The homecoming of “Million Dollar Quartet” at Village Theatre delights, rocks, and exhilarates audiences of all ages.

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Anytime audience members collectively share their exuberance with strangers while exiting a theatre, you know a pinnacle of perfection has been achieved. This was exactly the scenario after Friday night’s “Million Dollar Quartet” at Village Theatre in Issaquah where everyone was on their feet dancing for the last 15-20 minutes of peerless rock and roll and electrifying antics.

Who, at the time, would have dreamed the reenactment of a recording company’s 1956 jam session with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins would spark audiences around the globe for over six decades?  Village Theatre’s captivating history with “Million Dollar Quartet” stretches back to its premiere during the 2006 Village Originals Festival of New Musicals. With praise to the current production team’s brilliance in collaboration, “Million Dollar Quartet” promises another unparalleled hit for Village Theatre in Issaquah and Everett.

Accolades to Jerry Lee Lewis!  Oh, wait! That wasn’t the real Jerry Lee Lewis? Meet John Countryman, who blew the audience away with his impersonation of Lewis, once described as “rock and rolls first great wild man.” Wild and crazy, John Countryman as Lewis oozed fun, and grit, and natural talent with his every move.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to revel in the reunion of the dynamic “Million Dollar Quartet” this time around. Join in the exquisite fun and laughter of the show that ends with a crowd-dancing ovation. “Million Dollar Quartet” plays Village Theatre in Issaquah now through June 23, 2019 and in Everett June 28-July 29, 2019. Tickets here

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Photo by Mark Kitaoka

This school is rockin’!  Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash hit “School of Rock” fires up audiences. Now through May 19 at The Paramount

Review by Tony Bohn:

Based on the 2003 bestselling movie by the same name, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “School of Rock” opened last night as a part of the KeyBank Broadway season at The Paramount in downtown Seattle.  Nominated for four 2016 Tony awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, and Best Leading Actor, “School of Rock” follows the story of a wannabe rock star named Dewey Finn.  In desperate need of money to pay rent to his best friend who he lives with, he conspires to earn the money by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school.  Woefully unprepared and unqualified to teach normal school subjects, he proceeds to transform his class of high achievers into a mind-blowing full-on rock band while turning on the charms and falling for the school’s headmistress.

Filled with catchy original rock musical tunes by Webber, and a hilarious script, this show will keep you entertained and rocking in your seat for the duration.  Merritt David Janes as Dewey Finn does a spot-on imitation of Jack Black from the original movie, while also bringing his own sense of flair and updates to the role.  The best part of the show has got to be the remarkably talented and adorable kids that make up the rock band.  They will blow your mind as they sing, dance, and jam on stage with guitars, keyboards, drums, and bass, and I couldn’t get enough of them!

In a time when so many arts programs get cut in education, School of Rock is a family-friendly affair that shows us why music can still be a crucial tool in driving a child’s creativity and why letting kids be kids and have fun playing, can result in more well-rounded and happy children.  School of Rock plays at the Paramount now through Sunday May 19, 2019.  More information and tickets can be found here.

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Photo by Evan Zimmerman

“Nina Simone: Four Women” is a must-see. A riveting glimpse into the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. At Seattle Repertory Theatre now through June 2

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Through determination and stamina, following the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama bombings in which four young African American girls were murdered, a resilient and determined Nina Simone channels her musical gifts in a manner that bewilders those around her. “Nina Simone: Four Women” plays The Seattle Repertory Theatre in Seattle Center now through June 2, 2019. 

Nina and three very diverse women find themselves in the shell of the 16th Street Church,  grappling with the devastation in divisive and conflicting manners that cast doubts on each other. Each woman’s self-identity fluctuates according to the disparities in her background and the shade of her skin.

While Jennifer Zeyl’s stark staging transports the audience into the midst of the bombed-out church, it’s as though the four young girls whose lives were lost are ever present in spirit. Shontina Vernon is high-spirited in her role as Nina Simone, while Shaunyce Omar anchors the show in her brilliant portrayal of Sarah.

The Seattle Rep invites audiences to join in “a series of enlightening, empowering, and engaging events” with ties to current injustices. Striking similarities of the 1960s and today’s conflicted societies are unfathomable. This point was driven home in the post-play discussion of current atrocities in our local and national surrounds.

