Sunday, January 31, 2010

Balagan's Edmond haunting, fabulous

Balagan Theatre's staging of Edmond by David Mamet, directed by Paul Budraitis, is a marvelously conceived production, and Sam Hagen's portrayal of the title character is a theatrical tour de force.

Budraitis, who also designed the set, put the play right in our faces. The set was stark and simple, in the round. A table on a couple of cylinders served as everything from a bar to a prison cell. Small track lights, the sort of disc-shaped ones you might buy to stick under a counter top, and some bare light bulbs gave the set alternately dim and stark illumination. A pair of flat-screen monitors suspended above either end of the tables gave information I frankly mostly missed; there was too much interesting stuff going on to be watching the screens. Most of the actors were already seated in the front row of the theater, below the screens, when the audience arrived. They stayed there, in character, changing costumes, and narrating scene changes throughout.

Hagen was a huge revelation. Maybe we're just in post-Wisey mode, but my Sweetie, the official scorer, thinks he's a virtual shoo-in for a best-actor nomination for this year. There's a lot of time left, but it was a powerful and amazing performance. Edmond swings from boredom to rage to victim to victimizer to dork to murderer and has us riveted on every word. Truly marvelous.

The rest of the cast, most of whom played multiple roles, were great from top to bottom. I'll single out just a few. Carolyn Marie Monroe, fresh off a Wisey win as best actress for 2009, was super as Glenna, a waitress/actress whom Edmond murders. She just smoldered with anger for the rest of the show from her seat in the front row. Colleen Carey was smashing as Edmond's wife. When she visits Edmond in the big house after the murder, she doesn't have to say a thing; sadness, anger, rejection, loneliness and fear all play out on her face. And Ryan Fields turned in a performance alternately subtle and brutal, especially as Edmond's cell mate. Hats off to the entire cast for solid performances.

It occurs to Weisenheimer that we often partake of theater or film or literature looking for a character to like or to root for. There's really nobody to like in Edmond, with the possible exception of his wife, dumped by Edmond because of sheer boredom in about scene two. We hope she goes on to a better life. The rest of them are hustlers, pimps, thugs, cynics, peep show girls, hookers, charlatans, cynics, and jerks. Even the chaplain is a schmuck. Not an optimist in the bunch. Somehow in the end Edmond finally seems to be at peace with his lot in life.

The play is sad and disturbing and vulgar and somehow tremendously compelling. See it through Feb. 6 at Balagan.

Other reviews and resources:
Review in The SunBreak
Interview with Budraitis in The SunBreak
Review in the Seattle Times
The Onion: Mamet to direct Anne Frank
Review in Seattle Gay News

Full disclosure: Weisenheimer is president of the board at Balagan, but it doesn't mean I'm biased! Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross is coming to the Seattle Rep in February, so we have sort of a mini Mamet-fest going!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Wisey recap: 2009 was a great year for local theater

A recap of the Wisey winners for 2009, with links to their award posts:

Best Play: Equivocation by Bill Cain
Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Directed by Bill Rauch. Bill Rauch, artistic director.

Best ActorCharles Leggett, The Merchant of Venice, Seattle Shakespeare Company

Best ActressCarolyn Marie Monroe, End Days, Seattle Public Theatre

Best Supporting ActorRay Tagavilla, Elephant's Graveyard, Balagan Theatre

Best Supporting ActressHana Lass, The Tempest, Seattle Shakespeare Company

Best DirectorRyan Higgins, The Comedy of Errors, GreenStage

Best WriterBill Cain, Equivocation, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Best Clown: All of them, especially Mark Bedard, The Servant of Two Masters, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Best SetSunday in the Park with George, 5th Avenue Theatre. Projection design, Timothy Byrd and the Knifedge Creative Network. David Farley, set design.

Best MusicElephant's Graveyard, Balagan Theatre. Jake Groshong, musical director.

Best CostumeThe Comedy of Errors, GreenStage. Janessa Jayne Styck, costume designer.

Best Understudy: Jake Groshong, The Full Monty, Balagan Theatre

The Show Must Go On Award: Book-It Repertory Theatre, A Confederacy of Dunces

All-around Cool Theatre Guy Award: Shawn Belyea

Best-play front-runners Equivocation and Elephant's Graveyard received the most Wiseys, two each. Graveyard had the most nominations, seven. Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Balagan Theatre were the companies most honored, each taking home three Wiseys. What great fun to reminisce about a year of great theater!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wisey Best Play: Equivocation

The nominees for best play of 2009 are:

End Days by Deborah Zoe Laufer
Seattle Public Theatre. Directed by Carol Roscoe. Shana Bestock, artistic director.

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Seattle Shakespeare Company. Directed by John Langs. Stephanie Shine, artistic director.

Equivocation by Bill Cain
Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Directed by Bill Rauch. Bill Rauch, artistic director.

Elephant's Graveyard by George Brant
Balagan Theatre. Directed by Jason Harber. Jake Groshong, executive director, Lisa Confehr, managing director.

Opus by Michael Hollinger
Seattle Repertory Theatre. Directed by Braden Abraham. Jerry Manning, producing artistic director.

The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
GreenStage. Directed by Ryan Higgins. Ken Holmes, producing artistic director.

Our Wisey-winning best play of the year had it all: a strong, talented cast, a sock-you-in-the-gut story, lighthearted moments, marvelous staging, and wonderful costuming. It was a theater experience that will stick in memory for a long, long time. That description is completely apt for both of what were our two Wisey finalists, Elephant's Graveyard by Balagan Theatre and Equivocation by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Ultimately it was Best-Writer-Wisey-winner Bill Cain's amazing script and story that gave Equivocation the slightest edge and the trophy in a close contest between two incredible, well-told stories.

We've spilled a lot of words here about Equivocation. Weisenheimer and Sweetie both wrote reviews after seeing it in Ashland, and the gushing might have been a tip that the play was on its way to this award: "The most mind-blowingly fantastic theater Weisenheimer has experienced in a while... incredibly clever writing and joyous language. It's an astounding piece of work." Sweetie wrote in her post on Cain's best-writer Wisey that Equivocation is "intricate without ever getting bogged down; clever without ever being trite; ambitious without ever getting lost... this is an important and enjoyable play—and that's not an easy combination to strike." What a great show. The OSF production was its world premiere, it made an encore performance for a month at the Seattle Rep, and now folks all over the country are falling all over themselves to produce it.

