Powerful and Timely: Tony-Award Winning Musical Dear Evan Hansen moves audiences at The Paramount until Feb 2nd

Review by Tony Bohn:

Dear Evan Hansen is the much-talked-about contemporary musical currently running at The Paramount until February 2nd. With six 2017 Tony award wins including Best Musical, a 2018 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, the soundtrack coming in at number 8 on the Billboard 200 (as well as a remix of one of the songs coming in at number 1 on the Billboard Dance Club chart), not to mention a slew of award-winning collaborators – book by Steven Levenson, music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land and The Greatest Showman) and direction by Michael Greif (Rent and Next to Normal) – I was very excited to check out the hype surrounding this production, and it did not disappoint.

A modern coming of age story set with a backdrop of social media projections, the story follows the life of a high school teenager named Evan Hansen as he struggles to fit in and find his place in a world that is not so easy to navigate. A strong ensemble cast, brilliant book, and powerful score highlight Evan’s journey as he grapples with the ever-increasing dilemma he finds himself in as one horrible lie leads to another until it climaxes in a very public and personal way. Dear Evan Hansen does an outstanding job of balancing comedy with drama to move the story along, and all actors give magnificent performances. The show deals with many themes and a variety of issues including mental health, suicide, family dynamics, self-esteem, social anxiety, social media and communication in the digital age, and the universal truth of finding your own voice. This is a multi-generational production in which everyone can relate to some aspects presented. At some point we all deal with the battle within ourselves to belong and fit in, finding the self confidence to manifest what we want in our lives, feeling like we are alone, invisible or unloved, and ultimately learning to love ourselves regardless of what others think, say or feel about us or what we have done in life.

This is a show that you will want to take a child, parent, friend or other family members (and probably some tissues) to, and it definitely provides an opening for a dialog about some of the issues mentioned. It is also a show that will probably have you doing some self-examination into your own life (I know it did for me!). For more information on dates, showtimes, and tickets, please go here.

1 - Ben Levi Ross as 'Evan Hansen' and the Company of the First North American Tour of Dear Evan Hansen. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2018.jpg

PS If you are on a budget, the show is hosting day-of lotteries for $25 tickets. Details here. 

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GIVEAWAY: J’ADORE! A Burlesque Valentine (Feb 8 -14 at The Triple Door)

The Atomic Bombshells (one of THE best burlesque troupes) are back with their Valentine’s show J’ADORE! A Burlesque Valentine.

Their giveaway ends tonight but there is still time to enter. You can enter via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any combination of those sites! ENTER HERE. 

Learn more about the show J’ADORE! which plays The Triple Door Feb 8 – 14, 2019 here.

 

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Review: Join in the fun with “I Do! I Do! A Musical about Marriage” at Village Theatre in Issaquah and Everett

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Off to a bit of a slow start, “I Do! I Do! A Musical about Marriage” at Village Theatre quickly escalates to the oh, so risque wild side – well, if you reflect on the fact that you’re experiencing a marriage begun in the staid and proper year of 1898. Kendra Kassebaum (Agnes) and Peter Saide ( Michael), the delightfully talented cast of two, keep the audience laughing, pondering, and reflecting on fifty years of matrimony in all of its intimacy and buffoonery.

As Director/Choreographer Michael Arnold states, ” ‘I Do! I Do!’ is an inviting reminder that although some things change, good and bad, some things stay the same.” Tidbits of conversation during intermission, and in departing the theatre, testified to the fact that long-time relationships today share many more traits with their ancestors than one might imagine.

The superb orchestra, directed by Bruce Monroe, was a standout in accompanying Kassebaum and Saide throughout the show. The number “A Well Known Fact” reminds us of how far we’ve come from the completely chauvinistic 1800s, while the thoroughly engaging “Flaming Agnes” proves, even then, there were women (Agnes, for one) who cleverly rebutted chauvinism with grace and aplomb.

