Noises Off at SecondStory Repertory in Redmond, WA

Entertainment Review, play review, Theatre Review

11009095_997513073615430_6670299029446650949_n

Noises Off by Michael Frayn is one of my all time favorite plays!  So, to say I am more judgmental of productions of shows I love is a major understatement.  And we all know I’m not shy about letting you know when I hate something.  Well, I’m also ready to shout from the rooftops when I love something, and I absolutely friggin loved SecondStory Rep’s production of Noises Off!!!!  It was sooooooooooooooo good!

Noises Off is a play within a play type of show.  The audience gets the joy of watching a goofy, quirky group of British actors rehearsing a play called Nothing On!  You get a look at all the magic that goes in to getting a play ready for an audience complete with a frustrated director, confused actors, exhausted stage hands, and egos everywhere!  Relationships that form within a tight knit cast is a very real thing, and Mr. Frayn exploits this in the best way possible!

These relationships take you on quite the journey that is a marathon of a show, not a sprint.  When you combine the heavy line load for the actors, the physical decathlon that the director has to create with staging all three parts, and the complication of the turning of the ENTIRE set, you have on hell of a show to pull off.  Well, Executive Artistic Director, Mark Chenovik put together an amazing production staff who then cast one of the best ensembles I’ve seen in a long time to more than pull this show off!

Let’s start with the set.  Unbelievable!  Amazing!  Phenomenal!  If you’ve never been to SecondStory, let me tell you this is not a big theatre.  The stage area is not that big, and I had no idea how they were going to manage to create a set large enough to hold this ensemble with all the ‘bathrooms and doors’ necessary for the story, not to mention then turn the sucker around for the second part, and then put it back for part three!  And yet….oh, and yet….it was done beautifully!  It was a masterpiece, and I am so glad I got to witness how it was done!  If you go see this show…or actually, WHEN, when you go see this show, when intermission rolls around, don’t go out to the lobby, instead stay in your seat and watch the magic that Mr. Chenovick and Jen Klos, Managing Director, pull off with just the help of one crew person.  BRAVO!!!

10429474_1008334135866657_3688960035756281614_n

Now, on to the rest of the production team.  Kevin Miller directed this beautifully.  Noises Off is great if one just lets it be what it is supposed to be, which is British farce/comedy, and Mr. Miller did just that.  He also cast a fantastic group of actors to tackle this beast and each actor was cast perfectly!  The costumes were delightful, the dialect was spot on with all of them, and every production element was on point!  Well done!

11390177_1008334859199918_5270324249647657058_nThe ensemble was pure magic.  Every single one of them had specific character development, wonderful line readings, and delicious chemistry.  They listened to each other, leaned in to each other, and played off each other so well, it was wonderful to watch.  Calling out standout performances is like trying to decide who is a better broadway diva, Patti LuPone or Alan Cumming!  But, I did have my favorites.  Sara Trowbridge as Belinda was simply spectacular!  I loved her high brow accent, her nosy nature, and her hilarious ability to manage Selsdon.  Additionally, her husband Freddie, played by Jaryl Draper, was wonderfully understated, deliciously dense, and 11537691_1008335015866569_3664335612755172545_nfantastically lovable.  And Dan Davidson as Tim was simply everything.  He was so brilliantly cast in this part, simply reacting to
all the madness going on around him in the most hilarious way!  He brought to life a character that can often get lost in this sea of dynamic roles, and yet Tim is the one I gushed about with friends after the show because Mr. Davidson committed to that character so completely, I was simply blown away!  Bravo to the entire cast for stellar performances all around!  You should all be very proud to be a part of this show, and I thank you for bringing it to life so beautifully.

Noises Off will continue to make audiences laugh through July 5th.  You should go get tickets now, because once the word is out, this show is going to sell out!  Ticket and show time information can be found on SecondStory’s website.

Loved this! So very much!  Please go see this show and support this wonderful cast and crew!

Ciao for now,

M sm

Photos from SecondStory Repertory’s Facebook page, credit to Michael Brunk

Advertisements

Are You There, God? It’s Me. Karen Carpenter! at STAGEright Theatre in Seattle, WA.

play review, Theatre Review, Uncategorized

11209590_934723149882867_7510408915465015586_n

When one reads a title like Are You There God? It’s Me. Karen Carpenter, one can’t help but go, ummm…WTF?  I had no idea what to expect when I took my seat at the Hugo House on Capital Hill in Seattle, WA for STAGEright’s opening night performance of their 20th show.  The set was painted very 1970’s stripes, the lighting was psychedelic and the music was, obviously, The Carpenters.  The scene was set for a good time, and I was anxious to see what this was all about.  The house lights went out, and the show began, and for the next 90 minutes or so, I laughed my fool ass off, because this show is friggin hysterical!