I'm proud as hell of my friends at Balagan Theatre for being right up there with the Equivocation juggernaut with their spectacular staging of Elephant's Graveyard. It has been oft written on these pages, though not in any of our Wisey posts, that Weisenheimer is the board chair at Balagan, but it doesn't make him biased. Sweetie and I, in fact, kicked around the idea that the connection might be creating an anti-Balagan bias. I don't think so; we gave Elephant's the most nominations, seven, of any show all year. But it's true that others got the nod in a couple of close calls over Balagan nominees, particularly in the best play and best actress categories. Kudos to all of y'all at Balagan. For the record I'll note they're all volunteers. As board chair, I invite all readers to give us lots of money so we can pay these talented folks!

Hardly also-rans, End Days, Merchant of Venice, Opus, and The Comedy of Errors were all great shows. 2009 was a super year for theater. We thank all of the talented people who make it happen.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wisey Best Actor: Charles Leggett, Shylock, Merchant of Venice

The nominees for Best Actor are:

Charles Leggett, The Merchant of Venice, Seattle Shakespeare Company
Michael Winters, The Tempest, Seattle Shakespeare Company
Jonathan Haugen, Equivocation, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Brandon Whitehead, A Confederacy of Dunces, Book-It Repertory Theatre
Allen Fitzpatrick, Opus, Seattle Repertory Theatre
Mark Fullerton, Mr. Jibbers, 14/48 The World's Quickest Theater Festival

This really is impossible. How do you choose among such stellar performances? Between performances so vivid nearly a year later?

After the fun of remembering and reflecting on such wonderful performances for a few weeks, we finally settled on Charles Leggett for best actor for bringing Shylock to life in Seattle Shakespeare Company's The Merchant of Venice. His portrayal was extraordinary: Shylock as lugubrious, careful, bold, and sharply aware of the hostile society around him. Leggett's performance was restrained and subtle, showing us the steady chafing of Shylock's emotions, a raw, old sore that won't heal. He captured Shylock's contradictions—his resolve and his bewilderment. Leggett can communicate volumes without seeming to do anything. Except maybe something with his eyebrows. Even more than the words I remember his face and eyes as Shylock struggles and fails to find terms on which to engage his society.

OK, we're taking liberties here. Technically, Jonathan Haugen's role is probably supporting to Anthony Heald's lead as Shagspeare in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Equivocation (we also saw the OSF production reprised at the Seattle Rep). But we argue that this is really Haugen's play. The entire ensemble cast is strong, no one disappoints, and Heald turns in yet another magnificent performance. However, Haugen's malevolent, calculating, and sometimes pitiful Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley drives the play. Sometimes the antagonist is the larger-than-life character. In addition, Haugen has to switch on a dime between characters throughout the play, and he does so flawlessly, sharply, his entire body changing into the character instantly. So impressive.

We're glad Brandon Whitehead survived playing Ignatius J. Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces at Book-It. Between the bad luck that has dodged actors slated for a movie version (Belushi, Candy, Farley, all dead), the number of hot dogs he had to chow down, and the fire alarm interrupting the performance we saw, it looked a little dicey. But he survived and triumphed. Whitehead is a comedic genius, no doubt about it. He played quirky, eccentric, self-absorbed, and oblivious perfectly, without ever breaking stride (almost not even for the fire alarm). He nailed the dignity that makes Ignatius' outrageousness touching—and even funnier.

Michael Winters is a giant of the stage, and was alternately a lion and a pussy cat treading the boards as Prospero in Seattle Shakespeare Company's The Tempest. A big part of the delight was the magic between him and best supporting actress Hana Lass's Ariel: chemistry, timing, skill, practice...whatever all it is, it's wonderful. We can't wait to see him as Big Daddy in Cat at OSF later this year.

Allen Fitzpatrick played Elliot in Opus at Seattle Repertory Theatre; a nervous, uptight, high-strung leader of a string quartet; a control freak while his personal and professional life spin out of control. It took my breath away to see his face and body react to a hurtful comment his lover, played by Todd Jefferson Moore, casually tossed off while turning away. It wasn't a line, it wasn't even a face-to-face exchange, but Fitzpatrick made it the emotional turning point of the play.

Mark Fullerton still haunts us as a little boy having trouble going to sleep in Mr. Jibbers, an exquisite little play from 14/48 with a clever set and brilliant puppetry. Fullerton was perfectly petulant and playful and bewitched by the dreams and terrors of the night.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wisey Best Actress: Carolyn Marie Monroe

The nominees for best actress are:

Carolyn Marie Monroe, End Days, Seattle Public Theatre
Terri Weagant, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Balagan Theatre
Anne Allgood, Rock 'n' Roll, ACT
Robin Goodrin Nordli, Macbeth, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Tracy Hyland, Just Drink It, 14/48

And the Wisey for best actress of 2009 goes to Carolyn Marie Monroe for her portrayal of Rachel Stein, an exasperated, super-bright goth teenager, in the Seattle Public Theater production of End Days.

While we listed five nominees this was really just a tough choice between two great actresses. Monroe was terrific as Rachel, the normal one in a dysfunctional family. She nailed the teen thing, with just the right mix of confident brass and emotional insecurity. (That's her as Rachel in the John Ulman photo at right.) She's a marvelous young performer. We've enjoyed her recent roles as Opehlia in Hamlet at GreenStage and as Miranda in The Tempest at Seattle Shakespeare Company. She was fun in last summer's 14/48 festival as well. We're looking forward to seeing more of Monroe.

Weagant was spectacular as the bag lady Trudy, and a zillion other characters, in Search for Signs at Balagan. Like Monroe, Weagant is playing a lot around town and we love it all. She was great as Desdemona in Othello last year, also at Balagan, and hosts Schmorgasborg, the company's monthly late-night theatre mash-up. Members of Theatre Puget Sound agree with us about Weagant; they voted her their member's voice award for best actress back in October. We hear she's landed a role in Cider House Rules at Book-It this summer.

