Historic Seattle and STG Partner Up to Buy The Showbox

Historic Seattle, who spearheaded the successful campaign to name The Showbox a City of Seattle Landmark, announced that they have submitted a formal offer to purchase The Showbox with the help of Seattle Theatre Group (STG), the non-profit organization that operates The Paramount, Moore and Neptune Theatres.  

“Historic preservation is not solely about protecting a physical building, it’s about preserving the nature of what happens within it,” said Ricardo Frazer, board chair of STG. “That is why we are compelled to stand beside Historic Seattle in this effort. In an era when the redevelopment of cultural space is far too common, we fear what the loss of this iconic venue would mean to our region.”

When it was announced in July 2018 that the 80-year-old venue would be demolished and the property redeveloped into apartments, there was a loud outcry from the Seattle community. A temporary ordinance by the Seattle City Council blocked development by placing The Showbox within the Pike Place Market Historical District and the developer dropped out.

After a King County Superior Court judge overturned the ordinance, a settlement between the city and the owner of The Showbox, Roger Forbes, was struck. Part of this deal ensured that the city would have first right to purchase The Showbox at Forbes’ asking price.

The partnership between Historic Seattle and STG includes an offer to purchase the venue, as well as advocating for “controls” to be placed to protect The Showbox in case they are unable to purchase, and the venue goes to another buyer. These controls would protect certain character-defying elements of the venue from being destroyed.

“As we continue our due diligence and look forward to the opportunity to negotiate with the property’s owner, Historic Seattle will not back down in our fight to protect The Showbox. Landmarks deserve protection,” said Eugenia Woo, director of preservation services at Historic Seattle.

These discussions will take place at the public meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Board on December 18. Historic Seattle asks people to come and support and submit comments. More can be learned on Historic Seattle’s website.

Seattle Opera Introduces Artist Recital Series in 2020

An all new way to experience your favorite professional opera singers in an intimate setting is coming in the new year.

To say Seattle Opera has had a big year would be an understatement. From moving to their beautiful new home at the Opera Center, to appointing a new general director, Christina Scheppelmann, 2019 has been a whirlwind of change. And it looks like 2020 will be just as evolutionary for the opera.  

Beginning in January 2020, Seattle Opera will offer an artist recital series which will provide audiences up close and personal performances by Seattle Opera’s mainstage singers. Taking place in the stunning Tagney Jones Hall, the singers will perform opera favorites, popular music, musical theatre classics and more.

Providing an opportunity for singers to showcase their creativity, and for audiences to experience a different avenue to opera, is exactly the drive behind the Opera Center. This is just one fantastic event that Seattle Opera provides to invite the community in; others can be seen on their website.

Information for the two recitals can be seen below.

Melody Wilson

January 17

Mezzo-soprano Melody Wilson takes a break from debut performances in Eugene Onegin to show off her creative range with an eclectic program of art songs. Alongside Berlioz’s iconic, shimmering cycle Les nuits d’été (Summer Nights), rising opera star Wilson will showcase Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge’s playful Cinco canciones negras (Five Black Songs).

Angela Brown

February 4

Before taking the stage as Addie in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, world-renowned soprano Angela Brown presents a unique recital in Tagney Jones Hall. This concert features musical settings of poetry and prose by American literary legends Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and Mari Evans. Through music, Brown will take the audience on an intimate journey through the lives of these three luminaries and her own, describing her relationship with each writer and how they helped to shape her life and singing career.

Tickets are available now and can be purchased on Seattle Opera’s website.  

TheatreWorks Selects Second Artistic Director in its History

After 50 years of leadership by Founder Robert Kelley, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has chosen a new artistic director in Tim Bond. The announcement comes after Kelley announced his retirement in May 2017.

Tim Bond will come to TheatreWorks from a tenure professorship at the University of Washington’s School of Drama, where he was the Head of the Professional Actor Training Program for the past two years.

Bond began his career with Seattle Group Theatre in 1984, where he progressed to artistic director in 1991, an office he held until 1996. Much like his predecessor, Bond spent much of his time directing West Coast and World Premieres.

“Tim is a highly respected, nationally-known director and educator, and has the open-hearted personal qualities, integrity, and values that TheatreWorks has always treasured…I am thrilled that TheatreWorks has found one of the country’s most prominent arts leaders, and I’m confident that Tim will lead the company boldly into its next half-century.” 

Robert Kelley

From 1996–2007 Bond was an associate artistic director at Oregon Shakespeare Festival where, in addition to directing, he focused his energy on promoting equity and inclusion throughout the company. During his time here he also created the FAIR (Fellowships, Assistantships, Internships, Residencies) program, which strives to achieve equity within the company by creating opportunities for the next generation of theatre practitioners.

