Price Suddarth Creates a Signature Ballet Reflecting PNB’s Dancers

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s final show of the season, Themes & Variations, marks the return of Price Suddarth’s Signature to McCaw Hall. The PNB soloist created this piece for PNB’s mainstage repertory in 2015, and it conveys the same fabulous energy that Suddarth has brought to his dance performances in Seattle since 2010. It’s also a highly personal piece crafted from the friendships and knowledge of the company’s dancers that only a true insider could have.

Rosemary Jones: How does your career as a dancer influence your choreography for Signature?

Price Suddarth: As a choreographer my movement style is extremely physical—likely stemming from my own similar movement quality as a dancer currently. In the studio, I begin within the confines of the classical ballet vocabulary, then begin to operate beyond it by developing and “stretching” the physicality within each step. Through this extreme physicality it is possible to research notions like kinetic energy—how it flows through the body and how to demonstrate that to an audience. In the end the desired effect would give the viewer a sense that the dancer is both fighting hard to shape their movements while also being blown through the air like a leaf in the wind.

Signature gives every dancer a distinct movement—their signature style as it were—and you spoke at the time about how connected the choreography was to your work with these dancers in the past. Did you need to adjust anything in the choreography for the 2019 presentation?

Choreographer Price Suddarth. Photo by Lindsay Thomas

In the creation of Signature every section had its own specific theme, largely influenced by the original cast. Coming back to it now I’ve been adjusting and tweaking to tailor these sections to the current dancers while also preserving the original intent. I always say there are 16 members of the cast—15 dancers and myself. While some dancers are new, there are some returning as well as myself. The changes in the piece correspond with those that have happened in the dancers themselves as well as in myself as a person and choreographer over the past few years.

The music is gorgeous and references Vivaldi while actually being an original composition for Signature. How did you work with composer Barret Anspach to achieve this?

Barret Anspach and I corresponded over a two-year period brainstorming how to incorporate Vivaldi music into a new composition and also how to tailor it to dance. Barret is the brother of a former PNB company member so luckily the language of ballet was not an entirely foreign concept to him.

Why was it important for the music to sound familiar to the audience?

Because Signature was my first introduction to the larger Seattle audience as a choreographer, I wanted to make a statement of who I am.  I wanted there to be elements of the whole show that were easily recognizable, demonstrating a common starting place where I would jump from.  My movement goes beyond classical ballet vocabulary thus the music needed to start from a place of understanding and then push past.

Where do you see your career as a choreographer going?

I can’t exactly be sure what’s next. Over the last five years since the premiere I’ve been working with various companies around the country as a choreographer. I’ve been greatly influenced by many different styles and many different voices in various environments. As a result, I’ve found a strong push to develop a very specific choreographic voice to call my own.  I’d love to bring that back to Seattle again.

Which is harder: standing in the wings waiting to dance or sitting in the audience waiting for a piece that you choreographed to be performed?

I’m one hundred percent more nervous waiting for a piece of mine to be performed than preparing to dance myself. There’s something terrifying about giving up all control—even just for 30 minutes between curtains. No matter how much trust you have in your dancers there will always be that brief moment where you can’t do anything and are forced into a passive role while you watch your very personal idea be placed on display for 3,000 people to see.

Price Suddarth’s Signature can be seen as part of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s last performance of the season, Themes & Variations showing now through June 9.

Rosemary Jones has written about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest for the Cornish MagazineCapitol Hill Times, Encore, and others. Additional work can be seen at

Creating the Million Dollar Musical at Village Theatre

The return of Million Dollar Quartet marks the homecoming of one of Village Theatre’s most successful musical developments.

The return of Million Dollar Quartet marks the homecoming of one of Village Theatre’s most successful musical developments.

Workshopped in 2006 as part of Village Originals Festival of New Musicals, Million Dollar Quartet appeared on Village Theatre’s mainstage in 2007 and topped a million dollars in ticket sales for the company. 

Based on a true story of an all-day jam session between Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, the show went on to a Broadway run in 2010, a Tony Award for Levi Kreis (the Jerry Lee Lewis in the original Village Theatre run) and a host of reappearances everywhere from London’s West End to Harrah’s Las Vegas, as well as on Norwegian Cruise Lines.

As Village Theatre’s Executive Producer Robb Hunt recalls, the show was a hit with the staff as well as the audience from the first. “We did some casting in L.A. and some here, put it in Festival in 2006, and it was very exciting. It was unusual but we did [the Festival production] with a full band when typically it was just a piano.”

