#SAMRemix returns to Seattle Art Museum March 29. There really is no party like an after-hours museum party!

Those of you who have been to a past #SAMRemix event probably already have your tickets for March 29th at Seattle Art Museum.

For those of you who haven’t been, here are a few reasons why to get your tickets now. There’s a reason this party always sells out. (Seriously, the event page will get flooded with “needing 2 tickets!” comments days before the event from people who waited too long.)

You can dance under the art. The gorgeous, massive, intricate art of “Middle Fork” by John Grade. That’s right – there’s a DJ’ed party under this beast.

#SAMRemix is a great opportunity to see the most current exhibitions at Seattle Art Museum. I’m particularly excited that the “Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer” exhibition is on now. It’s sexy and vibrant from what I can see from photos and I’m ready to get close to it. Video preview of “Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer“:

You can trust the #SAMRemix curators. The programming (live performances, art tours, craft projects, and more) are always fresh and fun, drawing from some of the best talent Seattle has to offer. Grab a cocktail from one of the bars, stroll through the galleries, and participate in a group art-making activity.

Brandon and I are going – see you there? (If you’re looking for me, I’ll be on the dance floor dancing to the tunes of DJ Riz, crafting, or soaking in one of my all-time favorite works of art: “Lessons from the Institute of Empathy.”

– Keridwyn

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In their own words:

“SAM Remix returns for creative late-night performances, art making, live music, and tours produced by the region’s best artists and creatives. Now celebrating more than 10 years and taking inspiration from the many exhibitions on view on at SAM, including Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer, this edition of Remix explores how we find commonality through our complex personal identities. Celebrate unifying gestures, symbols, and movements that cross genres, connect people, and strengthen our communities.”

Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/292060888132964/.

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Photos/Images via fb.com/seattleartmuseum

THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT
Dance to mixes by DJ Riz.
Make art with local artists Fox Spears and Philippe Hyojung Kim.
Watch dance performances in the galleries inspired by “Like A Hammer.”

TAKE MY FAVORITE THINGS TOURS WITH
Visual artist Anthony White.
Boxing instructor Oliver Silen.
Art and music critic Jasmyne Keimig.
Interdisciplinary arts professor Naomi Macalalad Bragin.

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Review: A spine-tingling gothic ghost story, The Woman in Black runs now through March 24 at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Review by Tony Bohn:

A good old fashioned ghost story is what you are in for at Seattle Repertory Theatre’s current production of The Woman in Black. This is a stage adaption of Susan Hill’s original 1983 novel by the same name. The show is the second longest running play on London’s West End and the story has also been adapted to television, radio, and film.

Set in Britain sometime around the earlier part of the 1900s, the story takes the audience through the spooky events surrounding the death and funeral of Mrs. Alice Drablow. Arthur Kipps, a retired solicitor, is sent to the woman’s creepy old house on an island with a causeway (surrounded by marshes) that is covered by the ocean daily when the tide comes in. What happened to Arthur there impacted him so much that he writes a play to get his story out to the public and he hires an actor to help him develop his show and rehearse his play. Arthur and the hired actor play all the roles throughout the play and the ghost story is told as they rehash the events that occurred to Arthur.

The script, costuming and set do a fantastic job of evoking the time period and describing the scene and events that occurred. The house, the marshes, the island, the ocean, the graveyard, the theater, and even the weather all seem like characters in their own right. The acting is solid and the two actors do a brilliant job of playing all the roles in the show and help the audience to be pulled into the creepy and unsettling story as the play progresses. While I wouldn’t call the show full on horror (it’s still family-friendly and there are certainly a lot of comedic moments written into the script), there are plenty of cool visual and sound effects as well as quite a few jump-scares that will have you on the edge of your seat.

The Woman in Black runs now until March 24, 2019 at Seattle Repertory Theatre in Seattle Center. More information and tickets here.

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Photo by Roger Mastroianni

Review: Rock of Ages rock-concert-comedy-musical hits all the right notes (now through 2/24 at 5th Avenue Theatre)

Review by Keridwyn Deller:
If you like music from 80s bands such as Styx, Whitesnake, Poison, Foreigner, Joan Jett, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, and more, get your tickets to what will likely be one of your favorite musical productions: Rock of Ages at The 5th Avenue Theatre.

