New Shows Added at Stanford Live

Stanford Live has announced eleven more artists in their 2019-20 season lineup. Following Stanford Live’s mission to “foster a vibrant learning community and provide distinctive experiences through the performing arts,” the newly added acts are a diverse range of comedians, national and international musicians, and an American legend.

Sounds of Cape Verde: Lucibela

September 27

On her first record, Lucibela explores being a woman and a Cabo–Verdean, living far away and loving with sensuality and grace. Lucibela’s vocal technique lies in her ability to explore the deep register of Brazil’s great sambistas while adding a thrilling vibrato.

Jesus Trejo

September 28

Jesus Trejo is a LA-based comedian, actor and writer. Named one of Variety’s Top 10 Comics To Watch 2017, he is a paid regular at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles and often appears on multiple TV series.

Hanggai

September 28

Hanggai (杭盖), from the steppes of Mongolia by way of Beijing, is a crossover band that blends traditional music and rock. The band is comprised of Mongolian-Chinese musicians, members of one of China’s 55 official ethnic minorities. 

Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar

October 1

Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar fill their performance venues with soul-stirring arrangements of contemporary gospel and original compositions. They are known for their rich harmonies and beautiful blends.

Willie Nelson

October 12

With a six-decade career and 200 plus albums, Willie Nelson has earned every conceivable award as a musician and amassed reputable credentials as an author, actor and activist. He continues to thrive as a relevant and progressive musical and cultural force.

Terry Riley and Gyan Riley

October 19

California Composer Terry Riley launched what is now known as the Minimalist movement with his revolutionary classic In C in 1964. In this special performance, Terry is joined by his son, award-winning classical guitarist Gyan Riley.

Jon Batiste

November 2

Jon Batiste is a globally celebrated musician, educator, bandleader and television personality whose musical skill, artistic vision and exuberant charisma have made him a triple threat and the newly “crowned prince of jazz.”

Nella

November 14

Venezuelan singer Nella, who has already garnered the support of Latin pop star Alejandro Sanz, has performed with a variety of artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Carlos Vives, Luis Enrique and Susana Baca. 

Allison Miller

November 15

NYC-based drummer, composer and teacher Allison Miller gathers inspiration from a wide array of genres. Coming from the Jazz tradition, she engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all music.

Alicia Olatuja

November 16

Praised by the New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone and an amiably regal presence on stage,” Alicia Olatuja astounds audiences with her exquisite vocals, artistic versatility and captivating demeanor.

Musica Nuda

November 17

This Italian duo has no boundaries, fusing bits of jazz, songwriting, rock, punk and classical music, using the art of silence as well as sound, underlining the value of a lyric, a story, the meaning of every song whether dramatic, funny, energetic, sarcastic or romantic. 


Tickets for the newly added shows and the full 2019-20 season are available online.  

‘The Tale of Despereaux’ is Announced as a Special Event at Berkeley Rep

A charming new musical has just been added to Berkeley Rep’s upcoming season to play during the holiday.  

Berkeley Repertory Theatre announced yesterday that they will be adding a special performance event in their 2019-20 season: The Tale of Despereaux. This new musical will be presented by PigPen Theatre Co. and is directed by Marc Bruni whose credits include the Tony Award-winning Beautiful: The Carole King Story. The Tale of Despereaux comes to Berkeley Rep after a world premiere at The Old Globe in San Diego and will run November 21 through January 5.

Incoming Artistic Director of Berkeley Rep Johanna Pfaelzer looks forward to the addition saying, “I am thrilled to have PigPen Theatre Co. join the upcoming season at Berkeley Rep. They are known for their dynamic theatrical storytelling, and to have this beautifully staged interpretation of a great novel on our stage will be a treat for our audiences.”

Adapted from Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery Medal-winning novel and the animated film, The Tale of Despereaux follows a courageous mouse who dreams of becoming a knight. He sets off on a noble quest that will take him down into dungeons and up to the heights of a castle tower to rescue a beautiful human princess—but the dark-hearted rat Roscuro has other ideas.

