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Showing posts from 2009

Book-It's adaptation turns Confederacy of Dunces into a comedy hit

Author's confession: Confederacy of Dunces was never a favorite of mine. I found the book more annoying than amusing when I tried to read it. But this production was a delight from beginning to end and completely sold me on Book-It's style (something that I also had found less than appealing in their early years).
Book-It Repertory Theatre’s adaptation of Confederacy of Dunces turned a “love it or hate it” book into a universally acclaimed comedy hit this fall.The novel revolves around the odyssey of the fat and flatulent Ignatius J. Reilly through New Orleans while clad in a green hunting cap and muffler. While proponents of Confederacy adore Ignatius and his personal quest to be a cultural critic, bastion of morality, and eater of hot dogs, not everyone is the fat man’s fan.Among those less than enamored with Ignatius was Mary Machala. So when Book-It called and asked her to adapt John Kennedy Toole’s novel for their 20th anniversary, she took some time to read the b…

Kathy Hsieh returns for her seventeenth episode of Sex in Seattle

Kathy Hsieh is an actor and director who recently appeared in the “Runway Job” episode of TNT’s Leverage. Her local stage work includes the Seattle Rep, Book-It, ACT, Intiman, Taproot, ReAct, Freehold, Living Voices and more. As a playwright, she’s been named “50 to Watch” by The Dramatist Magazine. Her plays have been produced by Northwest Asian American Theatre, and Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre as well as being in the Seattle Fringe Theatre Festival, 14/48 and International Centre for Women Playwrights’ Chicago Her-rah Festival.
Since 2000, a regular acting and writing assignment has been Sex in Seattle, the Asian-American serial on love, dating, and other relationships now opening its seventeenth “episode” at Richard Hugo House. Fans of the characters have been following the SIS crew for all nine years, “longer than many marriages” jokes Hsieh.
Between rehearsals, she took a little time to answer a few questions about the local sensation known by many simply as SI…

Liliane Montevecchi: a Paris original in ZinZanni's fashion show

Author's note: this interview took place in one of Seattle's many coffee shops. It was a hot and mildly sticky August afternoon, but Montevecchi not only looked cool, she was chic. And I wish I could reproduce her voice here: a Parisian purr.
When Liliane Montevecchi was a little girl growing up in Paris, her mother used to point at “keep off” fences surrounding the grass in the park and say, "Go over the fence, because the grass is cleaner there."So, with Maman’s approval, Montevecchi learned to climb over barriers to the cleaner, greener side of life. This included a career as a ballerina in Paris, performing in MGM musicals in Hollywood, guest appearances on numerous TV shows (including one Emmy nomination), a Tony Award winning performance on Broadway, her own one-woman show On the Boulevard, and being the “host” of Teatro ZinZanni’s shows, including the current All Dressed Up With Someplace To Go.Chatting with the chic Montevecchi over coffee, it’s o…

Allen Fitzpatrick and Icicle Creek Theatre Festival: from Leavenworth to Seattle

Icicle Creek Theatre Festival highlights new works, helping selected playwrights polish their scripts during a nine day “retreat” cultimating in performances in Leavenworth and Seattle. Founder and artistic director Allen Fitzpatrick is a familiar face on the Seattle stage as well as on Broadway. His acting credits locally include Richard III at Intiman, Private Lives at Seattle Rep, and the title role of Sweeney Todd at the 5th Avenue Theatre, for which he received a Footlight Award.For his Festival, he attracts top talent in the Northwest to direct and perform at the staged readings of the plays selected for ICTF.Q: So what inspired you to begin a festival based in Leavenworth? And how's the commute?A: The commute's awful! I have one foot in Seattle and one in New York, and there’s a lot of shuttling back and forth. A lot of things are happening in NY, obviously, but the Pacific Northwest is just so incredibly beautiful, and I really like the vibrancy of the…

How to add the Mackie look to Catch Me If You Can: hire the original legend

Author's note: First and foremost, it only takes about five minutes of chat with Bob Mackie to know why so many famous women wear his gown. The guy is a charmer! I only had twenty minutes or so on the phone with this very busy man, but it remains one of my favorite interviews.

When in Seattle earlier this summer, Bob Mackie hit Nordstrom’s Rack. The legendary creator of fabulous gowns was looking for cheap pair of men’s shoes. Maybe a suit jacket or two. Not for himself, but for a chorus member in Catch Me If You Can.

“I came out of variety TV,” explained Mackie, chatting by phone from California. “Sometimes, if you need it quick, it’s easier to buy something. Besides, we have a budget for the show and I want to help keep the costs down. So I told them let’s go look and see what we can find that will work.”