The cast of this rock-concert-comedy-musical is stunning and brings the show to life like no other production of this show I’ve seen. Sherrie is played by Diana Huey who makes hitting those notes seem easy (you may recognize her from her performance as The Little Mermaid – she’s fantastic) – Huey makes the character very likable (which isn’t always the case in how this role has been performed in other productions).

Her love interest is played by Galen Disston (from Seattle band Pickwick – now I get what all the buzz about this musician is about! Wow!  Music fans of Starship/Jefferson Starship will recognize musician Mickey Thomas in the role of Dennis. Great casting all around. The whole ensemble truly rocks.

So does the lighting and set (the set has some fantastic built-in surprises, wait for it!). And the costumes and wigs deserve their own applause: so often this type of show will feature costumes/wigs that are cartoonish – not the case here. Look for some fun details in the costumes which will delight true 80s fans (thanks to my theatre date Joy for pointing some of them out to me!).

The star of the show is Dane Stokinger who just NAILS the role of the narrator Lonny. He OWNS it. You can feel the audience get a little bit of giddy anticipation each time he came back on stage, which, lucky for us, is often. There is a balance, flow, and connection in the cast that makes the show work so well – you get the feeling that everyone truly has fun working together to create this piece of pure entertainment. Special shout outs to Brandon O’Neill for being the rock star you love to hate, Nik Hagen for bringing the charm, and Trina Mills for being so much fun to watch in every number she’s in.

My only question is: why didn’t a kiss (only a hug?) didn’t happen between two characters like it has in other productions?!

Treat yourself. Use code DOWNTOWN for performances on 2/13 and 2/14 and get a huge discount on tickets ($20 each for great seats!)

Show runs now through February 24, 2019. Tickets and info here.

Rock of Ages at The 5th Avenue hits all the right notes and will have you smiling for days.

Can I go back again before it closes? Really, I want to. This particular production has claimed a spot in my Top-10 shows I’ve seen live (and that’s saying a lot).

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Photos by Tracy Martin

5 reasons to see “Bonbon” at Can Can in Pike Place Market – now through April 21 (NSFW show review)

Review by Keridwyn Deller

If you haven’t been to Can Can in Pike Place Market in a while, it’s time to go back. 
Their current show “Bonbon” delights audiences with a cast of five talented performers. It’s sultry and sexy with plenty of laughs mixed in for good measure. My review is for the adult-oriented NSFW version. (I haven’t seen the family-friendly version yet.)
Here are a few reasons to catch “Bonbon” at Can Can:
1) The laughs: The host Jonny Boy is delightful and truly talented at working the crowd. His smile lights up the room – he is a truly captivating performer.
2) The atmosphere: This place is gorgeous and a gem inside Pike Place Market. You truly disappear from the real world during the show – get there early and enjoy a cocktail at the bar!
3) The dancing: These are athletic performers! They are gorgeous to watch and bring their dancing out to the catwalk that runs through the center of the intimate audience area. Shout out to Shadou Mintrone for her emotive performances. I also loved her in Can Can’s “Bananas” and “Femme Fatale.” She and Madison Oliver play off each other well. This production features fabulous choreography from Fae Phalen Pink.
4) The singing: Shout out to Jordan Betchel for his rendition of “Mr. Cellophane” (WOW – he’s that beautiful and has that voice?!) and Jasmine Sim for “Bring on the Men.”
5) The vibe: I love that Can Can productions have such variety in their acts. One number will be breathtakingly sensual, the next silly and playful, followed by a visual-art piece (complete with vibrant lighting projections), and so on. You leave with a feeling of satisfaction and excitement.
I’m always surprised how many local Seattleites haven’t been to the Can Can yet. Now’s the time to start going! Sidenote:  Bananas and Femme Fatale were both incredible productions as well. I don’t want to miss any future Can Can production.
Bonbon plays The Can Can now through April 21, 2019. There are 17+ shows and 21+ shows. Tickets and info here.
Note: The family-friendly brunch Bonbon show, which I hear has almost no overlap with this production, runs now through March 24.
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Photos by Nate Watters

Review: Laughter and hijinks abound in Taproot Theatre’s Arsenic and Old Lace

Review by Joy Shumaker:
Arsenic and Old Lace at Taproot Theatre (in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood) lives up to expectations as the fantastic comedy it always has been. This timeless play and remarkable performance had audience members young and old tittering throughout the show.
The Brewsters are a truly endearing bunch! They make the community a loving priority and murder a loving gift. I am a fan of this latest rendition. Director Marianne Savell did an exquisite job executing this comedy for maximum hilarity. The Brewster sisters played by Pam Nolte and Kim Morris flawlessly deliver love loyalty and kindness as everyone’s favorite aunts. Lieutenant Rooney played by Gretchen Douma was spot on. Bring the family or come for your own laughter therapy. It’s an evening well spent.