As with so many shows at Village Theatre, the creative sets were most intriguing and inviting. You’ll see what I mean when you catch “I Do! I Do!” for yourself. This production is great fun. Bring your elders and encourage them to tell you their stories! Tickets available now through February 24, 2019 at Village Theatre in Issaquah and March 1 – 24, 2019 at Everett Performing Arts Center. Tickets here.

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Photo by Mark Kitaoka 

Don’t miss “Bohemia” at The Triple Door (now through Jan 26)

The current production of “Bohemia” at The Triple Door (now through January 26) is a true delight! Brandon and I made a date night out of the evening. This lively, silly, and unique musical succeeds in whisking you away from 2019 into the bohemian world of Dvorák, Chopin, and the world of the green absinthe fairies. I’m not a big fan of classical music, but you truly don’t have to be to enjoy this show. The pace of the show is quick and lively, the vibe is a playful, goofy, one with some heartfelt moments mixed in. We left feeling playful and amused! Pro tip: If you can, order “Fairy Service” with your absinthe drink order!

More about the show (in their own words):

This must-see musical by Mark Siano and Opal Peachey is a freewheeling cabaret about love, classical music, art nouveau, and more. Set in 1890s Prague, Bohemia combines the music of Dvorák and Chopin, with art by Alphonse Mucha. Historic artists like Sarah Bernhardt and George Sand, interweave with beautiful green fairies, aerial numbers, dance, burlesque, classical piano battles, comedy, and original songs.

The illustrious Triple Door transforms into 1890s Prague in Bohemia, a story about love, classical music, art nouveau, green fairies and absinthe. Presented by Opal Peachey and Mark Siano, this new musical combines live orchestral music from composers Antonín Dvorák and Frédéric Chopin, with original musical works; a set inspired by the art of Alphonse Mucha; and historic artists Sarah Bernhardt and George Sand interweave with beautiful green fairies, aerial numbers, dance, burlesque, classical piano battles, comedy, and new and original songs.

The story centers around famous Bohemian composer Antonín Dvorák who has hit a wall prior to composing his magnum opus. In a move of desperation he turns to a bottle of absinthe for inspiration. In this macabre and mystical dream cabaret, Dvorák is visited by the ghost of late composer Frédéric Chopin and a host of green fairies. Chopin and many other famous Bohemians guide Dvorák as they search for the true source of inspiration and grasp at artistic immortality.

Bohemia runs now through January 26, 2019. Tickets here.

image - bohemiaedits (4 of 18)image - bohemia - group photo (c) john cornicelloimage - bohemia - isobella bloom as zuzanna

Giveaway: Toast of Seattle (Networking Event)

There are few events that will get me out of bed earlier than my regular routine requires. Toast of Seattle is one of those special events! This Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce networking event returns January 25 (this time at Residence Inn Seattle Downtown). Read on for your chance to get a FREE ticket to join me for this wonderfully formatted networking event.

Why is Toast of Seattle so special? It’s format. You start by finding a table to sit at while you enjoy breakfast. Then, after some opening remarks, you network in a “speed-dating” inspired way: each person has 2 minutes to talk about their business. At the end of the round, everyone changes tables (you open up an envelope that shows you what table to go to next, no decision making required) and starts again. They guarantee you meet over 20 people in 2 hours. The structure makes networking efficient, productive, fun, and easy.

I’ve made some wonderful connections at past Toast of Seattle events. The style of the networking event takes a lot of the pressure off that can come with more open-format mixing and mingling. It’s a really delightful way to start your day!

Are you looking to network more in 2019? Enter to win a ticket to January 25th’s Toast of Seattle!

To enter:

  1. Use this link to visit their webpage & read more details about the event and venue
  2.  Comment on the SeattlePockets Facebook post here. You can comment by sharing what benefits you’re looking for from networking, a little about your business, tag a friend, or just write “I’m interested!”

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Giveaway ends 1/16/19 at 11:59pm Pacific Time. Winner will be contacted 1/17/19. Prize is 1 ticket to Toast of Seattle in January, cannot be exchanged or refunded.

