Review: New Dimensions for Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame (now through June 24 at The 5th Avenue)

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Accolades to The 5th Avenue Theatre for unique casting in this musical production of Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Equally deserving in praise is The 5th’s outstanding, far-reaching education program surrounding deaf and hard-of hearing community awareness.

Foresight in casting Joshua Castille, a highly-accomplished deaf actor, in the lead role demonstrates incredible depth in research, intellect, and heart. In addition to Joshua Castille delivering a spot-on physically-deformed and deaf Quasimodo, the supporting casts’ skills in signing add an entirely new dimension to the stage. You gotta love a musical that engages not only singing but signing (ASL – American Sign Language) gargoyles!  E.J. Cardona’s vocal offerings as The Voice of Quasimodo/sidekick gargoyle are flawless.

It’s enlightening to experience The 5th Avenue opening its doors to such thoroughly creative, thoughtful, inclusive productions. Engaging audiences and the greater community – this production of Hunchback’s includes the 30-person Pacific Lutheran University Choral Union – serves to overshadow devastating effects of those who strive to diminish the human spirit. Thank you, 5th Avenue, for illuminating thought, discussion, and your stage with relevance, intellect, and, most of all, heart.

Don’t miss this new, inspiring rendition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame! On stage now through June 24, 2018 at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. Learn more here

NOTE: for a limited time, audiences can use this special link to save 25% on select performances:  https://www.5thavenue.org/promo/rhythm.

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Photos by Tracy Martin

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Review: Don’t miss the exhilarating tour of Les Misérables (now through June 17 in Seattle)

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

Les Misérables is back in Seattle with a totally exhilarating production at The Paramount Theatre. This epic musical, based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, is magnificent in every way possible.

In its 32nd year, currently the fifth longest-running Broadway show, Les Mis’ staging and scenery have recently been revamped. Inspired by Hugo’s paintings, Matt Kinley has created extraordinarily masterful sets and image design. In perfect tandem is Paule Constable’s magically stunning lighting that exudes brilliance throughout the stage.

The gifts, strengths, and energies of everyone in this most demanding, heart-wrenching production are remarkable. Emily Bautista (Eponine) and Joshua Grosso (Marius) are perfection in their hauntingly beautiful duet, “A Little Fall of Rain” – reminding this reviewer of Hugo’s agony over the drowning of his beloved daughter.

You won’t want to miss a beat of this dynamic Les Mis production – it may be awhile before we Seattleites have an at-home opportunity to again catch it in all its glory. Playing at the lovely Paramount Theatre now through June 17. Tickets here for the Tony-Award winning Les Misérables.

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Photo by Matthew Murphy 

 

Bananas! On now at Can Can Culinary Cabaret

Brandon and I are heading to the Can Can Culinary Cabaret in Pike Place Market in Seattle this week to check out their new show “Bananas!” and explore their menu!

This sounds delightful, don’t you agree?

About the show:

Can Can goes Bananas! for a limited engagement this Spring! Seattle’s only underground and Parisian-inspired Bohemia becomes a steamy oasis beckoning warmer weather. Feast on a specially curated Pike Place Market-fresh menu and handcrafted cocktails as the Can Can Dance Company entertains – burlesque, comedy, song, cabaret, and more. Inspired by riot time classics like “Cry-Baby” and “Grease,” Can Can’s Bananas! is a special paradise, and who doesn’t love a good vacation?

Tickets and more info at thecancan.com

Facebook event page here.

