The Williams Project’s “Time of Your Life” is a high speed, chaotic romp (at Washington Hall now through August 25)

Review by Paul Levy

Two plays. One bar. Eight actors. The Williams Project’s “The Bar Plays” series tackles two different plays and stages them both in the same bar with the same 8 actors. It’s an ambitious project to take on two scripts for one run, but director Ryan Guzzo Purcell and the cast of adrenaline-seeking actors somehow managed to rehearse two different well-known plays at the same time. The two shows in the series are “Small Craft Warnings” and “Time of Your Life”. The night I went was the opening for the second play in the series “Time of Your Life.” You can catch both shows now through August 25th.

“Time of Your Life” is a five-act play by American playwright William Saroyan written in 1939. But don’t let the five-acts scare you. Purcell keeps the show moving at high speed, as the cast of eight actors become the 27 various characters that stumble in and out of Nick’s Waterfront Saloon. The Washington Hall venue transforms into Nick’s Saloon with bar tables and an actual bar that serves drinks throughout the show. Actors take over every nook and cranny of this space, and it’s open seating. At times some seats have you sitting very close to the actors, blurring the lines between audience an actor.

The show itself centers on a large cast of characters all holding onto the routines of their daily lives while the city around them is transforming. Much like the journey for the characters in the play, the show itself also transforms, breaking the norms of theatre by having actors randomly assigned their roles in front of the audience and not skipping a beat as they jump into the 27 different characters. A feat that requires them to keep the script close at hand to recite character lines they’ve never memorized, and likely only individually rehearsed a handful of times.

The Williams Project “Time of Your Life” is a chaotic romp that will put a smile on your face while the delightful cast performs all around you. 

The show runs until August 25th at Washington Hall in the Central District, with a range of ticket pricing including pay what you can at the door. You can find out more here.

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[You can read Tony Bohn’s review of  The Williams Project “Small Craft Warnings” on our blog here.]

More about guest blogger, Paul Levy: Paul Levy is always on the hunt for stories brought to life in immersive formats. He is the Creative Director at TPN, an agency that creates small and large live-events and experiences for fortune 500 companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Boeing.

Psst! “Don’t Tell Comedy” brings secret comedy shows to Seattle

By Keridwyn Deller

Secret comedians, secret locations . . . and BYOB! “Don’t Tell Comedy” offers unique stand-up comedy shows in Seattle (and Tacoma). You know the date, time, and neighborhood when you buy tickets – then you get the delight of discovering the specific location at noon the day of the show! I’m intrigued! You know I’m a fan of comedy, so I’m so excited to see what unique venues this group chooses to host comedy shows in.

Also, how cool is it that the event is BYOB? No pressure to order expensive drinks (and no pressure to drink at all, if you’re not drinking)! “At Don’t Tell Comedy, we are redefining live comedy by bringing it to your backyard, sometimes quite literally! Venues range from backyards and living rooms, to local businesses, steam ships, and yoga studios. We’re removing the expensive drinks – it’s BYOB! Crack open your own beer and enjoy the best local and touring comedians – there are no transactions at a Don’t Tell Comedy show and that’s the way we want to keep it.”

This August, Seattle shows will be in Wallingford on August 17th and in South Lake Union on August 22nd!

Check out their website and sign up for their emails to hear upcoming shows. Have a cool venue? Check out their website for details on how to apply to be a host (the before and after photos are pretty cool of venues they’ve used in the past).

I’m planning on going to the August 22 show in South Lake Union (they mention it’s a “super special location”). FB event page here.

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Drama ensues in The Williams Project fantastic production of Tennessee Williams “Small Craft Warnings” (now through August 25)

Review by Tony Bohn

I have nothing but good things to say about The Williams Project’s new production of Tennessee Williams’ classic play “Small Craft Warnings,” and highly recommend everyone checks this show out ASAP!  Directed by Ryan Guzzo Purcell at Washington Hall, “Small Craft Warnings” takes place in a dive bar on the rural coastline of Southern California sometime around the mid-1900s.  This show is an immersive experience with the entire room in Washington Hall having been transformed into a bar where audience members sit amongst all the action taking place in the play.  The show gives us a glimpse into the troubled lives of all the bar patrons whose struggles combined with alcohol provides us with laughs, lots of drama, and several poignant moments.

