Noises Off at SecondStory Repertory in Redmond, WA

Entertainment Review, play review, Theatre Review

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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!!!

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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

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Legally Blonde at SecondStory Repertory Theatre in Redmond, WA

Entertainment Review, Theatre Review

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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

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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