Zoo Tunes tickets on sale April 24

The 2015 lineup for Zoo Tunes at the Woodland Park Zoo was just released. Tickets will go on sale to the “general public” on Friday, April 24

Here’s who’s at the Zoo:

June 19 – The Doobie Brothers with special guest Pat Simmons Jr.
June 28 – The B-52s
July 12 – Indigo Girls
July 21 – Melissa Etheridge & Blondie
July 22 – Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers
July 26 – “Sweet Harmony Soul” featuring Mavis Staples, Patty Griffin & Amy Helm
July 29 – Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
August 9 – Ziggy Marley
August 16 – Trampled By Turtles & The Devil Makes Three
August 19 – Kenny Loggins

Check zoo.org or ticketfly.com for more information.

Today’s Birthdays: Gollum, Tatum’s dad, Donny Baseball and more …

MM wishes HAPPY BIRTHDAY, wherever you are, to Miranda Kerr, Carmen Electra, Crispin Glover, Andy Serkis, Don Mattingly, Clint Howard, Luther Vandross, Jessica Lange, Veronica Cartwright, Gregory Itzin, Ryan O’Neal, James Gammon, GEORGE TAKEI !!, Tito Puente, Harold Lloyd, and …

Facebook Friends LENNA DOVE !! and STEVE BLOOM !! and ARIA ELF !! and LENA DAVIDSON !! and CHARLIE HAMILTON !! and SUSAN SNYDER !!

Port Gamble wins battle of words with ‘Cyrano’

PORT GAMBLE — Man, that Edmond Rostand must’ve been something during around-the-dinner-table conversations.

Dude could wax poetic. His play filled the mouth, and powered the pen, of one of literature’s most famous word-wielders, Cyrano de Bergerac, that silver-tongued devil who could silence the insults of a rival, or quicken the heart of a lady, faster than you could say “panache.”

The play, translated by Brian Hooker and adapted by actor Frank Langella to put audiences on a first-name basis, has a lot of words. Fancy words, in eloquent and often poetic sequence. But it’s more than just the words.

And so is Port Gamble Theater Company’s current production, which finished up its first weekend of performances in front of a remarkably (given the idyllic weather outside) robust matinee gathering. The Scott Snively-directed outing is generally well-acted and well-mounted, and thoroughly well costumed and wigged. It manages to give playgoers enough to look at so that the play doesn’t have to rest on Rostand’s laurels alone.

Cyrano was a man who could carve up all comers with either his sabre or his vocabulary. An early scene in which he flattens a would-be opponent, who has hurled a half-baked insult of his plus-sized nose, by cannonading 20 back, each of them infinitely more clever and all of them categorized by type.

He’s got it all — a great swordsman, a walking poetry encyclopedia, the envy of his fellow men. What he hasn’t got is the confidence in his other countless attributes to think that his love for his cousin, Roxane, will ever be anything but hopeless, because of one defect that’s as plain as the 0410_KSFE_Cyrano2(enormous) nose on his face.

Above all, Cyrano talks … and talks, and talks. Even when he’s in full-tilt swordfight mode, he’s also engaged in one-sided wordplay.

The guy performs his own eulogy, for Pete’s sake.

That makes the role a mouthful. But it’s nothing that Jim Wingren, prosthetic proboscis and all, can’t handle. Wingren might underplay a bit, but it’s understandable, given both his character’s aloof nature and a line load that is every bit as decorative as it is voluminous. He manages to find the emotion of the key moments, and mine all of Cyrano’s humor, too, which — in the midst of all the flowery language — contains a considerable number of one-liners and comebacks worthy of Vaudeville.

“I shall die,” his protege, Christian, tells him during a lovestruck tirade about his obsession with Roxane.

“Well,” Cyrano deadpans back, considering the upside of that statement, “less noise …”

Wingren also designed and wrangled construction of the attractive and versatile set, and choreographed the fight scene in which Cyrano toys with a challenger (Ian Snively) before unceremoniously running him through.

Cyrano isn’t the only one who can slap a few words together. Roxane herself admits to hear “those pretty nothings that are everything.” As played by Katy Trichler, Roxane is shallow, moved by words that are pretty but empty, until time and tragedy teach her about real love. Mason Enfinger is suitably sophomoric as Christian, gallant as a soldier but a loser with the ladies — at least until Cyrano has his back.

