Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How much is that hankey in the window?

It may be an indication of both my level of commitment to the Weisenheimer and of the quality of its content that the first post in nearly five months is obliquely scatological. But it cannot be helped. Exposure to great art has creativity coursing through my veins, and has thrust me unwillingly into the holiday spirit.

Window painting at a West
Seattle fast-food joint.
On my walk to breakfast this morning it struck me that this Christmas spud, painted in the window of a local fast-food restaurant, bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo. Maybe the dominant part of my brain is that of the 12-year-old, and perhaps I've watched too much South Park, but the window took me right to that spot.

I hesitated a bit before making this post. I didn't name the restaurant because this revelation might create trouble for the window painter. But I decided he (and let's face it, gender-neutral pronouns aside, if this window is a take-off on Mr. Hankey it was probably done by a guy) has a plausible defense: The thing in the window is a Christmas potato, and anyone who would see something else there is a true sicko. Plus, the creators of Mr. Hankey, Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park, were originally accused of stealing the character from an episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show. Later everyone agreed that singing and dancing poo was just a creative coincidence. Thus could it be with this painting.
Mr. Hankey, borrowed from the
South Park website.

I learned that last bit from a Wikipedia entry about the Mr. Hankey episode of South Park. This entry, about one episode of a 1997 cartoon, runs more than 4,500 words. That level of rigor is in itself an indication of the popularity and influence of the episode and of the immense power of the Internet to waste time, just as this blog post is an indication of the power of procrastination to put off doing real, productive work. Well, a little goofing off once every five months can't hurt!

Today's newfound creativity already has led me to two Groucho moments. The first, a reaction to my maturity level, recalls a Groucho insult: "You've got the brain of a 12-year-old, and I bet he was glad to get rid of it." (In the movie it was a four-year-old, a better insult.) The second was a comment to my sister-in-law, who posted on Facebook this morning that she's "teaching gym to preschoolers in my pj's today and tomorrow." You Grouchophiles wait for it: I couldn't help but respond, "How the preschoolers got into your pj's I don't know." Hooray for Captain Spaulding!

OK, back to work, except for those of you who go watch the episode, which clearly was influenced by A Charlie Brown Christmas. Howdy-ho!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Aladdin belongs to the Genie

I was all set to dislike the production of Aladdin that's running at the 5th Avenue Theatre. We just don't need all of this Disney crap. (Misha Berson recently reported in the Seattle Times that Disney is considering a musical stage version of Freaky Friday. Wha-what??) Furthermore, the 5th did something of a bait-and-switch on us; I actually bought tickets for Oklahoma!, but that production was ditched when The Mouse came along with a scheme to gin up a musical version of the hit 1992 cartoon. Geez, was it that long ago already?

James Monroe Iglehart
steals the show in the role
of Genie.
Thus I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy a number of entertaining moments during the show, which should be re-named Genie!, because James Monroe Iglehart owns this sucker! Iglehart amped up the energy level tenfold whenever he appeared on the stage, as with show-stopping numbers "Friend Like Me" and "Prince Ali." (I'm often tempted here to steal the Noel Coward line: He stopped the show, but then it wasn't moving very fast.) Iglehart played in Memphis here in 2009 and then originated the role of Bobby on Broadway. He's a marvelous stage presence and a pleasure to watch.

Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed were fine as Aladdin and Jasmine. Their magic carpet ride during the rendition of the Oscar-winning song "A Whole New World" was a marvelous bit of staging.

Many of the supporting characters were more fun, though. Babkak, Omar, and Kassim (Brian Gonzales, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, and Brandon O'Neill) were funny as Aladdin's street-band sidekicks who didn't make the cartoon version. Jonathan Freeman was diabolical as the meanie Jafar, and Don Darryl Rivera was great as Jafar's toady Iago.

Director and choreographer Casy Nicholaw keeps things moving. The dance is good as always. One beef with the costuming, though: this was the most demure group of harem girls one ever didn't get to lay eyes on. Damn Disney.

Aladdin is a work in progress. It's been running since July 7, though the "official" opening isn't until this Thursday, July 21. In fact, it was announced before the show that the creative team was in the audience today checking on reactions. One might guess there could be changes as they continue to tweak it.

The 5th plans to do Oklahoma! next season. Unless that Freaky Friday thing bumps it, or maybe The Mouse will want to do a musical version of The Love Bug.

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....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival, day 1

July is a great month to be a theater fan in Seattle. This weekend is the Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival at Volunteer Park. GreenStage, producers of the festival, and Wooden O, the outdoor arm of Seattle Shakespeare Company, will be doing their free shows around the area well into August, and 14/48, the World's Quickest Theater Festival, plays the last two weekends of the month.

My Sweetie, the official scorer, and I took in four shows on opening day. The first, a production of As You Like It by Last Leaf Productions, was ultimately unsatisfying because it was often very difficult to hear even though we were in the third row of blankets from the front. Project, actors, project! Volunteer Park is a tough venue, with no acoustics to speak of, planes and helicopters overhead, barking dogs, and playing kids.

The performance was also hampered a bit by not one, but two, understudies in the cast, particularly the key role of Orlando, who gave it a game try. It's got to be tough to perform with script in hand.

We never got a program for the show, so we can't give a shout out to good performances, but we liked the actresses who played Rosalind and Touchstone especially.

Last Leaf is based in Monroe and will be performing As You Like It and The Merchant of Venice at various Eastside and Snohomish County locales through early August.