Before his current position at UW, Bond was the producing artistic director at Syracuse Stage and the Syracuse University Department of Drama from 2007–2016. During this time Bond produced over 100 shows and promoted partnerships between his company and other regional theatres.

Tim Bond comes to TheatreWorks well-versed in directing, producing and cultivating new plays and musicals. His devotion to equity and diversity within theatre artists and administrators can be charted throughout his career. As Robert Kelley stated, “I can’t wait for the chance to introduce Tim Bond to all of you who have supported the art of TheatreWorks for so long. We are, dear friends, in the very best of hands.”

Before taking his new position, Tim Bond will be directing Cabaret at the University of Washington as well as The Children at Seattle Rep, this February.

A ‘Nutcracker’ for Any Style

Halloween is over, Daylight Saving Time has ended, and arts organizations all around the Greater Seattle Area are gearing up for their holiday shows. And just like squirrels preparing for winter hibernation, its time to pick the nut that’s right for you.

When a person is picking out a holiday-centered performance to attend—especially if that person is a resident of Seattle—The Nutcracker is usually one of the most obvious choices. But with multiple renditions of The Nutcracker available to audiences this year, choosing which one to attend may seem overwhelming. To help find the best adaptation for you, we’ve explored three different versions of the beloved tale of the Mouse King and the Nutcracker—The Hip Hop Nutcracker, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® and The Hard Nut.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker with MC Kurtis Blow

A holiday mash-up for the whole family, The Hip Hop Nutcracker is back and better than ever. Directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, The Hip Hop Nutcracker is a contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music. A unique and joyful event, this evening-length production is performed by a supercharged cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set.

Through this re-mixed and re-imagined version of the classic, the dynamic performers of The Hip Hop Nutcracker take us on a journey that celebrates love, community and the magic of the holiday season.

This one is for you if…

…you love Tchaikovsky’s score, but wouldn’t mind having a few new remixes and beats mixed in to change things up.

…you want to experience a refreshed storyline with updated dance (all manner of hip hop), settings (New York City), and costumes (contemporary clothes), but with the fantastic music and cheerful holiday feeling you know and love.  

November 15 at Pantages Theater
November 16–17 at The Paramount Theatre

performance of the hip hop nutcracker
The ‘Hip Hop Nutcracker.’ Photo by Tim Norris
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s best-selling holiday classic, The Nutcracker is a fantastical combination of Ian Falconer’s unique design, Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, and the entire Company in show-stopping roles. A memory making tradition for generations of families and friends, Nutcracker fun includes McCaw Hall gloriously decked-out for the season’s best photo ops.

This one is for you if….

…you haven’t seen the George Balanchine ballet yet. The iconic Balanchine production replaced the long-running Stowell and Sendak version in 2015 and has been captivating audiences in Seattle each year since.

…you want something good for children or even just for the child in yourself. Opening weekend even includes crafts and dance classes for the little ones.

November 29–December 28 at McCaw Hall

Leta Biasucci in ‘George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker’ at PNB. Photo by Angela Sterling
Mark Morris Dance Group’s The Hard Nut

Celebrating its 28th anniversary, The Hard Nut is a cascade of wit and wintry beauty. It’s a lavish, gender-bent love letter to the classic The Nutcracker. Based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Mark Morris’ version takes it from the straight-laced 1890s to the swinging 1970s, with raucous parties, dancing G.I. Joes, whimsical costumes, and a “Waltz of the Snowflakes” like no other. Based on the comic book art of Charles Burns and featuring Tchaikovsky’s complete original score, performed by a live orchestra conducted by Colin Fowler, Morris’ lyrical, modern retelling playfully preserves the warm spirit of an essential holiday tradition.

This one is for you if…

…you’re looking for something a bit irreverent, quirky, bold and a little darker than other Nutcracker interpretations.

…you like modern dance but want to keep the traditional Tchaikovsky score, played by a live orchestra of the MMDG Music Ensemble.

December 6–15 at The Paramount Theatre

Tickets are available on each arts organization’s website: The Hip Hop Nutcracker with MC Kurtis Blow at Pantages Theater; The Hip Hop Nutcracker with MC Kurtis Blow at The Paramount Theatre; George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®at McCaw Hall; Mark Morris Dance Group’s The Hard Nut at The Paramount Theatre.

Theatre22 is Revolutionizing Theatre and Inviting You to Join

Often in contemporary theatre, plays demonstrate the worst of humanity—in 2019 a tone of nihilism permeates society and by extension, the art that acts as a mirror.

