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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Fiddle choir “supergroup” Childsplay brings their farewell tour to areas around the Puget Sound in November

Childsplay: Fiddlers, Fiddles, and Fiddlemaker” is a fiddle choir about to launch their farewell tour after 30 years of being a band. My nieces, ages 15 and 12, are both violin players in Kids in Concert in Kitsap County, so this is right up their alley. I look forward to hearing their review! The tour plays 6 locations in Washington (as well as one performance in Portland, OR) including Benaroya Hall on November 11, 2018. See full schedule below.

More about Childsplay, in their own words:

Led by violin maker Robert Childs, Childsplay is made up of over 20 musicians from around the United States and Ireland, with each member of the string section playing violin or viola handmade by Childs himself. To imagine what is unique to Childsplay, picture what a family that sings together sounds like, all the voices of the violins have a familial tone. Add in 30 years of touring, a film on PBS, and the recent release of their seventh album and you begin to get a sense of what makes this tour and album so special. Childsplay is made up of a cast of 12 incredible fiddlers, ranging from all-Ireland and national Scottish fiddle champions to members of the Boston Symphony, and also includes 9 all-star instrumentalists, singers and dancers who altogether create the sound that is truly Childsplay.

“Since our first gig in 1988, our band of talented musicians have strived to take fiddle music beyond mesmerizing repetition and into the realm of harmonies and counter
rhythms—traditional fiddle sounds in a contemporary world,” Childs said. “We are so grateful to all of our fans for their continued support as we tune our strings for the final time, and hope to meet new fans along the way!”

A full schedule of the tour can be found below. Ticket information can be found at
https://www.childsplay.org/concerts.html.

San Juan Community Theatre, Friday Harbor, WA: Saturday, November 10 at 8pm

Nordstrom Recital Hall/Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA: Sunday, November 11 at 7pm

Egyptian Theatre, Coos Bay, WA: Tuesday, November 13 at 7:30pm

Austin Auditorium, Corvallis, WA: Wednesday, November 14 at 8pm

Aladdin Theatre, Portland, OR: Thursday, November 15 at 8pm

Admiral Theatre, Bremerton, WA: Friday, November 16 at 7:30pm

Lincoln Theatre, Mount Vernon, WA: Saturday, November 17 at 8pm

Somerville Theatre, Somerville, MA, Tuesday, November 20 at 8pm

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Photos via Child’s Play Facebook page

Review: ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ is stunning beyond compare (Seattle Rep now through Nov 10)

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Ursula Rani Sarma’s adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s beloved 2007 novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, is theatre at its ultimate best. This powerfully heart-wrenching narrative steeps us in the throes of Afghanistan’s ever-changing, decades-long turmoil and unfathomable brutality. A Thousand Splendid Suns plays Seattle Repertory Theatre now through November 10, 2018.

From the perspective of two women’s unlikely friendship, the actors move us seamlessly through time. Impeccable in their profoundly formidable lead roles are Rinabeth Apostol (Laila) and Denmo Ibrahim (Mariam). Their portrayal of undying feminine strength, resilience, and love are spellbinding as they wend their way through a never-ending reign of terror.  

Difficult to observe, Haysam Kadri’s astute rendition of the abhorrent antagonist (Rasheed) is chilling to the core. Mesmerizing in her role as Laila’s child (Aziza), Nikita Tewani pulls the heartstrings like none other.

Impeccable attention to detail in casting, sets, sounds, and lighting holds the audience captive while, periodically, adding unshakable shock value. If you’re familiar with Hosseini’s novels, you can well imagine this production has the potential to grab you by the throat and tear your heart out. Trust me – it does exactly that.

You seriously don’t want to miss A Thousand Splendid Suns! Arrange for your tickets now through November 10 at our splendid Seattle Repertory Theatre.

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Photos via Seattle Rep Facebook page 

TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival October 11-21

TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival is playing for just 10 days, starting October 11, 2018! This festival includes a wide variety of what look to be excellent films, including six evenings of short films (boy shorts, girl shorts, trans shorts, QTPOC shorts, and more). Whether you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally/friend to those in the community (so, that means anyone reading this blog, right?), this festival offers something for you. In total, there are 65 programs comprised of 143 narratives, documentaries, premieres, and short films. I was amazed to read that over half of these films were directed by women! Venues include SIFF Cinema Egyptian, Northwest Film Forum, Broadway Performance Hall, and AMC Pacific Place.

Open up your calendar and take a look at the schedule to find the right films for your taste: https://threedollarbillcinema.org/twist.