The cast of Macbeth takes a curtain call July 9. Photo:
Greg Scheiderer.
Second up was a truly marvelous production of Macbeth put on by Wooden O. Sweetie and I agree that Reginald André Jackson's performance was the best by a Thane of Cawdor that we'd ever seen. Jackson seemed well at home with the Bard's language, and portrayed Macbeth's swings between ambition, regret, tenderness, violence, and insanity without falling into the sort of cartoonish flailing that sometimes plagues the role.

Tracy Hyland also was spectacular as Lady Macbeth, and the cast was studded with favorites such as Mike Dooly, Shawn Belyea, David Goldstein, and Carter Rodriguez.

A couple of quibbles with the production, directed by Tim Hyland. An effort to have Jackson recite the lines of the second round of witches' prophecies in sync with spooky recorded ones. It didn't work, as they never got close to being in sync. And Macbeth having to mess with the play doll at the end just turned into a distraction. But all in all, it was a great show.

Theater Schmeater gets the "family show" slot in the festival every year, this time turning in an entertaining world premiere production of Arrh! A Dinosaur Ate My Spaceship by Bret Fetzer and Juliet Waller Puzan and directed by Steve Cooper. Any show with a flatulent T-Rex (Aaron Allshouse), the creature from Alien (Kendra Pierce) who can't say "fart" because her parents are in the audience, a calorie-conscious great white shark (Anna Richardson), goofy pirates, and an insane mad scientist (Tracy Leigh) is sure to be a smash.

The cast of The Tempest takes a bow after its
performance July 9. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.
Batting cleanup for the day was the GreenStage production of The Tempest, directed by Michael D. Blum. We'd have to say this show was spot on, a delightful production with great performances from a marvelous cast. Blum has created a show that is funny, sexy, touching, and sweet. GreenStage takes their Shakespeare seriously, but not so seriously that they can't have a lot of fun with it. A great example is when Prospero, played superbly by Ken Holmes, barks a "no tongues" warning to daughter Miranda (Alyssa Kay) and suitor Ferdinand (Matthew Fulbright) as they got in some necking at stage left. Prospero and Ariel (Gina Marie Russell) use their special powers for good, not evil.

There's not a bad performance in the bunch, though in addition to Holmes and Russell we especially liked Anthony Duckett's loopy Trinculo, Daniel Wood as Stephano clad in Superman underwear (don't ask, don't tell), and Don MacEllis as a far more human Caliban than we usually see in The Tempest.

The set for the show was pretty spare, even by Shakespeare in the Park standards. Other than the brick wall of the Volunteer Park amphitheater, it consisted of one stump, and another stump with arms that served as Prospero's throne. They didn't need anything else!

We'll surely be seeing this show a couple more times before the summer is out.

A tip of the sword also to Performers' Forge, a group dedicated to the education, training, and safety of stage combat. Forge members staged fistfights, swordfights, stickfights, and general mayhem during the breaks between shows. They're good, and they teach their craft for a lot of theater companies around town, as well as doing performances of their own.

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.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We're opera mad (and we're not even in Camelot)

The three of you who read Weisenheimer on occasion know that my Sweetie, the official scorer, and I enjoy going to the theater. Yet up until this weekend we had, between us, exactly one visit to the opera in our entire lives combined. My Sweetie went with her third-grade class, and still recalls being petrified with all the rules laid down for her behavior: don't make noise, don't speak unless spoken to, don't stand up, don't fidget. She was afraid to breathe until the thing was over!

We're opera-mad in Camelot; we sing from the diaphragm
a lot. From Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Weisenheimer's opera experience has been pretty much limited to the movies A Night at the Opera by the Marx Brothers, during which Harpo inserts "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" into the score, and Moonstruck, in which Nicholas Cage wins Cher by taking her to the opera.

Oh, and there was Tommy, but that was a rock opera, and not quite the same.

Anyway, Friday we changed all that by going to The Magic Flute at Seattle Opera, and we had a darn good time! Speight Jenkins was the general director and Asher Fisch principal guest conductor for the work by Mozart and Emanuel Schikaneder.

The folks at Seattle Opera did their best to frighten my Sweetie by sending out a pre-show email that included a First Timers Guide with handy tips on such topics as what to wear and when to yell "Bravo!" (After the song is over, it turns out, is a good time for that.) She didn't get scared, though, because she never got around to reading the note.

Cynthia didn't do the full Cher treatment, but did get her hair done. I didn't go all tux-y, but did wear gray slacks, a white shirt, black jacket, and my best comedy/drama tie. We looked smashing!

I'm not sure I'm qualified to review operas after one time, but the set was fascinating, the costumes gorgeous, puppetry and clowning fantastic, and there was some incredible singing, led by Mari Moriya, who was the Queen of the Night. Jonathan Boyd as prince Tamino and Leigh Melrose as Papageno were great, too, and a bunch of little kids who were the offspring of Papageno and Papagena were adorable, with one particularly getting amped up during ovation time. (Or maybe she just had to pee badly. Anyway she was hopping around like she was a pogo stick!)

Like Rick Blaine when the Nazis marched into Paris, my German is a little rusty, but I could pick up some of the lyrics and dialog, and luckily the English supertitles filled in the gaps.

I expect we will continue to mix some opera in with our theater-going in the future. Bravo!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Greeks, guys, and dolls

I experienced both ends of the Seattle theater spectrum this weekend, saw two enjoyable shows, and came away from it feeling a little sad.