This play, written by the brilliant Dane Whitlock, takes the beloved children’s story of Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret, and inserts the songs made famous by Karen Carpenter to drive the story along and it is pure genius.  It’s quirky, it’s witty, and it’s 100% fun!

11391524_953995997955582_1204358077450347862_nSo, what has STAGEright done with with hilariously written tale?  Well, they cast seriously talented actors to transport the audience back to the 1970s to follow the story of young Margaret, played expertly by Emily Rose (EmRo) Frasca!  Oh, my, this chick!  This unbelievably talented chick, elevated one of my favorite childhood characters so beautifully, I was in awe.  Ms. Frasca anchored this show perfectly with her impeccable comedic timing, her wonderfully genuine line delivery, and her hilarious physicality that I was completely able to suspend my disbelief in that this grown woman was a pre-teen sensation, and I adored her!

Mr. Whitlock’s script takes us through all the main components of Judy Blume’s book after Margaret moves to New Jersey and meets Nancy, the sassy young lady who 10511117_956742217680960_7899865495744453442_n
lives down the street.  Nancy is the bossy, queen bee of her own universe, and leads a secret club with Margaret and two other girls, Gretchen and Janie.  These four discuss and experience everything from boys to bras to learning the technical jargon surrounding female reproductive system, and are all just longing to grow up as fast as they can, complete with boobs and menst-a-rating, and the four actors who took on this challenge were phenomenal.

Ms. Frasca was in great company with Shermona Mitchell, as the fiery Janie who is 11401163_956742214347627_1368414406373539369_nneither intimidated by the bossy Nancy, nor is afraid to speak her mind, Abbey Roads as the delightful andhysterical Gretchen who stole every scene she was in (OMG!  Her facial expressions were priceless!  I’m a huge fan!), and Olivia Lee as Nancy who so badly wants to just grow up and is inspired by the women in her dad’s Playboy magazine!  All three of these ladies were fantastic in their roles, completely committed to their characters, each vastly different from the others.

Let me take a moment, though, and talk about Ms. Lee and her amazing portrayal asunnamed-2 Nancy.  The nuances that Ms. Lee creates in her characters is absolutely fascinating. She pulls my focus, in the best possible way, whenever she’s on stage, because she so clearly works her intentions.  I recently saw Ms. Lee as the Witch in STAGEright’s Into the Woods (reviewed here), and I was so impressed with her in that production, that I had high expectations of her in this play, and she did not disappoint!  Her bravery in character development, her fearless silliness, and her phenomenal physicality made  an otherwise irritating character (who Nancy would have been in the hands of a less skilled actress) absolutely lovable.  I look forward to seeing Ms. Lee in many more productions!

Another standout performance was of Emily Feliciano who played multiple roles ranging from Nancy’s little brother Evan, to the heartthrob of the class, Phillip Leroy.  Her character transitions were impeccable, her deadpan face added levels to each scene, and her commitment to her gender flipped characters was brilliant!  Although, my favorite of her characters was just her and a can of, I believe, was Aquanet Hairspray.  Trust me people, watching her with that can alone is worth the price of admission!

One other performance I want to point out was Cedric Wright who played 11393045_953996117955570_4457104242582662002_nboth Moose (Margaret’s love interest) and Norman Fishbein, an awkward Jewish boy.  Mr. Wright’s transition from one character to the next was flawless completely with physical changes and speech impediments.  He was adorable and funny, and had the perfect combination of charisma and goofiness that is needed when a grown man plays the part of a teenage boy.  And there was a moment involving spit, that while it was a complete accident, I hope they find a way to effortlessly recreate it every night, because it just elevated the scene to a level of humor that ya just can’t force!  And kudos to the whole cast for regrouping after that!  I LOVE LIVE THEATRE!!!

There were some weaknesses in this production, and sadly for me it came in the forms of the ‘grownups’ in the show.  All the children were played beautifully, but the adults were mostly played by either Jay Irwin or Michelle Flowers, and they gender flipped each character having Mr. Irwin play everyone’s mother and Ms. Flowers playing Margaret’s dad and male school teacher.  It just didn’t work.  Mr. Irwin was extremely over the top, and his timing was off, so the jokes rarely worked.  I saw him trying to work levels between normal speech patters and then dropping into his deeper voice, but the transitions were far from smooth and thus, missed the mark. There was a lot of yelling, and I didn’t understand the motivation for that.  And Ms. Flowers was not believable as a man in either role.  She misses the physicality needed to pull off masculine energy.  And there’s a scene between Margaret’s dad and Moose that was so uncomfortable, and not just because of the dialogue, but because the chemistry and read of the role by Ms. Flowers was ineffective.  I saw what director, and Artistic Director of STAGEright, Brendan Mack was going for with these characters, but sadly, they were the weakest performances in the show.