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The mission of The Williams Project states that it is a theatre ensemble that strives to make theatrical excellence accessible to diverse and engaged audiences while paying their artists a living wage.  Ticketing utilizes a pay-what-you-can model which allows everyone of all financial means to attend and support the production.  The diverse and talented cast very much lived up to this mission, and I can’t stress enough how refreshing and important it is to see a theater trying this social justice approach in their productions.

All eight actors were skilled at bringing their roles to life, and it was so delightful seeing this production done in a non-traditional way.  I could see a little of myself in all the characters in this show, and I felt like the show was holding up a mirror for me to do some self-examination of my own life by dropping little truth bombs throughout the play.  This production also had a surprise heart-warming ending!

Overall, through the mission of this theater, the direction of this production, and the actual play itself, I was left with a feeling of just how essential inclusivity is to society as well as an understanding and sense of empathy for just how tough it is for all of us to live on this planet sometimes.  “Small Craft Warnings” runs at Washington Hall now through August 25, 2019.   Ticket reservations and info can be found here.

Photo by Marcia Davis

Awesome & eye-popping: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” oozes charm & hilarity at The Paramount (now through August 11)

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Willy Wonka lives! The current tour of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is one awesome production – how can live theatre be this crazy, funny, dazzling, and thoroughly astounding? The brilliant special effects are far more sophisticated than seem possible on any stage – might it be pure magic? The most riveting dynamics are elevated to mind-blowing heights in the second act. Wait for it!

Accolades to Noah Weisberg who exceeds every lofty expectation in his depiction of Willy Wonka. Equal laurels go to Rueby Wood for an endearing portrayal of the precocious Charlie Bucket. We were enamored with Rueby (who shares the coveted role with two other young actors in this tour) on opening night. 

In hot pursuit of the Golden Ticket, convoluted family ties result in utter pandemonium as the superlative cast sings and dances its way into the heart of the audience. One need not fear the beguiling Oompa Loompas, Willy Wonka, nor the perils of a chocolate factory that casts off naughty children. The night is filled with all things remarkable, including jaw-dropping escapades galore. 

Throngs of theatre-goers, while exiting the theatre and waiting in line to validate parking tickets, were left wondering how “THAT” (you’ll know it when you see it! worked. You know the old adage – when patrons exit the theatre discussing the show you know it’s a winner! You, too, can be enveloped in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” charms. Your golden tickets are on sale now through August 11, 2019, at The Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle.

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Students & Educators, check out Broadway at the Paramount’s Facebook page for info on rush tickets.
Photo by Joan Marcus

 

 

August Seattle Event Roundup: New musicals, tattoos, free music & more

by Keridwyn Deller

August is here and life is good! Here are a few events in the Seattle area I wanted to be sure were on your radar:

AUGUST 9 – 11, 2019: Village Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals (Issaquah)Tickets are available now to check out these brand-new musicals (five musicals in one weekend):

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XY: An intersex man navigates his first romantic relationship while being haunted by his past. The Time: 1985/2001. The Place: Pittsburgh, PA. Musical Style: Musical Theatre/Impressionist/Pop. In A Word: Intimate. How You’ll Feel: Uplifted and connected to our shared humanity.

COLD TURKEY: A small town in America attempts to quit smoking for 30 days in order to win $25 million. The Time: 1969. The Place: Eagle Rock, IA. Musical Style: Late 60s and early 70s pop/cross-over country. In A Word: Satirical. How You’ll Feel: Rollercoastered.

MODERN: A group of Amish teenagers embarks on their Rumspringa, a brief period of freedom where they struggle with balancing love, tradition, progress, faith, and who they’ll become. The Time: Present Day. The Place: Lancaster County, PA. Musical Style: Elements of new-grass and post-rock. In A Word: Faith. How You’ll Feel: Inspired.

EASTBOUND: Two brother, separated at birth, travel across the world in search of a home they’ve never known. The Time: Present day. The Place: Massachusetts and Shanghai. Musical Style: Mandarin pop/American pop musical theatre. In A Word: Poignant. How You’ll Feel: Empowered.

COWBOY BOB: A young woman disguised as a man in a fake beard and ten-gallon hat, takes on the identity of “Cowboy Bob” and evades detection for more than a decade. The Time: 1990s and Present day. The Place: Dallas, TX. Musical Style: Riot Grrrl rage meets Texas two-step. In A Word: Adventurous. How You’ll Feel: Emboldened.

