Preview Post – Sister Act – Musical – Taproot Theatre

Happy opening weekend to Taproot Theatre’s Sister Act musical production. Performing until 8/10. Stay tuned for my full review! #nun #nuns #disco #sisterAct

Tickets: https://taproottheatre.org/shows/2024/sister-act/

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Girl from the North Country – Musical – Review – Paramount Theatre

@showsiveseen @Girl From the North Country jukebox #musical featuring Bob Dylan's eclectic songs at @Seattle Theatre Group's Paramount Theatre. Reminiscent of Portlandia hipsters. Tight harmonies & great solo voices. Good second act climax. Performing till 6/30. Review: showsiveseen.com/8927 #BobDylan #showsiveseen #theatre ♬ Duquesne Whistle / Señor (Tales of Yankee Power) / Is Your Love In Vain? / License to Kill (Reprise) – Girl from the North Country Ensemble & Luba Mason & Todd Almond & Caitlin Houlahan & Marc Kudisch & Colton Ryan

Elevator Thoughts (aka Tweet): Girl from the North Country jukebox musical featuring Bob Dylan’s eclectic songs. Reminiscent of Portlandia hipsters. Tight harmonies & great solo voices. Performing till 6/30.

Recommendation
See it if you’re familiar with Bob Dylan’s music.


Synopsis from the Licensor or Theatre Company: Girl From The North Country is the Tony Award®-winning new musical that the Chicago Tribune declares is “a Broadway revelation!” Written and directed by celebrated playwright Conor McPherson and featuring Tony Award-winning orchestrations by Simon Hale, Girl From The North Country reimagines 20 legendary songs of Bob Dylan as they’ve never been heard before, including “Forever Young,” “All Along The Watchtower,” “Hurricane,” “Slow Train Coming,” and “Like A Rolling Stone”. It’s 1934 in Duluth, Minnesota. We meet a group of wayward travelers whose lives intersect in a guesthouse filled with music, life and hope. Experience this ‘profoundly beautiful’ production (The New York Times) brought to vivid life by an extraordinary company of actors and musicians.

My Synopsis (No Spoilers): This musical is about a group of people in the Midwest during the Great Depression. Their lives already suck and are at the precipice of implosion. Will they survive?

Attended Performance Date: Opening Night 6/26/24 – If you want to see this show, buy your tickets now since it leaves Seattle after 6/30.

Type: Jukebox Musical – But it strangely exuded the energy of a play more than a musical.

World Premiere: No

Several or Few Scenes: Several

Several or Few Settings/Locations: Several rooms in a guesthouse

Static (Stationary) Set? Mostly no

Prior Exposure/Knowledge Required: You should be familiar with Bob Dylan’s songs or his style to enjoy this musical. I’m not familiar with his music and I didn’t recognize any songs except one. Personally, I don’t see what’s so great about his music and why others consider him a musical legend. The emperor is naked. Blasphemy, I know.

Defined Plot/Storyline: Yes

Live Band/Orchestra: Yes, and occasionally the actors would play instruments like the drums as well.

Equity Actors: All

Total Number of Actors: 17

Perceived Pace of the Show: Slow

Was there an intermission? Yes

Length (Including Any Intermission): 2.5 hours

Was This the First Time I Attended a Production of this Show? Yes

Would I See It Again 3 Years from Now? No

Mainstream Appeal: Low

Other Rave(s) Not Mentioned Above

  • Drummer: It was refreshing to see a dolled up glamourous lady (Jill Van Velzer who also played Mrs. Burke) as a drummer, which contrasted from societal expectations. It reminded me of when Jen Leigh played the guitar in MJ: The Musical. Girl power!
  • Second Act Tragedy (No Spoiler): The shocking climax of the second act was well-devised. It slowly unfolded with dread and tragedy, leading up to Elias Burke’s (played by Kyle Sherman) bright glorious rendition of “Duquesne Whistle” with a lively black-like gospel choir. I was longing for scenes like this during the majority of the sleepy, visually-dark musical.
  • Voices: While I’m no fan of Bob Dylan’s music, I must admit that the actors sang in tight harmonies and good solo. Sharaé Moultrie (as Marianne Laine) effortlessly showcased her voice throughout the musical. I was also a huge fan of the retro girl-group harmonies.

