Elevator Thoughts (aka Tweet): 110 in the Shade musical w/ Seattle Public Theatre & Reboot Theatre Company. Wonderful production that touches on what it means to be a woman … through the lens of genderblind casting! Loved the juxtaposition between life choices of nomadic adventure vs quiet stability.
Synopsis from the Theatre: Reboot Theatre Company, known for its intriguing deep dives and fresh interpretations of theater, brings to life 110 in the Shade, a beautiful exploration of love, hope, and acceptance. From the creators of The Fantasticks, 110 in the Shade is a touching and intimate musical adaptation of the hit play The Rainmaker. Set in a small western town besieged by drought, Lizzie, intelligent and independent, struggles with the societal pressure to do as a “woman” should do. One blistering hot day, Lizzie’s family urges her to marry the recently widowed Sheriff File, while charismatic stranger Starbuck comes to town with promises of being able to make it rain. Immediately suspicious, Lizzie tries to pick apart Starbuck’s story, but realizes a deeper truth about herself along the way. While the source material was written in the 1950’s, director Scot Charles Anderson will take a closer look at the seemingly simplified gender roles in classic Reboot style.
Reviewed Performance: 3/17/23 Opening Night
World Premiere: No
Several or Few Scenes: Several
Several or Few Settings: Several
Defined Plot/Storyline: Yes
Live Band/Orchestra: Yes, they also included a banjo, bass, and a fiddle for that authentic country feel. Some cast members even played instruments like the guitar and ukelele!
Recommendation: See it!
Was This the First Time I Attended a Production of this Show: Yes
Would I See It Again 3 Years from Now: Yes
Rating Compared to Other Shows with the Same Production Value:
4.75 Stars (Out of 5 Stars)
Equity Actors: 0
Total Number of Actors: 12
Length (Including Any Intermission): 2.5 hours
Other Rave(s) Not Mentioned in Elevator Thoughts
- Scenic Design: Nice rustic design with a windmill and a circular stage. Very Restoration Hardware. Who knew you could make such a great background with a bunch of two-by-fours! See pictures and video at the end of this article.
- Dramatic Climax: I’m a huge fan of scenes when a character is verbally eviscerated on-stage. The simple “you’re plain!” pronouncement toward the end of the first act conveyed the same thrilling ring as “you’re a virgin who can’t drive.”
- Delightful Characters: It was pleasure watching June Apollo Johns (Bill Starbuck) and Walden Barnett Marcus (Jimmy Curry) portray their characters on-stage. Tessa James (as the ditsy Snookie Updegraff) made the scenes with Walden even more delightful!
- Lizzy: Paris Manzanares was well-cast as the female lead character Lizzy. Paris manifested a graceful feminine energy with a good country accent. It was interesting to observe the script’s commentary on what it means to be a woman when a trans actress played the female lead. The line “if you don’t believe you’re a woman, you’re not” was particularly poignant with this casting decision. Paris’s vocal range difference from her character’s soprano melodies also didn’t detract from her performance. I loved how this production paired a trans woman opposite of a traditionally handsome/ideal cis male (the dashing Ricky Spaulding who portrayed Sheriff File). I typically don’t see a lot of those pairings in theatre or the media. It didn’t hurt that they had great chemistry too.
- A Simple Life: The message in “Simple Little Things” song rang true for me since I don’t particularly crave an exciting life … other than seeing ~3 shows per week! Some may even consider my career boring, but I kind of like boring. I also hate surprises, traveling, adrenaline rushes (like skydiving), and partying. I’m more of a homebody. “Simple Little Things” says that’s okay.
- Sound Effects: Instead of recorded audio clips, the cast and band generated most of the sound effects like radio music, a rusty windmill, a train, and an owl.
- Fireflies: It was novel how the ensemble depicted fireflies in the background during the evening scenes as they surrounded the main characters. I’m glad it gave them something to do since I kind of felt bad for them sitting on-stage excluded from the main action.
- Sound Balancing: The actors were not mic’ed and the band sometimes overpowered the singers, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the recent Rock of Ages I attended. I suggest finding a seat far away from the band like on the right side of theatre (if you face the stage). My seat was on the left side of the theatre, which was the same side as the band.
Other Musing(s) and Observation(s)
- Genderblind Casting: In true Reboot Theatre Company fashion, they “genderblindly” cast many roles. It was very woke Seattle. However, as I frequently rant in my reviews, genderblind casting in musicals is sometimes a problem if performers sing parts that were originally written for a different vocal range. As mentioned above, this thankfully wasn’t a problem with Lizzy for some strange reason (maybe they transposed for her?), but it was occasionally a problem for other cast members. Singing an octave higher or lower than the original melody usually doesn’t sound good. I don’t know a great solution for this. Gender inclusivity is important in theatre, but I also want to hear melodies without awkward vocal placement.
- Heat: For a show with a hot temperature in its name, I thought there’d be more references to heat. I feel like the only mention of heat was during the first couple of minutes. There were a lot of references to dryness/drought but that doesn’t necessarily mean hot.
- Lizzie Appearance Flaw: I was confused with what was supposedly wrong with Lizzie. The dialogue frequently mentioned that Lizzy was plain, but the actress was actually beautiful. While the wig looked nice, the actress didn’t look terrible without it. Was this mismatch of what I saw vs what I heard a commentary on how internal/external voices can negate how beautiful we truly are? They say your biggest critic is yourself. Let me know what you think in my social media comment links below!
- Gun Holster Belt: I kept worrying Sherrif File’s holster would fall! Do they usually sag so low?
Theatre Company: Reboot Theatre Company and Seattle Public Theatre
Venue: Seattle Public Theatre (aka Bathhouse Theatre)
Venue Physical Address:7312 West Green Lake Dr N, Seattle, WA 98103
Ticket Affordability Options: You can self-select ticket prices as low as $5 on the ticketing website for those who find the higher options a financial barrier to enjoying great theatre. There is also no seat placement difference between ticket prices.
Dates: March 16 to April 9, 2023
Seating: Assigned Seating
Parking: Free plentiful parking lot of Greenlake Park, which is adjacent to the theatre
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Other Video +/- Pictures: See pictures in video and under video below by Colin Madison Photography
@showsiveseen “110 in the Shade” #musical w/ @seattlepublictheater & Reboot Theatre. Wonderful production that explores what it means to be a woman … through the lens of genderblind casting! Loved the juxtaposition between life choices of nomadic adventure vs quiet stability. Based on “The #Rainmaker” play. Photos by Colin Madison. Review showsiveseen.com/4434 #theatre ♬ Lizzie’s Comin’ Home – Will Geer & Steve Roland & Scooter Teague