Thumbs up to two great veteran actresses. Robin Goodrin Nordli, 2008 best actress for The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, turned in a splendid performance as Lady Macbeth at OSF last season. Anne Allgood was marvelous in a couple of roles in ACT's Rock 'n' Roll. Tracy Hyland was memorable in the hot, sexy Just Drink It at 14/48 in August.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wisey Best Supporting Actor: Ray Tagavilla

The nominees for best supporting actor are:

Michael D. Blum, The Comedy of Errors, GreenStage
Kevin Kenerly, Macbeth, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
John Tufts, Equivocation, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Evan Woltz, The Full Monty, Balagan Theatre
Peter Dylan O'Connor, The Tempest, Seattle Shakespeare Company
Todd Jefferson Moore, Opus, Seattle Rep
Ray Tagavilla, Elephant's Graveyard, Balagan Theatre
Seanjohn Walsh, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Balagan Theatre; general fabulousness, 14/48
Patrick Bentley, The Comedy of Errors, GreenStage

I know. That's a lot of nominees. And the thing is, this is the narrowed down list, after much arm-wrestling between the Weisenheimer and Sweetie ("every time I lose a wrestling match, I have the funny feeling that I won..."). We toyed with splitting the year in half...or nominating by quarter...or by section of the alphabet...

What a problem, right? Great performances in great plays all year long. In the end, the well-deserved award goes to Ray Tagavilla for his riveting performance in Elephant's Graveyard at Balagan Theatre.

We saw Elephant's three times during the run, and one of the three nights I thought Ray was a tiny bit off his stride—and he was still fantastic. The role of the elephants' Trainer is the fulcrum on which the play's gut-wrenching plot pivots and lurches. He and Ballet Girl know Mary the elephant the best; the Trainer has the additional burden of responsibility for Mary and what happens to her. His agony at the events and his role in them, and in what he has to do for Mary at her death, fills the stage even when the lines and action are elsewhere. Tagavilla's performance is precise and tightly controlled—well-edited, if you will, nothing extraneous—so that every nuance of gesture, posture, tear, and grimace is pure, focused emotion, and utterly believable. We've been impressed with everything we've seen from Tagavilla, and his work in Elephant's was outstanding.

I thought Kevin Kenerly pretty much redeemed Macbeth at OSF this year. His performance made the play human. And we think John Tufts' career is one to watch. Michael Blum was nominated for Comedy of Errors but could as easily have been nominated for the role of Ringmaster in Elephant's, with the perfect gravitas to anchor the ensemble cast. Patrick Bentley embodied comedy (in Comedy of Errors) and tragedy (Titus Andronicus) this year for GreenStage. Evan Woltz might have turned in the most sensitive acting performance of the great, brave cast in The Full Monty. Peter Dylan O'Connor was an otherworldly and creepy Caliban in Tempest. Todd Jefferson Moore hit all the right notes in Opus. And we had to include Seanjohn Walsh for an unforgettable trio of performances across the lifespan: a dirty old man in Picasso at Balagan, a totally out of control little kid in A Whole Mess of Badgers at 14/48, and, yes, six-months pregnant in Six Months In, also at 14/48.

Outstanding Nancy Johnson retrospective at Brick House Gallery

Tacoma's new Brick House Gallery has opened with a bang-up retrospective of the work of Nancy Johnson. A long-time project of outstanding local artist Peter MacDonald, the charming gallery is in a restored 1900-era house at 1123 South Fawcett Street in downtown T-town.

A steady stream of visitors enjoyed viewing the paintings and meeting the artist at a reception Thursday evening. Johnson has been painting since the '50s, and this particular exhibit spans five decades of her work, from 1968 through 2002. Several artifacts around the cozy gallery underscored Johnson's long and successful career, including a 1982 "Pacific" magazine from the Seattle Times for which Johnson painted the cover illustration.

The painting at right particularly caught Weisenheimer's eye. Titled "Sonatina #14," the 2001 work is part of a series of spectacular abstract landscapes. Johnson says in her statement on the paintings that she does not have an image in mind when she starts, but yet "some people see in the paintings places they have been, places I have never seen." Indeed, when he saw me riveted to "Sonatina #14" MacDonald remarked that it reminded him of Wyoming. Interestingly, I was thinking just the same thing, as the powerful, roiling, bright cloud took me back to the thunderstorms we encountered while on our Pioneer League baseball tour last summer. The bright cloud is not a result of camera glare; I snapped it with my iPhone. No flash. It's even more spectacular in person in its full size, 30x30.

Many of the paintings in the exhibit feature water scenes, swimming and sunbathing or just the waves rolling in. They're spectacular. Go see!

Brick House Gallery is open limited hours, the third Thursday of each month from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. MacDonald will also open the gallery by appointment. Call 253-627-0426 or visit the Web site at

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wisey Best Supporting Actress: Hana Lass

The nominees for best supporting actress are:

LaChrista Borgers, The Best Daddy, Balagan Theatre
Kjerstine Rose Anderson, The Servant of Two Masters, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Hana Lass, The Tempest, Seattle Shakespeare Company
Nicole Vernon, Titus Andronicus, GreenStage
Allison Strickland, Elephant's Graveyard, Balagan Theatre
Ellen McLain, A Confederacy of Dunces, Book-It

The Wisey for best supporting actress for 2009 goes to Hana Lass, who was marvelous as Ariel in the Seattle Shakespeare Company production of The Tempest.

This was a tough call with some wonderful actresses turning in super performances. In the end, we fell back on the four words any theater reviewer should remember: Hana Lass kicks ass.

Lass combined an enormous singing voice, that amazing costume, and a marvelous presence on stage to create a memorable Ariel in The Tempest, perhaps the best show that didn't get a best play nomination this year (despite the fact that it got best actor, supporting actor, supporting actress, and clown nominations, and a best actress nominee was in it as well, though that nomination was for a different play). Lass and Michael Winters as Prospero were an incredibly electric duo. It wasn't a factor in the decision, but Lass was also great in the 14/48 play A Mess of Badgers. That's her as Ariel at right in a Seattle Shakes photo by John Ulman.

Lass won the vote by a bustle over Allison Strickland, fantastic as Ballet Girl in Elephant's Graveyard at Balagan Theatre, and Ellen McLain, who was a great foil as mom opposite Brandon Whitehead as Ignatius Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces at Book-It. We also have to do shout-outs for LaChrista Borgers, memorable in the incredibly sick The Best Daddy, part of the first Death/Sex at Balagan, and Nicole Vernon, who kept in character through all of that blood in the GreenStage indoor production of Titus Andronicus. Kjerstine Rose Anderson is one of the great utility players at OSF. She was hilarious in its production of Servant.