However, Theatre22 is doing something a little different. They are opening their fifth season with a Festival of Revolution, which will include two plays—The Revolutionist and White—performed in rotation. With two these shows and with their larger mission, Theatre22 strives to celebrate hope and healing to the community through theatre.

We talk with the Founder and Producing Artistic Director Corey McDaniel about Theatre22’s vision and what to expect from their upcoming Festival.

Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Theatre22 Corey McDaniel. Photo Courtesy of Theatre22

Ciara Caya: Theatre22 is about to begin its fifth season, which makes it a relatively new theatre company. Did you see something that was missing in Seattle’s existing theatre offerings that you wanted to provide? 

Corey McDaniel: We in Seattle are blessed with an incredibly vibrant theatre scene and so many extremely talented theatre artists. Theatre22 came into being to create innovative ways to bring together many of these exceptional and underutilized artists to work on projects that made us excited and hopeful; that gave us energy to move forward; and that helped us channel our creative energies into making a positive impact on the world around us.

Rather than choosing scripts that wallow in the darkness around us, we want to explore ways to embrace the broken-ness of our humanity, but, ultimately, to move toward the light. As we identify in our mission statement, Theatre22 is committed to producing exceptional live theatre that engages a diverse community of artists and audiences, inspires new ways of interpreting the world around us, and celebrates hope and healing.

In addition to choosing plays that are constructive, Theatre22 focuses on works that discuss diversity and equity. What else, besides play selection, does Theatre22 do to ensure the productions are accessible for a diverse audience?

First and foremost, Theatre22 hopes to be deeply engaged with our community. Of course there is always more to do and there is never enough time or person-power! But we strive to listen and learn from those around us, to challenge ourselves and others to come to new understandings, and to continue to grow with our artists and our audience. We also strive to reach out to new people with every show and to personally connect with each person who comes through the door to let them know how important they are to our process. For us, it is all about connection. That is the joy of doing theatre! What could be more exciting and satisfying? 

Cast of 'White.' Shermona Mitchell, Jennifer Ewing, Tyler Rogers,and Christian Quinto.
Cast of ‘White.’ Shermona Mitchell, Jennifer Ewing, Tyler Rogers,and Christian Quinto. Photo by John Curry Photography

Speaking of the joy of theatre, let’s talk a little about Theatre22’s upcoming productions. Even though they take place over 200 years apart and in two different countries, The Revolutionists and White both examine the oppression of women and people of color. Why do you find it beneficial to pair these two plays together in a festival? What do you hope the audience gains from watching these plays in sequence?

A primary part of our vision is to do thought-provoking and belief-challenging works. Both of the plays in our festival fit this vision, in different ways. Both explore voices that have been undervalued and marginalized. Both ask questions about how we can make changes in our world to face the harsh realities of covert and overt violence. Both explore questions of art and activism, of feminism and intersectionality, of who gets to tell the story, and what does redemption look like. We believe that people will leave the theatre with good questions, and that the questions will inform each other and will ultimately help us be better witnesses to the people in the world who most need to be heard.

In addition to the two productions which will be performed during the Festival of Revolution, there will also be community events. Can you tell us a little more about these?

Because we are so excited about the ways audiences will respond to our productions, we are planning to bring artists and audiences together to engage in several post-play discussions during the run of our shows. We’re also excited to provide several opportunities to see both shows in one day and will have staff around to engage with audiences in between shows. In addition, we have reached out to a number of new communities, providing tickets and post-play gatherings to encourage dialogue both in the theatre and beyond. We’re always exploring new ways to connect and would love to hear from audiences both in person and in online conversation.

To join Theatre22 in the conversation, attend the Festival of Revolution. The Revolutionists and White will be running in rotation October 18–November 9 at 12th Avenue Arts. Single tickets and specially priced festival package tickets are available online.

Line-Up Announced for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s ‘Locally Sourced’

Pacific Northwest Ballet turns to regional talent for the mixed-bill Locally Sourced, which will play for just seven performances, November 8–17, and includes three world premieres.

Love and Loss

In Donald Byrd’s sixth work created for Pacific Northwest Ballet, a cast of 22 dancers will perform to music by Emmanuel Witzthum.

Donald Byrd is a Tony-nominated (The Color Purple) and Bessie Award-winning (The Minstrel Show) choreographer. He has been the Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle since 2002. He has created dance works for many leading companies and was recently named a 2019 Doris Duke Artist Awardee.


In her first work for the Pacific Northwest Ballet mainstage, Eva Stone choreographs a work to music from five women composers and collaborates with an all-woman design team.

Eva Stone is the founder and producer of CHOP SHOP: Bodies of Work, a a contemporary dance festival held annually in Bellevue. She has been teaching and lecturing throughout the Puget Sound since 1995 and is currently on faculty at Spectrum Dance Theater and Pacific Northwest Ballet School, where she initiated the New Voices choreography course for young women.