This show was music directed by the brilliant Josh Zimmerman (who I originally expressed my love for in my review of his music direction in Next to Normal at Second Story Rep), and the music truly was fantastic!  There were some sound issues in the beginning where the band overpowered the actors, but the adjustments that were made throughout the show fixed that, and it all came together in the stunning fashion I have come to expect from Mr. Zimmerman.  Ms. Frasca can sing her face off, and every time she sang a solo, my heart soared!  Karen Carpenter would have been proud.  I also enjoyed the voices of most of the “children.”  The weakness of the adults continued on into their vocal performances, including, what I thought was the biggest vocal disappointment of the show:  Karen Carpenter, played by Stephanie Graham.

Ms. Graham’s voice does not have the soft, sweet tone that Karen Carpenter had, and once Ms. Frasca joined in on the one song Karen Carpenter sings in the show, Ms. Graham was completely lost vocally. However, while she may not have had a strong vocal performance, and also completely overdid her performances in the other ensemble roles she played (especially that of Coach Barb Strutts…it was too much on level 10 the entire time of being over the top and overacted, so the impact wasn’t well received by much of the audience, and completely irritated me), Ms. Graham did look EXACTLY like Karen Carpenter!

unnamedWow!  I mean, the costumers, Cherelle and Jonelle Ashby, outdid themselves with the costume for Karen Carpenter.  The white pants, the vest, the wig!  Loved it all!  And Ms. Graham is so tall and thin that when she stepped on stage, she took my breath away with how similar she looked to Karen!  Bravo to the design team on pulling off a doppleganger of that magnitude with such an iconic figure as Karen Carpenter to recreate!

Overall the direction was strong and concise by Mr. Mack, and the design and use of Barbie dolls was inspired! You’ll have to just go see it to know what I’m talking about.

This creative, fun filled, and highly entertaining play runs through June 27th.  I strongly, seriously, and Nancy-level-bossily suggest you go see this show!  Further details and ticket information can be found on STAGEright’s website.

10426146_955068901181625_7798404394908071941_n

Loved it! Adored it! Laughed the entire time!  GO SEE IT!  I mean it!

Ciao for now,

M sm

Photos courtesy of STAGEright and their Facebook page.

Four Dogs and a Bone at Theatre Schmeater in Seattle, WA

Entertainment Review, play review, Theatre Review

17398_10153314635784172_641109164295072754_n

Saw a new play tonight by one of my favorite playwrights, John Patrick Shanley, at Theater Schmeater in Seattle.  It is called Four Dogs and a Bone and it follows the story of a screenplay being filmed in Hollywood.  I note the screenplay as the focus, because it really was a character in this funny, witty play.  It is the thing that each character wants to control in this play in one way or another.

4 Dogs and a Bone-1There are two actresses (Brenda and Collette played by Brenda Joyner and Elinor Gunn, respectively) who both fashion themselves the star of the show and desperately want the screenplay to feature them as the lead.  There’s a producer (Bradley played by Paul Custodio) who wants the screenplay cut down to something that can be filmed on, or better yet, under budget.  And finally the screen writer (Victor, played by Ray Tagavilla) who just wants this screenplay, his first screenplay, to be a hit and get mass distribution.  The stakes are high for them all, and each actor attacks their intention differently.

Mr. Custodio was appropriately sleazy and skeezy as the penny pinching producer.  Shanley’s dialogue for this character is deliciously raunchy and disgusting, and Mr. Custodio embraces this with gusto!  I believed every pain in the ass moment he created (and you’re just going to have to go see it to understand that reference!).

Both Ms. Joyner and Ms. Gunn went after their intentions with the passion of a desperate actress just trying to be liked by, ya know, the entire world.  Ms. Joyner’s Brenda, a newcomer to the business, was a lovely mixture of naiveté and ruthless moves, all rolled into a lovable neurotic newbie and you can’t help but understand her desperation of trying to break into the business beast of Hollywood as best she can.  Ms. Gunn’s Collette, on the other hand, is the stereotypical stage actress trying to make her career transition to film, and is placing all her chips on this one bet that this movie will make her a leading actress.  Colette is the Ivy to Brenda’s Karen (yes, I just used a Smash reference, deal with it), and both are so ridiculous, I found myself hoping Victor would just write them both out of the film.  Both women committed to their characters beautifully, and the contrast between the two kept me laughing throughout the show!

