The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee @ Portland Center Stage
Portland Center Stage is one of the best theaters, I will forever miss living mere blocks away from it. I was a little nervous about Spelling Bee, I worried that it could be a bit hokey and it was a tad hokey. A musical about a spelling bee has “family” stamped all over it. PCS did a good job of updating the references, that saved it from feeling dated and hokey. The was cast couldn’t have been better. The actors were all quick, witty, and never took the characters over the top. They also performed the songs with just the right amount of self-awareness to seem natural. This was a great show.
The Yellow Wood @ Seattle Center House
The Yellow Wood, a musical about a teenage boy with ADHD performed by a community theater group, had to be good. To stay focused the kid must take medication, which he’s not happy about. The Yellow Wood centered on a day where he didn’t take his meds and he has to memorize Frosts “The Road Not Taken” for english class, and of course there’s a girl. The songs were good, in the modern emo musical style. The cast gave it their all and gave solid performances. I’ll be keeping my eye on the theater troupe, Contemporary Classics, they have potential. I wonder how their version of Spelling Bee was like?
Ruined @ The Intiman Theater
I read about Ruined when it opened in New York and got really excited when I saw that the Itiman Theater‘s production was going to have the original director, who also is the Itiman’s new Artistic Director. Also a lot of the original New York cast made the trip to Seattle. About the complicated relationships formed at a brothel in the wartorn Congo, Ruined was full of life in a dark situation. Violence and fear balanced with the happiness and laughter so that hope never disappeared. Full of tough characters who learn to make the best of any situation, it was a perfect performance, by a talented group of actors.
In The Heights @ The 5th Avenue Theatre
As a gift Morgan got me season tickets to the 5th Avenue Theatre, it is the theater that hosts most to the large touring productions that come through Seattle. In the Heights was the first show of the season. It’s a well-meaning musical about a group of friend in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York dealing with gentrification, poverty, crime, love and death. The story was bland and predictable, saving the show was the music and performances. The music and songs are heavily Puerto-Rican tinged with a bit of hip hop represented. The libretto was very reminiscent of the nuyorican soul movement of the nineties, there were even a couple of spoken word deliveries. The songs were full of energy and life, but was effectively somber and reflective when needed. It also helped that you could tell that the actors all loved their roles. I enjoyed myself, I would go again.
God Of Carnage @ Seattle Repertory Theatre
Like Ruined I read the New York Times review of God of Carnage when it opened it New York, and filed it away in my memory banks as something to keep an eye out for. The story of a pair of upper middle class couples having drinks and talking about how to cope with their kids getting into school yard fight. The production we saw at Seattle Rep was terrible, and I blame the production. It seemed miscast and not directed well, did not enjoy it.
Evil Dead: The Musical @ ArtsWest
This had all the makings of awesome. The production was just too corny for me, it went into a too literal version of camp. I like things a little more subtle. The material itself was good, the songs have potential, it just needs work. Kudos to ArtsWest for trying.
A Christmas Story: The Musical
The second show in m 5th Avenue Theatre season, was a local production. A Christmas Story: The Musical was a good time. The kid who played Ralphie, is a real talent, and it was his charm that drove the show. With the story only slightly altered from the movie, and songs that fit right in, the stage translation is a success.
The Brothers Size @ Seattle Repertory Theatre
I knew nothing about the The Brothers Size going into it, and the play was outstanding. About two brothers, one owns an auto repair shop, the other just out of jail and trying to find his way. The one other character is another ex-con friend who often appears to draw the one brother back towards bad things. The play tests the character of the emotionally lost ex-con leading to the inevitable good vs bad decision with a script that often sounds like a Shakespearian tragedy. The staging would best be described as subtle; the stage was a concrete square with a pile of tires, the lights hardly changed except to dim occasionally, and the back drop clouds and four moving panels. The actors movements were also restrained and necessary. Excellent production.
How I Learned To Drive @ Stone Soup Theatre
This was my first visit to the tiny Stone Soup Theatre. The plays subscription sounded good, so I went for it. How I Learned To Drive is about a women who had a rather inappropriate relationship with her uncle in her teen years. The story was laid out with a gentleness that slowly lets you into the details, and a solid ending that leaves you thinking about your own demons. The acting was better than good, but not amazing. I’m sure I’ll be back to the Stone Soup Theatre.
Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog by The Balagan Theatre (presented @ ACT)
Last year in Portland I went to a really terrible production of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and it scared me enough to almost not go to this. My love of the original won and I am happy I went. The Balagan Theatre‘s production was smart and punchy. They changed the script a bit, adding in some current references and setting it in Seattle, but you wouldn’t have known, it was seamless. The cast was great and had a lot of fun with it. The set was multi-tiered, dimensional, and involved cameras with several projection screens. Somehow the cast managed to not get lost in it and it worked smashingly well. The show was exactly what it should be, good fun all around.