 

Exciting, memorable, and stunning: Disney’s The Lion King at The Paramount is a true joy.

One of my all-time favorite musicals, Disney‘s The Lion King, is back in Seattle at The Paramount Theatre now through January 6. Walking into this gorgeous theatre is a gift in itself. Seeing the incredible costumes and puppetry in this production is a jaw-dropping experience. The cast of this tour is incredibly strong – we loved Mpume Sikakane (who was the understudy performing on Press Night) as Rafiki. Her powerful voice and stage presence are captivating. Also notable were Danielle Jalade as Young Nala, Jared Dixon as Simba, and Nia Holloway as Nala, and Thabani Buthelezi (Ensemble – notably in the purple and yellow outfit in Act Two’s opening number “One by One.”
There’s a reason this is Broadway’s third longest running show in history & the highest grossing Broadway production of all time: it’s a wonderful production on so many levels. The puppetry and costuming alone are worth the ticket price. The scenes with the entire company on stage as birds and four-legged creatures are moving and powerful. Somehow, the choreography, costuming, and performances have enough magic to make even grass interesting to watch!
Fun fact: Julie Taymor became the first woman to win Best Direction of a Musical Tony Award for her direction of The Lion King on Broadway. The show also won a Tony for best Choreography that same year.
If you’re a fan of The Lion King movie and haven’t seen this production, treat yourself and a loved one to this production. My +1 for the night, my dear friend Rusty, had very high expectations and they were absolutely met. It was such a joy in itself to sit next to him as he saw this production for the first time. At once point, he leaned in and whispered “I am having SUCH a great time” with such glee on his face. “Ooh there’s more!” he clapped as the powerful number opened Act Two. As I walked up the aisle during intermission, I heard many comments of awe and wonder shared by other audience members, including one woman who was telling her friend “I think my mouth has been open in amazement from the start of the show!” I can relate.
Having already seen the show, I wasn’t sure if the magic would still be there for me, but it absolutely was. I would see this show every year if I had the chance. And, yes, I have been singing “Oh I just can’t waaaaait to be king” in the streets of Seattle all month.
The show runs through January 6 and you’ll want to buy your tickets now.
(Note: on Saturday, January 5 at 2pm there will be a Sensory Friendly Performance. This performance is for individuals with sensory, social and learning disabilities and their families. Slight adjustments to the performance will be implemented such as reduction in jarring sounds and elimination of strobe lights focused into the audience. For more information, including how to purchase tickets, please visit stgpresents.org/access.)
I love this show. I just watched the montage video again and got chills again just with those opening lyrics. “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba Sithi uhm ingonyama.”
Seriously. Take a peek:
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Photo by Brinkhoff Mogenburg

Willa Cather’s ‘My Antonia’ is a beautifully heart-warming gem for the holiday season (at Book-It Repertory Theatre now through Dec 30)

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

The wholesome production of “My Antonia,” based on Willa Cather’s most autobiographical 1918 novel, springs to life with gusto in a creatively crafted stage setting.  Book-It Repertory Theatre’ss multi-layered set not only pulls the audience into Ms. Cather’s native Nebraskan wide-open prairie but also exemplifies her intimate, small-town surroundings.

Tim Gouran is impeccable in his portrayal of Jim Burden, a young boy wending his way through idyllic prairies, wheatfields, and bygone memories into adulthood. Jim’s story, so delightfully enacted, encompasses his early friendships and his lifelong fascination with Antonia.

Inclusive of an engagingly supportive cast, “My Antonia standouts include Kiki Abba, effervescent in her multiple roles; Jasmine Jean Sim, as the sparkling Lena; and, of course, Nabilah S. Ahmed, as the strong and steadfast Antonia.

This is the perfect season to take a stroll around the gleaming Seattle Center, stop by the bustling Armory for a bite to eat, and take in “My Antonia” at the intimate Seattle Center Book-It Repertory Theatre. Tickets for “My Antonia” are available now through December 30th.

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“No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as My Ántonia.” —H. L. Mencken

Photos by John Ulman