Intiman Offers a ‘Savage Chat with Tony Kushner’

In preparation for staging Tony Kushner’s award-winning masterwork Angels in America this summer, Intiman Theatre is kicking off its annual theatre festival with a discussion between the playwright and Dan Savage at Town Hall Seattle.

This year’s festival, called The Angels Project, includes not only the staging of the two-part, seven-hour theatre piece, but programs and events to encourage a deeper community dialogue with the issues presented by Angels in America.

On Saturday, May 10th at 2 PM, Intiman will present “A Savage Chat with Tony Kushner,” an interactive community conversation with the Tony Award-winning playwright and internationally syndicated advice columnist, The Stranger Editorial Director and Intiman alum (his play Miracle! was part of the company’s first summer festival in 2012) Dan Savage. It will be interactive in that they’ll be able to answer questions, either in real-time, via video submission (emailed to asktony@intiman.org) or tweeted to @IntimanTheatre using the hashtag #AskTony.

Kushner is best known for Angels in America, though he’s also written the screenplays for Stephen Spielberg’s Munich and was nominated for an Academy Award with Lincoln. He’s received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, an Emmy Award and two Tony Awards, among many other accolades. Dan Savage is the author of the internationally syndicated sex column, “Savage Love” and is the co-founder of the It Gets Better Project to help prevent suicide among LGBT youth. Angels in America runs Aug. 12 – Sept. 21, 2014.

Tony Kushner photo by Joan Marcus. Dan Savage photo by LaRae Lobdell. 

Much Ado about Something: Seattle Shakes Announces Season

Seattle Shakespeare Company has just announced the company’s robust plans for the coming 2014-15 season. It includes an expanded five-play indoor season, kicked off by Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Wooden O, the company’s annual selection of free outdoor shows, will include an all-female cast of Julius Caesar set in contemporary times.

“Many of the projects in this coming year have been in the works for several years,” artistic director George Mount said in a press release. “It was really a matter of timing and getting the right pieces in place.” With the mainstage indoor season, Mount said all the plays will focus around the theme ‘Lead Us Into Temptation.’ “Desires,” he notes, “both playful and sinister, are a factor in each show.”

The Wooden O season, summertimes shows presented for free around the Puget Sound area, will be The Two Gentlemen of Verona directed by David Quicksall and Julius Caesar directed by Vanessa Miller. The Two Gentlemen of Verona will draw its setting from mid-century America. Julius Caesar, with its female cast, will be an enthralling political thriller about the power of Rome.

The mainstage season opens with Beckett’s masterwork, Waiting for Godot. The season will continue with Shakespeare’s sparkling comedy Twelfth Night, followed by Measure for Measure, directed by Desdemona Chiang, Moliere’s Tartuffe and Othello directed by John Langs.

The season particulars:

2014 Wooden O Free Outdoor Season
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
July 10 – Aug. 10, 2014
Performed at park locations throughout King and Snohomish Counties

Julius Caesar
July 10 – Aug. 2, 2014
Performed at park locations throughout King and Snohomish Counties

2014-15 Indoor Season
Waiting for Godot
Sept. 3-21, 2014
Performed at the Falls Theatre at ACT Theatre

Twelfth Night
Oct. 21 – Nov. 16, 2014
Performed at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center

Measure for Measure
Jan. 6 – Feb. 1, 2015
Performed at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center

Tartuffe
March 17 – April 12, 2015
Performed at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center

Othello
April 22-May 10, 2015
Performed at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center 

Understanding ‘Earnest’

There’s no question that Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a comic masterpiece. It’s full of the author’s signature dry wit, and crackles with humor while skewering the restrictive social mores of the Victorian era. But in that grand tradition of drawing room comedy, it can also get just the teensiest bit confusing. Who is in love with whom? What’s the obsession with muffins? Is anyone actually named Earnest?!

The good people at Seattle Shakespeare Company are one step ahead of us. As they prepare to open their production of Earnest later this month, they’ve pulled together some handy infographics and flowcharts to help put these pieces together. One such example (from Cliffs Notes) is below, but there’s so much more to learn! Click here for more Earnest fun facts about muffins, cucumber sandwiches and much more. You won’t be sorry.