Brandon O'Neill, center, plays
Sky Masterson in the 5th Avenue
Theatre production of Guys and
Dolls. Also pictured are Brittany
Jamieson, Kasey Nusbickel, Nikki
Long, and Marissa Quimby. 
The 5th Avenue Theatre production of Guys and Dolls is a lot of fun. The show is stuffed with standards such as "Luck Be a Lady", "A Bushel and a Peck", "Adelaide's Lament", and "If I Were a Bell." The fabulous "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" by Nicely-Nicely (Todd Buonopáne) was a show-stopper at the end. Director Peter Rothstein filled the show with clever staging, Noah Racey's choreography and the dancing were marvelous, and Kate Sutton-Johnson's set was cool. The four leads all are familiar to Seattle audiences, as are many of the supporting players including the incomparable Clayton Corzatte and Laura Kenny. Musicals aren't Weisenheimer's favorite, but Ma Weisenheimer loves 'em and so we go. Guys and Dolls ranks among my favorites of the last couple of years. A big Sunday matinee crowd enjoyed the show immensely.

Friday night my Sweetie, the official scorer, and I took in Sophocles' Ajax at Open Circle Theater. Like the musical, the Greek tragedy isn't necessarily my favorite, though I write that knowing that, if we ever get around to handing out the Wisey Awards for 2010, the Seattle Shakes production of Electra probably wins. However the Ajax cast was loaded with talented Balagan Theatre pals, so it was a show we didn't want to miss. Todd van der Ark adapted the story and Linda Lombardi directed the tale of war, betrayal, rage, madness, and love.

They did a great job. We really like Ryan Fields, who was super in the title role. Ryan Higgins as Achilles was one of the more intense dead guys you'll ever see. Daniel Arreola, Ashley Bagwell, Curtis Eastwood, and Hannah Schnabel were super.

Unfortunately, there were just 10 people in the audience, including the bartender. Friday night in Belltown and they couldn't draw a crowd of any sort. We had dinner at a restaurant just a block away, and our server had never heard of the show or the theater.

That's where my sadness comes in. The 5th Avenue has resources. I remember thinking a couple of years ago, while watching their production of Hello, Dolly!, that the train everyone climbed aboard was a set piece that probably cost more than Balagan's entire annual budget. They're pleasing big crowds. Meanwhile Open Circle is pleasing crowds, too, and talented actors are working hard to put on a show that entertains. But their program includes an appeal for donated office supplies and, maybe, a new sewing machine.

This weekend is the final one for Ajax. I think you need to get out and see it! Guys and Dolls runs at the 5th through June 5.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fly swatter day? Are you kidding me?

Back in the day major league baseball teams used to give away cool items that were worth having in order to entice fans to the ballpark. Bat night, ball night, mitt night, cap night, seat cushion night, and t-shirt night were staples. I had a Seattle Pilots helmet given away on helmet night. The helmets had two holes in the top, ostensibly for ventilation, though we smart-ass 12-year-olds considered the helmets to be crying buckets (given the sorry nature of the club) and thought the holes had to be plugged in order to avoid the spilling of the tears all over town. For years I carried my keys on a Mariners give-away keychain that was emblazoned with the team slogan of the year, "Anything Can Happen." They might even win 50 games this season! Wow!

As Dave Barry would say, I am
not making this up. If you're free
for the M's afternoon game of May
19 you can get a Franklin Gutierrez
flyswatter absolutely free.
He's got a huge mitt. Get it?
Thus it was with a certain amount of disbelief that as my Sweetie, the official scorer, and I listened to today's game during a drive down to Seaview for a stay at the Audubon Cottage at China Beach Retreat, we heard a promo for the upcoming Franklin Gutierrez fly swatter day.

This is no joke. Well, it is, but it's also apparently a true story.

Gutierrez is a fabulous center fielder who has earned the not-so-creative sobriquet "Death to Flying Things" for his ability to snare fly balls. It wasn't a great leap, then, for the marketing geniuses with the team to come up with the idea for flyswatter night. It puts me in mind of the old George Carlin bit, "How much is that dog crap in the window?", in which the guys in sales came up with suggested placements for fake vomit that would maximize the humor. "Near the refrigerator! Hey, Charlie, stop the presses!"

As if flyswatter day needed any help being funny, the subject of the giveaway, Gutierrez, has been on the disabled list all year with irritable bowel syndrome, which suggests that there might be a Lomotil night in the M's future. And flyswatter day is Thursday, May 19, a game with a 12:40 start time that ensures that mainly business executives and the rest of the luxury suite set, the homeless, the unemployed, shift workers, and truants will be able to snag the Guti swatter. Not everyone, though, just the first 20,000 people through the turnstiles. How many of these things will we see on EBay within 24 hours? (As of this moment there are 404 results on EBay for "flyswatter," though none of them involve Gutierrez or any other baseball player. You can get a flyswatter with the Cubs logo, just $7 plus shipping, and there is a lovely WWF swatter, too.) And what sort of price will they fetch?

You can buy a hand-made
Cubs flyswatter on EBay. I
am not making this up.
What sort of promotions are other teams cooking up for their star players? I wonder if there's a Derek Jeter mousetrap night. How about Albert Pujols roach motel giveaway? Maybe a Roy Halladay no-pest-strip promotion.

