting for the Open Circle Theater, followed by a showing of their newest show, Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters, one of my favorite of his tales.

The handsome prince from Poona played the evil duchess, part of a gender-role reversal in casting, with a female playing the duke…presumably to over-emphasize the overbearing-ness of the duchess, and the meekness of the duke.  I didn’t spot the shrub in any position.  I found it odd that they threw in two extra players to play pieces of the set, without a dedicated fourth-wall-breaking-dialogue for them.  They performed as chairs for the duke and duchess, and as walls with shelves in other scenes.

It’s odd to see a performance by someone new, of something I’ve seen and read so many time before, and so already have strong expectations of.  With Poona, I knew nothing of the play, or the players, and so took it as it came.  I felt much more critical at this performance, comparing it to the cartoon, and the way I’ve always seen the story play out in the theater of my mind.  It was still a great performance, and if you are in Seattle with an evening to spend, I recommend it highly.

Vegas, Baby!

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Ran off to Vegas for a short portion of the holiday weekend, to go see Star Wars in Concert with my dad, for his birthday present.  When we made the plans, I totally spaced on the significance of the weekend, and that it meant I’d be missing out of NW Folklife in Seattle.  Luckily, my desire to get out of Vegas ASAP meant I was getting back here in time for at least one day of folk-lifing, and it turned out to be dry and sunny during the parts of the day I was out and about.

Before we went to see the Star Wars concert, we went to go see the Cirque de Soleil martial-arts show, Ka.  Wow.  Lots of people on flying ropes, a stage that splits into two independent planes, rotating into humongous walls for them to fall down…the sheer omg-they-are-risking-their-lives-for-my-entertainment-factor is beyond measure.  Quite the experience.  And that’s not including the 4-way wheel-o-death bit they do near the end.  It’s a spectacle worth watching more than once.  I will be trying to find some friends to go back with.

Star Wars in concert was just OK by comparison.  The orchestra performed admirably, the light show was competently presented, and Anthony Daniels did a fine job narrating things along, though having him walk from one side of the stage to the other after every movement seemed silly and pointless.   There were a lot of kids for a show that seemed mostly focused on the music, rather than the visuals, or Star Wars.  Lots of people in costumes.  I wore my @@ shirt. =p