Executive Producer Robb Hunt.
Executive Producer Robb Hunt. Courtesy of Village Theatre

For a show to rocket out of the Festival to a full-blown production was unusual as well. “We’ve been honing our craft for many years. We did our first new musical back in the 1980s and it’s a very slow process,” Hunt said. More typically, shows workshopped in the Festival go back to the writers to rework. “When musicals start as readings at the Festival or a writers residency, we may come out with a scene or a whole act with that process. You move things around—such as songs go from act one to act two. It’s not like designing a car where all these engineers know exactly how it is going to end up and how you are going to do it.”

But Million Dollar Quartet took shape almost immediately. Creators Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux “had this concept from the get-go,” said Hunt. The only real hitch in development was trying to secure the rights for all the songs referenced in the show. “We had certain rights for [Village Theatre] but they couldn’t get some for Chicago and New York runs. They had to work really hard to adjust for that. That’s some of the things that I remember about the original run.”

For Brandon Ivie, associate artistic director at Village Theatre, Million Dollar Quartet is not just “such a feather in our cap” it’s also a musical that provides some necessary cheer. “We’re living in real tough times. It’s really easy to get beaten down by the world. This provides relief. This provides a moment for people to sit and have a great time. This is about an amazing turning point in American music,” he said.

Village Theatre’s new production features a new all-star cast and creative team that includes links to the past productions. “For this show, casting is a huge challenge,” said Director Scott Weinstein. “Not only do we need amazing actors and singers, but they also need to be virtuosic musicians. When you add on the need for them to look and sound like the iconic stars that they are embodying, the challenge only increases. Luckily, we found an absolutely incredible cast!”

The current production features Skye Scott as Carl Perkins, Brian Grey as Johnny Cash, Jason Kappus as Elvis Presley, John Countryman as Jerry Lee Lewis, Matt Wade as Sam Phillips, Cayman Ilika as Dyanne, James “Rif” Reif (who appeared in the 2007 Million Dollar Quartet at Village Theatre) as WS “Fluke” Holland and Chris Jones as Brother Jay.

2019 production of 'Million Dollar Quartet' at Village Theatre.
2019 production of ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ at Village Theatre. Photo by Mark Kitaoka

Weinstein himself served as the associate and resident director of the Broadway production of Million Dollar Quartet. He also oversaw the Equity National Tour, Chicago and Las Vegas productions, and currently directs the resident productions on Norwegian Cruise Lines and at the Lawrence Welk Theatre. Joining Weinstein is music director and country music superstar, Chuck Mead who has been with the show from Village Theatre’s first outing to Broadway and back to Village Theatre again. Rounding out the team of this all-new production is scenic designer Andrea Bryn Bush, lighting designer Geoff Korf, costume designer Esther Garcia and sound designer Brent Warwick. 

Million Dollar Quartet will play through June 23 at Village Theatre in Issaquah before moving to the theatre’s Everett performance space for a month-long run June 28 to July 28.

In the meantime, Hunt, Ivie, Artistic Director Jerry Dixon and the rest of the Village Theatre team continue to hunt for the next big musical.

“The trick is to get a variety and diversity in the subject matter, the type of music and the story lines,” said Hunt. “We try to mix it up so we have a great variety for our audience. It’s sort of an art. Lots of good material that we evaluate that belongs at some point—but we’re only doing five shows a year.”

John Countryman and Skye Scott in 2019 production of 'Million Dollar Quartet.'
John Countryman and Skye Scott in 2019 production of ‘Million Dollar Quartet.’ Photo by Mark Kitaoka

“[Our workshops and festival] are developing musicals in so many different stages of the game,” said Ivie. “Definitely we are in a moment when voices that used to not be considered commercial are now being considered. I’m seeing a shift in who is telling the stories. Women writers, trans writers, people of color have started being considered seriously. That is changing the stories that are being told and that’s very exciting.”

For next season, Village Theatre will be presenting another new musical that they are developing, Hansel & Gretl & Heidi & Günter, and hoping it will go beyond their run in spring 2020.

“That’s the challenge that we have. We love the success that Million Dollar Quartet had. We’d like more of those. We’d like more that are picked up by others and published,” said Hunt. “So, we are inviting other commercial producers to see [a reading of Hansel & Gretl & Heidi & Günter] and see if we can generate interest so that they will help us move it forward.”