Wisey Wm. Sh. Best Writer: Bill Cain, Equivocation

Well, one way to deal with problem of choosing 'best writer' when you see half a dozen or more plays a year by William Shakespeare is to name the award after him and take him out of the running. Thus handicapped, the slate is:

Michael Hollinger, Opus
Bill Cain, Equivocation
George Brant, Elephant's Graveyard
Erin Stewart, Mr. Jibbers
Darian Lindle, Great Expectations!
Deborah Zoe Laufer, End Days
Shel Silverstein, The Best Daddy
Vincent Delaney, Six Months In

We love 10-minute, one-act plays; they're like chewy salty-sweet dark chocolate caramels. Death/Sex at Balagan and 14/48: The World's Quickest Theater Festival serve up gobs of one-act goodness. Especially memorable 14/48 plays in 2009 were Mr. Jibbers by Erin Stewart—disturbing and hilarious; Great Expectations! by Darian Lindle, a tale of trust and betrayal in the high-stakes world of show choir; and Six Months In, because it still takes good writing to make a play with six pregnant men in it that funny. A Death/Sex highlight was The Best Daddy by Shel Silverstein, a rather sick little specimen from a collection of short sketches first produced as An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein.

Among full-length plays, we especially admired the writing of George Brant for Elephant's Graveyard, at Balagan Theatre. Brant bases his play on a historical incident, which makes it all the more horrifying, but takes artistic license to turn it into an all-too timely and relevant study of American "us and them" tendencies. It's not preachy; it aims for the solar plexus, and every punch lands.

Opus, seen at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, is a beautifully written piece of possession and jealousy, love and friendship, and work and creativity—much of which goes wrong, even as the ensemble is achieving professional triumphs. I found the unsatisfying, anything but neat-and-tidy ending very....satisfying.

I was just sure we had our winner all the way back in early Feburary when we saw End Days by Deborah Zoe Laufer at Seattle Public Theater. This is a very smart play, great Comedy with a capital C. As I wrote in my original Weisenheimer review, "It's got it all: two couples who aren't together but should be, an interloper, dislocation, disguised identities, conflict between generations/ societies, and a reaffirming happy ending. And it's funny as hell."

So imagine my surprise when we saw another play this year good enough to edge it out for best writer: Bill Cain's majestic Equivocation. We saw the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production at OSF and again at the Seattle Rep; the Jenny Graham OSF photo above shows Anthony Heald as Shagspeare and Jonathan Haugen as William Cecil.

Cain's project with Equivocation is very, very big. All the heavy themes of work, religion, citizenship, friendship, and family; integrity, truth, and deception; and the meaning-of-it-all. And to make it good and challenging, it's in a historical setting with only the most famous playwright in the world for a protagonist. The play is intricate without ever getting bogged down; clever without ever being trite; ambitious without ever getting lost. It carries you through a range of emotions pleasant and difficult until all of the characters—and the audience—arrive at the end with compassion. I think this is an important and enjoyable play—and that's not an easy combination to strike.

Don't count End Days out just yet. It's playing at the Harlequin in Olympia, WA. And we've got tickets. Which means by Wisey rules, we can nominate it again for 2010! It's early in the year, but I wouldn't be surprised if it makes the list again. Think of it like the Hall of Fame. It can take a few ballots to get in. Get your tickets, it's playing January 29 through February 20.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

14/48 Festival: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

The topic for the final day of this winter's 14/48 Theater Festival was a little frightening. Drawn out of the giant ice cream cone Friday night was the theme "somewhere over the rainbow." Somehow, though, the seven playwrights made it through the entire day without a trace of munchkins or winged monkeys. What we did get, though, was a solid evening of interesting and entertaining plays.

Two of the seven plays did have explicit Oz plots, including what for Weisenheimer was the best of the evening, Pretty Little Bluebirds by David Schmader, directed by Julie Beckman. Alyson Scadron Branner was a hoot as the dictatorial director, an Oz-obsessed academic who has directed a zillion productions, including the first all-white production of The Wiz, and then an all-black production of her all-white Wiz. In the rehearsal pic at right Scadron Branner (left) directs Hana Lass (who kicks ass), the play's Dorothy. (The 14/48 blog has a lot of other great photos by Auston James; go check 'em out!) Chris Ensweiler is also a riot at Scadron Branner's spouse, cast as the scarecrow. The punch line: all this heavy academic work mining the deep psychological meaning of Oz is being done for a production at a grade school!

Also hilarious was Scotto Moore's Sending a Message, directed by Liam Cole. In the play Connor Toms builds a time machine so he can go back and kill Judy Garland before she turns "Over the Rainbow" into a smash hit. He hates that song! In a Terminator-meets-Oz twist, his wife, Mik Kuhlman, turns out to be a Garland sent from the past to stop his evil plan. Funny stuff!

There was plenty of other psychosis to go around. In The Prisoner of Id by David Tucker and directed by Darian Lindle, a couple work their way through dinner on a blind date while their alter egos provide commentary and advice from upstage. Ray Tagavilla is brilliant, and his punch line is priceless. Split personalities, dreams, or voices in the head also are featured in three of the other shows. Clearly, wicked witches and winged monkeys wigged out lots of people, enabling them to become future playwrights. Somehow, the theme also inspired two of the writers to war/terrorism plots. La'Chris Jordan, who wrote Friday's funny The Ticket, got all serious with Beyond the Rain, about the inner thoughts of a woman imprisoned at Gitmo, talking with her shrink and her other self.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the band. We especially like Alyssa Keene as front-person and usually lead vocalist. Throughout the festival they also provided great scoring and imaginative sound effects. All theaters should have a kick-ass house band.

Alas, 14/48 is done until summer. We'll be counting the days.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

14/48 Festival: Into the Fire

A large and raucous crowd turned up for the 14/48 festival Friday night. They were doing the wave before the show. It's a football cheer, but we cut them some slack.

There was a lot of electricity in the air and we were not disappointed, with several truly entertaining plays and something to like about all of them.

Right out of the chute The Ticket by La' Chris Jordan and directed by Tina La Plant, was the hilarious tale of a redneck family that wins $10 grand in the lottery, only to burn the ticket in the fireplace, thanks to a rickety chair. There were a lot of laughs in the script, and the fire--an uncredited soul under the stage with some nifty flaming gloves--was inspired. That's Kaleb Hagen-Kerr at right trying to save the ticket dumped into the flames by Matthew Middleton. (We ripped off these great Auston James photos from the 14/48 blog. Go see more of 'em.)