But the shining star of this production is Mr. Tagavilla.  His Victor had both depth and charisma as the fledgling playwright hoping for a hit with this movie.  Victor is the only character who has a significant arc and takes a journey in this play, and was a pleasure to take that journey with Mr. Tagavilla.  His comedic timing, his line delivery (to quote my friend who went as my +1 tonight, “Saying ‘suck my dick’ that many times and could have gotten really crass and ridiculous, but he just made every time he said it more hilarious 11377388_10153947727538012_4966385185623481930_nthan the time before.” People, this alone should have you rushing to buy tickets right now!), and his ability to stealthily maneuver from moment to moment in every scene he was in showed that Mr. Tagavilla is on a whole other level than the rest of the cast.  While they were good, he was great!  Mr. Shanley’s final lines for Victor could have ended up quite cheesy in the hands of a less skilled actor, but Mr. Tagavilla had me staring up into that bright light of the possibility of success thinking, “Yes, Victor!  You will get everything you want and more!  Johnny lives!!”

Overall, the direction, design, and timing were all tight and effective.  The pacing is perfect, the costumes fantastic, and the soundtrack outstanding!  Watching Ms. Gunn try to seduce Mr. Tagavilla while Big Poppa played in the background was my favorite scene in the show and made my heart soar!  Brilliant choices all around!

This isn’t a groundbreaking play.  It will not leave you with some deep meaningful morale to take away and ponder over late night happy hour drinks.  It will, however, make you laugh and entertain the hell out of you, so I highly recommend you go see this gem.

Four Dogs and a Bone plays through June 27th and show and ticket information can be found on Theater Schmeater’s Website

Highly entertained! Loved it!  Go see it!

Ciao for now,

M sm

Photos from Theater Schmeater’s Facebook page

Space Madness: Burlesque, Drag & Variety Show at The Austin in Everett, WA

Entertainment Review, Variety Show Review

11036033_410654719116662_6882188355999689447_n

As a virgin to a full burlesque show, I had no idea what to expect as two friends and I sauntered in to a bar called The Austin in Everett, WA to watch a show titled: Space Madness.  I was cordially invited by the divine hostess, Shana Deon, to attend these festivities, and am so grateful for that invite, because Space Madness was a hilariously fabulous night of entertainment with a space odyssey/alien invasion/all things with the word Star in it (Star Wars, Star Trek, Stars, etc) and it was delicious!

Let’s start with the opener of the night, one Miss Sparkle Leigh.  You may remember that name, as she was the divine hostess of the last Variety Show that I saw at the SecondStory Hideaway in Redmond, WA (you can read that review here if you missed it!), and Sparkle was one of the main reasons I made the trek up to Everett to see this show.  And Sparkle Leigh did NOT disappoint!  This bitch opened up the show doing Don’t Cry for Me Argentina from Evita as, wait for it…Marge Fucking Simpson!!!  Don’t believe me?  Check it out, here is Sparkle Leigh with Shana Deon at the show:

asparkle

I love everything about this photo!  Anyway, I digress.  Miss Leigh’s Evita was stellar!  And when those giant blue eyes looked in my direction, even though she told me not to, I may have cried for her Argentina, because it was that damn fantastic!

And then, as if I didn’t already love her enough, Sparkle Leigh came back in the second act dressed as E.T., and y’all, this costume was even better than the first!  I was not ready.  Let me say it again, I was NOT ready for this!

11393239_401997843327233_1640113859445636500_n Girl was performing Katy Perry’s        Extraterrestrial dressed like a giant E.T doll  and blew my mind in a very, as Shana pointed out, WTF moment!  So good!  Soooooo good!  She werked the hell out of that costume from the fringe to the head to the glasses to the boots.  Loved it all, loved it!  Brava Miss Diva!

11289442_420748038107330_5145487395804463579_oMy second favorite act of the night belonged to a fellow named Al Lykya who dazzled first as Captain Kirk from Star Trek, and then as Han Solo-esque character to one of my all time favorite songs, Space Cowboy by NSYNC.  Al had charisma, great choreography, and phenomenal stage presence.  He’s got a way of captivating an audience that had this reviewer sad and bummed to only see his name on the set list twice.  But all was not lost, as my third favorite act, who closed the first act, belonged to a lady by the name of Maxie Milieu who came on right after Mr. Lykya’s Captain Kirk as Captain Jean-Luc Picard!  She committed to this character in a way I was not ready for at a Variety show.  I was ready for campy.  I was ready for silly.  I was even 11412028_420748044773996_397897958884696273_oready for sexy.  I was not, however, ready for committed acting performances and character development at the level Ms. Milieu gave us as Picard!  She came out drinking hot tea, and had tea bags strategically placed on her body that came out as the act went on.  It was fabulous!  But when Mr. Lykya came back out and got on the floor and Ms. Milieu dipped two wet tea bags dangling from her lady parts into Kirk’s eagerly waiting open mouth, the entire place died!  We fucking died!  And just when we thought, through the cheers and tears of joy the entire audience was experiencing, Kirk and Picard made out!!!!  Yeah, you read that right, they made out!  It was hot!  It was wrong, and yet oh so right!  And all the nerds in the place lost their minds with nerdgasms!  Huge applause to these two fine performers for the brilliance of this performance!

