Village Theatre’s “Matilda the Musical” personifies Roald Dahl’s high-spirited, funny, magical, and uplifting storytelling

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

Matilda the Musical is high-spirited and, in true Roald Dahl style, very funny, magical, and uplifting. Whether you see Matilda at Village Theatre in Issaquah in November or December, or in Everett in January, the experience will move and delight you.

Matilda’s cast of fourteen children, and supporting adults, delivers an action-packed show that charms the audience with its physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding antics.

Nava Ruthfield, as the extraordinary Matilda, is remarkable in her ability to carry the demanding lead role without missing a beat. Chris Ensweiler, as Matilda’s abhorrent father, proves to be the perfect antagonist.

The orchestration is superb in each of the anticipated Matilda numbers. While “Naughty” and “Revolting Children” are standouts, the joy-filled “When I Grow up” is an all-around masterpiece in creativity.


Matthew Smucker, Matilda’s Scenic Designer, nails it with delightfully engaging sets. Large cursive alphabet and heavily-laden bookshelves dominate the stage to the amusement of children and adults.

A perfect holiday gift for children of all ages, you may purchase your tickets now for the terrifically zany Matilda. Currently playing at Issaquah’s Village Theatre now through December 30, 2018, Matilda will also play at Everett Performing Arts Center from January 4 through February 3, 2019.


Photos by Mark Kitaoka


West of Lenin’s Touching Production of Lonely Planet, Brings Laughs, Tears and an Important Reminder

Review by guest blogger Tony Bohn:

Lonely Planet is the latest production from West of Lenin in Fremont.  Written and directed by Steven Dietz, the show is set in a small map shop during the height of the AIDS crisis and follows the shifting relationship of two close friends as they manage their way through the challenges and fear that the crisis brings.  Jody (played by Michael Winters) is the reclusive shop owner whose fear of the crisis has made him too scared to leave the shop.   Carl (portrayed by Reginald André Jackson) is Jody’s flamboyant free-spirited friend who visits the shop daily to check on Jody and report back on his day and what’s going on in the world.  The acting is brilliant, and both the actors and well-written script are able to find the delicate balance between comedy and drama throughout the production.

Some of the most captivating elements of this production are the use of the set pieces and lighting to symbolize and highlight key plot points as well as the effects of the AIDS crisis on the lives of the two men.   The use of the chairs (soooooo many chairs!) and the maps in the shop (including their cartographic history) is particularly well done.

In a time where antiretroviral medications for the treatment of HIV disease and prevention of transmission through PrEP have stopped  HIV disease from becoming the death sentence it used to be, many young folks no longer remember what it was like back then.  Lonely Planet is an important reminder of the struggles the LGBTQ community went through.  It shows us what it was like to have half your friends dying of a new disease nobody knew anything about; a disease that came with a ton of societal stigma.  It also reminds us of the importance of getting tested and treated, regardless of how scared we are, and protecting ourselves and others from HIV transmission.

Lonely Planet runs until Sun, Nov 18 and tickets can be purchased here.


Photos via West of Lenin

Seattle International Comedy Competition is BACK all November

One of my favorite entertainment events of the year, The Seattle International Comedy Competition, is BACK! In Seattle and many towns in Washington state, comics from all over will compete in this fantastic local competition.  I have attended this competition for countless years and am always delighted by the talent on stage. There really is nothing like seeing live comedy and sharing laughs with fellow audience members – I invite you to get your tickets now.

Seattle venues include Comedy Underground (Pioneer Square) and Unexpected Productions (Pike Place Market). Outside Seattle, there are performances in Auburn, Kelso, Everett, Langley, North Bend, Bainbridge Island, Edmonds, Olympia, Longview, Bellingham, Vashon Island, Kirkland, and Bremerton! Full calendar here.

More about the competition, in their own words:

The Seattle International Comedy Competition is the REAL “Last Comic Standing.”

  • 26 Days
  • 22 Shows
  • 18 Venues
  • 32 comedians from the U.S., Canada, UK, and Japan
  • Over $15,000 in cash prizes
  • Talent executives from CBS, NBC, and more: movie studios, managers, agents and producers
  • It’s America’s biggest touring comedy festival


Review: “A People’s History” at Seattle Rep provides and entertaining & educational window into our country’s history

Review by Maren Hassenger:

The show A People’s History at Seattle Repertory Theatre is an 18 part series of monologue following the book “A People’s History of the United States”  by Howard Zinn. A heavily political piece weaving the present into the past, actor Mike Daisey provides an entertaining, and sometimes uncomfortable, window into our country’s history. Each evening is a separate chapter in the book, so the more you go, the more you learn!
Daisey is fearless in calling his audience out, highlighting the similarities in the struggles, bias, racism, sexism, and greed of our current world with the United States of the past. He expertly weaves quotes from the book, the unsung voices from the past, in with personal opinion, and current events. It’s a fascinating show and incredibly well done, but be prepared for an hour and a half of hard truths, new insights, and great food for thought.