Million Dollar Quartet is playing at the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre now through June 23. It will then run at Everett Performing Arts Center June 28—July 28.

Check out Village Theatre’s full 2019/20 season on our Events Calendar.

Rosemary Jones has written about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest for the Cornish Magazine, Capitol Hill Times, Encore, and others. Additional work can be seen at

Seattle Opera’s New Leader is Ready to Listen to the Community

Christina Scheppelmann, will be Seattle Opera’s fourth general director and the first woman to hold the position.

Seattle Opera’s newest general director, Christina Scheppelmann, won’t be programming the upcoming season. That was done by departing General Director Aidan Lang due to the long-range planning needed to secure top singers, arrange for rental sets and more. Still, the announcement earlier this spring hinted that her programming choices may combine the best of the Glynn Ross and Speight Jenkins years with the changes instituted by Lang.

“Scheppelmann is the leader Seattle Opera needs to move the company into a new era,” said Adam Fountain, a Seattle Opera Board vice president and search committee co-chair. “She’s committed to new work, to helping the art form evolve, and to telling contemporary stories. She unites both where Seattle Opera has been, and where it’s going.”

Scheppelmann is known in the operatic world as having a strong administrative background as well as deep love for the art form. Fluent in five languages, she is currently the artistic leader of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, a 172-year-old company with an annual budget of roughly $50 million. The historic theatre produces over 130 performances in opera, classical music, dance and more per season.

Her involvement in opera began early as a performer in the children’s choir of the Hamburg State Opera. After completing a degree in banking, she left her home country of Germany in 1988 to work in an artist management agency in Milan. From there, she’s led artistic and administrative work at opera companies around the world.

In 1994, Scheppelmann was recruited by Lotfi Mansouri at San Francisco Opera, and became one of the youngest artistic administrators at the time. She contributed to two major world premieres: Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (2000) and André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire (1995). A short list of her other accomplishments includes being the first director general of the Royal Opera House Muscat (Oman) and director of artistic operations at Washington National Opera.

“Seattle Opera has already established itself as one of the great American opera companies, and it can grow even further.”

Christina Scheppelmann

In Seattle, Scheppelmann will be the only woman to hold the top artistic leadership position at a performing arts organization with an annual budget of more than $10 million. She is also one of only two women to lead an opera company of this size in the United States.

The other, Francesca Zambello, artistic director of Washington National Opera, welcomed Scheppelmann to the ranks with the following statement: “I think of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s famous comment when she was asked, ‘When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?’ Her response was, ‘When there are nine.’ Women are such an important part of the stories we tell onstage, and they are key members of our staffs, our boards, our audiences. It is high time for more women to be represented in top leadership. Christina is greatly respected across the field, and is an ideal choice to lead Seattle Opera.”

For longtime fans of Seattle Opera, it is abundantly clear that Scheppelmann has the right background and can lead. What’s not known yet is what direction she will take the company.

Christina Scheppelmann
Christina Scheppelmann. Courtesy of Seattle Opera

Seattle Opera founding General Director Glynn Ross (1963–1983) introduced Northwest audiences to Richard Wagner’s Ring, an unheard of feat for a small regional company at the time. He also encouraged greater access to opera through productions of classics sung in English. Succeeding Glynn Ross, General Director Speight Jenkins (1983–2014) not only produced two new Ring cycles but improved the company’s national and international reputation with an increased commitment to the German composer, including opening Marion Oliver McCaw Hall in 2003 with a grand and locally built production of Parsifal and creating an International Wagner Competition.

During his five-season tenure at Seattle Opera, General Director Aidan Lang (2014-2019) moved away from Wagner and commissioned smaller chamber operas to expand the company’s reach outside of McCaw Hall. He additionally partnered with other companies to bring more modern opera and interpretations to the main stage. Most notable of these was the recent successful run of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, which was co-produced with Santa Fe Opera and San Francisco Opera.

Cast of The Revolution of Steve Jobs
Cast of Santa Fe Opera production of ‘The Revolution of Steve Jobs’. Photo by Ken Howard

“Seattle Opera has already established itself as one of the great American opera companies, and it can grow even further,” Scheppelmann said upon being named the company’s general director. “It has a fantastic history, from more recent work, to historic Wagner productions (some of which I have seen). Seattle Opera also has a world-class opera house with great acoustics, and now, a civic home [at the Seattle Center] which will add fantastic value to the community. Singers love coming to Seattle Opera, because they like the company and they like the city.”