Everyone in the show was fabulous, but other notable performances that stood out for me as being amazing were newcomer Steemed Peter.  This 11393333_420748051440662_6484764154273483601_ohot little number, while new to burlesque, is not new to the stage, and when he came out as a space man to plant his flag in an all white astronaut outfit and stripped down to a pair of teeny tiny martian green boy shorts, pretty sure there was not a dry seat in the house!  My one criticism would be whatever he had going on under those boycotts, because someone needs to introduce this newbie to a dance belt, and fast!  He’s too cute to not accentuate the goods!

11406742_420748034773997_206477529243053748_o  I also thoroughly enjoyed Saleurn Ramos and her fantastic hoops.  The hoops were something I hadn’t seen before, and loved the various patterns of light, and girl can work those hoops, let me tell you. She’s also a yoga instructor, so between the bending and contorting and flinging those hoops around was mesmerizing! I hope to see more of Ms. Ramos in future burlesque and variety shows because she is outstanding!

11267664_420748058107328_6628791841150124534_oAnd finally, the stunningly beautiful vixen that closed out the show, Miss Seraphina Fiero, gave two phenomenally sexy performances in this show.  She is a combination of strong and sultry at the same time, making you feel as if, while you watch her, that somehow she’s weaving a spell over you, but you dare not look away for a fear of missing one tantalizing moment!  That you’d follow this dreamy siren anywhere she beckoned!  Her last name is Italian for Pride, and this lovely lady should be very proud of the show she put on last Sunday night.  Bravo!

I will be keeping an eye on future productions put on my Ms. Deon and produced by Siren and the Treasured Chests.  I thank all involved in this show for a wonderful, fabulous, hilariously sexy nerdfest!

Loved it!

Ciao for now,

M sm

Othello at Seattle Shakespeare Company in Seattle, WA

Entertainment Review, play review, Theatre Review

11141327_10152731950477539_893270799347102284_n

People!  People, people, people!!  Finally, a night of theatre I’m thrilled and excited to write about!  My only sadness was that I saw closing night’s performance, so if you missed this one, you missed out on a good one!

Shakespeare’s plays are among my favorites on the planet.  I love them so very very much, and Othello has two of my favorite characters at the heart of the story: Iago and Desdemona. And this production, people, this production had two of the strongest actors I have seen in a lonnnnnnng ass time on that stage bringing these two characters to life in a way that was fresh, powerful, and moving!

11150544_10152766624677539_7224202587430685503_nLet us start with the beautiful and amazing Hillary Clemens who played Desdemona.  Ms. Clemens was beautiful and a striking dichotomy of strength and femininity from the moment she stepped on stage to secretly marry Othello.  Her girlish excitement mixed with her womanly sensuality was refreshing and mesmerizing at the same time!  And as the play went on, as she fell more and more in love with her husband, stood up to her father, and lobbied for what was right for Cassio, I just fell more and more into the spell Ms. Clemens weaved around the stage.  Every moment was filled with clear intention, stunning choices, and brave movement!  Every moment was real and stunning, all coming together to create something that I love to experience in plays I’ve seen before, which is that moment where you hope the end will be different. SheSSC_Othello_2105-676 was so perfect, this Desdemona, that as she undressed, and stepped into her bath, the knowing of what was to come upon her face, the fear of her fate taunting her as she sank into the water of her bath, and I sat there, wishing and praying for a different ending to this tragedy of the Bard’s, knowing full well my prayers would not be answered.

And when the ending occurred, and the lovely Desdemona’s life was taken 31f503f8-f452-11e4-8407-cdb4c0ba9c49-300x449by the one man she was absolutely and completely devoted to was done with such a horrific beauty, that it took my breath away.  A familiar scene blocked so epically, stunningly violently that I was filled with shock, awe, and absolute despair at the moment Desdemona took her last breath.  I know Othello, played by Sean Phillips, was on the stage with Ms. Clemens, but honestly, I couldn’t take my eyes from her throughout the entire scene.  And as my eyes filled with tears as Othello smothered her last haggard breath with a pillow from their wedding linens, I couldn’t look away, because I didn’t want to miss a minute.  The tears fell for the loss of this beautiful creature who was the shining star of this wonderful production.