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August 16 – 18: Seattle Tattoo Expo (Seattle Center)

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“Get inked, see the beautiful artwork of over 200 artists, and take in all that is Seattle tattoo culture and history at the 18th annual Seattle Tattoo Expo. Hosted by Seattle’s internationally recognized shop Hidden Hand Tattoo, the Expo offers access to the leading artists in tattooing both locally and from around the world. Whether your searching for an artist or looking to get tattooed, the Seattle Tattoo Expo offers enthusiasts a gathering place to share their love for this enduring art form.” SeattleTattooExpo.com

On now: The Legend of El Dorado at Can Can Culinary Cabaret (Pike Place Market)

It’s a sexy mix of burlesque/stripping, dance, comedy, music, a bit of camp, and the art of the tease. NSFW adult performance. The Can Can dance company always knows how to delight their audiences – their current show makes for a great date night for those who aren’t easily shocked.

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“When three women made the pact of solidarity on their summer road trip, no one ever expected that they would soon become the most legendary outlaws in the country. The gang of motorcycle riding, man-eating women known as El Dorado were a fearsome trio of renegades redefining what it meant to be a woman on their own terms with no compromise. How El Dorado found themselves out running the law, robbing corner stores at gunpoint, and seducing their unsuspecting victims while in high heels, fishnets, and nail polish are things legends are made of. With an original Can Can soundtrack featuring the vocal stylings of Seattle’s own Brent Amaker, The Legend of El Dorado showcases performances of original choreography performed by the Can Can Dance Company and a delicious Market-fresh menu.”

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Check out Greater Seattle on the Cheap’s blog post for Free Seattle (and surrounding area) music events here.

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The Seattle Times shares some free outdoor theatre listings here.

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What August events are you looking forward to? Share them in the comments below or in the comments on the Facebook post at fb.com/seattlepockets.

Photo credit: 1) Village Theatre website 2) @SeattleTattooExpo Instagram (artist @chrisrogerstattoo) 3) via Can Can press release

 

Join in the music, merriment, and mayhem of “Bright Star,” on stage now through August 17 at Seattle’s Taproot Theatre

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Steve Martin (yes, that gifted comedian turned bluegrass musician!) and Edie Brickell have joined forces to tell an age-old tale, this one actually based on a true story, of love lost and found. “Bright Star” segues between the early-1920s and mid-1940s with a jaunty cast of talented actors transporting us back to small-town North Carolina.

The “Bright Star” up-stage bluegrass band compliments both the time period and each of the accomplished performers as they wend their way through spirited musical numbers. MJ Jurgensen lights up the theatre with her infectious smile and every move, as Florence, in band and ensemble numbers. The rousing bar-scene “Another Round” scores big time with the audience – a shining combo of song and dance in tune with Steve Martin’s humor and musical prowess.

If you’re a fan of bluegrass, toe-tapping, and old-timey hootenanny gatherings, this is a show you don’t want to pass up. Great fun and a reminder that social mores, in ever so many ways, have advanced tremendously over the last few decades. Check it out & enjoy! Tickets on sale now through August 17, 2019, at Taproot Theatre. 

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MJ Jurgensen and Miranda Antoinette Trout in Bright Star at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

Exhilarating and heart-warming, “The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion,” is playing at ArtsWest in West Seattle, now through July 28th

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Justin Huertas’ hot-off-the-press World Premier musical, “The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion,” is a delight at ArtsWest in West Seattle. It’s sure to win you over with its unconventional take on family, love, and the most surprising, metamorphosing eruption right here in our very own Puget Sound.

The defining word that comes most to mind in reflecting on “The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion” is fantastical. Fun, frenzied, and, yes, absolutely fantastical, with highly talented actors and musical numbers that wend their way into the hearts and minds of the audience.

Interestingly, Justin’s composition for this eclectic show, “Sleep Well Love,” was his first clue that he “was writing an entire musical about love.” As a reprise for the entire cast, with its beautifully elevating lyrics, this song proves to be an absolute winner. Rachel Guyer-Mafune (Lee) and Porscha Shaw ( Nia), seriously mesmerized in their wild duet, “Tentacles,” are digitally hilarious.

Congratulations to Justin Huertas (Gregory Award-winning playwright of “Lizard Boy”), and ArtsWest’s Artistic Director Mathew Wright, for bringing this fantastical show to ArtsWest’s stage  – there’s no doubt you and your cephalopods are on the forefront of another hit in the ocean of musical theatre. Thank you!

“The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion” is currently on stage at ArtsWest in West Seattle now through July 28, 2019. Tickets available here.

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Book, music, and lyrics by Justin Huertas. Musical arrangements & orchestrations by Steven Tran. Directed by Mathew Wright.