There is a lot to choose from but scrolling through their online guide makes it easy. Since the festival is about to start, I recommend opening up your calendar and seeing when you can make time for some films in the coming days. Twist: Seattle Queer Film Festival is a gift to the Seattle community.

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Review: Cirque du Soleil VOLTA in Washington now through November 4

There’s less than a month left to catch Cirque du Soleil’s touring production of VOLTA at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA. It takes a lot for me to leave Seattle but Cirque du Soleil is always worth it! This time, Brandon and I had the opportunity to bring our youngest niece, who turns 12 this year, for her first Cirque show!

There’s a lot of activity in this production that is packed with dozens of circus acts, clowning, music, and “how the heck did they do that” moments. I’m usually not a big fan of the clowns in Cirque but this production features a lovely vignette of the show’s clown in a delightful struggle with three washing machines, which was one of my favorite moments of the night.

Some of the highlights of the show were the Trampowall scene (I could have watched an hour of just that performance!), the unicyclist balancer, and the shape divers. I won’t go into too much more detail as I want to let the production feel fresh and spoiler-free for you.

I’m still mystified by a performance in the second act that was nothing like anything I’ve seen.  My jaw was open the entire time and I still shake my head wondering how she does it. If you’ve already seen this production, you know what I’m talking about!

The music was some of the best that I remember from a cirque show and lingered with us for the rest of the evening. The narrative and overarching theme of this particular show isn’t one of my top five favorites, but Cirque du Soleil is always such a special outing and experience. VOLTA is only in King County until November 4 and the final weeks generally sell out, so I recommend getting your tickets now.

Check out the VOLTA Facebook Page for fun photos of cast members performing in iconic areas around Seattle!

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Want to watch a video preview of the show? Here you go:

 

Review: “The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes” – dream of a production for all musical fanatics (Village Theatre)

Review for Jeanne Kinley Deller:

Issaquah’s Village Theatre invites you to join in the highly creative, zany, satirical encounters of Howard Barnes, a perfectly “average” guy, who has an aversion to musical theatre. Strangely, and to his chagrin, he awakens to discover he’s smack in the middle of an extraordinarily inescapable musical production.

The befuddled Howard Barnes (Joshua Carter) and his charming mentor Maggie (Taryn Darr) meander through an abundance of highly acclaimed musicals with an ensemble of enthusiastic sidekicks – all dedicated to changing his perspective. Leads and supporting cast alike, are fun, funny, fun-loving, and spot on in transitioning Howard from average to noteworthy musical theatre devotee.

A challenge for all musical theatre fanatics: how many celebrated musical numbers (referenced on page 15 of your Encore program) can you spot throughout this performance? Requirements for this quiz: vigilance, near perfect musical theatre attendance, and a superior ear. Good luck!

Not to be missed, reserve your tickets now for The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes.  On stage at Issaquah’s Village Theatre now through October 21st, then at Everett Performing Arts Center from October 26 through November 18, 2018. Tickets here. 

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Photo via Village Theatre 

Review: ArtsWest’s Skeleton Crew gifts Seattle audiences with the first winner of its 2018/19 season

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

While ArtsWest’s Seattle premiere of Skeleton Crew was written by Dominique Morisseau to portray Detroit’s 2008 Great Recession, her heart-rending theme of inequitable working conditions continues to ring true across the nation today. Exploring the topic of factory workers whose livelihoods are in grave peril due to impending layoffs, each of the four characters profoundly conveys the repercussions of corporate America run amok.

Skeleton Crew’s simple replica of a true-to-factory break-room provides a safety net for exasperated union members. In an atmosphere tightly controlled by higher-ups, each employee is forced to succumb to a pecking order. Tracy Michelle Hughes (Faye) is outstanding in her role as the (mostly) steadfast lead, with Allyson Lee Brown (Shanita), Charles Wright (Dez), and Allen Miller III (Reggie) bringing tremendous strength and skill in depicting underdogs fighting for survival.

Hats off to ArtsWest Artistic Director Mathew Wright and Skeleton Crew’s Director Jay O’Leary for their attention to detail across the board. Skeleton Crew, as the first play of ArtsWest 2018/19 season, promises yet another riveting season in the works.

You won’t want to miss Skeleton Crew, at ArtsWest in West Seattle now through October 14. Get your tickets now to experience this timely, profound glimpse of Dominique Morisseau’s American narrative.

Already have your tickets? Support this local theatre by spreading the word & inviting friends to their Facebook event page.

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Photos by John McLellan.