21+ Event Review: “Femme Fatale” at Can Can is a most memorable evening!

Review by Keridwyn Deller:
If you’re 21+ and like your performances that are more on the risque side, you won’t want to miss out on their current show “Femme Fatale.” Part live-music, part burlesque, part sensual dance, part feels-like-being-in-a-music-video experience, this production is truly delicious (also delicious? The crab cakes on their menu. Food and drink is served during this event).
Local singer “Prom Queen” joins Can Can cast members Jonny Boy, Shadou, JJ Jones, and Jordan for a memorable live performance in the heart of Pike Place Market.
I had the chance of asking cast members Jonny Boy and Shadou a few questions. Get your tickets now, then check out my interview with them:
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Q: The tone of your performances often shifts from funny, to sexy, to emotionally intense. Which kinds of scenes do you enjoy performing most? Why?
Jonny Boy: I love how we are able to switch moods so quickly during our shows. If I had to be just one thing I would get bored oh-so quickly. I love luring the audience into seeing me as just a clown, then spending three and a half minutes performing a seductive tango with Shadou. I love the balance. If our shows weren’t balanced with seduction, humor, and emotion, I don’t think they would be as honest — and if there is anything to crave from a performer, it’s honesty.
Shadou: The most enjoyable parts of each show shifts for me on a nightly basis. To be honest it depends on how I am feeling, what I have experienced that day, and what the audience is responding to. Sometimes they will LOVE the comedic elements of the show, and other times it’s the sensual duets that get them going. It’s all entertaining for me, and there isn’t a preference as to which side of it I’d prefer to do more or less of. The best part of Can Can as a performer, in my opinion, is that the shows are so expansive in virtue. We do our best to reach every aspect of vaudeville theatre to current trends in live performance, and every minute on stage is different from the last. My motto is “never try to recreate the same moment”.
Q: The can-can is a unique venue, what do you enjoy most about performing there?
Jonny Boy:  I love the intimacy of Can Can. The audience is so close that it doesn’t feel like the separation between patron and performer exists. More so it feels like we are all trying to make that particular night something special. The audience and I want the same thing and its relearning every night how we get there. The challenge and the joy that comes from its accomplishment are why I’m obsessed with performing at Can Can.
Shadou: The intimacy! There is a difference in dancing AT people and dancing FOR people. At Can Can, everyone and everything is so close. The audience, the other dancers, servers, food, drinks, chairs, ceiling . . . everything! It’s a playground for the performers and it makes everything so exciting.
Q: What sets Femme Fatale apart from other recent productions? What sort of mood does this show leave the audience with? 
Jonny Boy: Femme Fatale is amazing! Prom Queen is a force to be reckoned with and our dancers are incredible. We’re continuing to push how we use the space and developed all new apparatus for the dancers to show off their skills on. Simply put, it is a completely new experience for our audience!
Shadou: Femme Fatale is an entirely new process for Can Can. We have the moving parts of song and dance with the surprise elements we love to pack into every show (apparatus, lighting, projections etc). But there is something extremely alluring about the seductiveness of this particular production. The inspiration of Mata Hari (who was such a gorgeous performer, and the original Femme Fatale) has captivated me throughout this process. I love how relevant her story is to what our world is going through right now. As a female in this industry, and frankly on this planet, it is so amazing to be able to recreate our own version of that story and let it shift how we perform. The show isn’t necessarily message driven in that way, but I love the aspect of being inspired internally by who Mata Hari was as a human. The second part of this production is Prom Queen! She is representing our own Mata Hari, and has this amazing voice that just sits in your soul. The production team has catered the creation to fit her vibe. Musically, there are components that are very Prom Queen as well as keeping the electronic elements along with instrumentation unlike a lot of the music we have used before. Outside of the music/vocals, the choreography has been taken to a whole new level. Our space is so unique, as mentioned before, but the real journey with this show is watching how we transform it. So even if you’ve seen a show at Can Can, this is entirely different in how we utilize everything from the catwalk to the back walls. We do our best to pull out all of the stops with each new production, and in my opinion Femme Fatale is one of both physical grace and production dynamics unlike anything we have done on our stage! The creative team is brilliant and the collaborators both on and off stage have resumes anyone would be jealous of. Needless to say, I am beyond thrilled to be a part of the team!
Learn more about the show and get tickets here. Femme Fatale plays now through September 30.
See more photos on Can Can’s Instagram at instagram.com/cancanseattle.
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Support University District Food Bank by drinking wine and beer on July 27!

