Calling all ABBA fans! Mamma Mia’s Farewell tour in Seattle until April 2

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

If you’re among those who hum along with ABBA tunes and have yet to experience the long-running broadway hit Mamma Mia, you’ll definitely want to get on board. This oft silly and mostly lighthearted show is in Seattle on its final farewell tour now through Sunday, April 2nd, 2017 at the Paramount Theatre.

There is no better place to while away a rainy Seattle evening than on Mamma Mia‘s Greek Island, in the company of a marvelously zany cast whose escapades keep the audience laughing, cheering, and dancing in their seats.

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Song and dance routines throughout are peppered with immensely talented costuming by designers Ron Glow and Catherine Lovejoy—dancing in wetsuits with snorkel gear and flippers, anyone?

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The longest encore ever experienced by this reviewer brought down the house—Mamma Mia’s triumphant cast was joined by the jubilant audience, singing and swaying to “Dancing Queen” in unison. This charming, warm-hearted production awaits you, now through April 2nd. Tickets here

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Photos by Kevin Thomas Garcia

Playing Hardball with the U.S. Economy in “Dry Powder” at the Seattle Rep

Guest blogger Berrak Sarikaya reviews “Dry Powder” at Seattle Repertory Theatre:

It’s a tale as old as time: The President of a New York capital management firm throws a lavish $1 million engagement party coinciding with massive layoffs at a national supermarket chain following his firm’s buyout.  A PR nightmare follows as protesters harass the company’s investors around the country.

We get to know the other partners in the way they handle the PR crisis: On one hand, we have Jenny, who is stereotypically tough and no-nonsense, in competition with Seth, who wants to do the right thing but lacks the courage to follow through. The fourth character in “Dry Powder” is the CEO of Landmark, the deal that unfolds before our eyes on stage over the course of the 90-minute play.

All four actors have a firm grasp of their characters and bring plenty of bite to the dialogue, which keeps it engrossing and often quite funny. I certainly laughed more than I expected to during the bitter reality unfolding before my eyes. In addition to the actors, what impressed me most was the set. Minimalistic and modern, hollow cubes and rectangular blocks serve as furniture that is accompanied by blasts of techno music to signify the change in time.

The change between the scenes moved like clockwork, without any stagehands. How did that work? Well, why would I spoil the surprise?

Dry Powder” opens a window into the high-stakes world of high finance, and it’s playing at the Seattle Repertory Theatre until April 15, 2017. Tickets here.

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Photo: Hana Lass (Jenny), Richard Nguyen Sloniker (Jeff), Shawn Belyea (Rick),
and MJ Sieber (Seth) in Seattle Repertory Theatre’s production of
“Dry Powder.” Photo by Jenny Graham.

GIVEAWAY: The Weird, Wacky & Wondrous “Moisture Festival” is back!

The weird, wacky, wondrous world that is MOISTURE FESTIVAL is back!
This vibrant festival runs today through April 9, with a plethora of fun events. “Laughter is the key!”
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The Comedy/Varietè shows at Hale’s Palladium are an intriguing assortment of entertainment. Highly skilled performance mixed with many bizarre talents, often humorous, with no limit to the imagination. Presented as a variety show, each act or artist performs his or her routine within a 3-15 minute time slot while being accompanied by a live show band.
The Libertease Burlesque Caberet shows at Broadway Performance Hall provide a sexy, fun evening of adult performance, featuring a tantalizing mix of burlesque stars, live music, circus and ribald comedy/varietè acts, Seductive and delightful, these nights encourage the audience to be comfortable, loose and loud. The theme of this year’s Libertease Cabaret is 1920’s era (Prohibition, Gatsby, etc.).
Ultimately, this festival always surprises and delight me with amazing and wonderfully unique acts, again and again. Make it a date night (you’ll certainly have lots to talk about at intermission and after the show!) or a night out with a big group of friends. Buy tickets here.
Want to enter to win tickets to Moisture Festival? Enter here!
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Giveaway: ‘Build Your Own Musical’ improv show