The 5th Avenue Theatre Kicks Up Its Heels for 2014-15 Season

Recent hit musicals, classic hit musicals, and a brand new musical that could very well become a hit are all coming to The 5th Avenue Theatre! The company just announced its 2014-2015 season, which is chock-full of wonderful shows including current Broadway fave Kinky Boots and the world premiere musical Something’s Rotten, helmed by Tony-winning The Book of Mormon director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw.

Kinky Boots, which recently won six Tony Awards including Best Musical, was inspired by a true story of a struggling shoe factory owner, the score is by pop music great Cyndi Lauper, with direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell and a book by four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein.  

Something Rotten!, a hilarious tale of two brothers trying to write a hit play in the time of Shakespeare, will be directed by the Tony Award-winning director and choreographer of The Book of Mormon, Casey Nicholaw.

Other season standouts include the holiday hit A Christmas Story, The Musical, which returns home after debuting at The 5th in 2010, and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, a co-production with Spectrum Dance Theater directed by 5th Ave’s producing director Bill Berry and choreographed by Spectrum artistic director Donald Byrd.

“With an array of shows ranging from a hotly-anticipated Broadway tour to a hilarious world premiere, not to mention celebrated contemporary classics and one of the immortal musicals from the Golden Age of Broadway,” says Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong, “we believe that this season truly represents the breadth and depth of what musical theater has to offer.”

Details of the full season are below:

A Chorus Line
September 3-28, 2014

Kinky Boots
October 7-26, 2014

A Christmas Story, The Musical
November 25-December 31, 2014

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel
February 5-March 1, 2015

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well & Living in Paris
March 7-May 17, 2015

Something Rotten!
April 29-May 24, 2015

Grease
July 9-August 2, 2015

Taproot Theatre Opens New Studio Theatre

With the expansion of Taproot Theatre complete, the company will now offer smaller shows in their smaller venue, the Isaac Studio Theatre, located in the company’s new Kendall Center. The 120-seat space will kick off 2014 with a season of six shows performed by Taproot Theatre’s Touring Company. The season, which is currently underway, will give Taproot audiences a delightful variety of improv, drama and comedy.

The inaugural season includes:

boy meets girl…an improved love story
By Danny Walter and Solomon Davis, Feb. 7, 8 and 15.
A love story, where the audience suggests and directs the plot. Improv at its finest.

Pretty Fire
by Charlayne Woodard, March 6-22.
A one-woman show, tracing the life of the famed African-American actress, who has appeared in such movies as “Unbreakable,” “The Crucible” and “The Million Dollar Hotel.”

Mark of Immediacy
Adapted by Nathan Jeffrey, April 11, 12, 17, 18, 19.
With scripture as their script, three actors bring to life the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Trouble in Fairtalezania and Wild Wes
Directed by Nathan Jeffrey and Solomon Davis, May 5 and 17.
Two family-friendly shows. One about a Fairy Godmother losing her powers; the other about a boy from Texas trying to make friends in his new hometown in the Pacific Northwest.

The Amish Project
Written by Jessica Dickey, July 24 – Aug. 9.
One woman channels a kaleidoscope of voices in reaction to a true life mass shooting in an Amish schoolhouse.

Christmas Touring
Dec 1, 3, 8, and 10.
See two shows (still to be determined) for the price of one as holiday cheer makes its merry home in Taproot’s hallowed halls. 

Pacific Northwest Ballet to Retire Beloved ‘Nutcracker’

A Pacific Northwest Ballet tradition since 1983 is coming to an end. 

The beloved PNB version of The Nutcracker, with sets and costumes by famed children’s book author Maurice Sendak and choreography by Kent Stowell, will dance into PNB history after the 2014 holiday season. Beginning in 2015, a new Nutcracker will be staged. It will use George Balanchine’s 1954 choreography with new costumes and sets by Ian Falconer. Falconer is a famed children’s book author in his own right, having created the beloved “Olivia” series.

“We all have a great deal of love and attachment to the (‘Nutcracker’) we have,” Peter Boal, PNB’s Artistic Director told the Seattle Times earlier this week. “Looking at ticket sales over the last decade, and looking at the age of the current production…it was probably time to make a change.”