Wash of Gray

Also choreographing for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s mainstage for the first time will be Miles Pertl, a PNB company dancer who is collaborating with his sister, visual artist Sydney M. Pertl. Together, with composer Jherek Bischoff, they are creating a multi-media dance work.

Seattle native Miles Pertl has choreographed works for PNB’s NEXT STEP and PNB School’s annual School Performance as well as the Noverre Society in Stuttgart, Danza Estate in Gubbio, Italy, and New Moves in Amsterdam. With a love of both dance and art, he has teamed up with his sister, artist Sydney M. Pertl, to form SeaPertl Productions, an organization which seeks to showcase both worlds and shine a spotlight on local talent.

Locally Sourced will be performed at Pacific Northwest Ballet’s McCaw Hall November 8 through 17. Tickets are available online.

We’re Celebrating 50 Years of Arts, Culture and Community

For the past fifty years, it has been our pleasure to provide audiences with performance programs, festival guides and magazines that reflect and enhance the organizations of our community.

Although you may not know it, Encore has published many of the programs that you’ve read at performances throughout the Greater Seattle Area and the San Francisco Bay Area. Encore has become an established partner to arts organizations throughout these communities, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary, we talk to the president of Encore, Paul Heppner, about Encore’s history, its purpose, and the arts communities Encore serves.  

Ciara Caya: Fifty years is quite the milestone. Can you tell me a bit about how Encore was founded?

Paul Heppner: My dad, Philbrook Heppner, loved music, arts and, most of all, the opera. After having worked as an architect, he made a career change that brought his passion for the arts to fill a need in the Portland performing arts scene by launching Encore Magazine for the Arts. That quickly evolved into the programs for Portland Opera and Encore arts programs.

Partnerships with arts organizations are essential to your business—how did those relationships start?

Librettos and theatre programs were commonplace, especially in Europe where my dad collected many souvenir programs. Creating programs (typesetting, layout and printing) in those days was extremely labor intensive and performing arts organizations were not set up to handle the production necessary, so a mutually beneficial service model was developed.

Publisher and President of Encore Paul Heppner

Having worked with Encore since you were a young man, you’ve seen better than most the changes that have occurred in Seattle’s arts community—the good and the bad. How has Encore adapted amongst these changes?

We were just talking about this the other day—when I arrived in Seattle in 1985, state of the art was an IBM Selectric typewriter! The outstanding thing to note over the years has been the appreciable growth in depth and quality of the performing arts, as well as the breadth and sophistication of the respective audiences.

Interestingly enough, even with the advent of the internet in our data driven world, the theatre program has remained a cherished part of the live performance experience. Unlike the mass media (print, digital or electronic) attending a live performance is enhanced by simply turning the pages and reading a program that gives you compelling and thoughtful content about the people and the performances—it truly can make the event transformative.

As the publisher of arts organizations’ programs, Encore is usually (pardon the pun) behind the scenes. In what other ways are you and Encore involved with the Seattle community and with the arts organizations you partner with?  

We’re extremely proud to have had the privilege to work with, and support through our work, numerous organizations outside the performing arts world. Last year we were an integral part of a team of committed arts leaders to work with Seattle Foundation to transition and insure the future of GiveBIG (the annual day of philanthropy). We’ve been long-time supporters and fans of SIFF and believe in our work with, and support of Seattle Pride. This year we were thrilled to begin working with Seafair and all that it represents to our city and region. Over the years we’ve also provided support to smaller organizations—one of our favorites is Music4Life because of its impact on the lives of young people in our public schools.

So, now that you have the first 50 under your belt, what’s on stage for the next 50?

We’ve learned that the fulcrum for evolving our business centers on providing services that connect the arts, culture and our community. We recognize and are excited to play a leading role in supporting the great works of organizations that are transforming and building this region. We believe that finding smart ways to integrate media in meaningful ways for consumers is key, and we are focused on developing products and programs that expand and enhance opportunities for all of our stakeholders. We’ve recently launched encorespotlight.com to start addressing the distressing lack of arts coverage in major media. Through this website we are also continuing our work with youth, having partnered in part with the amazing Press Corps at TeenTix to provide both a platform (in print and digitally) for these amazing young journalists.

Taproot Theatre’s 2020 Season Announced

The 2020 Jewell Mainstage season will include Steel Magnolias, Babette’s Feast, See How They Run, The Spitfire Grill and The Old Man and the Old Moon.

