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

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Powerful and Timely: Tony-Award Winning Musical Dear Evan Hansen moves audiences at The Paramount until Feb 2nd

Review by Tony Bohn:

Dear Evan Hansen is the much-talked-about contemporary musical currently running at The Paramount until February 2nd. With six 2017 Tony award wins including Best Musical, a 2018 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, the soundtrack coming in at number 8 on the Billboard 200 (as well as a remix of one of the songs coming in at number 1 on the Billboard Dance Club chart), not to mention a slew of award-winning collaborators – book by Steven Levenson, music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land and The Greatest Showman) and direction by Michael Greif (Rent and Next to Normal) – I was very excited to check out the hype surrounding this production, and it did not disappoint.

A modern coming of age story set with a backdrop of social media projections, the story follows the life of a high school teenager named Evan Hansen as he struggles to fit in and find his place in a world that is not so easy to navigate. A strong ensemble cast, brilliant book, and powerful score highlight Evan’s journey as he grapples with the ever-increasing dilemma he finds himself in as one horrible lie leads to another until it climaxes in a very public and personal way. Dear Evan Hansen does an outstanding job of balancing comedy with drama to move the story along, and all actors give magnificent performances. The show deals with many themes and a variety of issues including mental health, suicide, family dynamics, self-esteem, social anxiety, social media and communication in the digital age, and the universal truth of finding your own voice. This is a multi-generational production in which everyone can relate to some aspects presented. At some point we all deal with the battle within ourselves to belong and fit in, finding the self confidence to manifest what we want in our lives, feeling like we are alone, invisible or unloved, and ultimately learning to love ourselves regardless of what others think, say or feel about us or what we have done in life.

This is a show that you will want to take a child, parent, friend or other family members (and probably some tissues) to, and it definitely provides an opening for a dialog about some of the issues mentioned. It is also a show that will probably have you doing some self-examination into your own life (I know it did for me!). For more information on dates, showtimes, and tickets, please go here.

1 - Ben Levi Ross as 'Evan Hansen' and the Company of the First North American Tour of Dear Evan Hansen. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2018.jpg

PS If you are on a budget, the show is hosting day-of lotteries for $25 tickets. Details here. 

Giveaway: Toast of Seattle (Networking Event)

There are few events that will get me out of bed earlier than my regular routine requires. Toast of Seattle is one of those special events! This Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce networking event returns January 25 (this time at Residence Inn Seattle Downtown). Read on for your chance to get a FREE ticket to join me for this wonderfully formatted networking event.

Why is Toast of Seattle so special? It’s format. You start by finding a table to sit at while you enjoy breakfast. Then, after some opening remarks, you network in a “speed-dating” inspired way: each person has 2 minutes to talk about their business. At the end of the round, everyone changes tables (you open up an envelope that shows you what table to go to next, no decision making required) and starts again. They guarantee you meet over 20 people in 2 hours. The structure makes networking efficient, productive, fun, and easy.

I’ve made some wonderful connections at past Toast of Seattle events. The style of the networking event takes a lot of the pressure off that can come with more open-format mixing and mingling. It’s a really delightful way to start your day!

Are you looking to network more in 2019? Enter to win a ticket to January 25th’s Toast of Seattle!

To enter:

  1. Use this link to visit their webpage & read more details about the event and venue
  2.  Comment on the SeattlePockets Facebook post here. You can comment by sharing what benefits you’re looking for from networking, a little about your business, tag a friend, or just write “I’m interested!”

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Giveaway ends 1/16/19 at 11:59pm Pacific Time. Winner will be contacted 1/17/19. Prize is 1 ticket to Toast of Seattle in January, cannot be exchanged or refunded.

 

Exciting, memorable, and stunning: Disney’s The Lion King at The Paramount is a true joy.

