Hotdish – Play – Pony World Theatre

Elevator Thoughts (aka Tweet): Brandon Healy’s Hotdish play by Pony World Theatre at 12th Ave Arts. Directed by Charlotte Peters. Midwest repression/escapism that felt universal. Funny caricatures from Jessica Robin’s. Good acting delivery from James Hyun Lee (returning from an 8-year hiatus). Novel live video component and nice stage.

See it if you enjoyed Dream Hou$e.

Synopsis from the Theatre: For this world premiere play, simply combine 3 “hotdishes” (casseroles for you non-Minnesotans), one dysfunctional family, one reality TV show, tater tots, black pepper, your grandmother’s rose water perfume, a few dashes of joy, and a pinch of heartache. Kayla Liggett has taken in her unemployed brother, Toby, while he looks for work. But Toby thinks the answer to all his troubles is winning his favorite reality TV cooking show, Champion Chef. As Toby falls deeper into this enticing fantasy, their mother Evelyn faces her own financial crisis. It falls to Kayla to save them both, but she can barely keep her own life together. Guided by a magical being who happens to be the glamorous host of Champion Chef, the family must face what fractured their lives in the first place. Hotdish tells a story about family, food, and fixing the cracks in all our hearts.

Attended Performance Date: 11/9/23 – See my previous preview posts here.

Type: Play

World Premiere: Yes

Several or Few Scenes: Several

Several or Few Settings/Locations: Several

Static (Stationary) Set: Yes

Prior Exposure/Knowledge Required: You’d probably appreciate the script more if you’re familiar with Midwest themes. For example, the hotdish concept is traditionally from the Midwest, which I didn’t know until after the play.

Defined Plot/Storyline: Mostly yes

Equity Actors: Zero

Total Number of Actors: 5

Perceived Pace of the Show: Slow to medium speed

Length (Including Any Intermission): 2.25 hours

Was there an intermission? Yes

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

Would I See It Again 3 Years from Now? No

Other Rave(s) Not Mentioned in Elevator Thoughts

  • Scenic Design: The home kitchen reminded me of Village Theatre’s Book Club stage. The fridge remarkably occasionally doubled as an entrance/exit and an actual fridge.
  • Novel Live Videography: Some scenes were portrayed like a reality TV cooking show competition where a stagehand recorded the actors and the video replayed on the audience like a TV show in real time. Occasionally they combined the live video with pre-recorded clips. They’re definitely working double time in A/V room during this production! The live video component reminded me of the basketball player in Village Theatre’s Songs for a New World. This novel videography was very effective for the non-speaking parts. However, there was a noticeable slight delay in the live video while the actor was speaking to the camera. I also observed this delay at Village Theatre. And if I’m not mistaken, I also noticed this delay at the Blue Man Group national tour. So, I’m not sure that there is any good solution. Maybe transmit the video via a cable instead wirelessly for better latency?
  • Reveal (Slight Spoiler): There was a reveal in the second act that reminded me of Gabe’s birthday scene in Next to Normal. I’m now second guessing the scenes I saw previous to this reveal!
  • Universal Themes: The script seemed to focus on Midwest repression and hopelessness, but it felt universal. The need for fantasy/escape was similar to the theme in She Kills Monsters. I empathized with Toby Ligget (played by James Hyun Lee) as he described his alienation, depression, and failure. And I felt Kayla Liggett’s (played by Sydney Kaser) yearning as she described the need for familiar safe physical company as she copes with being the strong one in the family. The white noise during Toby’s longing made the pressure in his mind all the more tangible.
  • Caricatures: Jessica Robins portrayed a plethora of caricatures like a rough tap-dancing Irish bartender, a phone operator, and a grisly seasoned tow-trucker. Her reality TV show host persona reminded me of Tessa from Dream Hou$e, which was also produced at 12th Ave Arts. My absolute favorite personality was the bank officer with a delightful Midwest accent especially during her funny mini monologues on doughnuts and coffee (pronounced “cawfee”). Kudos for the several the costume changes behind the bar/counter, which were probably uncomfortable!

Other Musing(s) and Observation(s)

Theatre Company: Pony World Theatre

Venue: 12th Avenue Arts

Venue Physical Address: 1620 12th Ave #203, Seattle, WA 98122

Price: Cheap


Dates: November 3 to December 2, 2023

Seating: General Admission

Parking: Paid lot or paid street parking. Street parking is extremely limited since it’s Capitol Hill. Your best luck would be East of Cal Anderson Park on 11th or 12th Ave. The cheapest paid lot close by is at 1300 E Olive St with the entrance on 14th Ave. I highly suggest parking far away or taking the bus since the lots are expensive in Capitol Hill.

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Other Video +/- Pictures: See pictures in video and under video

Cast and Production Team: See after pictures and/or video below

@showsiveseen "#Hotdish" #play by Pony World Theatre at 12th Ave Arts. Directed by @charlotte. #Midwest repression/escapism that felt universal. Funny caricatures from @jrobartist. Good acting delivery from @DogtorJames (returning from an 8-year hiatus). Nice stage & novel live video component. Photos: Tanya Izadora & Ken Holmes. Review: #theatre #showsiveseen #Minnesota #realityTV #cooking ♬ Keeping Everything Inside – Sophie Pecora
Cast of Hotdish. Photo by Tanya Izadora.
Rebecca as Evelyn, confronting Sydney as Kayla. Photo by Ken Holmes.
Jessica Robins and James Lee. Photo by Ken Holmes.
Testimonial Time. Photo by Ken Holmes.
Just One Night. Photo by Ken Holmes.
Miranda Interviews Toby. Photo by Ken Holmes.
The Final Family Showdown. Photo by Ken Holmes.
Jessica Robins as Miranda Pashant. Photo by Ken Holmes.
Miranda Tries Toby’s Cooking. Photo by Ken Holmes.
Jessica Robins and Sydney Kaser. Photo by Ken Holmes.
Sydney, Rebecca, and James as the Liggett Family. Photo by Ken Holmes.
Jessica Robins as Miranda with Van Lang Pham as Kevin. Photo by Ken Holmes.
Toby Liggett James Hyun Lee
Kayla Liggett Sydney Kaser
Evelyn Liggett Rebecca Goldberg
Kevin Van Lang Pham
MirandaJessica Robins
DirectorCharlotte Peters
PlaywrightBrendan Healy
Stage ManagerKristin Brown
Assistant Stage ManagerMichael Latham
Scenic DesignerSann Hall
Lighting DesignerChih-Hung Shao
Props DesignerAndrea Spraycar
Sound DesignerJustin Johnson
Projections DesignerBrendan Mack
Costume DesignerLuna McMeen
Video And Additional AssetsPeter Antoniou & Charlotte Peters
Technical DirectorJustin Duffiance
Scenic Charge ArtistAnnie Duffiance
Production ManagerEllie Hughes
Artist LiaisonLisa Viertel

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