“Whether it’s you being you, creating a new life or a case of mistaken identities, in the 2020 Season we’re uncovering what makes us more than mere mortals,”said Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director Scott Nolte. “With our unique blend of comedies, dramas and musicals (that you won’t find anywhere else!), the characters that cross the stage illuminate our lives. And the theatre is one of the best escapes to see life more clearly. So let us give you some insights, gasps and giggles in 2020.”

Steel Magnolias

(January 22–February 29)

BOOM! Drum fires another shot into the magnolia trees giving Ouiser’s dog a nervous breakdown. Truvy’s salon is buzzing as gossip and zingers fly between baby’s breath and bouffants. Annelle is new and nervous which means things are getting a little poofy. Hold onto your rollers and grab your tissues for this hilariously heartwarming American classic.

Babette’s Feast

(March 18–April 25)

Crossing thousands of miles in search of asylum, Babette finds safety across the fjords in a tiny mountain village. But petty squabbles and personal slights render the pious villagers as frigid and unforgiving as their surroundings. In one radical act of generosity, Babette prepares a feast so lavish it awakens grace to transform brittle hearts.

Based on a short story by Isak Dinesen, which also inspired the Oscar-winning film of the same name, Babette’s Feast shines in a new stage adaptation by Abigail Killeen and Rose Courtney.

See How They Run

(May 15–June 22)

All Penelope wants is an evening out; surely even vicar’s wives can have an innocent night on the town with an old friend. But between the buzzed busy-body in the closet, a volley of vacillating vicars galloping across the lawn and a Soviet spy on the loose, this night is racing towards insanity. Precocious and preposterous, this comedy is quintessentially English.

The Spitfire Grill

(July 8–August 15)

Percy is fresh out of prison and searching for a new life when she arrives in Gilead. Curmudgeonly Hannah’s ready to leave The Spitfire Grill behind and announces a contest to raffle it off. As entries start pouring in from around the country, rumors and secrets swirl through the once picture perfect town. In this soul-stirring musical, forgiveness and a spirit of hope go a long way in pointing the way home.

The Old Man and the Old Moon

(September 18–October 26)

Created by acclaimed theatre-makers PigPen Theatre Co. and inspired by Celtic folklore and British sea shanties, this spell-binding play with music takes us to the end of the world on a whimsical journey to uncover a forgotten past.

The moon is waning and the Old Man must refill it. A melody sparks a memory and the Old Woman must follow it. In a quest to find his wife, the Old Man abandons his duties to face civil wars, monsters of the deep, zeppelins, meddling ghosts and a past he can’t remember. This fantastical, sea-fairing and song-filled tale leads you on an epic adventure into lands unknown!

New subscriptions for the 2020 season go on sale October 1 adn start at $78. Single tickets will be released for Steel Magnolias on Nov. 19; for Babette’s Feast on Jan 14, 2020; for See How They Run on Mar 10; for The Spitfire Grill on May 5; and The Old Man and the Old Moon on June 30. Tickets can be found at taproottheatre.org.

Village Theatre Announces Cast for ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’

Village Theatre has announced the cast for the first show in their 2019-20 season. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee boasts a cast of immense talent, with Village Theatre and Seattle area favorites—including the award-winning playwright of Lizard Boy, Justin Huertas.

Spelling Bee will run at Village Theatre’s Issaquah location September 12–October 20 before playing at their Everett location October 25–November 17.

“Life is pandemonium” in this fast-paced and irreverent Tony Award-winning comedy. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee follows an eclectic group of students as they vie for the title of regional spelling bee champ—hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. This witty coming-of-age story is bursting with heart, and Village Theatre’s full-fledged production will be an unforgettable experience that chronicles all the joy, torment and passion of those who love to compete. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves! At least the losers get a juice box…


Nicholas Japaul Bernard (Mitch Mahoney) is a native of Rochester, New York and is making his Village Theatre debut. Past roles include: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (ArtsWest), Rock of Ages (The 5th Avenue Theatre), Citizen: An American Lyric (Sound Theatre Company) and Take Me Out (Strawberry Theatre Workshop). A Black, gay and disabled artist, Nicholas hopes to take up as much space in the theatre world as possible and make space for other marginalized artists.

Justin Huertas (Chip Tolentino) is an award-winning playwright, composer-lyricist and actor. He was last seen at Village Theatre in In the Heights. Acting credits include: Everybody (Strawberry Theatre Workshop), Caught (Intiman) and Tiny Beautiful Things (Seattle Rep). Justin wrote Lizard Boy and The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion. His newest musical Lydia and the Troll premieres this spring at Seattle Rep.