If you want to be impressed by actors who can really think on their feet, attend an improv show. If you want to be truly wowed, check out “Build Your Own Musical“–an improv show that cleverly blends improv and musical theater for a night of entertainment and laughter.
Unexpected Productions (the theater in post alley next to the gum wall) is hosting this delightful show on Friday and Saturday nights now through April 15, 2017. Brandon and I are going to see Paul Levy and others perform on the night of March 31. Join us!
About the show:
The musical comedy pros at Unexpected Productions promise plenty of on-stage panache as you and your fellow audience members are invited to cast, choreograph, write, direct and produce a variety of scenes, ably aided by a talented and incredibly versatile cast of Seattle’s finest improvisers. Then sit back and watch as those scenes are seamlessly–and hilariously–turned into a full-length musical on stage. Each performance boasts an entirely new production made up right on the spot, complete with song, dance, and story, for an ever-changing, always-entertaining night of comedy.
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5 current & upcoming Seattle performances you won’t want to miss

There’s some great theatre happening in Seattle RIGHT NOW and some fantastic theatre and music performances coming up soon:
ON NOW:
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“Well” at Seattle Rep
 
“Well” is on now through March 5th so get out your calendar and get those tickets. “Well” is one of the best productions Seattle has seen in years! This show hilariously shatters the 4th wall to smithereens as Lisa (played incredibly believably by Sarah Rudinoff) reflects on her memories of dealing with an integrated community, health issues, and her relationship with her Mother (played by actor Barbara Dirickson who nearly steals the show and compliments Sarah’s Lisa perfectly). Bonus points for this show’s length: 1.5 hours with no intermission—love that! Brandon and I both shared with each other that this was our favorite piece of theatre we’d seen in many years. Show details and tickets here.  (Photo by Alan Alabastro)
COMING SOON:
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MarchFourth Marching Band and Pimps of Joytime
 
This Thursday, March 2nd, one of my favorite Marching Bands, MarchFourth, is back at The Showbox! This is the band that Brandon joined on stage last year to surprise me with his marriage proposal! I was already a huge fan of this circus-y band, but of course am an even bigger fan now. Bring your earplugs, as it gets loud! Tour details here.
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Lady Rizo at The Triple Door
 
If you’ve never seen the incredible vocal and comedic talents of Lady Rizo, get out your calendar and set a date to change this: April 19th. If you’ve seen this enchanting performer before, you’re probably clicking on the link to buy tickets right now. She’s won the Time Out London and Soho Theatre Award, a London Cabaret Award, and is a Grammy winner for a collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma. Lady Rizo pushes boundaries and makes your face hurt from smiling, then gives you goosebumps with her song-bird skills. Tickets here.
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Cirque Du Soleil: Luzia
The next Cirque du Soleil show is Luzia: A Waking Dream of Mexico, a show that promises beautiful monarch butterfly visuals, circus magic, and spine-tingling music that will have you daydreaming about it for weeks after you attend the show. Brandon and I are going to take our niece (age 14). This will be her first time seeing a Cirque show—can’t wait! Tickets here.
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Build Your Own Musical at Unexpected Productions
Improv theater requires a very special type of wit and talent. MUSICAL improv theater is even more impressive! “Build Your Own Musical” invites the audience to “cast, choreograph, write, direct and produce a variety of scenes, ably aided by a talented and incredibly versatile cast of Seattle’s finest improvisers. Then sit back and watch as those scenes are seamlessly—and hilariously—turned into a full-length musical on stage. Each performance boasts an entirely new production made up right on the spot, complete with song, dance, and story, for an ever-changing, always-entertaining night of comedy.” This is going to be great. Tickets here.
What upcoming performances are you most excited about? Would love your tips in the comments on on my Facebook page!
 
