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…
Sorry I’m late in posting my #tpsSupport and #PugetSoundTheatreobservations. I blame it on the construction and traffic. Honestly, I got distracted by SIFF and “House of Cards,” so my theatergoing took a temporary backseat. But here are some of my favorite moments and performances from the past month:
REBATEnsemble Theatre Group & Theatre Off Jackson “Richard III”: There is something magical about a group of people who pool their resources, whether artistic or financial, to collaborate on a vision. The success here is that this group made a thing. Many sit on the sidelines and wait to be asked to play, to join the team, or seek permission to be involved. REBATE doesn’t need permission; they just worked together and delivered. Tom Dang does some heavy one-arm lifting as Richard III and helped me visualize 1930s Seattle Chinatown – what a cool concept – made me hope to see an overfunded production some day when they’re not so “Recession-Era Broke Ass” anymore. My heart smiled when I saw youth performers Catalino Manalang & Tyler Kapone Cheam holding their own – starting them young is a great way to encourage, educate and support POC performers. Seeing your peers involved is very powerful. More of this!
Bainbridge Performing Arts “Big Fish”: This was my second time seeing a production of BIG FISH, and I still am left wanting more from the score. This has nothing to do with BPA, but I had always hoped Andrew Lippa would have taken his orchestrations to a darker place with more strings and less brass. ANYWAY, it was totally worth a trip across the ferry to catch this community theatre pull off technical elements better than some semi-professional houses I’ve seen. Jason Gingold took us on a fun journey as Edward Bloom playing both youthful optimism and a man battling illness and stubbornness later in life; Kylee Gano was delightful to listen to as Sandra Bloom and hope to hear more of her in the future. Special shout-outs to ensemble members Cordelia Janow for precision and 100% joy when dancing, and to Michael Loudon for extending the special invitation to this show and giving me some background on BPA. I love when artists make an effort to expand their network genuinely, and not only with people who can do things for them or their career. More of this!
Let’s All Drink and Do Broadway “<—-“: THIS. WAS. SO. MUCH. FUN. Puppet shows and musical theatre roulette and improv and 4 (or 5) whiskey cokes…what’s not to love? Thanks to Steph Padilla Sola, Kelly Ufford and Sam Harrison for helping me blow off some steam by laughing and crying and dying and drinking and well…I don’t remember much else…but I was responsible and Lyfted home. More of this!
Tacoma Little Theatre “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”: What a charming little theatre! (OH! NOW I SEE HOW THEY CHOSE THEIR NAME)! I enjoyed hearing a bit of its history from the M.A.Director Chris Serface before the show. Set design & construction by Blake R. York was on point – I have seen these small western towns in Montana and Kansas…the look and feel was spot on. Mason Quinn’s chilling performance as the villain was truly creepy. I felt a sense of danger (that’s a good thing) between him and Nick Butler’s character, Jim, during their dialogue. When you feel the tension as if you were in the room, the scene works! More of this!
Renton Civic Theatre Stephen Sondheim’s “Company”: This show’s score is iconic and musical theatre’s first sampling of a “concept musical.” Special mention to Paul Linnes as conductor/pianist – the orchestra rocked! Go, trumpeter Jerry Hull! PSA: Do yourself a favor and watch the documentary on the recording of the original cast album. Elaine Stritch’s segment is frightening and brilliant. But I digress… I met Kelly Ufford at an agency shindig and told her to invite me to her next show. She did, so I went! Not knowing her previously, I am thrilled that this young woman knows what it means to be funny through character. With only a short scene, I could tell that each moment was crafted and her portrayal of April was opinionated and intentional, not just one of Bobby’s ditzy one-night-stands. More of this!