Brian Lange (Vice Principal Douglas Panch) is returning to Village Theatre’s Mainstage for the first time since 2010’s The Gypsy King. Since then he’s been at Village Theatre’s First Stage for developmental productions of Cloaked, Watt?!?, The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes, String and ZM. Most recently Brian was in ACT/The 5th Avenue Theatre’s co-production of Urinetown, and Bright Star at Taproot Theatre.

Arika Matoba (Marcy Park) debuted on the Seattle stage as Little Red Ridinghood in Village Theatre’s Into the Woods. Additional credits include: Urinetown (ACT/The 5th Avenue Theatre), A Charlie Brown Christmas (Taproot Theatre) and AMT’s Rosie the Riveter (The 5th Avenue Theatre). Arika is represented by The Actor’s Group. @arikamatoba

Rafael Molina (Leaf Coneybear) Village Theatre credits: Hart Island, ZM, Into the Woods. Other recent credits include: West Side Story (Bay Area Theatre Company), The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Seattle Children’s Theatre) and Much Ado About Nothing (Seattle Shakespeare Company). As a composer and director, Rafael has collaborated with many local organizations and institutions. BFA Cornish College of the Arts.

Taylor Niemeyer (Olive Ostrovsky) Previous credits include: Newsies (Katherine), Xanadu (Euterpe), Big River (Mary Jane), Annie Get your Gun (Winnie Tate), Billy Elliot, Cabaret, Mary Poppins, Funny Girl and The Producers (ensemble) at Village Theatre; West Side Story (Ensemble), A Chorus Line (Bebe) and The Music Man (Zaneeta) at The 5th Avenue Theatre. @TaylorKaySymons

Sarah Russell (Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere) is returning to Village Theatre’s stage after appearing in The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes, Dreamgirls and My Heart is the Drum. Additional credits include: Urinetown (ACT/The 5th Avenue Theatre), Kiss Me Kate, Grease (The 5th Avenue Theatre) and The Odyssey (Seattle Rep).

MJ Sieber (William Barfee) Recent credits include: The Crucible and Stupid Fucking Bird at ACT Theatre; Dry Powder, Outside Mullingar, Photograph 51 at Seattle Rep; Native Son at Intiman; Shakespeare in Love, Midsummer and Winter’s Tale at Seattle Shakespeare Company; and Elephant Man and Gutenburg! The Musical at Strawberry Theatre Workshop, just to name just a few. He was the associate artistic director of New Century Theatre Co. and appeared in Festen, O Lovely Glowworm, The Trial, The Adding Machine, and directed the West Coast Premiere of Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize winner The Flick.

Jessica Skerritt (Rona Lisa Perretti) Favorite Village Theatre credits include: String (Atropos), Singin’ in the Rain (Lina Lamont), Xanadu (Kira/Clio), The Producers (Ulla) and Million Dollar Quartet (Dyanne). The 5th Avenue Theatre: A Christmas Story (Mother), How to Succeed… (Hedy LaRue), Annie (Grace), The Sound of Music (Elsa), ELF (Deb). ACT: Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey), Grey Gardens (Young Little Edie).

Subscriptions for Village Theatre’s 2019-20 season and single tickets for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are now available.

Berkeley Rep Announces Cast and Creative Team of ‘The Great Wave’

Berkeley Repertory Theatre has just announced its cast and creative team for the first show of its 2019-20 season, The Great Wave, which will play at Roda Theatre September 12 through October 27, 2019. This epic new thriller by Francis Turnly will have its American premiere at Berkeley Rep this fall and will be directed by Obie Award winner Mark Wing-Davey.

“Berkeley Rep has long been championing playwrights like Francis Turnly who offer us access to stories and worlds that aren’t often explored onstage,” says Artistic Director Johanna Pfaelzer. “The Great Wave illuminates a gripping story of international intrigue told through an intensely personal lens. Seeing it is like experiencing a propulsive page-turner, which I find rare in the theatre.”


Julian Cihi (Tetsuo) Julian is making his Berkeley Rep debut. He was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan before moving to the U.S. to attend Brown University (BA) and later NYU Tisch Grad Acting (MFA). Theatre credits include Doctor Zhivago (Broadway), Romeo and Juliet (Classic Stage Company), A Month in the Country (Williamstown Theatre Festival) and Wild Goose Dreams (La Jolla Playhouse). Julian has also performed in several musicals in Japan, including Rent and a musical adaptation of As You Like It, all in Japanese. He most recently appeared in the second season of Amazon Prime’s original TV series The Tick as a villain named Edgelord.

Yurié Collins (Reiko) Yurié is honored to lend voice to the untold stories of people from her home country. Born and raised in Wakayama Japan, Yurié is currently based in New York City. She has appeared on stage with the Flea Theatre, 600 Highwaymen, Witness Immersive, and on screen for TV shows such as Bull (CBS), Gotham (FOX) and Orange Is the New Black (Netflix). Yurié also organizes with social and climate justice groups and is passionate about combining acting and activism.

