Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2011

From Russia, with microfiche, a Giselle arrives in Seattle

Author's confession: I spend a lot of time in the PNB conference room talking to dancers and choreographers. But Smith's story was the only one that I thought would make a good spy novel.The roots of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of Giselle might go back to the 1840s Paris productions, or the 1860 notes of stager Henri Justamont, or the 1890s Stepanov notations recorded in St. Petersburg to preserve the Marius Petipa choreography. But for University of Oregon professor Marian Smith, who has served as a historical advisor to PNB for this production, it started with an amazing fax in 1994.“I had been to a Verdi conference in Italy and met an archivist from Leningrad,” recalled Smith. The two chatted and exchanged contact information. Smith had seen a page of ballet notations reproduced in “an obscure theater journal.” The page, possibly part of the oldest preserved notes about Giselle, supposedly was stored in a Leningrad collection. After her return home to the United S…

Gobsmacking Warner Shook

Author's note:  Just a little awkward to be talking about the local theater scene when one of the major artistic talents behind Intiman finds out that "his" theater is going bankrupt.  Happy ending: Intiman did manage to reorganize in a summer theater festival model. And this Prisoner deserved every ovation.

Warner Shook can’t believe the reception that Prisoner of Second Avenue receives nightly from the Seattle audiences at ACT. “After the final blackout, the audience reacts like it is a rock concert: they start yelling and clapping,” said the director of this Neil Simon black comedy. “I’m still a little gobsmacked by how enthusiastic they are.”

The Prisoner of Second Avenue premiered on Broadway in 1971, and the ACT production sticks its characters and their iconic apartment firmly in that period, but the hero’s angst over the slow unraveling of their lives in hard times proves the comedy still has bite beneath its bark.

“It’s powerful stuff,” said Shook, who previously…

Shifting rom straight roles to silly musicals with ease

Nick Garrison’s acting career Seattle shifts easily from drama to musical to comedy. Whether he’s cavorting in Rocky Horror Picture Show or spouting Shakespeare's poetry, Garrison delivers the type of performances that often steal the entire show, while completely serving the play and supporting the rest of the cast. He won critical acclaim in the titular role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch — which was called “Liberace-on-meth” when he repeated it in Chicago to award-winning results — as well as performances at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Intiman, The 5th Avenue, The Empty Space, Strawberry Theatre Workshop and numerous appearances at the Re-Bar. In This, which plays  through May 15 at the Rep, he plays Alan, the proverbial third wheel in the complicated friendships of its angsty protagonists.

Like many in Seattle, I tend to think of you as a singer or a singing actor—but your non-singing list of roles is extensive too! What's harder to prepare? A straight dramatic rol…

Managing Mary Poppins' tour around the country

When the fourteen trucks rolled up to the Paramount Theatre today, they were just part of the enormous endeavor that is the tour of the Broadway hit musical Mary Poppins Besides gigantic set pieces like the 11,000 lb Banks house, costumes, lights, instruments, and all the equipment necessary to pull of the musical’s many magic tricks, seventy-seven people travel from city to city with the show.

It is, said company manager Steve Lukens, not unlike trying to move a small town. “We have four child actors, their parents, and a teacher. There’s ten dogs (who do not appear on stage) that are people’s pets. It’s a long tour and some cast members don’t want to be away from their pets for that long of a time.” As the company moves from city to city, Lukens’ job is to make sure that the business side of the tour runs smoothly. “That’s everything from the logistics of getting us from place to place to dealing with the labor unions in each city to making sure that we have all the nec…

O lovely tribute to New Century's Chamberlin

New Century Theatre’s production of Oh Lovely Glowworm opened Friday. The offbeat script by Glen Berger was called “a loony, semi-coherent narrative" by the Portland Mercury after its world premiere and the play features a dead goat among other fantastical characters.
Its musings on life caught the attention of Seattle actor Mark Chamberlin, who asked New Century to add this play to their roster. At the time of his unexpected death in March, Chamberlin was in rehearsals to play the goat. Even with the stunning loss of their leading man just weeks before opening, co-artistic director Paul Stetler said in a recent interview that canceling the show was never considered.

On your website, you’ve dedicated this work to Chamberlin’s memory. Did you ever consider shutting it down?
Mark was the one who lobbied for us to do this. The idea of not doing the show never really crossed our minds. Mark would have kicked our ass if we canceled. He cared too much about the show and our t…

The ants behind the lace at Cinderella

Author's note: I will take any excuse to haunt costume shops. Something about the level of detail that these craftspeople put into their work awes me every time.  The ants, however, are one of my few photos used to illustrate an article (generally I rely on the pros).

Everyone sees a performance slightly differently. Tiny details often overlooked by the audience appear as large as billboards to the creators.

"We had to rush to get the Cinderella costumes ready for TV ad," said Larae Hascall, costume shop manager at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Watching the swirl of red ballgowns surrounding Cinderella and her prince as the ad played on her computer monitor, Hascall noted that the men didn’t have their queues (wigs) ready at the time of filming and her team hadn’t done final fittings on several costumes. "It will look even better on stage."

While most of us might not notice the exact fit of a Prince’s jacket, Hascall’s crew knows that tailoring the costumes to fi…