Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sense and Sensibility Sense-sational

The current production of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility at Book-It Repertory Theatre is great fun, and does the company's customary superb job of faithfully telling a story without having to cram every last page into a six-hour theatrical production. Kudos to adapter Jen Taylor and director Makaela Pollock for creating a delightful show.

Jessica Martin (left) as Marianne Dashwood and
Kjerstine Anderson and Elinor Dashwood in the
Book-It Theatre production of Sense and
Sensibility. Photo: Alan Alabastro.
An unexpected treat was the casting of Kjerstine Anderson as eldest sister Elinor Dashwood. We've enjoyed Anderson's work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in recent years, especially a truly hilarious turn as Clarice in The Servant of Two Masters, for which she received a nomination for the best supporting actress Wisey back in 2009. Anderson doesn't get to be very funny as Elinor, what with all the fretting about where they're going to live and whether she'll ever hook up with Edward, but she carries the show marvelously. Karen Nelsen is a ball of fire as the nosy and meddlesome Mrs. Jennings, Angela DiMarco fiendish as the scheming Lucy Steele, and Jason Marr is fantastic as both the super-shy Edward Ferrars and his total doofus younger brother Robert Ferrars. (Has anyone else who has never read the Austen books but seen countless film and stage versions always thought the name was "Farris"?)

We have only a couple of small beefs with the show. The spectacular Shawn Law doesn't get nearly enough to do as John Dashwood and Mr. Palmer. Jessica Martin as Marianne Dashwood does a credible job of playing air-pianoforte, but certainly they could have rigged up some sort of set piece that looked like an actual instrument. And the curtain-based scene changes were a little goofy and blocked part of the view of the stage for some of the audience, such as my Sweetie, the official scorer's mom, who was in town and came to the show with us the second time we saw it.

Unfortunately, you can't go see Sense and Sensibility yourself. The final performance in the run is on stage even as I write this.

Carp and Elliott separated at birth?

I used to be a baseball fanatic. These days I don't even know the faces of most of the Mariners. There's a Japanese guy on the team who looks vaguely familiar, and I know Franklin Gutierrez because his likeness has been immortalized on a flyswatter. The rest of 'em I don't know from LeBron James.

My Sweetie, the official scorer, and I have not watched much Mariner TV in three or four years. That's about how long ago we had our cable TV disconnected. We realized that about all we really cared to watch was M's baseball, and that had become painful. So we saved the $50/month and gave up the cable. Without so much time wasted on television, we were free to waste more time on Facebook, Twitter, and writing silly blog posts.

Last year was the first year since 1976 that I did not attend even one Mariner game. (I nearly skipped 1995 in protest of the strike of 94-95, but got roped in during the Refuse-to-Lose miracle that Rick Rizzs keeps reminding us about.) We haven't been this year, either. And it's been quite a few years since I've bought a baseball card. So, following along strictly on the radio, I have really no idea what most of these all-stars look like.

Thus it was that we happened to be eating  recently in a public establishment while the ballgame was on the tube there, and I was startled to see that a dead ringer for a famous comedian was playing for Seattle. I had no idea who the player was, nor could I quite place who it was I thought he looked like. A few minutes with Google gave me the answer:

On the left, Mariner outfielder/firstbaseman/designated hitter Mike Carp. On the right, funnyman Chris Elliott. Carp was tearing up the PCL in Tacoma to the tune of a .348 average and 19 home runs, but he's batting just .179 for the M's this season, his third cup of coffee in the bigs. So it's up to you to decide who is funnier.

While many Mariners performances over the years have been truly hilarious, Elliott may be the first true comedian to play for the club since several Groucho Marxes appeared on the field during funny-nose glasses night in 1982.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Arms and the Man entertains at Seattle Public

Seattle Public Theater is wrapping up its 2010-11 season with a hilarious production of George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man. The show, directed by the company's artistic director Shana Bestock, kept the audience in stitches with its brisk pacing and fine performances from a cast of wonderful local talents.

Anne Kennedy Brady as Raina Petkoff
and Ryan Childers as Sergius Saranoff
in Arms and the Man at Seattle Public
Theater. Photo: Paul Bestock.
I wonder why we don't see more Shaw on Seattle stages. I recall a particularly wonderful production of Arms at Intiman about 2002, which featured R. Hamilton Wright and Laurence Ballard. Shaw is such a great wit, and the story of Arms holds up well more than 100 years after it was first produced: Boys meet girls, class lines get all muddied, and everyone mostly lives happily ever after.

Weisenheimer particularly enjoyed the performance of Frank Lawler as the chocolate cream soldier, Captain Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary soldier who prefers lugging truffles into battle rather than ammo. He was so matter of fact and deadpan about his chickenhearted survival instinct! Bluntschli takes cover from the battle in the boudoir of Raina Petkoff (Anne Kennedy Brady) who is betrothed to Sergius Saranoff (Ryan Childers), a doofus local officer who really has more of an eye for the Petkoff's servant, Louka (Brenda Joyner). Bluntschli's return to the household to return a jacket turns into an extended stay, and all the romantic entanglements get straightened out. Props, too, to Julie Jamieson and Gordon Carpenter as the elder Petkoffs, and to Mark Fullerton who is remarkably straight faced as the butler Nicola.

Arms and the Man, highly recommended, runs at Seattle Public through June 12.