Rant(s)

  • Scenic Design: It was way too simple for a national profit-generating tour from Broadway. Parts of the set looked simple enough for community theatre.
  • Lighting: It was way too dark. I recognize that the designers wanted a specific motif, but what’s the point of the motif if the audience can’t see actors well? I was sitting within the first 10 rows. So, I pity the audience members in the balcony. They probably saw nothing.
  • Story: The story and dialogue were difficult to follow and sometimes mildly bizarre.
  • Audience Reaction: An alarming mass exodus left at intermission. It was the largest mid-show exit I’ve ever seen at the Paramount Theatre. I eavesdropped on the leaving patrons, and they said, “This show is a bit of a snoozer.” and “It didn’t make any sense. I don’t know what I was watching.” Sadly, I agree with their negative sentiments. I hypothesize that the Bob Dylan association was the only thing keeping this show in production. I only feel sorry for the performers who were obviously talented but didn’t receive the full patronage and recognition they deserved. Unfortunately, they were tragic casualties of many wrong things with this production, book, and music. But on the bright side, there was no bathroom line. Plus, the people sitting in front of me left at intermission. So, I saw the stage better in the second act. However, I’m afraid they missed out a little since the second act was better than the first act.

Other Musing(s) and Observation(s)

  • Energy/Style: Throughout this musical, I kept thinking about plain white bread, rural cults (like in the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt TV show), folksy-ness, Portlandia hipster posers, and country.
  • Music: While I wasn’t a fan of Bob Dylan’s music, I appreciated the eclectic nature of his style since it was difficult to pinpoint his genre. It was a mix of soul, americana, folk, gospel and country. It reminded me of Norah Jones’ music from her later years. But while I love Norah Jones (she’s one of my top 3 favorite artists), her music is sleepy, just like the music in this show. Thus, no one should turn her music into a musical. Girl from North the County desperately needed more contrast of energetic songs like “Duquesne Whistle.”
  • Selling Out: As a pragmatic person, I was rooting for Marianne and Gene Laine (played by Ben Biggers) to sell out. Gurrrl, get that bag!

Theatre Company: National Tour Sponsored by Broadway Across America and Seattle Theatre Group

Venue: Paramount Theatre

Venue Physical Address: 911 Pine St, Seattle, WA 98101

Price: $8 to $125 + Ticketmaster Fees

Tickets: https://www.ticketmaster.com/artist/3007857?venueId=122980&brand=paramountseattle

Ticket Affordability Options: Seattle Theatre Group might partner with an organization you’re affiliated with for discount tickets. For example, I believe UW employees/students are eligible for an organization discount.

Dates: June 25 to June 30, 2024

Seating: Assigned Seating

Parking: Paid street parking and paid garage parking. The best parking garage is under the convention center w/ the entrance on Pike around the Pike and Terry intersection. Last I checked, this is one of the cheapest, least busy, and closest garages. Alternatively, you can probably find street parking as you move closer to the West Precinct (810 Virginia St, Seattle, WA 98101). Do NOT park where the Paramount subscribers park. Last I checked, they usually park in the garage attached to the Cheesecake Factory. It’ll take you at least 30 minutes to exit that garage after the show.

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Pictures: See pictures below by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

The cast of the GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY North American tour. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.
L-R Ben Biggers, Sharaé Moultrie, Jennifer Blood and John Schiappa in the GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY North American Tour. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.
Jay Russell and Sharaé Moultrie in the GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY North American tour. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.
Chiara Trentalange and Ben Biggers in the GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY North American Tour. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.
Chiara Trentalange (center) and the cast of the GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY North American tour. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.
Aidan Wharton and the cast of the GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY North American Tour. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.
(L-R) Aidan Wharton, David Benoit, Jennifer Blood and Jeremy Webb in the GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY North American tour. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Spring Awakening – Musical – Review – The 5th Avenue Theatre

@showsiveseen @Steven Sater's & @theduncansheik's "Spring Awakening" #angsty #comingOfAge #rock #musical at @The 5th Avenue Theatre. Starring @Caitlin & Ricky Spaulding. Shockingly #risque horny #highSchool #teens going through #puberty raging w/ #hormones. Down with the parentocracy/adultocracy! Performing until 6/30. #SpringAwakening #showsiveseen #theatre #edgy #teenagers #adolescence ♬ Mama Who Bore Me – Elizabeth Woolf

Elevator Thoughts (aka Tweet): Spring Awakening angsty coming-of-age rock musical at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Shockingly risque horny high school teens going through puberty raging w/ hormones. Down with the parentocracy/adultocracy! Performing until 6/30. #teenagers #edgy

Recommendation
See it, especially if you enjoy either 1) dark musicals like Lizzie, 2) rock musicals like American Idiot, 3) or stories with dramatic angsty emo teenagers who believe “nobody understands me and adults suck.”


