Cheryl Strayed’s “Tiny Beautiful Things” is astoundingly funny, sad, riveting, and most of all, unbelievably human.  At Seattle Rep now through June 23.

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Having read the author’s book “Wild,” I had no idea what to expect from this theatrical production at Seattle Rep’s intimate Leo K. Theatre in Seattle Center.  Unlike her sometimes dark and perplexing self-portrayal in “Wild,” Cheryl Strayed’s story in “Tiny Beautiful Things” is alight with sensitivity, benevolence, and a great deal of wisdom at every turn.

A small cast of four delivers stellar performances on all accounts. Julie Briskman, as Sugar, is the epitome of a tough, open-minded, witty, and totally reflective advice columnist who calls the shots as she sees them, all the while conveying her oft pain-filled personal experiences to drive her message home. You gotta love this warm, bold, unabashed woman who tackles every writers’ letter with aplomb.

Both Chantel DeGroat and Justin Huertas, as compelling Letter Writers, are in their element regardless of the gender of the writer whose issue they are voicing, the absurdity of their query, or the amount of food they’re ingesting during any given scene.

Never have I experienced a more profoundly powerful performance than that of Charles Leggett in his Letter Writer portrayal of a devastated father. Mr. Leggett’s heart-wrenching guidance-seeking letter goes straight to the heart, leaving nary a dry eye in the house.

Not every theatrical performance will break your heart, feed your soul, or make your spirit soar as does “Tiny Beautiful Things.” Give yourself the gift of this measure of humanity – set in motion with every emotion imaginable. “Tiny Beautiful Things” is on stage now through June 23, 2019, at Seattle Rep in Seattle Center. Tickets here.

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Photo by Alan Alabastro

“Love, Chaos & Dinner” New show at Teatro Zinzanni is a feast of laughter and jaw-dropping acts

Review by Nora McLellan

Teatro Zinzanni is no stranger to putting together dinner and a show, but their latest show, “Love, Chaos, & Dinner” in Woodinville, Washington takes the experience to a new level. From the sparkling rosé wine flight to the gorgeous costumes, your senses will be delighted all evening.

It would be easy to just talk about the acts, but the food is worth looking forward to. Like magic, Chef Jason Wilson orchestrates a room full of delicious meals artfully served at the same time. I happily tried both the fish and steak entrees, and my companion splurged by adding perfectly cooked lobster. The sparkling wine flight was a particular favorite. Everything was flavorful and delicious.


It really is the performers that are the most memorable parts of the evening. With a cast of stars who has performed and trained all over the world, there’s an amazing amount of talent there to keep you entertained all night. You might blush a bit, but you will definitely laugh as Lady Rizo’s powerful voice sings bawdy tunes. (And her costume changes? Rhinestones! Feathers! Sequins! Oh my!) The Anastasini brothers defy gravity and juggle each other in the air with their feet! But it is the Duo Rose that will leave your jaw on the floor. Their unique combination of graceful trapeze and twisted contortion is impossible to look away from. Every moment of the show there’s someone dynamic and charming to watch, even as waiters and performers roles blend throughout the evening.

The show will keep you entertained every minute and can take on a life of its own with audience participation. Teatro’s founder and the director of this show describes it as a playful interpretation on the art of flirtation, and it is a perfect date night. Don’t miss this show in Woodinville, WA now through June 30, 2019. Tickets here

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Photos via Teatro Zinzanni

Watch the trailer here.

The homecoming of “Million Dollar Quartet” at Village Theatre delights, rocks, and exhilarates audiences of all ages.

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Anytime audience members collectively share their exuberance with strangers while exiting a theatre, you know a pinnacle of perfection has been achieved. This was exactly the scenario after Friday night’s “Million Dollar Quartet” at Village Theatre in Issaquah where everyone was on their feet dancing for the last 15-20 minutes of peerless rock and roll and electrifying antics.

Who, at the time, would have dreamed the reenactment of a recording company’s 1956 jam session with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins would spark audiences around the globe for over six decades?  Village Theatre’s captivating history with “Million Dollar Quartet” stretches back to its premiere during the 2006 Village Originals Festival of New Musicals. With praise to the current production team’s brilliance in collaboration, “Million Dollar Quartet” promises another unparalleled hit for Village Theatre in Issaquah and Everett.

Accolades to Jerry Lee Lewis!  Oh, wait! That wasn’t the real Jerry Lee Lewis? Meet John Countryman, who blew the audience away with his impersonation of Lewis, once described as “rock and rolls first great wild man.” Wild and crazy, John Countryman as Lewis oozed fun, and grit, and natural talent with his every move.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to revel in the reunion of the dynamic “Million Dollar Quartet” this time around. Join in the exquisite fun and laughter of the show that ends with a crowd-dancing ovation. “Million Dollar Quartet” plays Village Theatre in Issaquah now through June 23, 2019 and in Everett June 28-July 29, 2019. Tickets here

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Photo by Mark Kitaoka

Calling all Hamilton fans! Get to The Triple Door May 30 & 31 for “Rise Up” – a Hamilton tribute band.

It’s likely if you’re reading this that you’re a fan of the hit musical “Hamilton.”