But does this mean more Wagner after Lang notably moved the company away from the composer? In an interview published in the company’s Carmen program, Scheppelmann said she’d wait to see what the audience wanted but does have a certain production of Lohengrin in mind. She also wants to look at the company’s immediate past. “I have ideas of course,” Scheppelmann said in the interview with Seattle Opera’s Gabrielle Nomura Gainor, “but I still need to obtain a list of Seattle Opera’s repertoire in the past decade to ensure I wouldn’t be repeating anything too soon. I also very much want to get to know the community in Seattle better first.”

Seattle Opera’s current production of Bizet’s Carmen plays though May 19 at McCaw Hall. The upcoming 2019/20 season includes a mix of classics and new works including Verdi’s Rigoletto, Rossini’s Cinderella, The Three Singing Sisters concert, Redler’s chamber opera The Fall & The Rising, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Schnyder’s Yardbird and Puccini’s La Bohème.

Rosemary Jones has written about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest for Cornish Magazine, Capitol Hill Times, Encore, and others. Additional work can be seen at

Meet Mystic Inscho, One of the Kids Rocking Paramount’s Stage in ‘School of Rock’

While the musical School of Rock centers on a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher, the showstoppers come from the crowd of child actors playing the students.  A performer since age 4, the now nine-year-old Mystic Inscho plays the role of Zack in the tour of School of Rock.

This triple threat performer loves being able to shred on stage, dance and sing in musical theatre’s first-ever kids rock band that plays live on stage.  But he also enjoys visiting zoos and aquariums across the United States and Canada, as well as being a star. Inscho will be stopping in Seattle in May as part of Broadway at The Paramount’s series.  So, we caught up with Inscho and talked about what he liked best about the show and how he keeps up with real school while on tour.

Mystic Inscho
Performer Mystic Inscho.

Rosemary Jones: Why did you want to be in School Of Rock?

Mystic Inscho: School Of Rock is so cool! Also, it is the only musical which requires kids to have serious music instrument skills.  The show has inspired me to practice my instruments. And I have been training in dancing, singing and acting since I was five.  I was so fortunate to get this chance.

Singing, playing an instrument, dancing or acting—what’s the hardest part of your job?

All of these things are performing and I love to perform.  But the hardest thing is to do the show over and over with little time for other things.  I love drums and piano but don’t have much time to play them. We perform eight shows a week over six days and then travel on the seventh day.  We try to be energetic and make every performance the best.

You’re playing a kid going to school but how do you keep up with your lessons in real life?

We are required to have 15 hours of school a week.  I have online courses for fifth grade and there are three tutors with us.  Also just visiting all of these cities is a great learning opportunity.

School of Rock Tour
‘School of Rock’ tour. Evan Zimmerman/Murphy Made Photography

What’s your favorite moment in in School Of Rock?

That would be when I play my guitar solo and rock out on the stage in “Teacher’s Pet” (one of the last songs). That’s when my dancing and guitar solo come together and the audience responds to me.         

If you were a rock star, what position would you want to play in the band?

Definitely the lead guitarist and singer.

Your Instagram account shows a lot of traveling for this show. What’s been your favorite stop so far?

I loved Ottawa and Washington DC.  But every city has had great experiences.  The American and Canadian capitals are especially fun for visitors.  And the people have been so kind to us.

'School of Rock' tour.
‘School of Rock’ tour. Evan Zimmerman/Murphy Made Photography

Anything special that you want to do while you’re in Seattle?

Our family has friends in Seattle and I will get to meet them. The Space Needle seems very cool to visit. Also, I like zoos and aquariums.  I have been visiting different zoos and aquariums along the way.

What musical would you like to do next?

Billy Elliot would be a great musical to do. I auditioned for it in a local theatre.  But I was too young to be considered. I would love doing the singing and dancing.

Tickets are available online for School of Rock, playing May 14 to 19 at The Paramount Theatre.

Rosemary Jones has written about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest for Cornish Magazine, Capitol Hill Times, Encore, and others. Additional work can be seen at

San Francisco Ballet Orchestra Cheers on the Dancers and the Musicians

San Francisco Ballet’s 2019 season closer, Alexei Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy, is one of the heavyweights of modern ballet. As gorgeous as the dancing is, there’s multiple thrills to be found aurally as the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra performs Symphony #9 based on opus 70 from 1945; the Chamber Symphony set to an orchestration of the composer’s String Quartet No. 8 from 1960; and Piano Concerto #1 based on the neo-baroque Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra from 1933. Music Director and Principal Conductor Martin West will be discussing the history behind Ratmansky’s selections during a May 12 “Meet the Artist” event but here’s a little preview of what the musicians bring to the performances.

