Puget Sound Theatre Exploration Project (or PSTEP) is a personal mission to attend a theatrical event at every venue and by every theatre company in the Puget Sound area. I have always believed that the power of collective creativity can only be harnessed if we actually reach out and explore all possibilities. Artist silos, whether intentionally or unintentionally created, are a slow and destructive force. Let’s explore, get out of our bubbles and see what is out there! We just might learn something…
With the news reports this week, I just had to inject some positivity and share some TGIF (TheatreGoing Is Fun) #tpsSupport! Now some might wonder, “Okay, Adam, but if you like everything, then does it really take much to impress you? Your opinions are muted by overdosing on the good things.” My hypothetical answer is, “Well, actually there is quite a bit I don’t like, enjoy or find to be excellent quality. But I’m trying to train my brain to fall in love with theatre, the experience, the process and its impact. When I focused on all the things I thought were poorly executed, I started to hate theatregoing. But now, I can cheerlead for things of which I’d like to see more, and through encouragement and recognition, achieve the same result without denigrating and engaging in snarky criticism!” Sound good? TGIF.
#tpsSupport for 4/29-5/18
Taproot Theatre: EVIDENCE OF UNSEEN THINGS The Box Office staff was very warm, and I enjoyed the selection of this particular show. As a non-religious person, I appreciated that multiple viewpoints were presented without an agenda. Non-religious people can reflect, discuss and observe faith, so I identified with one of the character’s rejection of faith especially after experiencing tragedy. It’s interesting how personal tragedies can either magnetize or repel faith. Christine Marie Brown and Jenny Vaughn Hall gave nuanced and believable performances as sisters on polar opposites of the faith-spectrum. I loved watching them navigate their relationship as blood relatives who believe very different things, but through their father’s health issues, are forced to deal with their differences, communicate and co-exist. Our country is going through this same family conflict right now…how do we find common purpose when political systems are set up as battlefields? I don’t know. But I thought they were awesome actresses!
Twelfth Night Productions: As a musical theatre writer, it’s my goal to see every musical at least once. So I had to venture over to Youngstown Cultural Arts Center for “FIRST DATE.” While this space has some obstacles to overcome, I thought the main male character played by Alex Gallo (I think, but the program didn’t list any character names next to the cast) had some commanding moments as a soloist. I’m too new to the area to know if Gregory Smith is a go-to music director, but he can certainly rock out on the keys!
Pratidhwani & ACT Theatre‘s CHITRANGADA was by far the fullest production I’ve seen since moving here. If any theatre teachers want to teach their students what 100% commitment to storytelling as an ensemble means, this is the show to drive home that lesson. Every single person supported the story, created environment and gave proper focus which an audience needs for in-the-round performances. Not only were the costumes detailed and the dances precise, the story and message was surprising, rewarding and encouraging. What is the message? Go see it tonight or tomorrow. Pushkara Chaganti’s narration was such a joy to watch with the most winning smiles, and she made me laugh several times out of pure delight.
Annex Theatre‘s ACME was another good demonstration of ensemble work and staging creativity. It’s not easy to convey the feeling of being in a large factory when your stage’s size is limited. The farcical entrances and exits helped the audience get a sense of the company’s scope and culture. Madison Jade Jones improvisational comedic style was fun to watch, and the playful Nathan L Wornian & Emma Elezi Wilkinson got to shine and complemented the other’s cooky and crazy, bro.
The Pocket Theater‘s SKETCH MONTH allowed me a late-night laugh when I needed it. I’m glad I caught Mad Gravity Comedy – Kayla Teel and Matthew Joseph are a good ol’ fashioned comedy duo that doesn’t rely on shock and profanity, but situational and physical comedy that I tend to enjoy. Highlighting a random or normal moment we all experience and turning it on its head or exaggerating the minutia a-la Seinfeld in their writing…made me LOL. And I only had one beer to lubricate my laugh muscles.
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS in Broadway at The Paramount: obviously a touring production, but this show just made me fall in love with a classic musical story. The director and choreographer’s attention to transitions is what I loved the most. Pacing and clear endings to songs/scenes is so important in musicals, and these transitions were done so brilliantly, Casey DeCaire and I sat there applauding silently and whispering, “YAY!”
reSET: Mark Haim & Alyza DelPan-Monley as part of Washington Ensemble Theatre‘s curated series was so delightfully weird. I love that it is efficient – more art created upon an existing set. Less money and less waste! I love that it is cross-disciplinary – invite modern dancers to dance upon a THEATRE SET??? Amen, yes, break out of our artistic silos and create some synergy. LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea. Also, thank you to Samie Spring Detzer of W.E.T. and your board prez Peter Eberhardy for welcoming me to your space and talking about your company. Ladies and gents, another board member that knew ALL about its theatre’s programming. Way to go!