The four words a theater reviewer needs to know are "Hana Lass kicks ass." Lass was great in David Schmader's Empty Nest, a reverse-terrorism tale in which a born-again Christian family sends their daughter (Lass) off to blow up some bad people. Lyssa Browne and Andrew McMasters were great, too.

Third Runner Up featured three of the foxiest beauty queens you'd never want to see: David Hogan, Ashley Bagwell, and Alexander Samuels in drag. They burn up real good, and fire "man" Clara Rodriguez makes off with the tiara.

Fire Sleep With Me was Weisenheimer's second favorite play of the night, after The Ticket. Scotto Moore's play, directed by Liam Cole, featured two couples off on their annual adventure vacation. Alyson Scadron-Branner's character isn't excited by the fire-walking event, and suggests a spouse swap instead. Co-stars Ray Tagavilla, David Goldstein, and Jen Moon are fabulous. RayTag is especially brilliant with his subtle wit and great timing. The twist in the swap is that the same-sex partners pair up. In the photo at left Moon (left) and Scadron-Branner head for their happy ending.

Keira McDonald was wonderfully comical as an Ike voter hanging out in a beatnik joint in Total Emancipation of the Human Personality

The festival wraps up tonight with seven plays on the theme "over the rainbow." It's sure to be great. Be there!

By the way, last week we dissed both plays written by Paul Mullin. But looking back at our posts about August's festival last year, I saw that Mullin wrote two of our favorites: Sharing Witness and Just Drink It. Interesting. Maybe we should have blamed the directors!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wisey Best Director: Ryan Higgins, The Comedy of Errors

The nominees for best director are:

Ryan Higgins, The Comedy of Errors, GreenStage
Bill Rauch, Equivocation, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Jake Groshong, The Full Monty, Balagan Theatre
Jason Harber, Elephant's Graveyard, Balagan Theatre
Tyrone Brown, Mr. Jibbers, 14/48
Brian Faker, Just Drink It, 14/48
Sam Hagen, The Only Leg He's Got, Death/Sex I, Balagan Theatre
Terri Weagant, The Best Daddy, Death/Sex I, Balagan Theatre

And the winner of the Wisey for best director of 2009 is Ryan Higgins for his marvelous work on The Comedy of Errors for GreenStage.

For some reason we didn't do a best director award for  2008, the first year for the Wiseys. Maybe we didn't have the budget or something. Had we done a director award, Ryan Higgins (at right in a photo by Jake Groshong) may well have won it for his fabulous Othello at Balagan Theatre. Higgins again demonstrated his grasp of the Bard with Comedy of Errors. As my Sweetie, the official scorer, noted in her post on the Best Costume Wisey, also won by Comedy, Higgins did pretty much everything exactly right. He's got a great knack both for understanding the text and for seeing the new possibilities therein. His decision to add to the confusion of Comedy by cross-casting worked marvelously, and he got great performances out of a well-chosen and talented cast. Shakespeare in the park can be a challenge, but Higgins and crew were up to the task in one of the most entertaining productions of the year.

Higgins was an actor in Balagan's hit production of Elephant's Graveyard, for which director Jason Harbor also received a Wisey nomination. Harber's decision to keep the entire cast on stage for the entire play really worked, and the play was an emotional punch in the gut. Jake Groshong received a nomination for another Balagan show, The Full Monty, which also won great critical reviews. The "turntable" stage was especially inspired, and Groshong assembled a great cast that had a lot of fun on a supremely entertaining production. Bill Rauch created a marvelous Equivocation that ran for eight months at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, then did a month-long encore at the Seattle Rep.

We had a long list of best-director nominees mostly because we wanted a chance to do a shout-out for those who created some marvelous one-act plays as part of either 14/48 or Balagan's Death/Sex. Weisenheimer is still haunted by Tyrone Brown's Mr. Jibbers, and Sam Hagen, Terri Weagant, and Brian Faker also delivered memorable plays. Higgins stood a little taller than the rest and is one of our favorite directors in town.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wisey Best Clown: All of them! Especially Mark Bedard, OSF

The nominations for best clown are:

Chris Ensweiler, The Servant of Two Masters, Seattle Shakespeare Company
Chris Bell, Elephant's Graveyard, Balagan Theatre
Mark Bedard, The Servant of Two Masters, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Orion Protonentis, Titus Andronicus, GreenStage
Kerry Ryan, The Tempest and The Servant of Two Masters, Seattle Shakespeare Company
Fanny Tragic, Schmorgasborg, Balagan Theatre
Matt Hornbeck, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Theater Schmeater
Armando Duran, All's Well That Ends Well, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

We saw a wonderful variety of clowns this year showcasing the role of clown in theater, so we just had to create a special new category just for 2009 of "best clown." These clowns are physical, corporeal, and acrobatic, as likely to do their thing with pantomime and juggling and other physical arts as with speech. They're usually disguised or masked. In some way, they're outside or aside of the community portrayed in the play, which often means they're interacting with the audience in a way the other characters aren't. They may be of another place or no place or are traveling from or to somewhere else (as in the tradition of the tramp or hobo clown). They're transgressors; they break boundaries and rules, they're outrageous and uninhibited tricksters, they interrupt and disrupt, and do and say things no one else can. And all of that together is why they bother us, scare us, and make us laugh.

Armando Duran played the clown in All's Well That Ends Well at Oregon Shakespeare Festival as an observer in the hobo/tramp tradition, and figured prominently in the play's somewhat surprise ending. He was revealed through "home movies" as reliving and reflecting on Helena and Bertram's story—his deceased parents—as he picks up a suitcase and leaves the stage.

Kerry Ryan was nominated as much for her clown skills and talents as for the roles she played. We saw her as Trinculo the jester in The Tempest and Smeraldina in The Servant of Two Masters, both at Seattle Shakespeare Company (and we just saw her again at this past week's 14/48: The World's Quickest Theatre Festival). Her physical clowning and comedy are terrific, and the program confirms that she is an experienced puppeteer, dancer, and physical comedian. It shows.