Everyone else in Snively’s cast of a dozen is adequate if not better, with Paul Bryan providing an amply oily villain in DeGuise (that’s the character’s name; he’s not a villain in disguise … just felt the need to point that out) and Gillian McCormick a beguiling and expressive mute (admittedly, I’ve always been a sucker for a good mute, especially given the irony of this play being so heavy on speechifying).

Costumes by Beth Ann Galloway and wigs by Elyse Sollitto are both excellent, and Joanie Peterson earns twin kudos for costume help and set painting.

There will be some, I know, who won’t feel like they can keep up with “Cyrano,” who’ll consider it too difficult an afternoon or evening spent, in baseball parlance, catching nine innings of what Cyrano’s pitching.

But the language — the heart-quickening expressions, the rapid-fire insults and French upper-crust comedy — is simply too beautiful to be missed.

And the production props up the language, instead of being buried beneath it. It’s one of the most ambitious things PGTC has done yet, and they’ve responded with a good story, well told.

REVIEW

‘CYRANO’

Who: Port Gamble Theater Company

What: Adaptation by Frank Langella of the play by Edmond Rostand, translated by Brian Hooker

Where: Port Gamble Theater, 4839 NE View Dr., Port Gamble

When: Through May 3; 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays

Tickets: $17-$15

Information: 360-977-7135, portgambletheater.com

‘Joseph,’ CSTOCK are a perfect match

Here’s a review from the April 18 performance of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at CSTOCK:

 

SILVERDALE — With the clock ticking on CSTOCK’s tenure at the Silverdale Community Center, the theater company is actively seeking a new home.

Their current production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is Exhibit A for why this really, really needs to happen, and soon.

Perfect theater, it isn’t. But durn-near perfect family community entertainment — and an admirably solid take on the Webber-Rice musical based on the biblical parable of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors — it certainly is. It’s a prime example of what a family-oriented, roll-up-your-sleeves little company can do with a piece that’s well suited to their talent pool and their venue, filling its niche in the Kitsap theater community and putting on a pretty solid show to boot.

Director Sherry Knox doesn’t shoot for the moon; that’s not what CSTOCK does. She does a won0417_KSFE_Joseph6derful job of using what she has, dressing it up nicely, making sure it’s well-rehearsed, and then letting the multi-generational cast get out and do their thing.

CSTOCK doesn’t always manage to hold to its family-first aesthetic, admirable as it is, and still present a representative version of whatever show they’re doing, one that’s strong enough to satisfy not only Mom, Dad and the other relatives, but the casual viewer who’s there strictly to see a show.

But they do this time. In the hands of Knox, musical director Meredith Ellringer and choreographer Ryan Posey, the show gets a staging that is brisk, joyful and, yes, worthy of the source material. And it does it in CSTOCK style, with a cast heavy on youngsters, an Everyman ensemble and a few dependable veterans sprinkled in.

Those who might be intimidated by the subject matter need not be. Yes, “Joseph” is inspired by a story from the Book of Genesis, but it’s told in a way that’s anything but “churchy.” It’s light as a feather, easily digested even by young children and the most uneasy adults, and takes a few gentle swipes at Joseph, his family and the historical figures he meets on his journeys (Pharoah, played by Wallace Ross, is in full Elvis-impersonator mode, right down to the microphone).

And those who might be intimidated by the number of cute little kids in the cast, including the adorable t-shirts-for-costumes “children’s choir,” well, there’s no hope for you. Go read the Sports.

Knox has two solid leads in local stage familiars Dan Kluth (Joseph) and Missi Patti (the Narrator). Both bring fine, natural singing voices, credible acting and understanding of the show’s subtle opportunities for humor. And both are further evidence of the company’s family values — Kluth’s mother, Margie, is “Joseph’s” producer and chief costumer; Patti’s daughter, Gabrielle, sings in the children’s choir.

The show also gives many of the younger performers a chance to shine briefly. Highlights (yours might vary) included the vocal work of Chloe VanVuren and the twirling dance contribution of Emma Kuralt. A.J. Tower does a funny, country-camp take on “One More Angel in Heaven.” Other solo bits are successful to lesser extremes, and a couple simply overdo themselves.