Stephen Hu (Kum-Chol) Stephen is thrilled to be returning to the Bay Area with his Berkeley Rep debut. New York credits include F.O.B. (Sheen Center) and Puzzle the Will (Davenport Theatre). Select regional credits include Hamlet (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), Macbeth (Theatricum Botanicum), Ching Chong Chinaman (Artists at Play), and Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (The Old Globe). His last appearance in the Bay was for Vietgone at American Conservatory Theater, for which he received the Best Featured Actor SF Theatre Critics Circle Award. He was recently seen on TV in The Good Fight. MFA, The Old Globe/USD.

Cindy Im (Jung Sun/Soldier Two) Cindy’s credits include Vietgone, The Orphan of Zhao, Stuck Elevator (American Conservatory Theater); Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, Julius Caesar, Great Expectations, The Winter’s Tale (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Marin Theatre Company); The Orphan of Zhao (La Jolla Playhouse); The World of Extreme Happiness (Manhattan Theatre Club); Twelfth Night (Cal Shakes); The World of Extreme Happiness (Goodman Theatre); Measure for Measure (Seattle Shakespeare Company); and 11 Septembre 2001 (Theatre Dijon Bourgogne/REDCAT). Film/television credits include Manifest (NBC) and Tigertail (Netflix). Cindy is a TCG Fox Acting Fellow, RHE Foundation Fellow and holds an MFA in Acting from CalArts.

Paul Juhn (Official) Paul last appeared at Berkeley Rep in 2007 in after the quake. Theatre credits include Henry VI (National Asian American Theatre Company); the world premiere of Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, Merry Wives of Windsor, The Winter’s Tale, Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, Antony and Cleopatra (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Good Person of Szechwan (The Public Theater); Sides: The Fear Is Real (Ma-Yi Theater); White Chocolate (The Culture Project). Film and TV credits include Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Quantico, Salt, The Americans, 30 Rock, Person of Interest, Works of ART. He is a founding member of both Mr. Miyagi’s Theatre Company and Suffolk Street Films. Paul received his MFA from UCSD.

Jo Mei (Hanako)This is Jo’s Berkeley Rep debut. Theatre credits include We Are Among Us (City Theatre, Pittsburgh), Babette’s Feast (off Broadway/Portland Stage), Fingersmith (American Repertory Theater), World of Extreme Happiness (Manhattan Theatre Club), King of Hell’s Palace (Goodman Theatre), You for Me for You (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company). TV credits include Crashing (HBO), Nicki (Freeform), Bones (Fox), and The Good Wife (CBS). Jo stars in and co-wrote the award-winning film A Picture of You; other film credits include Who We Are Now, Adult World and The Grief of Others. Jo is a graduate of The Juilliard School’s Drama Division. @jotomato

Paul Nakauchi (Jiro) Paul is excited to be making his Berkeley Rep debut. Broadway: The King & I at Lincoln Center. Off Broadway: Long Day’s Journey into Night at Mint Theater, Chu Chem at Ritz Theatre. London: The King & I at the Palladium. National tour: Miss Saigon. Regional credits: Sunday in the Park with George at the Guthrie Theater, Allegiance at The Old Globe, Mikado, Inc at Paper Mill Playhouse. He has appeared in the films The Great Raid, Dark Metropolis and Death Note. TV credits include ER, The Young and the Restless and Deadbeat. He has voiced numerous characters for games, animated features and TV, including Carmen Sandiego, which has been nominated for this year’s Emmy for best children’s programming.

Grace Chan Ng (Hana) Grace is thrilled to return to the Bay Area for her stage debut at Berkeley Rep, where she previously partook in the Ground Floor summer workshop of F*ck Miss Saigon. Recent regional credits include Dry Land and The Black Rider (Shotgun Players), You for Me for You (Crowded Fire), Hair (Bay Area Musicals), Fiddler on the Roof (Berkeley Playhouse), Life Is a Dream (Cutting Ball Theater) and the world premiere of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Bay Area Children’s Theatre), winner of three Theatre Bay Area Awards. Grace is a graduate of San Francisco State University.

Sharon Omi (Etsuko) Sharon is thrilled to be back at the Berkeley Rep. Before leaving for LA many years ago, she performed here in The Good Person of Szechuan, Top Girls at The Eureka Theater Co., Uncle Vanya at American Conservatory Theater, Tea at The Asian American Theater Co. among many others. She has worked at South Coast Repertory, Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theatre, East West Players, Playwright’s Arena and Odyssey Theatre. Recent TV work includes The Resident, Forever, The First, How to Get Away with Murder and Criminal Minds. She starred in the indie film Eat with Me for which she won a best actress award from the Out On Film Festival in Atlanta. Los Angeles theatre favorites include And the Soul Shall Dance, Blood Wedding, Innocent When You Dream and Tales of Clamor.