Matt Hornbeck gets special mention for stamina and endurance as Klaus, the Apprentice in Theater Schmeater's outdoor The Sorcerer's Apprentice this summer. He was equal to all of the audience interaction, and it was especially fun to see him engaging the little kids.

Funniest clown EVER was burlesque clown Fanny Tragic in two routines at Schmorgasborg, Balagan Theatre's late-night theater mash-up. One routine involved an air-inflated Peeps costume, but the one that really had me splitting my sides was the snuggie strip tease. Unforgettable!

We saw some disturbing clowns, too. As a child I was afraid of a clown portrait that hung in a relative's house. Now that imagine is supplanted by Orion Protonentis, playing Aaron in Titus Andronicus (GreenStage, indoors), as a particularly evil, maniacal clown. He was funny and horrifying and creepy and irresistible.

And Chris Bell was the most moving clown of all, playing a circus clown in Balagan Theatre's Elephant's Graveyard. That makeup really runs when tears are streaming down his face, and I loved the way his physicality was so often directed to producing sounds which became part of the score of the play.

Chris Ensweiler was delightful as Truffaldino in Seattle Shakes' The Servant of Two Masters, a classic commedia dell'arte Harlequin role, playing off his fellow cast members with perfect timing.

We were lucky enough to see Servant twice this year, and in a tough decision, the nod for Best Clown of 2009 goes to Mark Bedard as Truffaldino in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production. His performance was physically demanding, funny, and commanding. He was perfectly in character and self-referentially funny as he encountered our particular Saturday afternoon performance's surprises, including a cell phone dropped on stage, an audience member who tried to be as funny as Bedard (he wasn't), and some wayward fake blood.

A big thanks to all our clowns this year and the companies and productions that tickled us with these smart, funny, naughty roles.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

14/48 Festival: The Life You Knew

Saturday night's 14/48 Theater Festival plays on the theme "The Life You Knew" were, on the whole, a little stronger, with a bit higher energy, than those of Friday. Three of the seven plays stand out as particular favorites for Weisenheimer:

Jeff Becomes Her, written by Celene Ramadan and directed by Nicole Boyer Cochran, was a hoot and underscored at least one truth: Brandon Whitehead (at right) is a comic genius. Whitehead and Michael "Bama" Katt are brothers at their mother's funeral, lamenting that their estranged brother Jeff hasn't appeared. He finally does show, in the form of Lisa Viertel. Jeff is now "Ann" -- their mother's middle name. They don't find out about Jeff's sex change until after Katt's character has hit on his sister. Funny stuff!

Tyrone Brown scores again as director of Expecting Bobby (or Nicole), wirtten by Joy McCullough-Carranza. Morgan Rowe and Troy Fischnaller play expectant parents worried about how their child will turn out. Their fears are embodied by Jacob Sidney, a quick-costume-change artist who appears as a mewling infant, Barbie-playing girl, autographed-baseball-mutilating boy, and petulant teen. It affirms one's belief in non-procreation.

Angela DiMarco was great as a gun-wielding hit woman in The Guitar Case, written by Maggie Lee and directed by Opal Peachey. John Q. Smith was great as a fellow trigger man, Colleen Robertson shined as the barmaid, and Rob Burgess was a scream as the banjo-case-toting out-of-towner.

The rest of the shows had their moments. In Eggs of Green Daniel Arreola and Troy Lund discussed whether Babar was just an imperialist stooge. They had a great campfire, too. How'd they do that? In Sticky Monkeyflower writer Elizabeth Heffron and director Tammi Doyle created a surreal conflict between the "Nazi Horse Camp" and a neighboring household in which the costumers didn't have much to do with the male characters. Dawson Nichols' Deep Memory included a lot of self-referential 14/48 humor, as actor Alex Garnett talked of his darkest fears to shrink Kate Parker, and four other characters acted out those fears. Eventually the four storm off. Garnett got the most lines.

The only one that really didn't work for us was writer Paul Mullin's We're Not Talking. Like Mullin's offering from Friday, /me misses hyperbaric, it was heavy on words but short on action. In We're Not Talking all they did was talk. It's OK to have the characters move around a bit.

The band, again, was great. A special shout-out to Shawnmarie Stanton, who plays sax and harp, has great pipes, and looks good in a fedora.

There are 14 more world premiere plays to be seen next weekend. Don't miss 14/48!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

14/48 Festival: Collateral Damage

We're taking a short break from the Wiseys to attend 14/48: The World's Quickest Theater Festival!

Last night we saw the opening and closing of seven world-premiere plays at ACT's Gregory Falls Theatre, a very nice venue for the festival. (Maybe too nice, at least for the people sitting near me who were treating the theatre like a ballpark.)

The theme of "collateral damage" inspired one play about war, one about cyberbullying, one about air travel (another form of bullying), two about sex, and two about real estate. Sounds about right, doesn't it?

We loved Wichita, written by Scot Auguston and directed by Carol Roscoe. The writting was tight, elegant, gorgeous, hilarious, kick-ass. I'd see anything directed by Carol Roscoe, anytime, anywhere. And the 14/48 gods cast it perfectly. We had spot-on performances with great comedic timing from Allison Strickland, Troy Fischnaller, and Stan Shields. This play was like the leadoff batter walking up to the plate and knocking the first pitch way, way out of the park.

Other highlights...Brandon Whitehead, comedic genius; Whitehead and Ryan Higgins cracking each other up a la Conway and Korman in The Female of the Species; giant alien hands; Morgan Rowe in Taxi; seamless, 20-second set changes; the 14/48 Band; the 14/48 band stealing an airport scene; Cafeteria Blossoms written by Celene Ramadan, one of the best teenage love sketches since Nichols and May did it in a car; Kerry Ryan in Come the Dawn.

Thanks to Sloop Bell and Jordan Rosin for blogging the festival. I love following the blog and reading about how hard everyone's working. I dreamt last night that I was in a play starting in a few hours and I had just gotten my script and didn't have my lines memorized. But then I woke up and read the blog and realized that was actually happening to other people! And all I have to do is show up and be marvelously entertained. What a relief.