 

Measure Your Life in Love: Rent at The Paramount through 2/26

Review by Katie Duke:

I first saw Rent in 1998. I was 18 and had big dreams that I’d make it on Broadway just as soon as I moved to The Big Apple. As I sat in the audience tonight singly along in my head, I was surprised at how heartbreaking Rent really is. Death, disease, drug addiction, poverty, and homelessness are big issues that fill the stage. As a 36-year- old, I have a lot more life experience and couldn’t escape feeling empathy and longing for the characters on stage. The themes that seemed so groundbreaking in 1998 certainly held up to the problems of 2017, and the message of love rang loud and true.

The ensemble of the touring cast of Rent at The Paramount in Seattle was fantastic—strong voices and good dancers supported the main characters.Tim Ehrlich as Angel rocked “Today 4 U.” “Tango Maureen” was a personal favorite— Jasmine Easier as Joanne and Danny Harris Kornfeld as Mark were a silly dancing pair. The answering machine voicemails made me laugh every time and reminded me just how much our parents must miss and love us. It made me want to call my mom! Katie LaMark’s performance of “Over the Moon” as Maureen was superb. At times, I was distracted by some cheesy choreography and lead voices which were occasionally a little flat, but for the most part the music was excellent.

“Seasons of Love” is a personal favorite and I loved the way the cast lined up together at the front of the stage. It felt powerful and raw. I was less compelled by the love story of Mimi and Roger than I was by the sweet romance of Angel and Tom Collins (played last night by Bryson Bruce). Mimi and Roger’s relationship felt forced and abusive whereas Angel and Collins reflected mutual respect, admiration, and love. All in all, I highly recommend this show, especially for anyone who didn’t see it on Broadway back in the 90s. The show ends powerfully with a strong, united cast singing powerfully about the power of friendship and love.

RENT plays The Paramount in downtown Seattle now through February 26, 2017. Tickets here.

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Photos by Carol Rosegg.

RENT at the Paramount (Giveaway), Walla Walla Wines, my new favorite podcast & Ignite Seattle

Happy Sunday!
I have so many fun things I want to share with everyone, so here’s a miscellany of events and things I’ve enjoyed lately:
RENT
One of the most beloved musicals, RENT, is coming back to the Paramount Theatre for just a few days this month. See the musical February 21-26. You can also enter to win one of two pairs of tickets from the giveaway we are co-hosting with Swink Style Bar! Giveaway here.
About RENT: In 1996, an original rock musical by a little-known composer opened on Broadway…and forever changed the landscape of American theatre. Two decades later, Jonathan Larson’s RENT continues to speak loudly and defiantly to audiences across generations and all over the world. And now, this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award®-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. A re-imagining of Puccini’sLa BohèmeRENT follows an unforgettable year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters—love.
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WALLA WALLA WINE
Walla Walla has an incredibly active and delicious wine community and over 50 Walla Walla wineries are in town tomorrow (Monday) for a special tasting event. Tickets available here.
About the event: Sample a selection of wines from 50 of the finest Walla Walla Valley wineries. Mingle with principals and winemakers. Experience the energy and excitement surrounding our renowned wine region. Tickets include unlimited wine samplings and light hors d’oeuvres. February 13 5:30-8pm
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NEW PODCAST
The Hilarious World of Depression” is my favorite new podcast. “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” host John Moe talks with a different comedian each episode about their experiences with depression and anxiety. I love that this podcast is working to take the stigma away from this common disease and encourage frank, genuine conversation about it! He’s a great host and the comedians he has as guests are some of my favorites.
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IGNITE SEATTLE
I went to my first Ignite Seattle event last November to see my friend Jeff Hicks who was one of the speakers. As soon as I saw that Ignite Seattle will be back February 23, I bought tickets (super affordable tickets, at that). These events tend to sell out so snag yours soon.
About Ignite Seattle:
This legendary evening of short and fascinating presentations that started in Seattle 10 years ago, has a simple goal “Enlighten us, but make it quick.” 16 passionate Seattleites are given five minutes at the microphone to inspire, inform, entertain or do all at the same time. It’s a reinvention of the very idea of a lecture, offering an exciting and provocative evening of storytelling for all ages. 
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