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.

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