It’s time to get your tickets now to “Rise Up” the Hamilton Tribute band, playing The Triple Door May 30 & 31, 2019. I was excited to see this show is all ages and will be taking my teenage niece, who is the biggest Hamilton fan I know. The Triple Door is one of the most unique and beautiful venues to see live music in Seattle and a perfect place to experience this Hamilton tribute band.

More about the show, in their own words:

Don’t throw away your shot to see Rise Up – Hamilton Tribute! Rise Up is an ensemble of top Seattle vocalists and musicians that performs the amazing music of “Hamilton”. Rise Up has performed extensively in the Northwest, delighting theater, festival and club audiences to frequently sold out shows.

Tickets here.
Reserved seating. Get your tickets early for the best seats! Rise Up is a non-dramatic performance of selected individual songs from “Hamilton” and other material.

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This school is rockin’!  Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash hit “School of Rock” fires up audiences. Now through May 19 at The Paramount

Review by Tony Bohn:

Based on the 2003 bestselling movie by the same name, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “School of Rock” opened last night as a part of the KeyBank Broadway season at The Paramount in downtown Seattle.  Nominated for four 2016 Tony awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, and Best Leading Actor, “School of Rock” follows the story of a wannabe rock star named Dewey Finn.  In desperate need of money to pay rent to his best friend who he lives with, he conspires to earn the money by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school.  Woefully unprepared and unqualified to teach normal school subjects, he proceeds to transform his class of high achievers into a mind-blowing full-on rock band while turning on the charms and falling for the school’s headmistress.

Filled with catchy original rock musical tunes by Webber, and a hilarious script, this show will keep you entertained and rocking in your seat for the duration.  Merritt David Janes as Dewey Finn does a spot-on imitation of Jack Black from the original movie, while also bringing his own sense of flair and updates to the role.  The best part of the show has got to be the remarkably talented and adorable kids that make up the rock band.  They will blow your mind as they sing, dance, and jam on stage with guitars, keyboards, drums, and bass, and I couldn’t get enough of them!

In a time when so many arts programs get cut in education, School of Rock is a family-friendly affair that shows us why music can still be a crucial tool in driving a child’s creativity and why letting kids be kids and have fun playing, can result in more well-rounded and happy children.  School of Rock plays at the Paramount now through Sunday May 19, 2019.  More information and tickets can be found here.

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Photo by Evan Zimmerman

“Nina Simone: Four Women” is a must-see. A riveting glimpse into the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. At Seattle Repertory Theatre now through June 2

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Through determination and stamina, following the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama bombings in which four young African American girls were murdered, a resilient and determined Nina Simone channels her musical gifts in a manner that bewilders those around her. “Nina Simone: Four Women” plays The Seattle Repertory Theatre in Seattle Center now through June 2, 2019. 

Nina and three very diverse women find themselves in the shell of the 16th Street Church,  grappling with the devastation in divisive and conflicting manners that cast doubts on each other. Each woman’s self-identity fluctuates according to the disparities in her background and the shade of her skin.

While Jennifer Zeyl’s stark staging transports the audience into the midst of the bombed-out church, it’s as though the four young girls whose lives were lost are ever present in spirit. Shontina Vernon is high-spirited in her role as Nina Simone, while Shaunyce Omar anchors the show in her brilliant portrayal of Sarah.

The Seattle Rep invites audiences to join in “a series of enlightening, empowering, and engaging events” with ties to current injustices. Striking similarities of the 1960s and today’s conflicted societies are unfathomable. This point was driven home in the post-play discussion of current atrocities in our local and national surrounds.

For more information on “Nina Simone: Four Women,” including tickets, special events, and post-show discussions, visit seattlerep.org. You have through June 2nd to secure seats for this heart-wrenching, thought-provoking performance at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

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Photo by Nate Watters

Giveaway: Advance Screening tickets to “Booksmart” movie

Movie Giveaway!  Enter to win one of two pairs of tickets to see an advance screening of the movie “Booksmart.” Winners can choose to see the movie at Regal Thornton at 7pm on May 15, 2019 or at AMC Pacific Place at 7pm on May 21, 2019.

About the movie: “Told from a wildly original, fresh and modern perspective, Booksmart is an unfiltered comedy about high school best friends and the bonds we create that last a lifetime. Capturing the spirit of our times, the film is a coming of age story for a new generation.”

I’ll be picking two winners (each winner will win two tickets). Here’s how to enter:

Enter on Facebook: Like fb.com/seattlepockets & like the giveaway post – then tag a friend in the comments of the giveaway Facebook post. You can tag up to 5 friends (one name per comment) for up to 5 Facebook entries.

Enter on Instagram: Follow instagram.com/keridwyn & like the giveaway post – tag a friend in the comments of the giveaway post. You can tag up to 5 friends (one name per comment) for up to 5 Instagram entries. BONUS 5 points if you share the giveaway post on your stories or feed.

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If you’re not on Facebook or Instagram, let me know in your blog comment below and you’ll still be entered.

 

Trailer:

All local, state, and federal giveaways apply. Winner will be picked using random.org. Giveaway ends 5/12/19 at 11:59pm. Winners must arrive no later than 30 minutes before the movie.  #BooksmartMovie