The ensemble singing sometimes gets a little ragged, almost expected given the size and diversity of Knox’s cast and the constant movement and energy imposed by Posey’s thoughtful and thorough choreography, which keep the “park and bark” moments to a minimum. Ellringer’s four-piece combo — herself on piano, Bruce Chollar on guitar, Nick Holt on violin and Samantha Murphy on flute — don’t always solve the playhouse’s acoustical challenges, but overall they provide some of the nicest accompaniment I’ve heard at CSTOCK in several seasons.

The set, of Knox’s own design with a lovely bright paint job by Laurel Spitzer, is attractive and unobtrusive at the same time. And pats on the hump for whoever stitched up the Pantomime Camel.

It’s a fine, fun night out — part of a night, really, as the April 18 performance I saw didn’t quite fill two hours. It amuses, touches and entertains, and it keeps all those kids off the streets. It’s what community theater is all about.

REVIEW

‘JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT’

Who: Central Stage Theatre of County Kitsap (CSTOCK)

What: Musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice

Where: Silverdale Community Center, 9729 Silverdale Way NW

When: Through May 10; 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays

Tickets: $15-$8

Information: 360-692-9940, cstock.org

Paradise offers a quality ‘Menagerie’

Here’s a review of the April 17 (opening-night) performance of “The Glass Menagerie” at Paradise Theatre:

GIG HARBOR — Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” isn’t what it seems.

A brief description of the iconic playwright’s 1940s drama, currently receiving a tremendous and bracing production at Paradise Theatre, might not hold much promise: Tom, an aspiring writer, is miserably trapped in a squalid Southern apartment, the reluctant breadwinner for his long-since abandoned mother and his physically and psychologically hobbled older sister.

So, when does “Seussical” start?

But to dismiss “Menagerie” because it might not sound awfully uplifting would be a mistake. Williams’ breakthrough play, based on memories of his own young adulthood, might not be a barrel of Wickersham Brothers, but it is fascinating on several levels — as character study, as period piece, and as one of Williams’ most astute blends of light and darkness, hope and hopelessness. There’s way more to it than its dreary premise.

Paradise’s production, directed by Jeff Richards, is tremendously acted and perfectly paced — a delibera0424_KSFE_Menagerie1te little bit of storytelling that feels more luxurious than languid.

I saw “Glass Menagerie” several years ago in a smaller venue than Paradise’s Fishermen’s Hall digs. And I felt like the comparatively sprawling space Richards is working with — the two-level apartment set evokes anything but the claustrophobia of Tom’s circumstances, and the distance from the back-of-stage dining table to the back rows is simply too far — was a bit of disadvantage. You really want to be a fly on the wall, close to these people populating Williams memories and voicing his beautiful, uncluttered dialogue.

But that’s about the only thing, other than some murky and ill-placed lighting, that Richards’ production has working against it.

The acting by Richards’ cast of four is top-drawer, starting with Paradise first-timer J.J. Hernandez as narrator-protagonist Tom. Hernandez makes it very clear that jaded, jaundiced Tom would rather be just about anywhere else, living and chronicling his own life, but he’s just as careful to let the underlying love for his sister and mother — when the latter isn’t brow-beating him into the dingy carpet, that is — show through. He’s never less than genuine, and his chemistry with all three of the other players is faultless.

“Her not speaking;”0424_KSFE_Menagerie3 he blusters after one of many skirmishes with his mother, Amanda, “is that such a tragedy?”

Debi Emans is just as successful at conveying the quiet desperation of Amanda, who realizes she’s stuck in survival mode even as she attempts to preserve some vestige of her Southern Belle upbringing. She’s good when she’s nagging Tom (who retreats) and Laura (who reverts), but even better when she’s sharing rare moments of tenderness with her son or daughter.

Kristen Blegen Bouyer nicely — and, I supposed, necessarily — underplays the painfully introverted Laura, who’s wasting away in the apartment, retreating at the first hint of conflict to her collection of glass figurines or losing herself in the music from the old Victrola. It’s not easy playing a character so totally closed off without dipping into cliche, but Blegen Bouyer manages to earn some empathy.