For more information on “Nina Simone: Four Women,” including tickets, special events, and post-show discussions, visit seattlerep.org. You have through June 2nd to secure seats for this heart-wrenching, thought-provoking performance at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

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Photo by Nate Watters

GIVEAWAY: The Atomic Bombshells: Lost in Space (at The Triple Door May 8 – 11)

The Atomic Bombshells are hosting a giveaway right now for their upcoming show, “The Atomic Bombshells: LOST IN SPACE” at The Triple Door in downtown Seattle. The show plays May 8 – 11, 2019. This charming, funny, delightful, “cheeky” burlesque show is one of my favorites and I’m looking forward to making this a fun date night out!

You can enter the giveaway on Facebook here.

You can enter the giveaway on Instagram here.

About the show, in their own words: Back at the Triple Door by popular demand, the Atomic Bombshells’ Lost in Space is an out-of-this-world show by one of the world’s best-known burlesque troupes. Named “the city’s most dazzling burlesque troupe” by Seattle Weekly, these award-winning entertainers return with a revamped run of their most over-the-top show to date. These frisky gals and guys are ready to take you on a space-age voyage filled with alluring aliens, bodacious Barbarellas and planetary princesses set to an otherworldly retro-future soundtrack. Blast off with Seattle’s burlesque all-stars when their glittering sci-fi spectacle brings you an intergalactic evening of fun, hilarious and sexy musical entertainment.

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The Paramount in Seattle announces their 2019/2020 Season of Musicals!

The Paramount in downtown Seattle announced their 2019/2020 season of musicals with a mix of classics and new direct-from-Broadway shows!

Share in the comments or on our Facebook post which shows YOU’RE most excited to see! I look forward to hearing from you.

Here’s the full lineup (check out below for the shows I’m personally most looking forward to and then read on for show descriptions):

CHICAGO (Season Option) September 19 – 22, 2019

MISS SAIGON October 29 – November 3, 2019

THE HARD NUT December 6 – 15, 2019

SUMMER: THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL December 31, 2019 – January 5, 2020

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF January 14 – 19, 2020

Disney’s FROZEN February 7 – March 1, 2020

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG  April 21 – 26, 2020

THE BOOK OF MORMON (Season Option)* May 19 – 31, 2020

ANASTASIA June 16 – 21, 2020

MEAN GIRLS August 4 – 9, 2020

It’s probably no surprise to those who know me that the shows I’m most excited for are Disney’s Frozen and The Play That Goes Wrong! Brandon sent me a youtube clip of The Play That Goes Wrong earlier this year and we were in stitches – I look forward to seeing the full production. And Frozen was clearly written with the intention of becoming a Broadway show, so that’s just a given. Chicago is a fantastic musical too – of the shows that I’ve already seem from this list, it’s the one I’m most likely to see again.

Photo: Jeremy Daniel

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GIVEAWAY: Chinook Book’s Heart of Seattle Awards Party brings food, wine, beer & cocktails on April 4.

Update: Winner has been contacted. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Chinook Book’s Heart of Seattle tasting event is April 4 at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion.

“Featuring amazing chef creations and craft wine, beer and cocktails from local farm-to-table purveyors and the announcement of our 2019 Heart of Seattle Award Winners.”

Chinook Book exists in print and app form and offers a ton of great deals around Seattle. Their special “Heart of Seattle” Awards Party is April 4 (5:30pm VIPs, 6:30pm General Admission).

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Want a chance to win 2 GA tickets to attend this event? Good news: you can enter

Here on Facebook – simply follow Seattle Pockets on FB, like the giveaway post and tag a friend in the comments. You can tag up to 5 friends for up to 5 entries (one tag per comment).

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Here on Instagram – simply follow @Keridwyn on Instagram, like the giveaway post and tag a friend in the comments. You can tag up to 5 friends for up to 5 entries (one tag per comment).

I’m particularly excited to taste bites from Chaco Canyon Cafe, Tutta Bella, and Bluebird Ice Cream and sip drinks from Seattle Cider Co, Elliot Bay Brewing Company, and Finnriver Farm & Cidery.

“Delectable bites from Tilth Catering, Porkchop & Co, Chaco Canyon Cafe, Tutta Bella, Miri’s Catering, Manu’s Bodega, Sprigy, Hama Hama, Honest Biscuits, Pike Place Fish Market, Loki Fish Co., Firefly Kitchens, Bluebird Ice Cream, Indi Chocolate, and Bow Hill Blueberries Delicious beverages from eleven winery, Elliot Bay Brewing Company, Two Beers Brewing, Seattle Cider Co., Sound Craft Seltzer, Lantern Brewing, Bluewater Organic Distilling, Timber City Ginger Beer, Sky River Meadery, Finnriver Farm & Cidery, and The Works Seattle.”

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Giveaway ends 3/28/19 at 11:59pm Pacific Time.

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