Back when the M's were winning 116 games in a year, the good promotions must have been easier to come by. Now that they're in their more familiar place as 100-game losers and A.L. West doormats, the club is so bad that flyswatter day isn't even the dumbest promotion on the schedule. Last month they gave away bags of dirt to fans, a mockable event (I joked at the time it was nearly as exciting as Jack Wilson bobblehead night), though it apparently had something to do with educating fans about composting. During today's broadcast I swear I heard a promo for another dirt night, though there's nothing on the M's website about it. And mark your calendars for Sunday, June 5, which is Little League Day, at which all kids 14 and under will receive a Chone Figgins poster because there's no better model for kids than a self-centered .217-hitting malcontent who is probably still on the payroll of the Angels, who are paying him to continue to suck while playing for a division rival. And Friday, July 29, is Sonics Celebration Night, some sort of remembrance of the NBA club that last played in town three years ago. One has to hope that Howard Schultz will throw out the first pitch. A lot of folks in town would love to give him a little chin music. There's also an M's Oktoberfest, which is scheduled for Sept. 27 because, let's face it, the M's won't be playing in October.

There are signs the weather won't be getting any better, too. King Felix knit cap night is June 18, and, in the heat of the summer, Aug. 26 is Mariners Fleece Blanket Night. The next night is singles night, and I'm not sure if that's for people without partners, or just a recognition of the team's lack of power.

Oh, and guys, on Fathers Day, June 19, the team will give away Mariners coasters to the first 10,000 dads. The folks who frisk you at the gate will also do the DNA test. Holy smokes!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

We are slackers. Here are 13 mini-reviews.

Way back on Feb. 24 before a performance of The Brothers Size at Seattle Rep, Weisenheimer and my Sweetie, the official scorer, were grilled by readers Jason Harber and José Amador (and we were a bit amazed to find that we really had readers, actually) about our paucity of posts in recent months. Not to make excuses, but in early December we moved out of our house and into a rental for a two-month remodeling project that, as we move into month number six, is nearly finished. Somewhere in there I quit my job and joined the family firm. So things have been a little hectic.

John Bradshaw left, then returned to
Seattle Shakespeare Company,
where he's managing director.
We've managed fully one post since then, about the departures of John Bradshaw and Stephanie Shine from Seattle Shakespeare Company. Bradshaw left first, but upon the departure of Shine a week later, decided not to leave after all and returned to his post as the company's managing director. That's a good thing! We've not commented at all about the troubles over at Intiman, which has sacked its entire staff and shut down for the rest of its season, intending to regroup and re-emerge next year. How that will play with those who had recently forked over in an effort to keep the financially troubled theater afloat is anyone's guess.

Despite the craziness in our lives, we have still been getting out to the theatre. Here's what we've been up to since our last review, a Jan. 29 post about Balagan Theatre's production of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Merry Wives of Windsor at Seattle Shakes. The final production of the company's current season, directed by Terry Edward Moore, scores with big laughs. Leslie Law and Candace Vance were especially great as the title wives, John Patrick Lowrie was grand as Sir John Falstaff, and Therese Diekhans was marvelous as the scheming Mistress Quickly. Merry Wives runs through May 15.

9 to 5 at 5th Avenue. A fun, musical stage version of the 1980 film featured Dolly Parton on video and a lot of period pieces on the set. Where did they find so many Selectric typewriters?

You are about to enter another dimension. Tim
Moore as Rod Serling in Twilight Zone Live!
Twilight Zone Live! at Theater Schmeater. Adapted from the TV series and directed by Tim Moore, who also got big laughs with his spot-on Rod Serling impression, the cast included many of this page's favorites, including  Megan Ahiers, Ashley Bagwell, Tracy Leigh, Lisa Viertel, and Jon Lutyens. Props to Rob Burgess, who has roles  in all three episodes, including Wordworth, the obsolete librarian from one of my favorite shows in the series.

Of Mice and Men at Seattle Rep. John Steinbeck is one of Weisenheimer's favorite authors, and there have been a couple of great film versions of the book, but we really hadn't intended to go to this until we learned of the cast, led by Seattle favorite Charles Leggett as Lennie, and also featuring Troy Fischnaller (George), Ray Tagavilla (Carlson), and Seanjohn Walsh (Curley). While we enjoyed the production, we thought director Jerry Manning went a little too cartoonish with Curley, who was in a ridiculous red wig and spent most of the time strutting about sputtering with his chest puffed out. Leggett's performance alone was worth the price of admission (which is getting awfully high at the Rep, I must say.)

Shawn Belyea as Daniel and Jaime Roberts as Virginia in
LGT's proeduction of Hardball. Photo: Omar Willey.
Hardball by Live Girls Theater at Annex. The world premiere of Victoria Stewart's play about a young woman's transformation from journalist to popular pundit. The story, the main character of which is not-very-loosely based on Ann Coulter, doesn't sound like that exciting of a premise for a play. But an outstanding cast and direction by Meghan Arnette, make for an outstanding show. A late scene of an on-camera debate between the Coulter character, Virginia (played by Jaime Roberts) and Suzanne (Alyssa Keene) really crackled.

Great Expectations at Book-It. Kevin McKeon directed this wonderful adaptation of the Dickens book, starring Lee Osorio as Pip and our good friend Mike Dooly as Joe.

Janiva Magness at Jazz Alley. We worked some music into the first quarter, as chart-topping blues artist Janiva Magness played the Alley on March 1. Magness does a great live show. Check out our reviews from last year's performaces in February and April.

The Threepenny Opera by Seattle Shakes at Intiman. A big cast, marvelous costumes, and a bigger house over at Intiman ultimately led to a pretty disappointing and overlong production.