Synopsis from the Theatre or Licensor: Spring Awakening is an electrifying journey through the trials and challenges of adolescence, with music by Duncan Sheik (Barely Breathing). Winner of eight Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, the story explores the mystery of attraction, desire, sex, insecurity, and the highs and lows of navigating the pressures of young adult life. With a score of contemporary rock music that transformed the way Broadway thinks about musicals, Spring Awakening is a poignant and thrilling ride that stings with resonance for today’s youth.

Attended Performance Date: Opening Weekend 6/14/24 – Keep your eyes peeled for preview posts on my website and social media if you want earlier notification of shows I’ve seen. Buy your tickets now since the run ends 6/30.

Type: Musical

World Premiere: No

Several or Few Scenes: Several

Several or Few Settings/Locations: Several

Static (Stationary) Set? Mostly yes

Prior Exposure/Knowledge Required: No

Defined Plot/Storyline: Yes

Live Band/Orchestra: Yes

Equity Actors: All

Total Number of Actors: 13 … plus 2 pit singers apparently? That’s new to me … I kind of approve!

Perceived Pace of the Show: Medium speed

Was there an intermission? Yes

Length (Including Any Intermission): 2.25 hours

Was This the First Time I Attended a Production of this Show? No, I saw it twice at Basement Theatricals (at 12th Ave Arts) and then at Cornish College of the Arts.

Would I See It Again 3 Years from Now? I’m veering on no. Three times might be enough for me!

Other Rave(s) Not Mentioned Above

  • Scenic Design: The modern and minimalist set showed the bones of the stage. I didn’t expect The 5th Avenue Theatre stage walls to be so close and the stage wings to be so thin!
    • Symbolism: The design was austere (in a good way) like the teenage characters’ repressed and severe upbringing. The wood breaking through the white parallelogram can represent the loss of virginity like how “morning wood” (aka an erect penis) pierces the purity of the hymen. I wonder if I’m grasping at straws here with this interpretation. If I’m not, color me impressed with the designer (Matthew Smucker)!
    • Parallelogram: Speaking of the prominent white quadrilateral, it provided a wonderful background for the actors to project shadows in dramatic scenes like physical child abuse or light BSDM. I bet this parallelogram also helped with the acoustics, which were well-mic’ed by the way.
  • “The Song of Purple Summer”: I loved the bright lights and cherry-blossom-like visual design theme in this song. It was very appropriate for Seattle, what with the annual cherry blossoms at UW. Plus, I’m always a sucker for anything raining down on the audience like bubbles or snow like in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s previous The Little Mermaid and White Christmas productions. This time it was flower petals. But I pity the cleaners after every show!
  • “Mama Who Bore Me”: The women performed this signature song like an R&B girl group with tight harmonies like Destiny’s Child or Hamilton‘s “The Schuyler Sisters.” Re-singing “Mama Who Bore Me” as an encore would have surely been a crowd pleaser.
  • Rock: The rock style was often reminiscent of Green Day especially Moritz’s (played by Alexander Kilian) songs. “The Bitch of Living” also exhibited some One Direction energy. “Totally Fucked” was thrilling with the light display.
  • Shock Factor: I’m always a fan of scene depictions that cause me to clutch my imaginary pearls in live theatre. Masturbatory circle jerks, botched abortions, light BSDM, teenage boys in rut, suicide, child sexual abuse, full-on penetration, oh my!

Rant(s)

  • Gay Romance: I know I’m biased, but I wish the script explored the gay romance more. I think there was only one scene about it with another mention in-passing.

Other Musing(s) and Observation(s)

  • Sexual Repression: The hyperbolic calamities in this story could have (easily?) been prevented if parents only talked to their kids about sex.
  • Moritz’s Motivation: It wasn’t very clear what was Moritz’s motivation in the end. I remember thinking the same thing in the previous productions I attended. Maybe that’s a reflection of the senseless, reckless impulsivity of youth.