And as bright as Ms. Clemens’s Desdemona was, the dark, spiteful Iago was deliciously brought to life by one Mr. Darragh Kennan.  11148643_10152788267257539_316701078473174228_nOh, Mr. Kennan, where have you been all my life?!?!  Iago, my favorite villain, because his villainy is caused out of circumstance.  He’s seeing revenge in it’s purest form, and as the play goes on you can’t help but wonder what would have happened had he not been passed over.  There’s a human aspect to Iago that I’ve always adored, and Mr. Kennan played that human aspect perfectly!  His opening soliloquy was so brilliant, and set the tone for this amazing production.  Mr. Kennan captured the audience from his first word, and held it until his last moment.  Much like Ms. Clemens, Mr. Kennan’s choices were brave and brilliant.  His intentions so clear, his ability to listen was phenomenal, and his reactions so true and honest and in the moment, he made me proud to be an actor!

His devious plan came to life, his puppet mastery knew no bounds.  His interactions with the audience were perfectly placed, wonderfully executed, and I found myself spellbound by this unbelievably talented actor so much so that I was actually disappointed when the story was over.  Mr. Kennan commanded that stage, and made every scene he was in stronger, especially when it came to Mr. Phillips’s Othello.  I didn’t so much care for Mr. Phillips performance, but I’ll get to that, however, when he was on stage with Mr. Kennan, those scenes were his strongest, because Mr. Kennan brings out the best in his scene partners!  He anchored this show so well, that I found myself rooting for Iago because, dammit, he was likeable!  Thank you, Mr. Kennan for that performance.  I am better for having seen you creating art!  Thank you!

The cast as a whole was strong, although I did find Othello to be the weakest performance, which is hard to type, but it’s how I felt.  Mr. Phillips came out on a level 10 intensity and volume with speaking his lines.  He gave himself nowhere to go, nowhere to grow throughout the show.  His choices were not clear, and rather than play his intention, I found him playing his obstacle the entire time, and it drove me nuts.  It was hard to stay engaged in the story when every time Mr. Phillips opened his mouth, especially in the first half, he was shouting at everyone rather than connecting with them.  He was very one note throughout the performance.  Until the end.  That level of intensity was beautifully done during Desdemona’s death scene, and when he came upon her sleeping in her bath, it was one of the most beautifully staged scenes I’ve ever seen.  And when Othello kisses Desdemona those three times, again, Mr. Phillips had me hoping that maybe, just maybe, this time Othello wouldn’t kill his wife.  And his intensity of throwing Ms. Clemens around the stage, of holding her under the water of the bath, screaming out his lines of betrayal, it was beautifully balanced and wonderfully done.  So while I was underwhelmed by Mr. Phillips for most of the show, I did truly love his murder scene.

I must also give accolades to a few of the other characters whose performances were wonderful.  Bianca, played by the fiery Keiko Green 11150697_10152766624707539_4007719442217679389_nwas one of my favorites!  She had one of the best exit scenes I’ve seen in a long time.  Loved her passion and her fire and her commitment to this character.  I also really enjoyed Rodrigo, played by Trick Danneker.  If Bianca was walking fire, Rodrigo was walking air!  10982881_10152766624692539_7212443055923358395_nHe was adorable, and vulnerable, and malleable and the perfect puppet for Iago to master.  His death scene was so heartbreaking, and everything up until then was delightful.  I applaud both of these actors on a job well done!

I also have to applaud the designers of this show.  The costumes were great on everyone from the soldiers to the women to the Duke.  Powerful pieces, bold pops of color, and the white dress that Desdemona wears in the final scenes was inspired.  Bravo, Doris Black, bravo! 11204428_10152766624712539_1879978597553697404_n

And the costumes were lit by the brilliant Geoff Korf!  Oh, the lights in this show!  They were stunning!  There’s no other word for them.  They created intimate moments, powerful moments, sinister moments with seamless brilliance.  And as I said, the moment that Othello comes upon Desdemona sleeping in her bath is one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever seen on stage.  I’d give anything for a photo of that moment.  Thank you, Mr. Korf.

The set was also amazing in it’s simplicity.  I loved the neutrality of the colors of the set, the genius of the moving platforms, and the ability of the set to turn into a large projection screen for Othello’s dark thoughts to come to life was erotic magic!  Loved it!

My hat goes off to the director of this show, John Langs.  The concept was clear, inspired, and brilliantly executed.  Mr. Langs had a strong team around him to bring his vision to life, and was so lucky to have this cast to bring his moments to life as well.  I will be looking for future productions from Mr. Langs, because I was truly moved by this production!