Each chapter of A People’s History is approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Disclaimer from the theatre’s website “Please note: This show contains unrestricted language and American history.”

The New York Times wrote about Mike Daisey, “One of the finest solo performers of his generation.”  “What distinguishes him from most solo performers is how elegantly he blends personal stories, historical digressions and philosophical ruminations. He has the curiosity of a highly literate dilettante and a preoccupation with alternative histories, secrets large and small, and the fuzzy line where truth and fiction blur. Mr. Daisey’s greatest subject is himself,” The New York Times describes.

“Mike Daisey is a brilliant storyteller working on an epic scale,” Seattle Rep Artistic Director Braden Abraham comments. “We’re thrilled to welcome him back to Seattle to present this provocative, relevant, and engaging new work with our Pacific Northwest audiences – this is one to come back for again and again.”

A People’s History plays The Seattle Repertory Theatre now through November 25, 2018. Tickets here.

Photo by Sabrina Fonseca.jpg

Photo by Sabrina Fonseca

Love Whisky? The Whisky Extravaganza comes to Seattle for one night only on November 9.

Whiskey lovers: mark your calendars and get your tickets now for The Whisky Extravaganza coming to The Rainer Club in downtown Seattle Friday, November 9, 2018.

This Friday night tasting  will showcase “the world’s most prestigious whisky brands, including Highland Park, The Glenrothes, Glenfiddich and Brown Forman.” Attendees will also enjoy a delectable stationed dinner which includes menu items such as risotto, pasta bolognese, vegan pumpkin panna cotta, and a wide range of other dishes (see the main site for Seattle’s full menu).

Also included in your ticket, should you wish to attend, is a master class with award-winning author and whisky expert Lew Bryson and Glass Revolution’s Raj Sabharwal. If this interests you, be sure to sign up for the masterclass after purchasing your tickets.

Tickets here.

What’s your favorite whisky? Let me know in the comments below!

New to whisky tasting? Here’s advice the #whiskyextravaganza shared in a recent tweet with a beginner’s guide to tasting.


Images via The #WhiskyExtravaganza website.

‘Feel the rhythm of the music getting stronger’ with “On Your Feet” musical now through Oct 28.

Even if you have to stumble through the fast-paced lyrics of “Conga,”  if the song brings a smile to your face, you will want to dance your way to the Paramount Theatre now through October 28, 2018 and see On Your Feet The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway musical.

The music will have you feeling energized and light. The dancing will make you want to sign up for a dance class up the hill at Century Ballroom.  The cast is incredible. Christie Prades, who plays Gloria in the tour, is affable, magnetic, and incredibly talented as the lead role, truly evoking the essence, sound, and moves of the legendary performer. Ektor Rivera, who starred in the role on Broadway, is sexy, charming, and is able to bring realness into a role that might have been less likable played by someone without such talent. His voice is incredible and enchanting. This tour is thick with talent: from Gloria’s mother (in both the first act and in the second act in a heartfelt duet wtih Emilio) to the ensemble performers that are able to shine in a powerful number near the end of the show.

The show has an all-star team behind it as well: Director Jerry Mitchell (who has won two Tony Awards and was nominated for six more), and Choreographer Sergio Trujillo (Trujillo was nominated for a Tony for this show – he also choreographed Jersey Boys). 

On Your Feet is only in Seattle for a few days, now through October 28. Tickets here.

Check out Tantri Wija’s review in The Seattle Times here.




Screenshot 2018-10-24 at 4.45.24 PM


Screenshot 2018-10-24 at 4.45.43 PM

Photos by Matthew Murphy

Review: Heartwarming musical “Come From Away” returns to Seattle, now through November 4.

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

To the absolute delight of those who experienced it three years ago – and to those who missed out last time around – the long-awaited, crowd-pleasing Come From Away is back in Seattle at The 5th Avenue Theatre. (A little backstory: Come From Away first started as a workshop in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s new works program before taking form as fully mounted productions at La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theatre.)

Springing to life on stage is the reenactment of the aftermath of 9/11 when 38 commercial flights with 6,700 passengers and crew members were diverted to Gandor International Airport. The heartfelt, heartwarming reception these strangers received from the native Newfoundlanders was astounding.

Come From Away’s dynamic cast brings us on board to experience the fear, camaraderie, trust, and, most strikingly, lifelong friendships that evolved as hearts and minds opened to that which is foreign. Lively, high-spirited, and uplifting! 

Come From Away lightens the heart and brings joy in celebration of the best of humanity. Don’t let this incredible historical happening pass you by. Tickets available now. The Tony  Award®-, Drama Desk Award- and Outer Critics Circle Award-winner Come From Away plays now through November 4, 2018 at The 5th Avenue Theatre in downtown Seattle. 

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