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.

 

For the Love of Bubbles! “The Champagne Widow” plays now through July 7 at Café Nordo

Review by Paul Levy

Pop some bubbly, sit back and enjoy Café Nordo’s “The Champagne Widow,” a historical journey through Champagne’s bottled up history, and the strong women who made this beloved beverage so delicious.

Café Nordo doesn’t disappoint with this sparkly, romp of a cabaret experience. The music, food, and story are overflowing with creativity and delight. Walking into Cafe Nordo’s Pioneer Square theatre/restaurant, you’re whisked away into an abandoned wine cellar, which makes sense since in this show you’re a young bottle of champagne eating your way into a fully finished bottle of Champagne’s golden bubbles. The servers, who are also the performers, serve up food inspired by the ingredients and process of becoming a bottle of bubbly.

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Between each of the multiple courses, “The Champagne Widow” tells thoughtful stories on some of Champagne’s unsung heroines. As you sip on your Brut Royal the echoes of its history surround you in the form of ghosts from Champagne’s past. The lovely ensemble of performers, led by the charming and talented Opal Peachey, dance, sing and portray the fascinating female characters who helped to create champagne. 

If you enjoy Champagne, this experience is a must see. Treat yourself to one of the flights and celebrate your love of bubbles. The show runs until Sunday, July 7th, 2019 (extended dates!) and tickets are only available for some of the remaining shows (some performances are sold out). Tickets include dinner – but not the champagne. Be sure to budget for some glasses of bubbly. In my opinion, this show requires a class of sparkling in your hand. Tickets and more information, here.

Photo by Bruce Clayton Tom

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More about our 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.

 

Giveaway: Kitten N’ Lou Present: CAMPTACULAR (July 11 – 14 at The Triple Door)

Summer means the return of Kitten N’ Lou’s CAMPTACULAR at The Triple Door.

Enter to win two tickets on their giveaway posts.

You can enter on Facebook

and enter on Instagram.

About the show in their own words:

From the producers of Jingle All The Gay and The Atomic Bombshells:

Kitten N’ Lou Present: CAMPTACULAR!

“A summer camp-y spectacle that’ll melt your face off”

Get ready for the return of the wettest hottest American-est summer show ever, now in it’s 4th year!

Kitten N’ Lou, the “World’s Show-busiest Couple” and internationally celebrated drag and burlesque duo, bring you a “brilliantly deranged” spectacle (TimeOut NY) that takes you to the campiest of summer camps, featuring an all-star cast of Seattle dance, drag, and burlesque icons including Stranger genius Cherdonna, international gender-blending icon Waxie Moon, Seattle contemporary dance stars Randy Ford and Markeith Wiley, Minneapolis drag sensation Victoria DeVille and very special guest star from Chicago, “The Honey Badger of Burlesque”….JEEZ LOUEEZ! ?

Kicking off this summer: In the grand tradition of classic and awesomely awful American summer camp movies like Meatballs, Troop Beverly Hills, and Dirty Dancing, CAMPTACULAR takes you on a surreal, hilarious, and nostalgic trip to the great outdoors, where campers roast their weenies by the fire, tell bizarre ghost stories, frolic in sleeping bags, fall in love in the moonlight, and sneak into the woods….all culminating in the most epic camp “talent show” Seattle has ever seen…these shows sold out and had audiences raving last summer, don’t miss your chance to head back to Camp!

Starring a bombastic and diverse cast of internationally celebrated theater, drag, cabaret, burlesque, and contemporary dance tastemakers, CAMPTACULAR is the ultimate stand-up-and-salute extravaganza to escape  reality and usher in the summer with a bang!

* Kitten N’ Lou * Cherdonna Shinatra * Waxie Moon * Jeez Loueez * J Von Stratton * Markeith Wiley * Woody Schticks * Victoria DeVille(MPLS) * Randy Ford ilvs Strauss * Stephen Hando *

Tickets here. 

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Don’t miss these delightful makers at Urban Craft Uprising this weekend June 22 – 23

By Keridwyn Deller

The Urban Craft Uprising summer sale is this weekend June 22 and 23 from 11am – 5pm at Seattle Center. Admission is free (suggested donation $1) and this is one of the most wonderful shopping experiences you’ll have in Seattle.

Check out their vendor map as well as their full vendor list where you can sort by category.

Here’s a few makers I think you will want to check out:

The Little Grimlings: A collection of curious monsters, mushrooms, and other creepy whatnots. These creatures are SO delightful! I love her affordable art stickers (art stickers are fun to include in birthday and thank you notes!)

Not sure which is cuter:

this pride monster

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or this “Hmph Doodle” monster

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She’s even got a monster sticker made especially for wookie fans. 😉

Be sure to welcome the grimlings’ creator, Elizabeth, to town! She recently moved to Washington after driving across the country from North Carolina “with her entire zoo of creatures in the back seat.”  I really love what she shares on her instagram at @for_the_birds – some fun behind the scenes of the making of the grimlings! The Little Grimlings also offers charming figures, such as this “Fur Nubloom.” See them in person at booth 132.