There are still 21 plays to go! Seven more tonight and another 14 next weekend. Get your tickets and come out to some of the most exciting theater you'll ever see!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wisey special awards

Some theater events don't fit well into a standard award category, but are so fabulous and memorable, or not, that they deserve some recognition. We have three special Wiseys for performance above and beyond, and one Wisey Razzie for raspberry-worthy crumminess. The special Wiseys:

Jake Groshong is executive director at Balagan Theatre and directed its supremely entertaining production of The Full Monty in November. The show was playing to sold-out houses throughout its run, but as the final weekend approached actress Ashley Flannegan, who played Jeanette Burmeister, came down with something akin to swine flu. What to do? Cancel the performances and refund four packed theaters worth of tickets? NEVER! Groshong did what any intrepid ED and director would have done: stepped into the role, and the dress, and played Jeanette himself! The show must go on! As you can see from musical director Kim Dare's photo at right, Groshong makes a damn attractive woman. And he made some of Jeanette's lines (e.g. her comment on a proposed frisking: "You DON'T want to go THERE!") take on a whole new meaning. Thanks to the power of the Internet, this photo will live on for eons to come.

THE SHOW MUST GO ON: A Confederacy of Dunces, Book-It
Speaking of the show going on, the performance of Dunces we saw at Book-It had a surprise ending. With about five minutes left in the show, a fire alarm went off in the Seattle Center House and we all had to evacuate the theater. Audience and actors alike filed out into the buttoned-up arcade area of the Fun Forest. Then suddenly, the end of the play broke out! They picked up the play right where it left off and finished it up for an appreciative crowd. That's Brandon Whitehead and Samara Lerman in the Weisenheimer photo of the final scene at right. The fire alarm turned out to be a false one, but it made a memorable end to a fine play. Dunces, like The Full Monty, barely missed the cut when the Best Play nominees were chosen.

Shawn Belyea was part of a marvelous cast in the Best-Play-nominated Opus at Seattle Rep, directed Balagan's hilarious Picasso at the Lapin Agile in May, and recently became the company's co-artistic director. But we at Weisenheimer love him most for an amazing event that, somehow, we never discovered until last summer: 14/48, the world's quickest theater festival. Belyea is a producer and member of the steering committee for 14/48, which is spectacular theater fun. The photo is a Groshong shot of Belyea stolen shamelessly from Facebook. Forget Christmas. For anyone interested in theater, 14/48 is the best time of the year! And it's just around the corner, playing Jan. 8, 9, 15, and 16 at ACT. Don't miss it.

WORST PLAY RAZZIE: Othello at Intiman
Weisenheimer has of late been accused of being overly positive, and it may well be true that, like Eric Idle, I always look on the bright side of life. Theater dominates our blog, and we tend to write much more about what was good about what we've seen than we have about what didn't work. The one exception to this has been our criticism of Intiman Theatre, which has been mostly disappointing for years now. The "New York" production of Othello they brought in last year had everything from the "acclaimed" East Coast production but the three lead characters. Boo! We couldn't resist one last shot. Here's hoping things pick up at Intiman with a new artistic director.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wisey Best Costume: Comedy of Errors, GreenStage

The nominees for best costume are:

Titus Andronicus, GreenStage. Janessa Jayne Styck, costume designer.
The Comedy of Errors, GreenStage. Janessa Jayne Styck, costume designer.
The Servant of Two Masters, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Christal Weatherly, costume designer.
A Confederacy of Dunces, Book-It. Doris Black, costume designer.

And the winner of 2009's best costume goes to Comedy of Errors, GreenStage, Janessa Jayne Styck, costume designer.

Comedy of Errors directed this summer by Ryan Higgins did pretty much everything exactly right, and costumes were no exception. Cross-staging and cross-dressing take some effort and imagination and everyone pulled it off with panache. I won't soon forget Michael Blum in Marge Simpson pink hair and a red dress, or Patrick Bentley and Rio Codda in drag. The Dromio twins really did look alike, which was partly magnificent casting (where did Higgins find Adria LaMorticella and Esra Chelen Guler? They were fantastic!) but also meticulous costuming. The comedy in this production is very, very physical (it has to be in Errors, doesn't it?) and the costumes—or should I say fabrications?—by Janessa Jayne Styck held up. 

It's gotta be tempting and easy for directors to set C of E somewhere...anywhere...other than the neighborhood of 1594 England. We recently saw it set at the OK Corral at OSF. Well, okay. Higgins played it straight (ahem) and showed what could be done with Shakespeare's early effort by wringing every puerile gag out of it from within the tradition of 16th century, outdoor, raucous comedy. Bravo.

We saw two shows with pink hair this year. Christal Weatherly and the costume department at Oregon Shakespeare Festival clearly had a great time with The Servant of Two Masters. The New Theatre was a great venue for seeing all the details up close, from the patchwork of Truffaldino's coat (which incorporated a brassiere cup as a handy pocket) to Whipped Cream & Other Delights as headwear to the quickest costume change in theater to get Beatrice into a dress. We even had fake blood! (Is theater gore part of the costume or props department? hmm.)

Speaking of theater gore, GreenStage's Titus Andronicus also gets a nomination for costuming everyone in fake blood. And I mean everyone, including the audience. One poor soul wore white and sat in the front row...irresistable to the actors armed with fake-blood-squirty-devices (is there a technical name for that? somebody help me out here...). The costumes were pretty simple (they're just going to get soaked) except for Aaron's as an elaborate clown costume. GreenStage doesn't have anything like the budget of OSF, I presume, but Janessa Jayne Styck does the absolute most with what they have.

A Confederacy of Dunces at Book-It Repertory Theatre relied heavily on its costume department because the story is so much about how the characters are presenting themselves and the different personas they try on. Doris Black did a great job. The attention to detail and faithfulness to the book were superb. The costumes were funny and perfectly suited the characters, in their outrageous ill-fitting way.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wisey Best Set: Sunday in the Park With George, 5th Avenue

The nominees for best set for 2009 were:

A Comedy of Errors, GreenStage. Ryan Higgins, director. Laura Garcia, properties designer.
Equivocation, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Christopher Acebo, scenic designer.
The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Balagan Theatre. Ed Cook III, technical director. Jen Butler, set designer. Terri Weagant, shopping cart builder.
Sunday in the Park with George, 5th Avenue Theatre. Projection design, Timothy Byrd and the Knifedge Creative Network. David Farley, set design.
Don Quixote, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Lynn Jeffries, puppet designer.

The 5th Avenue Theatre team wins the Wisey for its brilliant set for Sunday in the Park With George.