Theatre Company: The 5th Avenue Theatre

Venue: The 5th Avenue Theatre

Venue Physical Address: 1308 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

Price: $39-139

Tickets: https://www.5thavenue.org/shows/2023-2024/spring-awakening/

Ticket Affordability Options: The 5th Avenue Theatre often partners with organizations you’re affiliated with for discount tickets. For example, they sometimes offer a discount for my employer affiliation. Rush tickets are also available day-of at the box office.

Dates: June 7 to June 30, 2024

Seating: Assigned Seating

Parking: When I don’t walk to the theatre or park on the street, I park in the paid garage at the Motif Hotel northwest of the theatre. The entrance is on 5th Ave. Do NOT park in the Hilton garage (entrance on 6th Ave). That’s where most of the audience (and I think the subscribers) parks, so it’s a nightmare to leave. However, the Hilton garage is the closest garage to the theatre and you can access the theatre through a tunnel if you want to avoid the elements. But, in my opinion, this benefit is not worth the time wasted leaving the garage.

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Pictures: See pictures below and in video above by Tracy Martin and Mark Kitaoka.

Alexander Kilian (Moritz) and Lauren Drake (Ilse) in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening. Photo Credit: Tracy Martin.
The cast of Spring Awakening at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo Credit: Mark Kitaoka.
Ricky Spaulding (Melchior) and Caitlin Sarwono (Wendla) in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening. Photo Credit: Tracy Martin.
Lauren Drake (Ilse) and Ciara Alyse Harris (Martha) The 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening. Photo Credit: Mark Kitaoka.
The cast of Spring Awakening at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo Credit: Mark Kitaoka.
The cast of Spring Awakening at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo Credit: Tracy Martin.

Once On This Island – Musical – Review – Village Theatre

@showsiveseen "Once on This #Island" #musical at Village Theatre by Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty. Starring @Syd & Jeffery Wallace. Neat rotating stage. Delightful choreography. Good thunderous hook. Perfect tropical antidote to this cold/cloudy PNW summer. It's #theLittleMermaid in the #Caribbean! Performing till 7/14 in Everett. #showsiveseen #theatre ♬ Waiting for Life – Hailey Kilgore & Once On This Island Storytellers

Elevator Thoughts (aka Tweet): Once on This Island musical at Village Theatre. Neat rotating stage. Delightful choreography. Good thunderous hook. Perfect tropical antidote to this cold/cloudy PNW summer. It’s The Little Mermaid in the Caribbean! Performing till 7/14 in Everett.

Recommendation
See it!


Synopsis from the Theatre: Once on this Caribbean Island, Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl, decided to risk it all for love. Guided by the mighty island gods, she sets out on a remarkable journey to reunite with the man who has captured her heart. Can she prove that love is more powerful than death? With a Calypso-flavored score from Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the Tony Award-winning songwriters of Anastasia and Ragtime, Once on This Island is a captivating adaptation of the beloved fairy tale The Little Mermaid. Relish in this breathtaking and imaginative dance-filled musical, which overflows with love, grief, faith, and hope.

Attended Performance Date: Opening Night 5/17/24 – Keep your eyes peeled for my preview posts on my website and social media if you want earlier notification of shows I’ve seen. Fortunately, the Everett run ends 7/14.

Type: Musical

World Premiere: No

Several or Few Scenes: Several

Several or Few Settings/Locations: Several

Static (Stationary) Set? No, there was a rotating stage.

Prior Exposure/Knowledge Required: No

Defined Plot/Storyline: Yes

Live Band/Orchestra: Yes

Equity Actors: 6

Total Number of Actors: 12

Perceived Pace of the Show: Medium speed

Was there an intermission? No

Length (Including Any Intermission): 90 minutes

Was This the First Time I Attended a Production of this Show? No, I’ve seen this at Tacoma Musical Playhouse and Ludus Performing Arts.

Would I See It Again 3 Years from Now? Yes, but only professional productions like this one.