Rosemary Jones:  Shostakovich’s compositions are not necessarily what we think of as “ballet music.” What do you do in the orchestra to bring to life the composer’s music and the choreographer’s vision?

Martin West: There are challenges to taking a symphonic work and layering on ballet but luckily Alexei is an incredibly musical choreographer. Sometimes people think that conducting for ballet would be constricting or an extra burden on the conductor, but in Alexei’s case you can be free. It’s wonderful to play the pieces as you want. It’s a very satisfying evening musically.

Music Director and Principal Conductor Martin West. Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet
Music Director and Principal Conductor Martin West. Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet

You’ll be addressing some of this in your talk on May 12 but how do these works mark different eras in Shostakovich’s life and how does Ratmansky’s choreography reflect that?

The ninth symphony is big and quite extroverted. It came right after the end of the war and [Shostakovich] chose to do something quite humorous. The 28-minute piece is almost a joke. It was an interesting piece for him to do and caused him to be censored for a second time. In the ballet, the set has these Soviet symbols high above the dancers. Alexei’s work is always full of clever references and he does his own humorous take on the music. I really enjoy watching that one.

Chamber Symphony is an earlier work expanded into a full string orchestra and it is a massive work. Alexei took this and created a ballet dealing with Shostakovich’s relationships with women. Quite a stroke of genius, creating a remarkable ballet for a remarkable piece of music.

On May 12, I’ll talk about all three pieces, concentrating on [each] tie to Shostakovich’s life and what to listen for, the material hidden within the music. We are lucky in San Francisco to have an audience that appreciates the orchestra and wants to understand and appreciate the music.

Do you think it makes a difference to the dancers to have the live music?

Yes!  We have 60 to 70 people in the pit willing the dancers to look good. They are playing to propel them to higher and higher levels. That’s something that you can’t achieve with recorded music.  You can’t get that visceral feeling from a pair of speakers. What we try to achieve for the dancers is to enhance that symbiotic relationship. If you dance to recorded music, you know what to expect. You know exactly how high you can leap and still come down on a specific note. But when you dance to live music, you can leap higher, you can take risks. If a dancer just wants to take a little more time on a turn, or do more on the acting side, [in the orchestra] we can react to it and add to it.

San Francisco Ballet in Ratmansky's Shostakovich Trilogy. Photo by Erik Tomasson
San Francisco Ballet in Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy. Photo by Erik Tomasson

What’s a typical rehearsal schedule like for the orchestra and for you?

[At the beginning of May] I will be going into the studio with dancers to refresh my memory of the choreography. I will start discussing the pieces with the dancers so I know the parameters when I start rehearsing the orchestra. Ballet music sometimes is criticized for changing too much for the choreography but if you set it off on the right track, you can make it so it sounds like it was always going to go that way. Typically we’ll do six to nine hours, sometimes 12, of practice. We get one stage and tech run and then one dress rehearsal, and then we are playing for performances. We’re quite lucky that we get that much rehearsal here. Some dance orchestras don’t get that tech run.  Everyone in the orchestra is a professional and they come to rehearsals knowing what they need to do.

The end of this season marks a couple of big retirements for the orchestra?

Oh yes. My timpani player is retiring after only 30 years [James Gott, principal timpani, joined in 1989]. And the last founding member of the orchestra is retiring. When Steve [Steven D’Amico, principal double bass] leaves, he will have done 45 years of service for the company. He’s been a wonderful advocate for the players. I contribute a lot of the goodwill in how management and musicians get along to Steve’s calm and wise words over the years.

So, do you have any orchestra traditions to mark the end of a season?

I expect this year’s potluck will be bigger [due to the retirements]. Also, whenever we finish a run, as soon as the audience starts to clap, we do a cheer for the orchestra.

San Francisco Ballet’s production of Alexei Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy can be seen at War Memorial Opera House May 7 through 12.

For those who want a little more of San Francisco Ballet Orchestra’s long serving musicians, D’Amico can be heard on the Orchestra’s Grammy Award-winning album Ask Your Mama and will be doing a Meet the Artist talk on May 10. Both D’Amico and Gott have performed on many of the orchestra’s other 18 albums and four DVDs.