The Brothers Size at Seattle Rep. My Sweetie, the official scorer, didn't seem all that impressed by this story of brotherly love, but Tarell McCraney's script and story moved me. Directed by Juliette Carrillo and set, essentially, on a big pile of old tires, it was a grand tale of brothers who don't have much but each other.

The K of D at Seattle Rep. We spent a lot of time at the Rep, which is wrapping up a pretty good season. This time my Sweetie really liked the production. I, while impressed with actress Renata Friedman's ability to carry this one-woman show and portray about 250 characters seamlessly, the story really didn't grab me all that much.

Ann Flannigan was great as Norma, the bossy and bitchy
sister who is just trying to keep the family together. I'm sure
all of the characters wanted to kill her! Photo by TorStudios.
The Last Schwartz at Harlequin Productions. This Olympia theater is doing some great work these days, and for the second straight year staged a show by Deborah Zoe Laufer, playwright of End Days. Schwartz featured a super strong cast, with great performances from my former colleague Ann Flannigan as Norma, the de facto momma of a somewhat disfunctional family, Scott C. Brown as brother Herb, who just wants the coffee table, and Alison Monda as Kia, outrageous model girlfriend of brother Gene.

Emilie at ArtsWest. An encore performance. I'd seen the play one evening when my Sweetie was out of town and was sure she'd like it, so went again. She did.

Duel of the Linguist Mages at Annex Theatre. Local playwright Scotto Moore wrote and directed this interesting sci-fi play featuring local favorites Jen Moon, James Weidman, and Curtis Eastwood. Moore's work is out there, and Mages is no exception, with a fascinating plot featuring researchers hacking language to control everything.

OK, there. You're up to date.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Big changes at Seattle Shakes

Seattle Shakespeare Company has just taken a hell of a one-two punch. A week ago the company sent out word that John Bradshaw, its managing director since 2004, was stepping down to raise funds for a favorite nonprofit. Today comes news that Stephanie Shine, who has been the company's artistic director for 13 years, will be leaving at the end of June. They're going to have to completely re-work their masthead!

Stephanie Shine, artistic director at
Seattle Shakespeare Company for the
past 13 years, announced her departure
just a week after word came out that
managing director John Bradshaw also
was leaving.
When the top leadership depart in quick succession the knee-jerk reaction is to think "sinking ship." But its nearly impossible to believe that this is the case at Seattle Shakes. The word on the street, and on the Facebooks, is that the company is well into the black, having just concluded a most successful run of The Threepenny Opera, directed by Shine. My Sweetie, the official scorer, and I weren't exactly wild about the show, but we went, and so did a lot of other folks. And we have absolutely loved a number of their productions in recent years, including Hamlet and Wittenberg earlier this season, the fantastic Electra in 2009-10, and superb stagings of The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, and The Servant of Two Masters in 2008-09. Balagan and Seattle Shakespeare Company are the two theatre groups in town to which we hold season subscriptions.

Phil Miller, the chair of the board of directors for Seattle Shakes, wrote about the future in a letter sent today to the company's supporters:
Seattle Shakespeare Company's Board of Directors is re-evaluating the Company's leadership and internal organizational structure. We plan to move forward towards a permanent plan that will be in place by the start of the Company's new fiscal year on July 1, 2011. We have a number of exciting options on the table and are thrilled by the possibilities. It is too soon to name names, but you can expect to hear details that will inspire your interest in our theatre and confirm your confidence in the financial stability and management of Seattle Shakespeare Company.
Miller added that he expects Shine to continue to be involved with Seattle Shakes as an actor and director.

Interesting times. We hope they get someone strong to steer their ship through this tempest. They have four big shoes to fill.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dr. Horrible returns in all its horribality

Balagan Theatre sold every last ticket to its production of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog during a run in August and September last year that proved to be the company's final show in its Capitol Hill basement. Dr. Horrible is back, bigger and better than ever, for a three-week run directed by Kate Jaeger and on stage in the Allen Theatre at ACT.

Annie Jantzer returns as Penny in Balagan
Theatre's production of Dr. Horrible's
Sing-Along Blog
running at ACT through
Feb. 12.
In addition to Jaeger, there are a few other high-profile changes with the new staging. William A. Williams, who had an ensemble part in last year's run, stepped into the title role admirably. Erik Ankrim, who directed last year's show along with M. Elizabeth Eller, in addition to playing the lead, was unable to participate this time. Evan Woltz, a favorite from Balagan's 2009 production of The Full Monty, joined the cast, as did Bobby Temple, who also was the dance captain for Dr. Horrible. Maybe the biggest change was the venue. ACT's spacious Allen Theatre allowed for some bigger and badder production values and a much greater scale than the old basement allowed.

Jake Groshong and Annie Jantzer returned in their major roles of Captain Hammer and Penny, joining Williams in a fiendish and evil love triangle. The trio are marvelous.

Don't just take my word for it. made Dr. H one of its top eight things to do in Seattle this weekend. Also check out the cast doing a number from the show on the KING-TV program New Day NW.

The full house at ACT seemed to enjoy the opening night of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and sent cast and crew off with a standing ovation. Let the full house be a warning to you, though: Tickets are going fast, so you'd better hop on the ACT website PDQ to order tickets. The show runs through Feb. 12.