David Shih (Takeshi/Soldier One) This is Dave’s Berkeley Rep debut. His theatre credits include the National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO) productions of Henry VI: Shakespeare’s Trilogy in Two Parts, Awake and Sing! and [veil widow conspiracy]; KPOP (Ars Nova); Somebody’s Daughter (Second Stage Theater); Tiger Style! (La Jolla Playhouse); Bike America (Ma-Yi Theatre Company); Crane Story (The Playwrights Realm). He has appeared on television in Billions, The Path, City on a Hill, Blindspot, Elementary, Madam Secretary, The Blacklist and in the films Mr. Sushi, Eighth Grade, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Saving Face. Dave works with Only Make Believe performing for children in hospitals and care facilities.

Creative Team

Chika Shimizu (Scenic Designer) Chika is a New York-based scenic and projection designer. Her design credits include Awake (The Barrow Group), Hunky Boys Go Ding-Dong (Adult Swim Network), Another Dream (world premiere, Tribeca Film Festival), The Winning Side (Epic Theatre Ensemble), The Naturalists (Pond Theatre Company), Vietgone (TheatreSquared), Buyer and Cellar (Bucks County Playhouse), The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Yale Rep, Connecticut Critics Circle Award nomination), Romulus The Great (Yangtze Rep), False Stars (Corkscrew Theater Festival), The Seagull (Access Theater), Twelfth Night; Or, What You Will, The Visit (Yale School of Drama). She is a recipient of Donald and Zorca Oenslager Fellowship Award in Design. MFA in Design from Yale School of Drama. chikashimizu.com

Meg Neville (Costume Designer) Meg’s Berkeley Rep productions include Imaginary Comforts; It Can’t Happen Here; Hand to God; One Man, Two Guvnors; Party People; Macbeth; Pericles; The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide…; Ghost Light; Eurydice. Regional credits include The Great Leap and Heisenberg at American Conservatory Theater, The Music Man at Arizona Theater Company, Blithe Spirit and The Cocoanuts at the Guthrie Theater, and Taming of the Shrew, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and The Cocoanuts at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, as well as shows at California Shakespeare Theater, the Magic Theatre, Joe Goode Performance Group, Marin Theatre Company, South Coast Rep, Yale Rep, Hartford Stage, Center Stage Baltimore, Second Stage, Dallas Theater Center, Atlantic Theater Company, BAM, New York Stage and Film. She resides in Marin with her family. megneville.com

Lap Chi Chu (Lighting Designer) Lap has designed Ruined and Emotional Creature at Berkeley Rep. He has also recently designed the world premieres of Lynn Nottage’s Mlima’s Tale and Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves. His other lighting designs can be seen at Lincoln Center, The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Mark Taper Forum, Geffen Playhouse, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Shakespeare Theater. Lap’s awards include the Lucille Lortel, 2018 Obie for Sustained Excellence in Lighting Design, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Angstrom Award for Career Achievement in Lighting Design, Ovation Award and multiple Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards. He is also the head of lighting design at California Institute of the Arts. lapchichu.com

Bray Poor (Sound Designer) Bray’s Berkeley Rep credits include Dear Elizabeth, Red, Eurydice, For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday, Changes of Heart (as an actor).Broadway: True West, The Glass Menagerie, The Real Thing, In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), American Plan. His sound and music have been heard in regional theatres all over the country and Europe. In New York, he has worked in numerous off-Broadway theatres, most recently at Second Stage on Bess Wohl’s Make Believe directed by Michael Greif. He’s been nominated several times for Lucille Lortel and Drama Desk Awards and won Obie Awards for Annie Baker’s John as well as for Sustained Excellence in Sound Design.

Tara Knight (Video Designer) Tara is delighted to be designing at Berkeley Rep for the first time. Previous projection design credits include Hollywood! (Craig Noel Award nomination for Outstanding Projection Design) and A Dram of Drummhicit at La Jolla Playhouse, Amazons and Their Men and Ballast at San Diego’s LGBTQ Diversionary Theater, and The Floating World at the San Diego Art Museum (Emmy Award). Her award-winning short animations and dance films have screened at festivals in New York, Ottawa, Montreal, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Helsinki, London, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Zagreb, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei and most recently at the Annecy International Animation Festival in France.

Subscriptions for Berkeley Rep’s 2019-20 season are available online. Individual tickets for The Great Wave will be available in mid-August.