Rosemary Jones has written about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest for Cornish Magazine, Capitol Hill Times, Encore, and others. Additional work can be seen at

David Hsieh on Bringing ‘Kim’s Convenience’ to the American West Coast Stage

One of Seattle’s most prolific directors and actors, David Hsieh is well known for bring diverse work to the stage as the founding artistic director of ReAct. His many credits also include performances in Book-It’s productions of The Brothers K and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, as well as in The Happy Ones and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at Seattle Public. Co-directing Kim’s Convenience with Taproot Theatre’s founding artistic director Scott Nolte, Hsieh is realizing a long-held ambition in bringing Ins Choi’s warm-hearted comedy about a Korean family and their friends to local audiences.

Rosemary Jones: Kimbits, as fans of the series Kim’s Convenience are known, largely come from watching the Canadian television sitcom starting in 2016 or streaming on Netflix since 2018. Did you first encounter Ins Choi’s Kim’s Convenience as the stage play or online?

David Hsieh: When the published version of the script was first printed in 2012, a copy of it landed on my desk. (I was the drama book buyer at a local bookstore at the time.) I knew nothing about it but being a play with Asian themes. I added it to my huge ever-shifting pile of plays to read. I didn’t actually get to it until a few years later after hearing Ins Choi being interviewed on the radio one night. He was talking about the play and its great success at the Toronto Fringe and subsequent Soulpepper tour as well as the new series in the works. I dug my copy out the pile and read it, and immediately fell in love with the script. I don’t have Netflix or anything but when Scott first asked me to help with the production, I binge-watched [the series] on YouTube and am now a huge fan of that as well.

Who is your favorite character in the Kim family?

I’m not one who likes to pick favorites. I actually like them all…and that’s what I find intriguing about the play and how it’s written. I think everyone can relate to each of the four family members in different ways, as well as the variety of other characters that visit the store. Growing up second generation in an immigrant Asian family, I can definitely relate to both [the Kim’s adult children] Jung and Janet’s characters and what they are going through in the play. But the parents of course are also so wonderfully written, in particular the part of [the father] Appa, who is such a fun role and an amusing take for the audience. On a personal level, I don’t have a strong relationship with my own father, so the storyline between Appa and Jung is particularly affecting for me.

What are the differences you see between the Canadian series and the original play?

Director and actor David Hsieh. Photo by John Ulman
Director and actor David Hsieh. Photo by John Ulman

Well the TV series was inspired by the play, but there are differences. While the family and basic plot is similar, and there are some scenes and sections of dialogue from the play peppered into various episodes of the series, particularly the first season, there are many differences. For instance, in the play, Jung left 16 years ago and in the series it’s only been about nine years, so the characters are all younger and at a different point in their lives. As each season has unfolded the series has expanded and grown and diverged more and more. There are some things in the play that are quite different, and probably can’t happen in the timeline of the series any more, almost becoming an alternate reality. I think TV audiences will be intrigued to see the play and these differences and what inspired the TV show.

When did you hear about the Taproot Theatre production?

Scott Nolte notified me over a year ago that they were hoping to get the rights to do this American West Coast premiere and asked if I’d be interested in working on the project. I immediately and enthusiastically said yes and a few months later, the rights were confirmed.

How does co-directing work with Scott Nolte?

I think it works really well. This is my first chance to work at Taproot, a theatre that I’ve admired for decades. Scott and I have known each other for many years. We have the same sensibilities and appreciation of theatre as well as the same take on Kim’s Convenience. He obviously knows the space really well, and of course I have a unique perspective for this play and we make a good team.

As co-director, what’s your biggest challenge in preparing for opening night?

Well, as with any production I’ve helped direct, our biggest challenge is to create and present the best production of the play as we possibly can. We have an amazing cast. I think Seattle audiences are really going to enjoy this production. You know it’s going to be a good show when you’re still laughing and being moved to tears by the play deep into the rehearsal process, another testament to the brilliant script created by Ins. Our greatest joy will be to see Seattle audiences enjoying this timely and universal story of family love. It’s been so well received at every place it has been produced. I hope this show will be one of Taproot’s biggest successes.

Taproot Theatre’s production of Kim Convenience runs May 15 through June 22.

After Kim’s Convenience opens, Hsieh will be directing the West Coast premiere of Salty by AJ Clauss, a play about penguins and zookeepers, for ReAct Theatre at 12th Ave Arts.

Rosemary Jones has written about arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest for Cornish Magazine, Capitol Hill Times, Encore, and others. Additional work can be seen at