Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Show #44 "Yankee Tavern" at ACT Theatre

It was practically a perfect evening at the theatre for us tonight. Everything went as it should.

First, the drive on I-5 from Tacoma to downtown Seattle was a breeze. Traffic proceeding north (as we were) was swift and clear. However, traffic going south was almost at a standstill. Pity the southbound driver.....glad it wasn't us.

Next, we found a terrific parking spot in the garage next to ACT Theatre. Admittedly, I ALWAYS find a great spot to park there, especially since my season tickets are for Wednesday evenings.....but that's beside the point. The parking spot was "spot on!"

Then, I got to see a show, "Yankee Tavern" by Steven Dietz, at my favorite theatre venue in town: The Allen theatre. Yes, this is ACT Theatre's mainstage space, and I love it. Randy and I have terrific seats this year, in the second row, and the viewing was ideal.

Then, I saw a funny, engaging, makes-you-think show about such hilarious (?) topics as conspiracy theorists, Sept. 11, marriage, drinking, seeing dead people and graduate school. ACT Theatre, you've done it again!

Next, I got to watch some performances by actors who inspire me. I saw a relatively simple set design that made me see the possibilities (and genius) of simplicity. I enjoyed a script that made you laugh, made you think and made you want to say, "where did you hear THAT?"

Finally, Randy and I practically flew home on our southbound journey on I-5. There was some minor traffic revisions driving through South King County into Pierce County, but nothing worth mentioning. And the northbound traffic? Slow as molasses.

Yep, practically a perfect evening.

"Practically?" What made it less than perfect?

Well....I guess I was having such a good time tonight, I wanted it to go on a bit longer. I hated to see it end. That was its only flaw....but that's good "flaw" to have.

Photo courtesy of ACT Theatre and photographer Chris Bennion

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Show #43 "Fiddler on the Roof" with Rosebud Children's Theatre Conservatory

Ah.......yes, children's theatre. I remember it well.

Not because I actually participated in this when I was a youth, I grew up back in the "olden days" before such things as summer theatre camp and/or youth theatre programs existed. How different (and enriched!) my life would have been had something like that been available to my generation.

But my son Tim blossomed each summer during his own theatre camp experience in childhood playing in such shows as "The Wizard of Oz" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." He has since grown up and is now teaching in programs just like this in Seattle.

Now, here is a whole new "generation" of young actors carrying on this tradition. Federal Way-area students from middle school to newly-graduated from high school are performing their hearts out for us to tell us the beloved story of Tevye and his strong-willed daughters in 1905 Russia.

It was a great evening. I was reminded how much I love this story and its music. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of talent in many of the performers. Most of all, I was pleased at the dedication of Holly Rose, the founder and director of Rosebud Children's Theatre Conservatory.

Apparently, Ms. Rose had been running a youth theatre program at the Knutson Family Theatre in Federal Way for 6 years, but was recently "downsized" out of the 2010 Knutson season after another theatre company took over the management of the theatre space. So, in the spirit of enterprise and artistic adventure, Ms. Rose has created her own theatre company (at a new location) dedicated to teaching the next generation of artists.

I couldn't be more excited and pleased. I love new theatrical ventures. Risk-taking, hard work and (quoting Ms. Rose) "a LOT of prayer" have paid off handsomely. The young actors in Federal Way still have a venue to learn and grow as artists, thanks to the dedication and pioneering spirit of this incredible woman.

Even though I do not have a child in this program, I wish to thank Ms. Rose and her crew of wonderful volunteers. I love what you are doing. And because of you, youth theatre still has a home in my old stomping grounds of Federal Way.


Photo courtesy of Rosebud CTC

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Show #42 "Kindred Spirits" at ReAct Theatre

I can't believe that it's been a while since I have enjoyed a show with Seattle's ReAct Theatre. This is a wonderful theatre company whose expressed mission is to employ non-traditional and multi-ethnic casting in their shows. Their goal is to give artists opportunities to perform in projects that they might not normally have because of ethnicity, gender or experience. Perfect!

"Kindred Spirits" is especially important because it also gave a local, Asian-American female playwright, Maggie Lee, a venue for her work. What could be better than that?

Ethnic talent flourishes here in the Seattle/Tacoma region. But, since moving down to Pierce County three years ago, my attempts to become a part of the Tacoma theatre community have been a tough haul.

I am delighted that I am starting to see some "ethnic" presence here in Tacoma. After all, Tacoma is where I got to be a part of David Henry Hwang's version of "Flower Drum Song" a couple months ago.

I have also seen a few more ethnic actors break the color barrier and be cast non-traditionally in mainstream plays in Tacoma theatres. Bravo to those artists (who include my son Tim) and to those visionary directors who can see past the usual limiting stereotypes.

But, always leading the way is ReAct Theatre. This is the trailblazing company where I saw an all-Asian production of "Crimes of the Heart" well over a decade ago, complete with Southern accents and a rice cooker on their kitchen counter. It was where I saw the first (at least for me) multi-racial cast performing "The Mousetrap."

The list goes on and on, because long before I ever saw much evidence of ethnic actors on stage in other Seattle/Tacoma area theatres, ReAct was going out of their way to showcase the talents of actors of all ethnicities.

Their mission continues to this day. "Kindred Spirits" may not have an abundance of ethnic talent on stage, but there is plenty of it behind the scenes. And the most amazing thing about this production? Maggie Lee wrote an intriguing story about people. Not Asian people or Chinese, Korean, Japanese or any other nationality. Just people. The story is about all of us, regardless of our backgrounds. Therefore the actors could look like anyone, regardless of ethnicity.

Imagine that.

Photo courtesy of ReAct Theatre