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Hungry for even more info: here you go:

Can Can becomes a steamy oasis beckoning warmer weather with its limited engagement production, Bananas!, which opened to a sold out crowd on Friday night at the intimate Pike Place Market venue. Inspired by 1940s Brazilian bombshell Carmen Miranda and all-time-favorite cult classics like “Grease” and “Cry Baby,” Bananas! boasts a newly refreshed, seasonal dinner and drink menu and the Can Can Dance Company’s unique brand of playfully bawdy entertainment. Bananas! will run May 4 – June 24, 2018 (press inquire for access) and both group and single tickets are available online now at TheCanCan.com, including special ticket packages for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Seattle’s only underground and Parisian-inspired Bohemia woos summer in the Northwest with its captivating, tropically infused evening of burlesque, comedy, song, dance, food, and then some. “One of our most popular shows was called Flamingo – we produced it in 2015,” Chris Pink, Can Can artistic director comments. “Ever since then, we’ve had endless requests to bring it back, so we decided to combine last summer’s hit Ice Cream with Flamingo to create something new because, let’s face it, we could all use an early dose of summer! We think Bananas! has all the right kinds of tiki, beachy goodness – and quite a few bananas.”
Audiences can look forward to a uniquely sourced soundtrack packed with a variety of remixed, remastered, and enhanced vintage tracks brought back to life from the electro swing of Dime Cat, the 1960s sounds of Caterina Valente, to Elvis Presley, Louis Prima, and so much more. The seasonal dinner menu features a variety of new additions including a market fresh Halibut with Lime Coconut Sauce and Pistachio Crusted Lamb with Sweet Potato and Asparagus, and the cocktail menu has also been refreshed as well. Try a Bees Knees gin cocktail or one of the absinthe favorites, Death In The Afternoon. For complete menu details, please visit TheCanCan.com.
ABOUT THE CAST
The Can Can Company of dancers for Bananas! (playing evenings only) features co-producer and principle emcee Jonathan Betchtel aka JonnyBoy (BFA Cornish College; Can Can: Wonderland, French Kiss); Elise Landles aka Fair Elise (BFA Cornish College; Can Can: Ice Cream, Wonderland); Shadou Mintrone aka Shadou (Spectrum Dance Theatre; Can Can: Romeo + Juliet, Wonderland Brunch; This Is Halloween), Lindy Lou Smith aka Lindy Lou (Eugene Ballet Company; Dance Theatre Oregon; Can Can: Magnificent Matinee, This Is Halloween), and Jennifer Jones aka JJ Jones (National Tour of Dirty Dancing; PHILADANCO! The Philadelphia Dance Company).

Review: Hairspray Hijinks at Village Theatre (Issaquah & Everett)

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Hairspray is back!  If you’ve yet to experience this charismatic musical highlighting high school in the sixties, the time is right to head to Village Theatre in Issaquah! Or, if you just want to bask in the glow of the all-familiar musical score once again, here’s your chance.

Having seen this performance over Mother’s Day weekend, it was especially fitting to experience a cast of driven, dynamic moms, each determined to stand up to save the day in her own unique fashion. The mom who stole the show as Edna Turnblad (Tracy’s initially shy and intimidated mother) was performed to the hilt by the amazingly multi-talented Mr. Nick DeSantis.

Gather your teenage daughters and granddaughters, mothers and grandmothers to enjoy this rollicking, feel-good, happy-ending musical together. You’re very likely to find yourself wishing for more while humming and dancing your way out of the theatre.

Hairspray spreads good cheer now through July 1, 2018 at Village Theatre in Issaquah and from July 6-29, 2018 at Everett Performing Arts Center. Tickets here

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*****

About the show (in their own words): This all-new stage production will be bursting with Village Theatre’s unique flair, as Hairspray gives new meaning to BIG entertainment. Tracy Turnblad is a big girl with big hair and an even bigger dream: to dance her way onto national TV, dethrone the reigning teen queen, win the affections of the local heartthrob, and integrate a TV network… .all without denting her ‘do! The Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning Best Musical teaches us to look past skin color and size in the fight for equal rights.

Wine, Theatre, Movies & Dance: 4 Seattle events this week you’ll want to check out

Here’s a list of a few special May events in Seattle-area that will pique your interest:

WINE & CIDERS & BEERS, OH MY!

On Thursday, May 17, Sip Northwest Magazine is hosting a fabulous libation event at a one-of-a-kind venue, The Seattle Sanctuary, a revitalized 100-year-old church in the heart of downtown Seattle. Sample from more than 40 drink producers and Seattle’s top restaurants serving delicious local cuisine as featured in the new spring issue. Brandon and I are making this a date night – I’m excited to discover some new favorite spirits, wines, and ciders at this event! Tickets are going fast.

