Review: Book-It’s Returning the Bones at Erickson Theatre on Capitol Hill is captivating audiences now through April 14 (and you should be one of those audience members)

Review by Keridwyn Deller:

Gin Hammond is one of the Pacific Northwest’s top vocal talents. One woman shows are hard to pull off but as soon as I saw Gin’s name attached to Book-it’s performance, I marked the date on my calendar – she is just that talented.  Gin soars as performer and author of Returning The Bones, Book-it’s current production at Erickson Theatre in Capitol Hill in Seattle, now through April 14. Get your tickets now to see this fierce, lovely, insightful, talented woman play 28 (TWENTY EIGHT!) characters in one night of theatre.

I want you to see this show. I truly enjoyed our night at the theatre and have thought of this production many times since seeing it. I loved Returning The Bones storyline, the writing, the moments of laughter, the history unveiled, the moments that help us remember how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go as a society. I’ve procrastinated writing this review because I want it to be well written, to be worth of the art that is on that stage. Gin Hammond’s “Returning the Bones” is a true gift to Seattle and I want you to see it.  If I could hit pause on my night and find the time to find more words to describe this show for you tonight, I would do it. But I can’t seem to find that pause button. And this show closes April 14 which means you only have a few shows left to see the show and this is a small theatre, friends. So I’m tossing this review up to get the word out. I recommend you get your tickets now.  (Read other reviews of the show on Book-it’s Facebook page.) Also, I want to mention this show is 90 minutes + an intermission – perfect for any night of the week. (I love shows that are under 2 hours – see earlier note about needing that pause button in life. This show is worth putting down your to-do list and taking a moment to hear Bebe’s story, eloquently told by the delightful Gin Hammond). Recommended for ages 11+.

In their own words:

“Book-It Repertory Theatre (Book-It) presents acclaimed Seattle actress Gin Hammond’s inspiring, 28-character solo play, Returning the Bones. Based on the life of Hammond’s aunt, Dr. Carolyn Beatrice Montier (aka “Bebe”), Returning the Bones brilliantly responds to one of life’s most challenging questions: How do you choose between your country, your people, and yourself? A surprisingly comical story, Returning the Bones brings us into intimate contact with the luminaries of the day including President Lyndon B. Johnson, Eleanor Roosevelt, James Baldwin, and Queen Elizabeth. Returning the Bones runs through April 14, 2019 at The Erickson Theatre on Capitol Hill.

On sharing her aunt’s remarkable life with the world, Hammond remarks, “Of all the feedback I’ve gotten for this show, my favorite is, ‘after seeing this show my husband decided he would keep fighting for something he was about to give up on.’ It’s a very different time from when I first started writing this show, but it feels more relevant than ever. I’m also excited to bring the audience on a journey to so many different countries, especially after living abroad for the past year. And, I have to confess that I’m simply looking forward to being able to spend time with the main character again; to feel her presence, her humor, her courage, and her profound ability to love.'”

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Photos by John Ulman

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Delight in “A Holiday Romance” Improv Show at Jet City Improv this December

The Holiday Romance movie genre is often quirky, cheesy, and predictable. It’s a great foundation for an improv show – taking all the things you love about holiday romances, adding more laughs, and leaving out the predictability.

Jet City’s current long-form improv production of “A Holiday Romance” is excellent, with a stellar cast and director. As one of my pals commented after the show, it makes you want to come back and see it again! The cast rotates roles every night as well (mixing up who will be the two main leads) which adds a freshness to the production. They expect tickets to sell out as we get later in the month. Shows are Thursdays and Fridays through December 21 and special Saturday matinee performances on December 8 and 15, 2018. Discounts available for military, seniors (55+), students, and groups.  Tickets and more info here. 

On a related note, check out the awesome ways that Jet City Improv supports Youth Outreach year round, here. What an awesome organization!

In their own words:

“A Holiday Romance is a schmaltzy, feel-good, over-the-top Rom Com that aims to remind everyone how sometimes you have to stop to smell the hot cocoa and evergreen as you fall in love during the Holiday Season.”

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Photo by Duncan MacDonald

Timeless, popular “Annie” delivers holiday cheer at The 5th Avenue Theatre (now through Dec 30)

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

Score your holiday tickets now for “Annie at Seattle’s festive 5th Avenue Theatre! This timeless show is on stage in all its splendor now through December 30.

Irresistible and irrepressible Annie – along with her tough and tumble orphaned sidekicks, her delightful dog Sandy, and remaining high-spirited cohorts –  delivers rich holiday cheer. The chemistry between Annie and the other orphans, as they strive to escape Miss Hannigan’s nasty deeds, is awesome. The orphans’ musical number “Fully Dressed” is magical in synchronization and pure fun.

Breathtaking backdrops of New York City are truly beautiful and equally staggering. As Annie (played by the talented Visesia Fakatoufifita the night I saw the production) finds herself in the midst of 1930’s Depression Era Hooverville, the audience is prone to reflect on similar scenarios on the streets of Seattle – all too realistic, yet bringing Annie ever closer to contemporary issues.