Full disclosure: Weisenheimer is the president of the board at Balagan, but it doesn't mean I'm biased!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

ArtsWest comes up with the right formula with Emilie

Voltaire (Nick DeSantis) sneaks
a peck from Emilie (Kate Witt)
during Emilie by Lauren
Gunderson, running through
Feb. 20 at ArtsWest. Photo:
Michael Brunk, ArtsWest.
After the Seattle opening of Emilie Wednesday evening playwright Lauren Gunderson enthused that it was like meeting her own characters for the first time, such was her enthusiasm for the production created by director Susanna Wilson and cast at ArtsWest in West Seattle.

Emilie is the story of Emilie du Châtelet, early 18th century French mathematician and physicist who came up with the notion, "force vive", that kinetic energy was proportional not to the velocity of an object, as believed by Newton, but to the square of its velocity. She also translated, and upgraded, Newton's Principia Mathematica into French, and that translation is still the standard in the language today.

If that sounds like a boring premise for a play, well, you're wrong. Plus it's also about battles between head and heart, of women in science, and a dandy verbal duel between Emilie, played by Kate Witt, and her lover, the pompous horse's ass and usually wrong Voltaire (Nick DeSantis).

Witt's Emilie is reincarnated to tell her life story, in which young Emilie is played by the talented and fetching Sara Coates. (I expect Voltaire may have written that if Sara Coates didn't exist we would have to invent her. But I digress.) Jason Marr is wonderful as a number of men, including Emilie's husband, a future lover, and Sir Isaac Newton. Jody McCoy plays a variety of women, including Emilie's ever-so-proper mother.

A randy Voltaire (Nick DeSantis)
gets it on with living Emilie (Sara
Coates), but it's narrator Emilie
(Kate Witt) who really makes the
sparks fly. Photo: Michael Brunk,
Coates gets the kissing scenes because narrator/Emilie Witt gets zapped with electricity and the lights go out if she actually comes into contact with the figures from her past. It underscores the isolation she feels as she toils away in a scientific world that very much belongs to the men.

Witt is fabulous and owns the stage, which is literally her blackboard. Director Wilson and designer Dan Schuy came up with a set that is mostly chalkboard paint, and Emilie scribbles her formulae and diagrams all over the place, as well as her running tally of the good points of love and philosophy. Emilie, a larger-than-life force, wins at everything, including cards. Though for a while there she's not so sure she'll win at love.

The end was surprisingly moving. Emilie gets pregnant at 42, and it becomes a race between the very probably deadly childbirth and finishing her translation of Newton.

In an interesting touch, Wilson has Witt remain on stage during the intermission, continuing her studies and making notes and diagrams on the chalkboards. Most of the opening-night audience missed it, but I missed intermission; it was too interesting to watch!

Emilie has crackling dialog and vivid characters, and it's a fabulous story. Don't miss it. It runs at ArtsWest through Feb. 20.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Local artist's work on exhibit in Tacoma

Mindi Katzman's "Preaching to the Choir,"
encaustic on paper on board, 2010, depicts
a scene that will be familiar to West Seattle
residents. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.
I dropped by Tacoma's Brick House Gallery, operated by my friend Peter MacDonald, last Thursday to check out the art of Mindi Katzman. Though I'd never seen her work before, there was something immediately familiar. West Seattle residents will certainly recognize Katzman's paintings that feature iconic totem poles from around the neighborhood, as well as another that includes the Alki Statue of Liberty, a work that is featured on her business cards and the home page of her website.

In addition to those, another painting of a Puget Sound scene in the show, titled "Another Point of View," seemed like a familiar sight. As it turned out, the landscape was painted from a viewpoint at the end of Waite Street, just a short walk away from Weisenheimer world headquarters.

Our cell-phone photos don't do the work justice. Katzman works with encaustic, applying colored wax to the surface. Marvelous, vibrant colors and an interesting texture result.  Many of her paintings feature birds who appear as curious about the scenes depicted as do we, the gallery patrons. Katzman also does some marvelous painted metal sculptures depicting tropical locales. One that had several beds of calla lilies on it particularly caught my eye; don't tell my mom, who used to have a bunch of calla lilies in the back yard, but my sister and I used to blow them up with firecrackers.

Katzman's "Road's End" depicts a
scene from a Waite Street viewpoint
not far from Weisenheimer world
headquarters. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.
Katzman is a delightful sort and we hit it off well. It helped, I'm sure, that she and her husband Michael Dupille, who also played guitar during the reception Thursday, had just returned to the Northwest from a visit to Kitt Peak Observatory near Tucson. Weisenheimer is author of the Seattle Astronomy blog, so we had art and the cosmos as common interests. She seemed interested in our post about the photography of Roger Ressmeyer, now on exhibit at ArtsWest gallery, and hoped to get over to see it before that show closes at the end of the month.

The Katzman exhibit is a celebratory one for the Brick House, which has been open for about a year now. Congrats to MacDonald on the first anniversary and on another excellent show.

You can see more of Katzman's work on her website, and on that of the Brick House Gallery.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

14/48: Good for the soul; now how do we feed it until July?

Sunday afternoon is kind of a downer. 14/48, the world's quickest theatre festival, is over. It won't be back until July.

In the space of nine days the festival gave us 28 world-premiere one-act plays. That's a festival worth celebrating!

This second weekend of the festival was a little uneven. Friday night's shows in general weren't all that memorable. Perhaps a difficult theme, "Worse Than Death," had something to do with that. Most of the playwrights went TO death, or beyond it, or to some alternate place of existence such as prison, heaven, or someplace on the other side of the Large Hadron Collider.

