Sunday, July 17, 2011

Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival, day 2

After a full day of four plays last Saturday, my Sweetie, the official scorer, and I took in two more Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival shows Sunday, July 10 at Volunteer Park.

L-R: Ben McFadden as Arthur, Adria LaMorticella as
Morgan, and Daniel Goodman as Merlin in Balagan
Theatre's King Arthur and the Knights of the Playground.
Photo by Andrea Huysing.
Balagan Theatre delighted a good park crowd with its world premiere performance of King Arthur and the Knights of the Playground. The show is billed as "the epic legend of King Arthur set in the most politically charged and high-stakes setting the world has known: recess." It's just what it sounds like: Arthur and company are fifth graders at Camelot Public School #1. (It's only a model.) The kids loved the show with its madcap pace, goofy humor, and kid problem solving. There was plenty for the adults to enjoy as well, with its smart references to various episodes of the Arthur legend and, for the youngest adults, lots of references to video games as well. Plus there's an epic knock-knock-joke battle, and everyone gets juice at the end

Directed by Sam Hagen and written by Jaime Cruz, Maggie Lee, Juliet Waller Pruzan, Joanna Horowitz, Paul Mullin, and Matt Smith, King Arthur and the Knights of the Playground features Ben McFadden in the title role, and Adria LaMorticella, Allison Standley, Andrew Murray, Charles Norris, Daniel Goodman, Jehan Whittaker, Johnny Patchamatla, Libby Barnard, Nik Donner, and Rachel Ross. They're all great fun!

Arthur played this weekend at Cal Anderson Park. The next two weekends (July 23-24 and 30-31) they will be at Magnuson Park, and then play at the Paradise Theater in Port Townsend Aug. 6. Check it out!

The Comedy of Errors cast at its curtain call July 10 in
Volunteer Park. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.
The finale of the festival last weekend was the Wooden O production of The Comedy of Errors. Directed by  George Mount, the show was a hilarious and marvelously entertaining end to a great festival. Mount sets the familiar mistaken-identity romp in Vaudeville times, and pulls it off beautifully.

For me the highlight was the two Dromios. For my money Chris Ensweiler is one of the funniest actors working Seattle stages (see our raves for his work in Seattle Shakes productions of Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Servant of Two Masters, and Twelfth Night). He's right on track in this one as Dromio of Syracuse. David S. Hogan is equally riotous as twin Dromio of Ephesus. Keith Dahlgren is a scream as the (intentionally) worst ventriloquist you'll ever see (several of the characters are dummies...) and, well, I really hate to single anyone out, because all of the performances were so fine in this satisfying show.

I am tempted to compare Mount's Comedy of Errors to the one directed by Ryan Higgins for GreenStage at the festival two years ago. But I won't do it. We really loved the Higgins version, which received six Wisey Award nominations in 2009, and won two, including best director for Higgins. But the past is over, and Mount has a great show you can see this summer. Get out and see it here and there through Aug. 7.

Now, if we can just find time to think about the 2010 Wiseys....

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