Being as opinionated as I am about theatre, it takes a lot to get me out of my seat at the end of a production to show the actors how much I enjoyed their show, and I didn’t even hesitate to stand at the end of this one.  Thank you all for a much needed night of good theatre!  You made me a very happy Lady!  My only regret is I didn’t go sooner so that I could have seen it more than once.

Adored, loved, and will not soon forget it!

Ciao for now,

M sm

Photos from Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Facebook page.

Legally Blonde at SecondStory Repertory Theatre in Redmond, WA

Entertainment Review, Theatre Review

11149253_977640478936023_2739152569008198595_n

I have taken about six deep breaths and exasperatingly let them out before starting to type this review.  Why, you might ask?  Well, because I really wanted to love this show.  I really enjoy this theatre, and for the most part have enjoyed shows I’ve seen there.  I also love a few of the leads, and had high expectations for this show.  Perhaps they were too high, because I was nothing but disappointed by this show.

Ok, there were a few high points.  First, the cast as a whole sounded great. The vocals were on point, especially the voice of Kristin Burch, who played Elle, the voice of Nicholas Tarabini, who played Warner, and the voice of Brynne Geiszler who played Vivienne.  The chorus was spot on as well, anchored by the voices of Sarah Russell as Pilar, Tatum Ludlum as Serena and Krista Johnson as Margot.

Second, some of the acting was done quite well.  I really enjoyed Mr. Tarabini’s performance as Elle’s ex-boyfriend/classmate at Harvard.  He is the antagonist of the show, his actions being what drive the story, and Mr. Tarabini did not disappoint.  I saw Mr. Tarabini in SecondStory Rep’s Next to Normal  and was thrilled to see that he was cast in this show.  However, his talent was truly wasted in the role of Warner, and he really should have been Emmett, but we’ll get to that.  Again, the main trio of sorority girls, Ms. Russell, Ms. Ludlum and Ms. Johnson were all very believable in their characters.  One chorus member, Devon Allen, who played Nikos and various ensemble parts was the star of the show!  He stole every scene he was in, and had the best bend and snap on the stage!  I give a huge Bravo to these fine performers.  And that is where the compliments end!

The main failure of this show was the concept.  Director Matt Wolfe missed the mark so badly it actually physically hurt to sit through this show!  He set it in the 80s!  The friggin 80s!  You can’t set Legally Blonde in the 80s because there are so many references that are so key to the 90s, and are necessary to the story!  The writer in me was seething because of all the line and lyric changes that were made to make this stupid concept ‘work’.  And what killed me was they didn’t remove all the references to the 90s.  They left in lines like “Aren’t there girls going wild somewhere without you?”  Newsflash, that is a 90s reference!  Or, “I don’t speak MTV”.  That’s a 90s reference, because MTV was still so new in the early 80s, no one spoke it yet!  It was so unbelievably irritating.

11209594_990287764337961_8987067345717679489_nAnd, to make matters a million times worse, let’s talk about the epic failure that were the costumes of this show!  I mean…I don’t know who Jocelyn Fowler is, but there was not an outfit on that stage that fit well or made sense!  Poor Mr. Tarabini had to look like some Don Johnson reject from Miami Vice.  1485080_990286844338053_2319785655602937654_nPaulette’s clothes looked like something a bad Madonna impersonator threw out because they were too tacky, and the sorority girls (I use the term loosely because half of them were young girls and the others looked old enough to be house mothers), were in an Omega Moo color schemed legging/tunic getup that wasn’t flattering on any of them!  And the poor UPS Guy, Kyle, never had a chance in the awful outfit he 11218055_990286871004717_2995818722343091613_nwas forced to wear, not to mention the Irishman of Paulette’s dream coming out dressed like an Outlander extra, complete with a Scottish hat with a red pom on the top of it.  Not cute.  Not appropriate.  And most importantly, NOT CORRECT!

But the worst part for me was the direction of Elle.  I’ve seen Ms. Burch in other productions at other theatres and she is talented as hell, so imagine my surprise when I watched her play Elle as a bitchy, unlikable, know-it-all from the get go!  The beauty of the character of Elle is that she’s likable!  She’s sweet, and beautiful, and has no idea that she has more to offer than those two qualities.  The whole effing point of this show is that Elle takes a journey to understanding that she’s smart!  She’s got more to offer than just her looks, and has to, let me repeat that: has to, figure that out on her journey.  But from the first scene in the dress shop where Elle is schooling the sales girl, to Elle dealing with Vivienne and Professor Callahan, all I saw was smart Elle who had already figured it all out.  I wasn’t invested at all.  I didn’t care if she got what she deserved. And my guess is this is how Ms. Burch was directed to play Elle.  Either way, it was not fun to watch.