There were a few bright spots. In Force Quit, written by Wayne Rawley and directed by Annie Lareau, Keith Dahlgren is delightful as a sadistic IT support guy who tortures poor Brian D. Simmons, who is going to lose his job if Dahlgren can't find a lost file, or if he lets management know about the interesting websites Simmons has visited on company time. Susanna Burney and Teru McDonald were hilarious as two workers trying to advance their careers at the donut shop by winning the favors of the manager (Evan Mosher) in All of the Holes, written by Kelleen Conway-Blanchard and directed by Bret Fetzer. Burney, her bosom smeared with jelly donut filling, wins.

Bridezilla and the Monster Dimension, written by Matt Smith and directed by Greg Carter, was a wild circus that had one great pun that got a belly laugh out of me. The troupe is on the way to a wedding in the Large Hadron Collider, for which the groom said the cost was "astronomical." I thought it was really funny, and then the bride corrected him, saying the collider didn't have anything to do with astronomy. Personally, I'd say she's wrong. If sorting out the relationship between quantum mechanics and general relativity isn't about astronomy, what is?

Saturday night was much better, with a theme of "Cheaters Never Prosper" resulting in some funny plays. In Severance Pay by Rawley and directed by Fetzer, Trick Danneker and Jaime Roberts convince Shawn Belyea to let them chop off the tip of his little finger, part of their dubious plot to bring down the fast food industry. Revenge of the Goldfish, by Brandon J. Simmons and directed by Greg Carter, was a hilarious self-referential play about the theater industry, in which the audience, McDonald, winds up strangling the playwright, Simmons, for turning out crap. (Though my Sweetie, the official scorer, says self-referential humor is cheating and cheaters never prosper.) Larson vs. Whammy, by Celene Ramadan and directed by Lareau, was a riot as Don Darryl Rivera figured out how to beat the game show "Press Your Luck," then lost his fortune and was forever haunted by Whammies. One of the whammies sat on my knee, too.

Boombas, written by Elizabeth Heffron and directed by Brian Faker, was marvelous, as cheating spouse Dahlgren faces off against his wife (Alyssa Bostwick), their shrink (Burney) and his mistress (Annette Auger), a Latvian who does him "twice a veek." Once they determine that Dahlgren's problem is that his wife's boombas aren't "pert" any more, all three women tear off theirs, leaving all six on the stage and creating a certain amount of freedom.

I couldn't find any photos on line from this weekend's 14/48
plays, so here's a shot of Lisa Viertel from the 2009
production of Penguins at Annex Theatre.
My absolute favorite of the weekend was Gertrude and Tonya Watch the Twitter, written by Smith and directed by Richard Ziman. In the show Lisa Viertel and Deniece Bleha are two old bats at the retirement center sparring over the rights to date the most eligible bachelor in the joint, so deemed because he still has his hearing. Viertel is a riot as an obscenity-spewing old woman in a wheelchair. She and Bleha also squabble about whether they should see a movie; Viertel prefers to watch her Twitter feed, because it's full of celebrities talking to each other. "Isn't that what a movie is?" asks Bleha. The two end up in a knock-down-drag-out fight, in which Bleha, who uses a cane, has an advantage over the wheelchair-using Viertel. Naturally, they finish on the floor in a lip lock. It doesn't sound so hilarious as I describe it, but it worked, and Viertel in particular is a crazy funny actor. She was, by the way, chosen this weekend for the Mazen Award for veteran 14/48 participants for their contribution to the spirit of risk taking and camaraderie embodied in the festival's process. Well deserved!

This show also featured an example of why my Sweetie, the official scorer, and I often urge theatre folks to eschew whiz-bang techie stuff and let the text and the actors carry the day. The show featured the actual tweets from the celebrities projected on the back wall. However, in the 8 p.m. show the projection didn't work, and all we saw up there was the "no signal" test pattern. They'd ironed the bugs out by the 10:30 show, but I thought it distracted from the great acting of Viertel and Bleha, and didn't really add anything. When Viertel, looking at her phone, growls, "Britney, you crazy whore," you don't have to see an actual tweet to know it's funny!

Many thanks to everyone involved in 14/48. Even if the plays don't always work, it's always a great time. We can't wait until July!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Weisenheimer blog on astronomy

Poster for the exhibit The Beginning of Totality, photos by
Roger Ressmeyer. Image courtesy ArtsWest.
Weisenheimer launched a new, separate blog about astronomy recently. After a little over a year of writing about local astronomy for, I decided to start Having my own site gives me a lot more editorial control over the look and content of the site. While it's titled "Seattle Astronomy", my aim is to cover space and astronomy news and events from Seattle and the Northwest.

Every once in a while my interests in astronomy and other topics intersect. It happened this week, and in this case it's art, photography, and astronomy. There's a great new exhibit at ArtsWest Gallery in West Seattle called The Beginning of Totality. It features the work of renowned photographer Roger Ressmeyer, who gained some fame as a celebrity photographer beginning in the mid-'70s, but who later turned his camera lenses skyward to shoot a different sort of star.

Check out my review of The Beginning of Totality, and get out to ArtsWest for the exhibit, which runs through the end of the month.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

14/48 : Good for the soul

Photos: Michelle Bates
Before Friday, it had been 42 days since we'd seen a play. That's too long. The first weekend of this January's 14/48, The World's Quickest Theater Festival, hosted at ACT, came just in time. And was it ever good for the soul.