Filled with beautiful music and lyrics by PigPen Theatre Co., inventive staging and a poignant message, The Tale of Despereaux makes a perfect show for children and adults alike.

Speaking to The San Diego Union-Tribune about the appeal of this story, member of PigPen Arya Shahi states, “the mouse is the embodiment of an unlikely hero. These little scurrying rodents, these little creatures, it’s them against the world.”

The Tale of Despereaux will be one of two special events in Berkeley Rep’s season, the other being Elevator Repair Service’s Gatz, a word-for-word performance of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, which has astonished audiences around the world. These two events will be in addition to Berkeley Rep’s seven regular season shows previously announced: The Great Wave, White Noise, Becky Nurse of Salem, Culture Clash (Still) in America, School Girls; Or the African Mean Girls Play, Happy Days, and Swept Away.


Tickets for the The Tale of Despereaux will be available to Berkeley Rep subscribers in early August before becoming available to the general public. Information on becoming a 2019-20 season subscriber can be found on their website.  

STG’s DANCE This Celebrates 21 Years

The week after commemorating our nation’s independence, Seattle Theatre Group celebrates a bit more universally.

This Friday, STG’s DANCE This program will come to Moore Theatre for one remarkable night of performance. Now in its 21st year, DANCE This includes works from national and local dancers, highlighting styles from around the globe, with the purpose of connecting diverse communities and sharing backgrounds, all through the art of dance.

This year will include performances by:

  • Bahia In Motion (Dances from Brazil)
  • Cornish Dance Theater (Modern)
  • Massive Monkees (Breaking Crew)
  • Northside Step Team (Step)
  • Northwest Tap Connection (Afro-Modern/Tap)
  • Pacific Ballroom Dance (Foxtrot/Cha Cha)
  • Prashanthi Chitre Institute of Performing Arts (Indian Classical, Folk and Contemporary)
  • United Pacific Islander Impact (Samoan Dance and Music)
  • A Finale Choreographed by Kirsten Barron Kinney

In addition to the DANCE This performance on July 12, the program provides young dancers the opportunity to work with professional educators through two different dance camps during the summer: DANCE This Intensive in Seattle and DANCE This Camp @ Centrum. These programs focus on cross cultural and contemporary dance.

Aaron Alexandar, Chicago cast member from the hit musical Hamilton was a participant of DANCE This in the past and has shared its value, “Having been involved with DANCE This since 2003, I can say the program has helped shape the artist I am today. It has made my choreography and directing skills more well-rounded and eclectic. DANCE This offers kids a glimpse into the world of the performing arts and inspires them to continue to learn and perform.”


The 21st Annual DANCE This performance is Friday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Moore Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online.

TheatreWorks’ New Works Festival Gives Us a Taste of What’s Next in American Theatre

This August, where do you see yourself? The possibilities are endless. With warm weather and long days, the outdoors are a constant temptation calling you away from the office (literal or otherwise). Even if outdoor activities aren’t your predilection, there are summer blockbuster movies, arts and culture festivals, and family vacations (or obligations, depending on your view).

But if you’re a theatre enthusiast your answer will probably be a little different; that’s because August is also the time for TheatreWorks’ New Works Festival. Now in its 18th year, the Festival has become an “artistic highlight of the summer.” For two weeks (August 9–18) the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto will host “script-in-hand” readings of five new musicals and plays, a panel with the artists, and a keynote address.

The five pieces chosen for the Festival are in the early stages of development and the readings offer audiences the chance to go behind-the-scenes, to see how a play or musical is workshopped. Shows that have had their first appearance at the Festival have gone on to great success on Broadway and off, such as Tony Award-winning Memphis and Obie Award-winning Describe the Night. And many, including Jane Austen’s Emma and The Four Immigrants, have become TheatreWorks hits. This season, TheatreWorks will stage the Northern California premiere of They Promised Her the Moon which debuted at last year’s Festival.

