Sunday, July 15, 2012

Great wrapup for Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival

The Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival was a big success, with seven more performances to solid audiences at Volunteer Park on Sunday. Weisenheimer caught three of them, and parts of a fourth.

The Queen (Erin Day, kneeling) gets grilled by Wolsey
(Michael D. Blum), the King (Daniel Guttenberg) and
Cardinal Campeius (Charles Gift) in the GreenStage
production of Henry VIII.
The first show of the day was Othello by the Young Shakespeare Workshop, directed by Darren Ley. Weisenheimer set out to watch this play. However, they did a full-on Othello at 2 1/2 hours; they did it in the round, which often made it very difficult to hear; and they did it under some big cedar trees, where it was damned cold this morning! I bailed out for a sunnier spot.

We sat in the sun for the GreenStage production of Henry VIII, directed by Teresa Thuman. There is plenty of court intrigue and power playing during the show, and we were especially taken in by the accusation and trial of Queen Katherine of Aragon because of the electrifying performances of Erin Day as the Queen and Michael D. Blum as Cardinal Wolsey. Daniel Guttenberg as King Henry and Alyssa Kay were strong as well, and the entire cast turned in super performances.

Henry VIII is not produced very often. In fact Day, who serves as artistic director for GreenStage, said after the performance that they've been wondering if this production isn't the first time its ever been staged professionally in the state. Get out and see it this summer.

Curtain call for the cast of Hansel and Gretel.
The 5 p.m. show was Theater Schmeater's production of Hansel and Gretel, directed by Julia Griffin. I missed it Saturday but my Sweetie saw it and reported it was good. I caught it today and it lived up to Grimm's reputation of "frightening children for hundreds of years." This production frightened this adult, too; set after the original story, the witch is remodeling, which means two of the characters are incompetent contractors from the "Short and Sweet Building Company." Having survived a home remodel last year, we have sympathy for the witch.

Amelia Meckler was great as the migraine-plagued witch, Jay Irwin a hoot as H&G's mom Betty Knott, and Monica Wulzen and Nathan Pringle (a chip off the old block) played the title characters. The Schmee as usual delivered fun for all ages.

Wrapping up the festival on the set of Twelfth Night.
The festival rounded out with the production of Twelfth Night by Seattle Shakespeare Company's Wooden O, directed by Makaela Pollock. This was a highly entertaining show featuring Emily Chisholm and Matthew Gilbert as the "twins" Viola/Cesario and Sebastian, Connor Toms as Duke Orsino, Emily Grogan as Olivia, and George Mount as Malvolio. A special shout-out to Justin Huertas, who relished the role of Feste the fool, and the dizzying array of props and costumes at his disposal.

It was a most entertaining festival, and on Sunday we weren't able to attend all of the plays, missing Balagan Theatre's Sally and Thor Save the World (at Summer Camp), Shakespeare Northwest's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Jet City Improv's The Lost Folio, all of which played across the way at the Museum stage.

Not to worry, all of these will be playing at multiple venues through the rest of the summer. Check their websites for dates, times, and places of a show near you. We're lucky to have such great outdoor theater options all summer long!

Disclaimer: Weisenheimer is doing marketing work for GreenStage, but it doesn't make me biased!

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