And as if completely missing the mark on who Elle is wasn’t bad enough, the casting of this show made no sense to me based on the acting and singing skills I saw on that stage.  Mr. Tarabini should have been Emmett, as I said, because he sang and acted rings around Tadd Morgan who was cast as Emmett. Mr. Morgan was the weakest one on the stage.  He and Ms. Burch had zero chemistry, he messed up lines left, ride and sideways, and sang at her and not to her, and it was miserable to watch.

As I said, I was really upset because I really wanted to like this show, but Mr. Wolfe’s concept was so bad that I literally hated this production.  Please, anyone reading this who wants to direct a production of Legally Blonde, leave it in the 90s where it belongs!  Don’t change lines.  Don’t change lyrics.  Don’t mess with the project!  If you want to do an 80s show, do the friggin Wedding Singer!

The show does play for two more weekends, but I wouldn’t bother if I were you.  If I had it to do all over again, I’d have left at intermission and saved myself the agony.

I’m a fan of SecondStory Rep, and have high hopes for future productions, and will definitely be back.  Everyone slips now and again, and this was a major slip, in my opinion.  But it won’t keep me from seeing shows in the future. Unless, of course, I see that Mr. Wolfe is the director, then I might skip it.

Hated it.

Ciao for now,

M sm

Variety @ Second Story Hideaway in Redmond, WA

Entertainment Review, Theatre Review, Variety Show Review

11121772_858926434181143_842388723793677665_n

Ok, let’s start this one off by saying I have never seen a variety show before.  I’ve also never seen a burlesque show, in the traditional sense.  Therefore, I have no basis for comparison as to how the Variety Show at Second Story Hideaway stacks up against its competitors.  However, we all know that I do know what I like, and dahlings, I loooooved this show!  And the main reason is summed up in two fabulous words:  Sparkle Leigh!!

10409198_386598768200474_5005535972894238037_nThis amazing Diva was the hostess with the absolute mostest and kicked off the night with a performance of her own before Emcee-ing the rest of the event.  She was hysterical, fabulous, witty, and super stylish!  Loved the hair, loved the boots, loved the outfits, loved it all!  And when the costume change happened at intermission, the fashion just got more fabulous!  And the timing!  Oh, Miss Leigh has comedic timing of the genius level! Her ability to hold the crowd’s attention, roll with whatever crazy thing the performers did, and single handedly elevated that show to the fabulous level that only she could do!  I will be looking forward to future events hosted by Sparkle Leigh, because I know even if every act is ridiculous, she will entertain me like no body’s business, dahlings!  Yaasssssss!

Now, the rest of the show was filled with varying acts of drag performers, boylesque performers, and even an opera diva!!!  All the drag performers were fantastic!  11108953_481749911977715_3666404095272185812_nRuby Bouche was stunning and hysterical in her performance.  Sparkle Leigh’s sister, Patient Leigh did a stunning rendition of Memories from Cats, I 10488240_1484026081838030_8977053885322947596_nmean, she is a song bird if ever there was one!  And Biore Bang rounded out the cast with an amazingly emotional performance! I was thoroughly impressed with every single friggin one of them!

The Opera Diva, Ms. 10366078_10152111499578461_1853597970888780156_nBecky Peterson was a surprise for me, never expecting to see legit opera in a variety show.  But, sweet lawd, Ms. Peterson killed it!  Now, I’m not a fan of the opera, you will never see reviews of it here, because frankly, I have no desire to listen to that style of music.  However….I really enjoyed the performance that Ms. Peterson gave!  Loved the song choice, loved the props, loved the acting that came through the song.  She was beautiful, and wonderful, and I am honored to have heard her sing!  I wish her all the luck in the world in the vocal competition she’s embarking on later this year!

Now, the main acts of the night were boylesque performers, some better than others.  These men performed to everything from 80s rock to classic show tunes that they sang live!  One danced with a blowup doll, and then later pulled glitter out of his teeeeeeeeeny tiny g-string!  Another tied up two audience members in an odd way, while the yet another started out as Fred Astaire and ended up looking like a stripped down Sampson!

But the highlight for me, performance wise, was Butch Alice as the screaming goat in the Taylor Swift Trouble/Screaming Goat mash-up!  OMG!!  It was friggin hysterical!  I wish I had a photo to show you, because it was so brilliant!

All in all, it was a very entertaining and fun way to spend a Friday evening!  I hope to see more shows at the Hideway soon!  And I will definitely be on the lookout for future performances of the Queens of the night, because they were all fabulous with a capital Fabulous!

Loved it!

Ciao for now,

M sm