This year, the New Works Festival offers audiences two musicals and three plays to enjoy, discuss and make predictions about. Here’s a summary of what will be showcased:

Revival

The authors of Broadway’s Tuck Everlasting spin a romantic musical drama across the vast prairies of 19th century Nebraska.

Iron John

Weaving past and present, this poignant new musical explores a haunting legacy of racism buried but not forgotten.

Nan, and the Lower Body (The Pap Smear Play)

In this frank and feminist play, good-humored Dr. Pap has great mysteries to unravel and a bright assistant with dark secrets to hide.

The Imperialists

With a Noises Off flair, this door-slamming romp sets old-school against new-wave in a hilarious quest for royalty and relevance.

Father/Daughter

In this funny, warm-hearted, and wonderfully human play about lovers, fathers, daughters and the fragile bonds between them, two actors play very different generations in the same family.


The 2019 New Works Festival runs from August 9–18 at Lucie Stern Theatre. Tickets are available online.

They Promised Her the Moon will play March 4–29 at Lucie Stern Theatre. Tickets are available online.

Seattle Opera Welcomes a Neighbor to Their New Civic Home

KING FM 98.1 is getting a new home at the Opera Center, Seattle Opera’s civic home at Seattle Center, which had its grand opening in December 2018. In early 2020 KING FM will move into 4,000 square feet of space on the Opera Center’s second floor. This large area was deliberately left empty when Seattle Opera moved into the building—Seattle Opera General Director Aidan Lang stated that the Opera was looking to rent to an organization with a comparable vision and mission.

In addition to sharing those values, the arrangement will be financially positive for both organizations—Seattle Opera is able to put the rental income towards operational costs of its new civic home and KING FM will benefit from an exceptional new space that they wouldn’t have been able to develop themselves. These reciprocal advantages are something that is to be celebrated, when many arts organizations are struggling financially.

Seattle Opera and KING FM are looking forward to continuing to work together. KING FM CEO Brenda Barnes said in the press release, “We have worked closely with Seattle Opera for years, and look forward to finding more opportunities to collaborate once we are only a floor apart. We are thrilled to be moving into this beautiful space, and to be in such close proximity to one of our most important partners.”

Seattle Opera and KING FM have a history of collaboration with Saturday evening opera recordings hosted by Seattle Opera staff, as well as live broadcasts of Seattle Opera performances at McCaw Hall throughout the season. They are looking forward to supplementing these with live broadcasts from the rehearsal studios on Friday evenings.

With two organizations that not only value classical music and performance—but have also had immense success in creating diversity within their audiences—Seattle can look forward to a great partnership. As Lang said, “Seattle Opera and KING FM believe that stronger collaboration is critical to the success and sustainability of the major arts institutions in Seattle. With this agreement, we are creating a more viable future for performance, music, and civic engagement in this community.” 


Dates for the hosted recordings of Seattle Opera’s upcoming performances can be found on their website.

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, Examiner.com and others. Additional work can be seen at rosemaryjones.com.

Come-along for a Sing-along with Hershey Felder

Hershey Felder has a flair for performance—audiences all over the nation love to watch as he portrays composers from history and performs their music live on stage. On April 3 he debuted his newest musical creation at TheatreWorks, Hershey Felder: A Paris Love Story. This newest installment of Felder’s “Great Composer Series” explores the life and music of Claude Debussy.

However, the world premiere of a Hershey Felder original isn’t the only excitement brewing in Silicon Valley’s theatre community. Recognizing that audiences have been vying to participate with Felder ever since his first performance, TheatreWorks will host “Hershey Felder’s Great American Songbook Sing-Along.”

This event will take audience members through 100 years of beloved American music. Felder will lead audiences through favorites such as Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein, the Gershwins, Bernstein, Berlin and many more.

“Hershey Felder’s Great American Songbook Sing-Along” takes place one night only, on April 22 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $50–100.