A part of Weisenheimer wants to handicap the relatively affluent big houses in the Wisey competition because of the resources they bring to the stage. A set piece for one scene at 5th Avenue or OSF might cost more than the whole year's budget at GreenStage or Balagan. But 5th Avenue deserves the nod for the clever, creative set for Sunday in the Park. When one walked into the auditorium, the set was merely three plain white walls. But when the lights went down and the projection system kicked in, magic happened. The walls came alive with the art of George Seurat, as he was creating it. Animated characters interacted with the human ones, too. And in Seurat's studio the painter was behind his canvas, a semi-transparent curtain lit so we could see both the artist and the work he was creating. Marvelous!

A few of the runners-up deserve mention. At Balagan Terri Weagant not only played Trudy and a zillion other characters in Search for Signs well enough to earn a best actress nomination, she built the shopping-cart spaceship to boot. The GreenStage production of The Comedy of Errors was truly minimalist in a classic sense. The only scene beside the outdoor parks was a tent with multiple entrances that served as several locations, including dressing room. Just like the wandering troupes used to do it.

A special nod to OSF for its use of puppets in Don Quixote. The valiant steeds of Quixote and Sancho Panza, and several other characters, were played with puppets to great effect. We've seen several great examples of the physical side of theater in the past year, with clowns and puppets, and the OSF puppetry was carried off especially well.

Wisey Best Music: Elephant's Graveyard, Balagan

The nominees for best music for 2009 were:

Elephant's Graveyard, Balagan Theatre. Jake Groshong, musical director.
The Full Monty, Balagan Theatre. Kimberly Dare, musical director.
Rock 'n' Roll, ACT. Kurt Beattie, director.
Gutenberg! The Musical! ArtsWest. Music direction by Kim Dare.
The 14/48 band. Alyssa Keene, lead singer.

Elephant's Graveyard is a disturbing, heartbreaking story, and the music in Balagan Theatre's production was an inextricable part of the pathos. Music set the stage, with the players playing and singing period music as the audience members took their seats and then moving right into the play. Director Jason Harber had the entire cast on stage throughout the entire play—no entrances and exits—and the actors took up and put down their instruments throughout the play without breaking character or our attention. This was not a musical; characters didn't suddenly and inexplicably break out into a musical number. Music was woven in more like a score, judiciously and seamlessly. The sounds—and the silences—were used to build tension until we were all taut as strings.

The cast turned in strong acting performances from actors who are also talented musicians, including: Jake Groshong, guitar and vocals; Marty Ofsowitz, guitar and vocals; Banton Foster, banjo; Joanna Horowitz, vocals. The original music was composed or adapted and arranged by musical director Jake Groshong.

I love to see live music integrated into the live performance of a play. The music in Elephant's Graveyard was exceptionally creative and purposeful, earning them the Wisey for Best Music 2009.

As much as I prefer live music to recorded at the theater, I'm not dogmatic about it, and sometimes recorded music is entirely appropriate. My foot was tapping with the tour through rock 'n' roll and Czech history at ACT's production of Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll. And where did they get all that vinyl?

But live music is best and one of the 892 things I love about 14/48 The World's Quickest Theater Festival is the 14/48 Band. They do original music, arrangements, and foley sound effects on a theme revealed the night before for seven plays delivered that morning; and then they do it again the next night with a new theme and seven new plays. They're amazing. We especially enjoyed the band for the July 31 and August 1 weekend, with Alyssa Keene's killer vocals and stage presence.

Speaking of Alyssa Keene, we enjoyed her performance as Georgie in Balagan Theatre's The Full Monty. This is a musical, of course, and it's a lot of fun. Music director and pianist Kimberly Dare did a terrific job and all of the cast were game. Brave souls. Personally, I think I'd rather take all of my clothes off in front of an audience than sing in front of an audience. Austin Garrison and Evan Woltz turned in memorable performances (and I mean musically!).

Speaking of Evan Woltz, he was half of the cast for ArtsWest's Gutenberg! The Musical! He and Chris Shea gave us a delightful romp through this play-within-a-play. And speaking of Kim Dare, she was musical director and pianist for this production as well. It sounds like with Ms. Dare on the scene we can look forward to more great music.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Elephant's Graveyard leads pack with seven Wisey nominations

The production of Elephant's Graveyard by Balagan Theatre leads the pack with seven nominations for the second annual Weisenheimer Awards, given by the crack staff at West Seattle Weisenheimer for excellence in theater. Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Equivocation, which also had a run at the Seattle Rep, and the GreenStage production of The Comedy of Errors, are right behind Elephant's Graveyard with six Wisey nominations each.

The Wisey nomination committee added a new category this year, Best Clown, in recognition of the number of truly great clown performances during 2009. Nominations come from among the 81 productions Weisenheimer and my Sweetie, the official scorer, attended during 2009.

Wisey winners will be announced over the next few weeks. The nominees are:

End Days by Deborah Zoe Laufer
Seattle Public Theatre. Directed by Carol Roscoe. Shana Bestock, artistic director.
Sweetie review

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Seattle Shakespeare Company. Directed by John Langs. Stephanie Shine, artistic director.
Weisenheimer review

Equivocation by Bill Cain
Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Directed by Bill Rauch. Bill Rauch, artistic director.
Weisenheimer review and Sweetie review

Elephant's Graveyard by George Brant
Balagan Theatre. Directed by Jason Harber. Jake Groshong, executive director, Lisa Confehr, managing director.
Weisenheimer review

Opus by Michael Hollinger
Seattle Repertory Theatre. Directed by Braden Abraham. Jerry Manning, producing artistic director.
Weisenheimer review

The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
GreenStage. Directed by Ryan Higgins. Ken Holmes, producing artistic director.
Weisenheimer review

Charles Leggett, The Merchant of Venice, Seattle Shakespeare Company
Michael Winters, The Tempest, Seattle Shakespeare Company
Jonathan Haugen, Equivocation, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Brandon Whitehead, A Confederacy of Dunces, Book-It Repertory Theatre
Allen Fitzpatrick, Opus, Seattle Repertory Theatre
Mark Fullerton, Mr. Jibbers, 14/48

Carolyn Marie Monroe, End Days, Seattle Public Theatre
Terri Weagant, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Balagan Theatre
Anne Allgood, Rock 'n' Roll, ACT
Robin Goodrin Nordli, Macbeth, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Tracy Hyland, Just Drink It, 14/48