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DOCUMENTARY

The Seattle screening of the documentary “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed” has a one-night-only screening in Seattle. Tickets are limited for this screening at Seattle Art Museum on Tuesday, May 15.  Synopsis: Women are changing the face of today’s fastest growing industry – cannabis. Join filmmaker Windy Borman as she explores the movement to end marijuana prohibition, her own relationship to the plant, and the stereotypes surrounding it. Through a series of empowering and educational interviews with a broad diversity of women leading the industry today (including Melissa Etheridge), Windy’s own assumptions are transformed as she discovers cannabis liberation intersects with the most urgent social justice issues of our time. She learns how this green revolution has big effects on environmental sustainability, ending the War on Drugs and the Prison-Industrial Complex, and the destructive domination of Big Pharma.

Watch the trailer:

MUSICAL

The beloved musical HAIRSPRAY plays Village Theatre in Issaquah now through July 1 (then travels to Everett July 6-29). Seattle Pockets’ review is coming soon, but don’t wait! Tickets are on sale now for one of the best musicals of all time and Village’s production is so good it has our reviewer wanting to go back for a second time!

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DANCE

Century Ballroom is hosting a special “Disco Prom” with Disco, Motown and Soul music! Come dressed in the “prom” theme (prom from ANY decade) and dance to music spun by DJ Dana Dub! There is a Hustle lesson before the dance.  Facebook event page here.

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Review: Dynamic & thought-provoking “Familiar” now through 5/27 at Seattle Rep

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:
Bursting with elevated energies and explosive family dynamics, Familiar is one of those theatrical experiences not likely to be soon forgotten. Familiar’s talented playwright Danai Gurira, takes the audience into the home of a Zimbabwean/Midwestern-American family gathering. 

The cast of eight actors is superb in their portrayal of diversity, intensity, and varying objectives within the seemingly settled household and extended family. As events surrounding the upcoming wedding of the oldest daughter become increasingly chaotic, the audience is in for some wild and crazy antics. (Not for young children, by the way!)

This theatrical glimpse into the lives of first-generation immigrants is exemplary in reaching out to audiences who have so much to gain through greater understanding of others’ history, culture, and perspective. Thanks to Seattle Rep for, once again, gifting Seattle with these kinds of rich experiences.
Familiar plays now through May 27th at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Tickets here.

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*****

Audiences may know playwright Danai Gurira as the writer of Tony-Award winning play Eclipse or may recognize her from her roles as Michonne in the television show The Walking Dead or her role as Okoye in the recent blockbuster hit Black Panther

Photo by Navid Baraty 

Giveaway: Burlesque Alice in Wonderland at The Triple Door

One of the most delightful burlesque productions, Through the Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice in Wonderland returns to The Triple Door April 26 – May 6, 2018!

Want to enter to win 2 tickets to the 7:30pm show on April 26 (Opening Night)?

To enter:

  • RSVP “Interested” or “Going” on their Facebook Event Page
  • Comment on my Facebook post here and tag a friend!

Giveaway ends 4/21/18 at 11:59pm Pacific Time.

Purchase tickets here.

About the show:

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Through The Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice in Wonderland
Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann have both gone mad… mad as March Hares, that is! In their 10th annual re-imagination of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale of nonsense and fantasy, follow Alice as she discovers what wonders lie beyond the velvet rope at Wonderland’s most exclusive nightclub, The Looking Glass and attempts to best the evil Queen of Hearts to become the next ruler of Wonderland. New this year, Through The Looking Glass features the debut of Jasper McCann’s original musical score performed live by a jazz/rock ensemble. Inspired by hard-bop, psychedelia, go-go, and Indian Raga-pop recordings of the mid-60’s, McCann’s new arrangements set the mood for dance performances that combine classical ballet and jazz with bawdy burlesque beauty.