The welcoming, flawlessly orchestrated production of “Annie” at The 5th Avenue Theatre is pure joy. The fact that Annie” remains a timeless powerhouse in audience popularity is no surprise. Accolades to Billie Wildrick’s artistry and sparkle in directing, Kelli Foster Warder’s top-notch choreography, Caryl Fantel ’s awesome music direction, and the dynamic Creative Team. Thank you, 5th Avenue Theatre, for bringing Annie” back to Seattle!

With rave reviews in mind, you’ll want to reserve your “Annie” tickets before they’re completely sold out. Tickets are available at downtown Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre ticket office and online. Now through December 30th, 2018.

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Photos 1, 2 & 4 by Tracy Martin. Photo 3 by Mark Kitaoka 

Village Theatre’s “Matilda the Musical” personifies Roald Dahl’s high-spirited, funny, magical, and uplifting storytelling

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

Matilda the Musical is high-spirited and, in true Roald Dahl style, very funny, magical, and uplifting. Whether you see Matilda at Village Theatre in Issaquah in November or December, or in Everett in January, the experience will move and delight you.

Matilda’s cast of fourteen children, and supporting adults, delivers an action-packed show that charms the audience with its physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding antics.

Nava Ruthfield, as the extraordinary Matilda, is remarkable in her ability to carry the demanding lead role without missing a beat. Chris Ensweiler, as Matilda’s abhorrent father, proves to be the perfect antagonist.

The orchestration is superb in each of the anticipated Matilda numbers. While “Naughty” and “Revolting Children” are standouts, the joy-filled “When I Grow up” is an all-around masterpiece in creativity.

 

Matthew Smucker, Matilda’s Scenic Designer, nails it with delightfully engaging sets. Large cursive alphabet and heavily-laden bookshelves dominate the stage to the amusement of children and adults.

A perfect holiday gift for children of all ages, you may purchase your tickets now for the terrifically zany Matilda. Currently playing at Issaquah’s Village Theatre now through December 30, 2018, Matilda will also play at Everett Performing Arts Center from January 4 through February 3, 2019.

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Photos by Mark Kitaoka

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

Affordable holiday fun: A(n Improvised) Christmas Carol at Unexpected Productions!

Looking for an awesome holiday event that doesn’t break the bank and is family-friendly? Unexpected Productions (the theatre in Pike Place Market next to the gum wall!) presents “A(n Improvised) Christmas Carol” – the improv twist on the popular classic – now through 12/23! My hubby Brandon and I are taking my family –  my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and two nieces (age 14 and 11) to see this awesome production and share many laughs together. I have a feeling this may become a new holiday tradition for us! Brandon and I saw this production a few years ago and loved it. Every show is different, as they ridiculously twist the tale in directions from audience suggestions. This production offers two casts and we will see the show when one of our favorite improv actors, Paul Levy, is performing as Scrooge.

Tickets are selling out fast for the shows! December 16 is already sold out and most of the performances (Dec 9-10, 14-15, 17-23) are more than half-sold out already.

Tickets here.

Tickets are super affordable compared to other holiday productions in town, guests ages 21+ can enjoy a nicely-priced drink from the bar. Oh, did I mention they have popcorn and other snacks at concessions? Leave room for popcorn!
Support this local theatre by helping to spread the word! RSVP “Interested” or “Going” to the Facebook event page here.
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“Based on audience suggestions, the improvisers of Unexpected Productions bend and twist Charles Dickens’ tale of Ebenezer Scrooge in all sorts of hilarious directions — and each show is different. Maybe Scrooge owns a pet store, maybe the Ghost of Christmas Past is a film noir detective, maybe Tiny Tim isn’t so tiny and maybe the ghosts show Scrooge the error of his ways, but maybe not!

Traditionally, as with other fully improved shows, every show is the different every night, based completely on audience suggestions. Audiences are encouraged to let their imagination run wild. [The cast has] to incorporate the more than 30-plus audience suggestions to recreate the plot and nuance the story.” – Unexpected Productions

Review: 5th Avenue Theatre’s “Holiday Inn” is pure joy!

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

‘Tis the Season for Irving Berlin’s “Holiday Inn” at The 5th Avenue Theatre! Chock full of classic much-loved song and dance, this timely performance takes many of us back to the fondest of childhood memories.

The story line, for those unfamiliar, transports the audience to a Connecticut farm where Jim (Eric Ankrim) has moved to escape the demands of show business and love gone wrong. Exquisite detail in farmhouse, barn, church, and country set-designs (by Anna Louizos) are deliciously inviting – the perfect setting for the spirit of Christmas as snow flurries descend.

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The high-spirited song and dance Ensemble, choreographed by James A. Rocco, is pure joy throughout the show.  Jim, Linda (Sarah Rose Davis), Ted (Matt Owen), and Ensemble, deliver difficult, outstanding tap routines with extraordinary ease.

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While the audience refrained (mostly) from singing along with well-known tunes, I was intrigued by the preteen girl next to me who softly joined in a time or two. Wouldn’t an audience sing-along be a delightful addition to this show’s ending!

Holiday Inn” plays The 5th Avenue Theatre now through December 31. Tickets here.

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Photos by Mark Kitaoka