Friday's theme was "It's All Part of the Plan." My first thought was, oh good, lots of plays about fundamentalists. And indeed we had a couple. In one of our favorites of the evening, Planning for Disaster, written by Maria Glanz and directed by K. Brian Neel, Megan Ahiers and James Weidman delight as a couple who come face to face with god, are not smote, come face to face with each other, and are smitten. Ahiers is hilarious as the hausfrau who cracks a bit under the stress of a false alarm and blurts out lots of deliciously naughty words and wants.

Terri Weagant and Sara Mountjoy-Pepka

The highlight of the weekend was Exactly What You Would Do, a beautiful love story written by Scotto Moore, directed by Ryan Higgins, and superbly acted by Terri Weagant and Sara Mountjoy-Pepka playing a futuristic, head-over-heels-in-love engaged couple. Mountjoy-Pepka's character comes home to her fiancée with some startling news from work. She's accepted an assignment as chief medical officer to a planet 15 light years away. What begins as a rather typical argument about life and wedding and career plans quickly becomes difficult as we discover along with Weagant's character that her fiancée can be cloned. That, in fact, she already has. That, in fact, she has already left on her assignment—making the woman who came home that night the clone. In the end, Weagant's character accepts her cloned fiancée, recognizing, and telling her—that's exactly what you would do. This was one of the times when it really paid to see both the 8:00 and the 10:30 shows; at the closing night show we appreciated all the nuances of the performances even more.

Workin' Girls, by Scot Augustson and directed by R. Hamilton Wright, was perfectly cast by the ice cream cone gods of 14/48 and brilliantly set in the 40s. Pretty boys Jason Harber and Shawn Law were a hoot as mannequins-turned-lotharios, Jennifer Jasper was a riot with sidekick Aly Bedford as dreamers with imaginations so much bigger than the Wichita Woolworth, and Roy Stanton turned in a series of perfect villains, from uptight store manager to Nazi to Indiana Jones' evil twin. Great fun.

The theme for Saturday night was "Bedtime Stories." Friday night after the show some of us were speculating whether we'd get dirty, or creepy, or silly plays. It turns out that given the theme "Bedtime Stories," 5 out of 7 playwrights will write about grief and loss, loneliness and separation. Usually I laugh all the way through a night of 14/48; Saturday I went home with that vague hangovery headache you get from crying; and I wouldn't have missed a moment of it.

The night opened with The Story of Us, by Patrick Scott and directed by Erin Kraft. Shawn Law is one of those actors who can do vulnerable to turn your heart inside out (Hamlet), and he and the ensemble of Amy Love, Jason Harber, and Andrew Litzky turned in gutsy, heartfelt performances in this touching, funny, wrenching story of a veteran's instructions to his combat buddies to enact "the story of us" for his widow. 

The Way It Was, by Brendan Healy and directed by R. Hamilton Wright, was an equally touching story of a man struggling to say goodbye to the woman he loves, on life support after an accident. Megan Ahiers and Joseph P. McCarthy played it with frank emotion and no sentimentality, so it packed a wallop even as their characters' quirkiness and honesty made us laugh.

The Olive Bed  by David Drummond and directed by Jennifer Jasper was a delightful retelling of Odysseus (Mark Boeker) coming home to Penelope (Kate Jaeger), and Penelope testing him after 20 years of separation; Marcy Rodenborn provided comic relief, hilarious as the exasperated Eurycleia.

Cover Me by Scot Augustson and directed by Andy Jensen was a story of lives that intertwine after each is bereaved by unexpected loss from tragedies that strike young. Bravely performed by Ashley Bagwell, Terri Weagant, James Weidman, Aly Bedford, and Morgan Rowe. 

Llysa Holland
After all that, it was a relief to get a funny play to close the night; Coming to a Conclusion by Scotto Moore and directed by Alan Bryce. Orgasms are funny, and so are Orgasm Machines that come with a manual as big as a volume of the encyclopedia. Five very fine actors—Charles Leggett, Patrick Lennon, Daniel Christensen, Heather Gautschi, and Llysa Holland—were game and enthusiastic and the ACT lobby furniture fashioned into a bed held up admirably. Yet even this play ended on a pensive note, as the two couples declined a perpetual, group, machine-induced orgasm in favor of keeping their individual identities, abandoning the toy in favor of sex and companionship with their lovers, while the themes of isolation and loneliness emerged again for the single character, who declined an invitation to get a burger with her friends and is left alone with five Orgasm Machines in a sound-proofed room.

The band is always one of the best things about 14/48. They write, adapt, and arrange songs and transitions and effects for all seven plays. They perform and interact and react to what is happening on stage. Live, original music and talented musicians as inseparable part of the theater-making. It should be like that more often. The cello was a wonderful addition. Yes, Alyssa Keene, Annie Jantzer, and Heather Mullin fronting the band really was like the sirens scene from O Brother Where Art Thou, whether they were in their plunging red dresses (Friday night), jammies (Saturday first act), or negligees (Saturday second act). The guys looked good too: Alan Echison, drums; Dave Pascal, bass; Nate Bogopolsky, guitar; Justin Huertas, cello; and David Anthony Lewis, keyboards.

We were delighted to read on the blog Friday that Alyssa Keene had won the Mazen Award for the weekend. Well deserved. We love her singing and acting, and are always glad to see her name on the bill for the 14/48 band. 

Thanks to the bloggers for helping make the hours go by on Friday and Saturday before curtain: José Amador, Holly Arsenault, and Laurie Rose; and to Michelle Bates for all the great pics. See 'em all at the 14/48 Facebook page.