Note that the sing-along is a separate performance from Hershey Felder: A Paris Love Story, which runs now through May 5.

A Gripping Musical Exploration of Matthew Shepard Comes to Stanford Live

This weekend, Stanford Live will host the Grammy-winning Conspirare choral group as they perform Considering Matthew Shepard. Composed by Craig Hella Johnson, the artistic director of Conspirare, Considering Matthew Shepard is a singular and poignant musical contemplation of an atrocious and senseless crime.

Twenty years ago Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, was kidnapped, beaten and left to die alone in a field—he was eventually found and transported to a hospital, but died days later from his injuries. Receiving widespread media attention, the crime stoked conversation in our country about state and federal hate crime legislation and LGBT rights. The “Matthew Shepard Act” was passed into legislation by President Barack Obama in 2009.

Through this three-part oratorio, Johnson has woven together music, poetry, passages from Matthew Shepard’s journal, as well as other writings from his parents and media. Johnson creates a channel to not only remember and tribute Matthew Shepard, but to come together and share our humanity.

“Matt Shepard and his story have led me on an inspiring, challenging and deeply meaningful journey that I continue to this day. In composing Considering Matthew Shepard I wanted to create, within a musical framework, a space for reflection, consideration and unity around his life and legacy.”

Craig Hella Johnson, composer

Join Stanford Live and experience “by far the most intricate, beautiful and unyielding artistic response to this notorious anti-gay hate crime” (Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation).

Considering Matthew Shepard will take place Saturday, April 13 at 7:30pm in the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University. Tickets are $32–60 for non-students.  

Midweek News: Ludovic Morlot, SIFF and ‘Muriel’s Wedding’

News from Seattle’s performing arts community and beyond for the (mid-) week of June 14, 2017:

Congratulations, Ludovic Morlot. Soon, he’s going to be conducting for the Berlin Philharmonic for the first time. 

Talking about the Seattle Symphony. City Arts calls recent concert “moving”

The 5th Avenue Theatre is showcasing a world premiere of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Learn more about it from Seattle Magazine and the Seattle Times

The 5th Avenue honored high school productions with their annual awards show. Learn about the winners at Broadway World.

And yet more congratulations. This time to the winners from this year’s Seattle International Film Festival. 

Still more congratulations! This, to the Space Needle, who is going to go under major renovations

What’s this? More congratulations? To retiring Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer, Carrie Imler.

The Seattle Art Fair is returning this August. Learn more from Seattle Channel.

How do we shelter local artists from skyrocketing rents? Some thoughts from the city, via the Seattle Times.

It’s summer movie time in Seattle. What are you going to see? 

Do you like the movie Muriel’s Wedding? A musical is coming.

Midweek News: 5th Avenue Theatre, Ballet and Pavarotti Movies

News from Seattle’s performing arts community and beyond for the (mid-) week of June 7, 2017:

The 5th Avenue Theatre is presenting the world premiere of Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. Learn more about the show at City Arts.

Did you see the Seattle Symphony performance of a not-often-seen Ravel opera? The show will not be soon forgotten. It was a shimmering thing.

Talking about the symphony, here’s an interview with Seattle Symphony’s guest conductor, Thomas Dausgaard

The Pacific Northwest Ballet’s latest production is exquisite and bittersweet

SIFF is celebrating Anjelica Huston. Learn more from the Seattle Times.

In a bit of bad news for Seattle cinephiles, Seven Gables and the Guild 45th are closing

Welcome to Braggsville is being showcased at Book-It Repertory Theatre. Learn more about the production from Seattle magazine.

Have you gone out to Village Theatre to see Dreamgirls yet? It’s a dream

Congratulations to Annex Theatre. They’re celebrating their 30th anniversary.

Town Hall Seattle is getting a big makeover. Seattle magazine has the story.

The Drama Desk Awards were recently given out. Come From Away was a big winner. It was at Seattle Rep before making its way to Broadway. 

Ron Howard is making a biopic about the opera legend Luciano Pavarotti