At the same time, Mackie reached back to his glamorous roots and created numerous original costumes for Catch Me that evoke the beginning of 1960s and the “livin…

Acting outside: keeping it huge helps, says GreenStage's Holmes

Author's note: if anyone knows about acting outside, it is Ken Holmes. This is the second part of a very long online interview with Holmes.
GreenStage artistic director Ken Holmes knows more than a little about jets roaring overhead and audiences distracted by picnics. Here's a few of his observations about planes, dogs, and rain.How is acting in a park different that acting in a theater?Subtle acting only works in the parks if you can make it huge and share it with a large audience. Sharing with the audience is key—it doesn’t matter if you are crying real tears, or really feeling the emotion of your character or their situation if the audience can’t hear you and understand you. Vocally and physically, you have to be huge while still communicating subtle actions.What's harder as an actor: rain, barking dogs, or planes overhead?Noise from planes is probably the hardest thing to deal with. You can’t just stop and wait for them. Especially somewhere like Volunte…

GreenStage artistic director Ken Holmes amazed by 21 years of free Shakespeare in the park

Author note: Ken's another guy that I know I've interviewed more than once. After all, he's a major part of Seattle's great tradition of Shakespeare in the parks. He gave me so many great answers that I ended up turning this into two articles.
GreenStage begins their twenty-first season next month, presenting Shakespeare for free in Seattle's parks. The company's producing artistic director Ken Holmes was more than happy to discuss the company's two-decade history of performing the Bard's work outside.Congratulations on GreenStage turning twenty-one. How long have you been with the company?I got involved with GreenStage way back in 1993, acting in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. At that point, the company was called Shakespeare Northwest and was based in Pierce County. At the end of that summer the board of directors was going to disband the company, so the actors took it over. The following year, we partnered with Seattle Parks a…

The working actor's life: kung fu movie, chipmunk ears, and a trip to Siberia

Author's note: although I'd interviewed Tim before, this was the first time I heard about the kung-fu movie.
If you go to the theater frequently in Seattle, then you’ve seen Tim Hyland. He’s that quintessential working man actor who can fill any role with panache or pathos. Currently, he is playing Leo Herman, a desperate and needy clown in Herb Gardner’s One Thousand Clowns at Intiman. And, as Hyland plays him, chipmunk ears and all, he’s the guy who gets the biggest belly laughs at the end of evening.With thirty credits at Bathhouse, twenty-one at SCT, and countless more around town, you're one of a handful of Seattle regulars on the stage. What does it take to make a living as an actor here? I don't know. Being kind, being tolerable, and being lucky.Your program bio lists a kung fu movie role. When did that happen and how was that as an acting experience?I love having that on my resume. I did it in Vancouver B.C. in 1988. The director, Yuen Woo-Ping, …

Seattle couple flies high at Teatro ZinZanni

Author's note: so I'm sitting in the green room of Teatro Zinzanni and this amazing couple walk in. You could stick them on the cover of a Harlequin: just that charming. I love their story: running away from science careers to join the circus. Go back a little earlier, and he taught himself trapeze because she loved circus arts. Later, I got a chance to see them perform. Again, simply amazing.
He is a dashing young gypsy who has invaded her restaurant. She's the pretty waitress darting between tables who has captured his heart. They exchange glances. By evening's end, this couple is flying high above the diners.That's the nearly wordless story behind the performance of one real-life Seattle couple in Tetro Zinzanni's Under the Gypsy Moon. Ben Wendel and Rachel Nehmer met in college, moved to Seattle for "regular" jobs in science, and ended up spending so much of their time practicing on the trapeze that they decided to make it their career.…

One spicy banana: Seattle's Billie Wildrick sings Sondheim and much more

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Author note: I have seen Billie in the all the shows listed below. She's not just "Seattle's favorite blonde bombshell" (as one smitten gent once described her to me), she's also a singing actress who is reliably funny no matter the part.
Seattle audiences have seen the lovely and often blonde Billie Wildrick in many musical comedy roles. Some standouts for me in recent years have been Columbia (Rocky Horror Show), Mayzie La Bird (Seussical), Eileen (Wonderful Town), and Cinderella (Into the Woods). Billie can be the goofiest of girls next door or the sultry singer luring the hero through the barroom door. Currently, she’s playing Dot in Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George at the 5th Avenue Theatre and she'll be back this summer as Brünhilde in the world's funniest Texan take-off of Wagner's Ring at ACT.Bille’s homepage starts off with the quote “couldn’t be more appealing if she were a banana…spicy enough to melt an iceberg.” An…

A Lass for all ladies: an interview with Crime’s leading (and only) actress

Note: 2009 seemed like the year of Hana: I kept seeing her in various productions. All her work was excellent, but my favorite was probably her Ariel in Tempest at Seattle Shakespeare.


Hana Lass embodies every woman on stage in Intiman’s production of Crime and Punishment at the Seattle Center. Luckily, this upcoming Seattle actress is used to quick changes and has already played a wide range of characters on Seattle’s stages. She took time off from a busy tech week preparing for her second outing as Crime and Punishment’s Sonia to answer a few questions.

You've had a number of roles at the smaller companies: Seattle Shakespeare, Book-It, Mirror Stage, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, and the recent Crime and Punishment at the Capitol Hill Arts Center. How important are the fringe theaters in Seattle to building a career here?

Every actor has their own path, but certainly in my case having the full range of opportunities in this town has been essential to the developme…