One of my all-time favorite musicals, Disney‘s The Lion King, is back in Seattle at The Paramount Theatre now through January 6. Walking into this gorgeous theatre is a gift in itself. Seeing the incredible costumes and puppetry in this production is a jaw-dropping experience. The cast of this tour is incredibly strong – we loved Mpume Sikakane (who was the understudy performing on Press Night) as Rafiki. Her powerful voice and stage presence are captivating. Also notable were Danielle Jalade as Young Nala, Jared Dixon as Simba, and Nia Holloway as Nala, and Thabani Buthelezi (Ensemble – notably in the purple and yellow outfit in Act Two’s opening number “One by One.”
There’s a reason this is Broadway’s third longest running show in history & the highest grossing Broadway production of all time: it’s a wonderful production on so many levels. The puppetry and costuming alone are worth the ticket price. The scenes with the entire company on stage as birds and four-legged creatures are moving and powerful. Somehow, the choreography, costuming, and performances have enough magic to make even grass interesting to watch!
Fun fact: Julie Taymor became the first woman to win Best Direction of a Musical Tony Award for her direction of The Lion King on Broadway. The show also won a Tony for best Choreography that same year.
If you’re a fan of The Lion King movie and haven’t seen this production, treat yourself and a loved one to this production. My +1 for the night, my dear friend Rusty, had very high expectations and they were absolutely met. It was such a joy in itself to sit next to him as he saw this production for the first time. At once point, he leaned in and whispered “I am having SUCH a great time” with such glee on his face. “Ooh there’s more!” he clapped as the powerful number opened Act Two. As I walked up the aisle during intermission, I heard many comments of awe and wonder shared by other audience members, including one woman who was telling her friend “I think my mouth has been open in amazement from the start of the show!” I can relate.
Having already seen the show, I wasn’t sure if the magic would still be there for me, but it absolutely was. I would see this show every year if I had the chance. And, yes, I have been singing “Oh I just can’t waaaaait to be king” in the streets of Seattle all month.
The show runs through January 6 and you’ll want to buy your tickets now.
(Note: on Saturday, January 5 at 2pm there will be a Sensory Friendly Performance. This performance is for individuals with sensory, social and learning disabilities and their families. Slight adjustments to the performance will be implemented such as reduction in jarring sounds and elimination of strobe lights focused into the audience. For more information, including how to purchase tickets, please visit stgpresents.org/access.)
I love this show. I just watched the montage video again and got chills again just with those opening lyrics. “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba Sithi uhm ingonyama.”
Seriously. Take a peek:
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Photo by Brinkhoff Mogenburg

Crowd-wowing performer Lady Rizo returns to Seattle for one night only! September 25 at The Triple Door

It’s no secret that Lady Rizo is one of my all-time favorite performers. Yup, I’ve gushed about her on this blog in the past in true fan-girl-fashion. Maybe you saw her at Teatro Zinzanni or at a previous show at The Triple Door. If you did, you are probably already clicking through to get those tickets now. Because she is ALWAYS worth pulling yourself out of your routine and into the audience to see what magic she’ll be bringing to the stage. Haven’t seen her live yet? Be sure to come back to this my blog to gush about how much you love her after you see this show!

Her new show “Lady, Lady, Lady” plays Seattle for only one night at The Triple Door on September 25, 2018. She’ll be “raising the feminine divine” with a “new raucous night of songs written by women. From Grace Slick to Sia, from Peggy Lee to Biork– in an industry dominated by men we celebrate the tunes penned by chicks.”

Tickets here. It’s worth it.

Already snagged your tickets? Invite your friends to the Facebook event page here.

rizo

 

Love cider? The BIG Cider Summit Seattle features 150+ ciders – Sept 7 & 8.

Calling all fellow cider lovers! South Lake Union is the place to be this Friday & Saturday, September 7 & 8, 2018, for a special Cider Summit Seattle event.

This year, ticket buyers will have twice the amount of tasting tickets than they had last year, which gives you a chance to try even more delicious ciders (50+ producers will be pouring 150+ ciders, cider cocktails, and apple spirits). 75% of the producers are from the Northwest and the event will also feature some international ciders to sip. This is the event if you love cider – you’re sure to leave with some new favorites and knowledge about this wonderful drink.

You’ll also be able to enjoy bites from sponsor Capitol Cider (locally owned gluten-free restaurant on Capitol Hill).

This event is both Friday and Saturday and you can attend both days with one ticket! General admission tickets include 16 tasting tickets and VIP tickets include 24 tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets are available for purchase. Details and tickets here.

Already going? RSVP on the Facebook event page here and invite friends!

cider

21+ Event Review: “Femme Fatale” at Can Can is a most memorable evening!