WIth unanimous backing by the PNB board and a new fundraising campaign, Boal feels bittersweet about the current production’s end, but excited about the future of their Nutcracker. “When the curtain goes up on opening night,” Boal said, “it’s going to be spectacular.”
 

It’s Alive! Behind the Scenes of Book-It’s ‘Frankenstein’

Opening night for Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus is almost upon us, and things at Book-It Repertory Theatre couldn’t be crazier. Putting this classic horror story on stage is very serious business, and inquiring theatrical minds need to know: how are things going backstage? Luckily, director David Quicksall has been capturing some super-solemn behind-the-scenes moments on video, so Book-It fans and friends can join in on this process with the pros.   

Click on above to get a primer from the good doctor himself (as played by Connor Toms) and then click here for more very informative videos. How informative? Well, let’s just say you’ll get an interview with the real star of the show and a candid discussion about very, very comfortable corsets are. By all means, enjoy.

The Two Gentlemen of Walla Walla, Err, Verona

Coriolanus in Cheney, perhaps. Richard II in Richland. Othello in Othello. Maybe one day! Seattle Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare Walla Walla are embarking on a partnership to bring professional classical theatre productions to Eastern Washington.

Starting with Seattle Shakespeare’s production of Richard II, recently discussed here, and continuing on with the company’s coming production of The Importance of Being Earnest, Seattle Shakespeare is proud to return to Eastern Washington. In the summer of 2008, Seattle Shakespeare Company transferred its outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Walla Walla to play at the Fort Walla Walla Ampitheatre and out of that initial effort Shakespeare Walla Walla was created. 

Since then the indoor performing arts venue, Gesa Power House Theatre, was built and opened in Walla Walla, housing all sorts of theatre performances. In addition to the upcoming performances by Seattle Shakespeare, the Walla Walla venue will also soon welcome “Such Sweet Thunder Suite,” Duke Ellington’s 12-part suite inspired by Shakespeare’s works, with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra.

Richard II will play February 6-9. The Importance of Being Earnest will be performed April 16-20. “Such Sweet Thunder Suite” performance dates have yet to be determined.

  

 

How You Know ‘Carmina Burana’

There are pieces of classical music so closely entwined with pop culture that, if we hear just a few bars, we know a lot about where we are and what’s happening. “Morning” from Grieg’s Peer Gynt, for example, paints a peaceful, tranquil scene. Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” from the Ring cycle is for someone(s) on the warpath. Then there’s Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, which has become musical shorthand for “something super scary or incredibly dramatic is about to happen (or be spoofed).”

More specifically, it’s the ‘O Fortuna’ section of Orff’s cantata that has become a cultural touchstone. Below, here are just a very few of this impressive, expressive choral piece being used to its full entertainment potential. Refresh your memory below, and then hear the full, glorious piece performed by the Seattle Symphony, joined by the Seattle Symphony Chorale and Northwest Boychoir, from April 3-6.

It was featured in the 1989 Civil War movie Glory, starring Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freedom (and featured even more heavily in the movie’s trailer).

 

Late night host Conan O’Brien often uses the theme when a picture of former Vice President Dick Cheney is shown:

 

And of course, it’s part of that benchmark of class, Jackass the Movie.

Seattle Symphony to Play Free Concerts

From January to May, the Seattle Symphony will perform three FREE community concerts at Seattle neighborhood venues.

On Tuesday, Jan. 21st at 7 p.m., at the Shorecrest Performing Arts Center, the Seattle Symphony will play side-by-side with the Cascade Youth Symphony Orchestra. Works by Liszt, Mendelssohn and Sibelius are included on the bill.

On Friday, Jan. 24th at 12 p.m., at Seattle City Hall, the Seattle Symphony will play even more Mendelssohn, joined by 18-year-old Sarah Hall on violin. They will also perform work by a a composer named Mozart (you may have heard of him). 

On Sunday, May 18th, 2 p.m. at Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion, the Seattle Symphony, with 14-year-old Olivia Marckx on cello, will play side-by-side with the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra. The bill includes work by Tchaikovksy and Ravel. 

As Seattle Symphony Executive Director Simon Woods says, “At the Seattle Symphony, we are committed to bringing the joy of music to the widest audience possible, and our free Community Concerts are a fantastic way to do this.” 

Fantastic, indeed.