 

Arsenic and Old Lace plays Taproot Theatre now through March 2. Tickets here.

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Photos by Erik Stuhaug

Review: M. Butterfly – The Spy Whose Desires Turned Him Inside Out (At ArtsWest now through February 17)

Review by guest blogger Joy Shumaker:

ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery has brought us many fantastic productions. M. Butterfly is definitely another one to add to the list.
It’s not every day that we get to see the internal dialogue of a complete mindset shifting. Especially because that can often take a lifetime. David Quicksall plays the main character Rene Gallimard and captures the essence of a man uncomfortable with his own feelings. Taking the audience down his recollection of how he went from a lovely harmless perch in the world to delving into his fantasies, embracing them haphazardly, and eventually losing everything to love.  Tom Dang plays supporting role Song Liling and give a lovely performance. They playfully highlight the gender roles, stereotypes, and show us how we like the blinders we keep on. 
I love the contemplation throughout this piece. The unusual tone feels more authentic to the entanglements that emerge. For an evening of unique examinations, M. Butterfly will not disappoint. Note: this production features nudity and graphic language. M. Butterfly plays ArtsWest in West Seattle, now through February 17. Tickets here.
Award-winning actor, writer, and director, Kathy Hsieh writes “5 Reasons to see M. Butterfly” here.

“With M. Butterfly David Henry Hwang joins the first string of American playwrights. This is an audaciously imaginative play, big in conception and theme, and a satisfying instance of a talented writer hitting full stride.” —Variety

“It will move you, it will thrill you, it may even surprise you. It is a play not to be missed, and it is a play once caught that will never be forgotten.” —NY Post

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Photo: David Quicksall and Tom Dang. Photo by John McLellan

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Surreal and poignant with a touch of hope: ‘Last of the Boys’ at Seattle Rep reminds us our Vets need our continued love and support (now through Feb 10)

Review of  “Last of the Boys” at Seattle Rep by guest blogger Amanda Mitchell:

A curtain of camouflage netting overlaid with a projected American flag rises slowly to reveal one of the most amazingly hyperreal stage sets I’ve ever seen: a weathered and worn retro trailer joins a landscape of sparse foliage and rolling desolate mountains. The modest homestead also includes a few out-buildings/sheds, a collection of mismatched patio furniture and fire pit, a uniform locker and a gigantic flag pole, all upon a multi-leveled foundation of gravel and desert rock – which creates ample opportunities for interesting and dynamic movement and interactions! The two most memorable pieces of G.W. (Skip) Mercier’s brilliant scenic design, however, are a fifty-year-old Frigidaire full of beer and a full-size trash dumpster full of empty bottles, both utilized ritually by old buddies and Vietnam vets Ben (Reginald Andre Jackson) and Jeeter (humorously played by Kevin Anderson).
The two men are reunited after Ben’s father’s funeral and things start to get a little complicated when Jeeter introduces his new love, Salyer (Emily Chisholm). She has her own ties to the war but cloaks them in secrecy until she dramatically bares all. When her hardened and cynical mom Lorraine (appropriately portrayed by Kate Wisniewski) comes in search of her “delinquent daughter” some unexpected softening comes through conversation and a sea-change occurs when all four have a chance to share their personal stories and confront their ghosts from the past.
Ben Zamora’s lighting design was a bright star in this production, transforming the otherwise static (yet stunningly realistic) set into multiple dimensions of time and reality – beautiful sunrises and sunsets, moonlit shadows, glowing campfires, and ghostly yet ethereal dream states!
Set at the end of the century, Steven Dietz’s ‘Last of the Boys’ reflects on the poignant reality that nearly 35 years later our nation is still very much dealing with the grave aftermath of perhaps our most controversial conflict to date. Hug your loved ones, share your stories, catch Last Of The Boys at Seattle Repertory Theatre now through February 10, 2019.
Seattle Rep: The Last of the Boys. Photo by Alabastro Photography.
Photo by Alan Alabastro