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Another vendor you’ll want to visit is Collectanea. Sarah has been doing macrame a little over a year and her work stopped me in my tracks during the last Urban Craft Uprising event I attended. I got a chance to hear a bit more about her work and plans for the future. She shared, “I love to mix the architectural/geometric wood shapes with the soft cotton cord. I started out doing boho style macrame but realized that’s not what I would hang in my house so I redesigned with a mid-century inspired aesthetic instead! Soon, I hope to incorporate some cards and posters, macrame jewelry, and wood burned pieces as well!” Not only does Collectanea have one of my favorite logos ever, the work is beautiful and is the type of art that I can picture in so many of my friends’ homes. I love how many shapes offers, from triangular wall hangings

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a great gift for the mountain-lover in your life

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to plant holders

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and much more. You can follow @Collectanea on Instagram. Be sure to stop by 29 to see the work in person!

In UCU’s own words: “You’ll find cosmetics, watches, candles, books, games and puzzles, clothing, beautiful artwork, cross-stitch kits, ceramics, jewelry, garden decor, skin care and more – we have it all!  There’s a little something for everyone, whether you’re shopping for gifts, some stylish new additions to your home, or treating yourself to some handmade goodness, this show is so well rounded and will be exciting for the WHOLE family! ”

Other makers you may want to visit during the craft show include foransuon, ryan berkley illustration, oddfaunaitscathywu, mcreativej, and jonboy caramels.

Invite your friends to the Urban Craft Uprising Facebook event page here.

 

For the enchantment of old and new audiences alike, “Wicked” plays now through July 7 at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

What fun, upon entering the theatre, to discover a colossal map of OZ (design by Francis Keeping) front and center. There’s no better way to get your bearings on the path you’ll be traversing throughout the evening. The map and a stunning, hovering dragon entertain parents and children alike while awaiting the action.

Action, as anticipated, is what “Wicked” delivers beyond compare. Embattled witches, magical flying monkeys, raging palace guards, wild denizens of the Emerald City, and so much more for your entertainment. Costuming, lighting, and sets are unbelievably creative, dazzling, and mystifying.

With all the courage, heart, and brains summoned for their adventures to and from OZ, the cast of “Wicked” enamors the audience with its rousing renditions of Steven Schwartz’s beloved musical score. Notably, of course, are the Bad Witch Elphaba (Mariand Torres) and the Good Witch Galinda (Erin Mackey) who melt hearts with their agonizing, hilarious, and forever heartwarming musical hits.

For your merriment and amusement,  purchase tickets to join these “Wicked” witches and their raucous crusaders. If you listen closely, you’ll likely catch a cleverly disguised line or two that startles you into the midst of today’s current political climate. Now until July 7th, 2019, “Wicked” tickets are available at The Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle.

Tickets start at $39. This production is also offering $25 lottery tickets in Seattle. Details, in their own words:

Two and one-half hours prior to each performance, people who present themselves at The Paramount Theatre box office will have their names placed in a lottery drum; thirty minutes later, names will be drawn for a limited number of orchestra seats at $25 each, cash only.  This lottery is available only in-person at the box office, with a limit of two tickets per person.  Lottery participants must have a valid photo ID when submitting their entry form and, if chosen, when purchasing tickets. 

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Photo by Joan Marcus 

Video clip, here.

Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre, in its thought-provoking production of “Behold the Dreamers,” encapsulates struggles faced by many who dare to dream of a better life in a distant land. Catch this timely production now through June 30th.

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

Based on Imbolo Mbue’s award-winning book “Behold the Dreamers,” Book-It Repertory Theatre immerses audiences in the intimate lives of a young immigrant family. Having uprooted their lives in Cameroon for what promises to be a better life in New York, the family encounters many unforeseen challenges.

While “Behold the Dreamers” is first and foremost a story about immigration, many inflexible issues surface to reshape the lives of the Jongas family. Race, class, and the Great Recession are added obstacles this family strives to overcome in its honest, plain-spoken manner.

Book-It’s minimalist staging for this production complements and supports the story-line and its superb cast. Sylvester Foday Kamara (as Jende) and Anjelica McMillan (as Neni) bring tremendous strength and credibility to their dynamic characters. Myra Platt’s adaptation and direction are, as always, perfection.

“Behold the Dreamers” is playing now through June 30, 2019 at Book-It Repertory Theatre in the Seattle Center. Tickets here.

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Photo by John Ulman

Bernstein & Sondheim’s “West Side Story” is rejuvenated at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre (now through June 23)

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

It was no surprise that “West Side Story” played to a full house on the opening night of its 4+ week run. The audience was abuzz in anticipation of the latest production directed by Bill Berry (5th Avenue Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director).

With The 5th Avenue’s spotlight on their Rising Star Project, The 5th has added another major dimension to the local draw for “West Side Story.” (If you’ve missed the details, they’re bringing 95 young people together to develop their own production of “West Side Story” in July.)

The musical number, “The Dance at the Gym,” rocked the stage with dynamic choreography, brilliant costuming. and surprising shimmer throughout the theatre. Danielle Marie Gonzalez, as Anita, was a standout in her characterization across the board. She, in my estimation, carried one of the most difficult scenes to new heights. A fun, light-hearted “Gee, Officer Krupke” added great comic relief and proved to be the champion crowd-pleaser of the night.

Through its age-old love story, “West Side Story” remains as timely now as ever – you can catch it on stage at The 5th Avenue Theatre in downtown Seattle, now through June 23, 2019. Tickets are going fast.

This production of “West Side Story” is presented in association with Spectrum Dance Theatre, with original choreography reproduced by Bob Richard and features a 25-piece orchestra.

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Photo by Tracy Martin