If you don’t regularly worry where your next meal is coming from, I encourage you to support a local food bank and help others in need. One great way to do this is through an upcoming experience, Seattle magazine’s tasting event Red, White & Brew” 2018 at Seattle Center on Friday, July 27! Proceeds of this event, produced in partnership with Washington State Wine,  will go to University District Food Bank.

I’ll be taking my mom to this delicious tasting event, where we will enjoy sips of wine and beer from over SIXTY award-winning wineries and breweries (scroll down for a list!) and bites from a variety of local restaurants.

Tickets here. 

Pro-tips for this event:

  • Eat a little something before. The bites are usually just that – you’ll want some food in your belly so you can enjoy the right amount of sips. I usually bring some nuts or a bar in case I need it (this is, after all, a drink event, not a food event).
  • Have your phone charged (hashtag #RWBSea). Snap photos of the wines and beers you love the most so you can find them later (not all events allow for sales onsite)
  • Bring a water bottle! Some of these events have great water sponsors, but when they don’t, you’ll be glad you have some with you.
  • Bring a bag or purse to keep flyers and any swag you might pick up
  • It’s ok to spit (or pour out). These events are about enjoying and discovering great wines and beer. You don’t have to drink the entirety of what’s in your glass. You’ll enjoy the experience more if you pace yourself and delight in the tasting experience
  • When talking with a pourer, you can position yourself a bit to the side to allow them to continue to pour to others while they talk with you. Be courteous to other attendees while you learn.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll likely be standing and walking a lot – seating is rare at these types of events
  • Treat a friend! Tasting is more fun with a pal. Since this is for a good cause, get a ticket for you and a friend as a way of saying thank you while giving back.

About the event (in their own words):

Join us at Seattle magazine’s tasting event of the summer: Red, White and Brew! Sample from local wineries, breweries and restaurants under the sun at Seattle Center.

Now in its seventh year, the event honors the winning wineries showcased in Seattle magazine’s Washington Wine Awards selected by a panel of the top local sommeliers and wine professionals. Red, White & Brew will also feature the winners from Seattle magazine’s second annual Beer Awards.

*PLUS! Proceeds from the event will go to University District Food Bank. Want even more ways to contribute? Bring a nonperishable food item or make a donation to enter to win the Red, White & Brew prize package with all proceeds going to University District Food Bank!

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PARTICIPATING WINERIES
Abeja
Ambassador Wines of Washington
Andrew Will Winery
Avennia
Betz Family Winery
Canvasback
DeLille Cellars
DenHoed Wine Estates 
Dusted Valley
EFESTE
Forgeron Cellars
Guardian Cellars
INTRINSIC
Kerloo Cellars
Kevin White Winery
Lauren Ashton Cellars
Long Shadows Vintners
Northstar
PepperBridge Winery & Amavi Cellars
Savage Grace Wines
Syncline Winery
Tenet Wines
The Walls
Tranche
Treveri Cellars
Two Vintners
Upchurch Vineyard
Woodward Canyon

PARTICIPATING BREWERIES
Chainline Brewing Company
Elliott Bay Brewing Co. 
Fremont Brewing
Icicle Brewing Company
Matchless Brewing
Pike Brewing Company
Redhook Brewery
Seapine Brewing Company
Silver City Brewery
Stoup Brewing
Sumerian Brewing Co.
Two Beers Brewing Co.
Urban Family Brewing
Wander Brewing

Review: Riveting “The Color Purple” in Seattle now through July 1

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

This “reimagined” musical production, based on Alice Walker’s 1982 novel The Color Purple, is not for the faint of heart. Tough subject matter surrounds a young girl born into segregation and extreme poverty in the deep south. Emotionally and sexually abused by both her “father” and the man he forces her to marry, Celie (Adrianna Hicks), endures unfathomable cruelty.