Other Rave(s) Not Mentioned Above

  • Rotating Stage: The rotating stage effectively depicted water, growing up, a car, and scene transitions. Each of the 3 stage layers could rotate independently and oppositely from the other layers. This allowed for complex-looking stage effects and transitions. However, the rotating sound was sometimes distracting, and some rotating effects felt overused.
  • Voices: My favorites were Erzulie’s (Kataka Corn) high belt at the end of “Pray” and Asaka’s (Kelsey Scott) solos in “Mama Will Provide.” Yusef D. Seevers’ rich voice (as Papa Ge) reminded me of when he played Sweeny Todd at 5th Avenue Theatre.
  • Upper Class: I love a good on-stage portrayal of the I’m-better-than-you aristocracy like in My Fair Lady’s “Ascott Gavotte.” In Once on this Island, the patricians deliciously clutched their pearls and gasped in bewilderment when Ti Moune (Sydbey Quildon) danced barefoot.
  • Gossipers: It was hilarious how they gagged when Daniel (Jeffery Wallace) told Ti Moune “You’re my Charm” after she gave him a charm. Major ick!
  • Costume: The gown that Kelsey Scott(?) wore during the wedding scene was exquisite.
  • Choreography: I’m not sure if this would qualify as choreography, but the ensemble uniquely performed a good clap beat during “Rain.”

Rant(s)

  • Antifeminism: I know traditional love stories are usually antifeminist, but I was particularly disgusted when Ti Moune said “[The gods] saved my life for a reason. And now, I think I know why!” The reason was to recklessly put this lighter-skinned blue-blooded stranger man’s needs above your own in hopes that he’ll fall in love with you?! Gurl, please. The Once on this Island story was based on The Little Mermaid, which basically told women to shut up, give away their most valued gift, and change their body for the male gaze. I think the antifeminist message in Once on this Island is worse … but I won’t spoil the story. Ladies, “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle!”

Other Musing(s) and Observation(s)

  • Daniel: Jeffery Wallace previously played Daniel in the Tacoma Musical Playhouse production before Village Theatre. We love that for him! 🙂
  • Miniatures: The miniature buildings were too small and intricate for the audience to appreciate. I kept worrying that the cast would accidentally run into the delicate structure. That being said, I’m sure the buildings looked amazing up close.

Theatre Company: Village Theatre

Venue: Village Theatre

Venue Physical Address:

  • Issaquah: 303 Front Street North, Issaquah, WA 98027
  • Everett: 2710 Wetmore Avenue, Everett, WA 98201

Price: $53–$115

Tickets: https://villagetheatre.org/shows/once-on-this-island/

Ticket Affordability Options: See the theatre’s official pages about discounts and pay-what-you-can performances.

Dates:

  • Issaquah: May 14 to June 16, 2024
  • Everett: June 22 to July 14, 2024

Seating: Assigned Seating

Parking:

  • Issaquah: Free street parking and certain free parking lots. Lot parking availability is very difficult to find though. I’ve basically given up on that. I usually end up parking on Rainier Boulevard North. As a last resort, you can always find parking at the library but it’s a little far. Remember, there’s a bottom floor parking lot under the library’s main parking lot that mostly only locals know about.
  • Everett: Free street parking and some paid parking lots/garages.

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Pictures: See pictures below and in video above by Auston James.

Simone Alene, Marlette Buchanan, and Jesse Jonathan Smith Sr. in Once on This Island at Village Theatre. Photo by Auston James (2024).
Sydney Quildon and the company of Once on This Island at Village Theatre. Photo by Auston James (2024).
Simone Alene, Sydney Quildon, and Jeffery Wallace in Once on This Island at Village Theatre. Photo by Auston James (2024).
Marlette Buchanan, Sydney Quildon, Kelsey Scott, and Jeffery Wallace in Once on This Island at Village Theatre. Photo by Auston James (2024).
Kelsey Scott and the company of Once on This Island at Village Theatre. Photo by Auston James (2024).
The company of Village Theatre’s Once on This Island. Photo by Auston James (2024).

Preview Post – Spring Awakening – Musical – The 5th Avenue Theatre

Happy opening night to the 5th Avenue Theatre’s “Spring Awakening” coming-of-age rock musical production. Performing until 6/30. Stay tuned for my full review! #sex #teenagers #teens #horny #puberty #hormones #emo #angst

Final Full Review (Posted 6/24/24): https://www.showsiveseen.com/spring-awakening-musical-review-the-5th-avenue-theatre/

Tickets: https://www.5thavenue.org/shows/2023-2024/spring-awakening/

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