Review by Keridwyn Deller:
If you’re 21+ and like your performances that are more on the risque side, you won’t want to miss out on their current show “Femme Fatale.” Part live-music, part burlesque, part sensual dance, part feels-like-being-in-a-music-video experience, this production is truly delicious (also delicious? The crab cakes on their menu. Food and drink is served during this event).
Local singer “Prom Queen” joins Can Can cast members Jonny Boy, Shadou, JJ Jones, and Jordan for a memorable live performance in the heart of Pike Place Market.
I had the chance of asking cast members Jonny Boy and Shadou a few questions. Get your tickets now, then check out my interview with them:
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Q: The tone of your performances often shifts from funny, to sexy, to emotionally intense. Which kinds of scenes do you enjoy performing most? Why?
Jonny Boy: I love how we are able to switch moods so quickly during our shows. If I had to be just one thing I would get bored oh-so quickly. I love luring the audience into seeing me as just a clown, then spending three and a half minutes performing a seductive tango with Shadou. I love the balance. If our shows weren’t balanced with seduction, humor, and emotion, I don’t think they would be as honest — and if there is anything to crave from a performer, it’s honesty.
Shadou: The most enjoyable parts of each show shifts for me on a nightly basis. To be honest it depends on how I am feeling, what I have experienced that day, and what the audience is responding to. Sometimes they will LOVE the comedic elements of the show, and other times it’s the sensual duets that get them going. It’s all entertaining for me, and there isn’t a preference as to which side of it I’d prefer to do more or less of. The best part of Can Can as a performer, in my opinion, is that the shows are so expansive in virtue. We do our best to reach every aspect of vaudeville theatre to current trends in live performance, and every minute on stage is different from the last. My motto is “never try to recreate the same moment”.
Q: The can-can is a unique venue, what do you enjoy most about performing there?
Jonny Boy:  I love the intimacy of Can Can. The audience is so close that it doesn’t feel like the separation between patron and performer exists. More so it feels like we are all trying to make that particular night something special. The audience and I want the same thing and its relearning every night how we get there. The challenge and the joy that comes from its accomplishment are why I’m obsessed with performing at Can Can.
Shadou: The intimacy! There is a difference in dancing AT people and dancing FOR people. At Can Can, everyone and everything is so close. The audience, the other dancers, servers, food, drinks, chairs, ceiling . . . everything! It’s a playground for the performers and it makes everything so exciting.
Q: What sets Femme Fatale apart from other recent productions? What sort of mood does this show leave the audience with? 
Jonny Boy: Femme Fatale is amazing! Prom Queen is a force to be reckoned with and our dancers are incredible. We’re continuing to push how we use the space and developed all new apparatus for the dancers to show off their skills on. Simply put, it is a completely new experience for our audience!
Shadou: Femme Fatale is an entirely new process for Can Can. We have the moving parts of song and dance with the surprise elements we love to pack into every show (apparatus, lighting, projections etc). But there is something extremely alluring about the seductiveness of this particular production. The inspiration of Mata Hari (who was such a gorgeous performer, and the original Femme Fatale) has captivated me throughout this process. I love how relevant her story is to what our world is going through right now. As a female in this industry, and frankly on this planet, it is so amazing to be able to recreate our own version of that story and let it shift how we perform. The show isn’t necessarily message driven in that way, but I love the aspect of being inspired internally by who Mata Hari was as a human. The second part of this production is Prom Queen! She is representing our own Mata Hari, and has this amazing voice that just sits in your soul. The production team has catered the creation to fit her vibe. Musically, there are components that are very Prom Queen as well as keeping the electronic elements along with instrumentation unlike a lot of the music we have used before. Outside of the music/vocals, the choreography has been taken to a whole new level. Our space is so unique, as mentioned before, but the real journey with this show is watching how we transform it. So even if you’ve seen a show at Can Can, this is entirely different in how we utilize everything from the catwalk to the back walls. We do our best to pull out all of the stops with each new production, and in my opinion Femme Fatale is one of both physical grace and production dynamics unlike anything we have done on our stage! The creative team is brilliant and the collaborators both on and off stage have resumes anyone would be jealous of. Needless to say, I am beyond thrilled to be a part of the team!
Learn more about the show and get tickets here. Femme Fatale plays now through September 30.
See more photos on Can Can’s Instagram at instagram.com/cancanseattle.
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