Adrianna Hicks’ exacting characterization of Celia, over a period of four decades beginning in the early 1900s, is extraordinary. Hicks flawlessly transitions Celia from a broken, pregnant teen to a powerfully brusque luminary – thankfully!

As The Color Purple’s antagonists age and grow in awareness and empathy, the audience can settle back in their seats with a sigh of relief. Top favorite in song-and-dance relief is the delectable Sofia (Carrie Compere) and chums’ “Hell No!” The seductive rendition of “Any Little Thing” with Sofia and Harpo (J. Daughtry) brings the house down.

Not to be missed, this thought-provoking production (and 2016 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical Revival) of The Color Purple is at The Paramount in downtown Seattle for a limited run now through July 1, 2018. Tickets here.

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Photos by Matthew Murphy

Review: “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” at ArtsWest now through July 8

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

Reserve your tickets now ArtsWest’s Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” – Billie Holiday at her finest! Felicia Loud’s reincarnation of Billie Holiday, in one of Ms. Holiday’s solo concerts shortly before her death, is stunning beyond compare. This ArtsWest Playhouse production by Lanie Robertson is theatre in its most authentic art form.

With minimalist stage design, Emerson’s 1950s Bar and Grill fades into the background while Ms. Loud’s legendary Billie Holiday commands every breath of space with her brassy, brave, and beautiful presence. Her songs and autobiographical monologue of oft heart-wrenching memories – life, love, and loss – educate, tickle the funny bone, pull on the heartstrings, and leave the audience awestruck. This was one of those very rare times when both myself and fellow theatre-goers were speechless as the actor departed the stage. That WAS Billie Holiday up there sharing her most intimate stories . . . was it not?

If you’re a jazz fan, a Billie Holiday fan, or someone who simply enjoys music and history, you won’t want to miss Felicia Loud’s demanding performance. “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” is now playing at ArtsWest in West Seattle now through July 8, 2018. Tickets here. 

ArtsWest 2018 Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

Photo via ArtsWest

Review: Magnificent “The Picture of Dorian Gray” at Book-it Theatre

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” comes to life after a century of being kept in the closet. Now through July 1st, Book-It excels once again! This rendition of Oscar Wilde’s farcical Victorian-era “scandalous” story-telling is delivered in magnificently subtle and oft mysterious tones. Judd Parkin’s clever adaptation is unique in revealing a more factual take on Wilde’s “unabashed and uncensored” works than previously known. Wilde’s original transcript, highly censored and edited in its 1891 printing, went unpublished until 2011. 

Every cast member contributes richly to the Book-It fashion of storytelling – always a delight to behold. Chip Sherman’s (Dorian Gray) portrayal is stealthily, steadily, and skillfully paced in transporting the audience through Dorian’s transitioning, demented, climactic journey. Jon Lutyens (Basil Hallward) is superb as the stalwart artist responsible for Dorian’s infamous painting.

If you have, or have not, previously read “The Picture of Dorian Gray,”  take time to absorb Book-It’s notes (in the lobby as well as in your program) prior to the performance. Accolades to Book-It for remarkably engaging, enlightening Encore Stages programs: the absolute best in pre-show entertainment and education.

You still have time to experience this quirky, scandalous “The Picture of Dorian Gray” at its finest. On view now through July 1, 2018 at Book-It in the Seattle Center. Tickets here.

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Photo by John Ulman.

 

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

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