Laura’s true potential is hinted at with the much-anticipated visit from a “gentleman caller” — Tom’s work chum Jim, who comes to dinner unaware of its blind-date implications. The effortlessly charming Tom, convincingly played by Marshall Banks, draws Laura out, if only briefly, with his wit, charisma and night-school speech-class line of BS. Their long, candle-lit exchange, with Tom and Amanda conveniently repaired to the kitchen to see to the dishes, is one of the show’s high points.

Of course, it can’t work out, and a distraught Amanda, back to Attack Dog mode, blames Tom.

It isn’t A Happy Night at Home with the Wingfields. But for Williams, “The Glass Menagerie” was a career-maker, and deservedly so. Whether it’s particularly autobiographical or not, it’s beautifully, intelligently and emotionally written stuff.

And it gets worthy treatment in Paradise’s production, a respectful and moving Tennessee Waltz.

REVIEW

‘THE GLASS MENAGERIE’

Who: Paradise Theatre

What: Drama by Tennessee Williams

Where: Fishermen’s Hall, 991 Burnham Dr. NW, Gig Harbor

When: Through May 2; 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays

Tickets: $22-$10

Information: 253-851-7529, paradisetheatre.org

Today’s Birthdays: Dr. Who, and who else?

MM wishes HAPPY BIRTHDAY, wherever you are, to Britt Robertson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Ethan Coen, Melissa Joan Hart, David Tennant, Maria Bello, Conan O’Brien, Jeff Dunham, Jane Leeves, Eric Roberts, Melody Thomas Scott, Rick Moranis, James Woods, Hayley Mills, James Drury, Clive Revill, Barbara Hale, Jo Swerling, Clarence Darrow, and … Facebook Friend MOIRA PRENDERGAST !!

TMP announces six-show 2015-16 season

OK, OK, I know it’s on the wrong (south) side of the Narrows Bridge. But Tacoma Musical Playhouse is just barely across the bridge, after all, in the old Narrows Theater building on Sixth. And the company’s acting roster is swelling lately with performers from Kitsap, including Alena Menefee, who’s playing the title role in the current well-reviewed production of “Evita.”

TMP just released its lineup for the 2015-16 season. If they keep attracting some of the talent from up our way — and even if they don’t — the list of upcoming shows, including the two yet to come in the 2014-15 season, are worth a look:

May 5-June 7: “Buddy — The Buddy Holly Story”
July 10-Aug. 2: “West Side Story”

And the just-announced 2015-16 schedule:

Sept. 18-Oct. 11: “Oliver!”
Nov. 27-Dec. 20: “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”
Feb. 5-28: “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”
April 8-May 1: “The Scarlet Pimpernel”
May 20-June 12: “The Wiz” (the “Ease on Down the Road” one, not the “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” one)
July 8-31: “Mary Poppins”

The theater is at 7116 Sixth Ave. in Tacoma, with free parking across the street.
Tickets and information: 253-565-6867, tmp.org

— MCM

Arnold’s ‘Fat Kid’ film makes another festival stop

The indie film “Fat Kid Rules the World,” which co-stars Bainbridge Island’s Dylan Arnold, has taken an unorthodox approach to promoting itself, including screenings on the recent Van’s Warped Tour.
Now, director Matthew Lillard has booked the film — an award-winner at SxSW and one of the fan favorites at the recent Seattle International Film Festival — for a midnight screening at another music festival, the Summer Meltdown at Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheater in Darrington (in the foothills of the North Cascades). The film, about a misfit kid who joins a punk band and finds acceptance, includes an original score by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. Arnold, who appeared in a number of productions at Bainbridge Performing Arts and attended Bainbridge High School, will be in attendance for the screening before heading east for his freshman year at the North Carolina School of the Arts.
The festival will have music going on several stages from Aug. 9 to 12, with “Fat Kid Rules the World” closes things out. Performers during the festival include Blitzen Trapper, Vicci Martinez, the Moondoggies, Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, Kore Ionz and dozens of others. Information about the festival is available at summermeltdown.com.

‘Summerplay’ 2012 will feature a half dozen new one-acts

First-time directors, a first-time playwright and several returning favorites mark the 10th edition of Changing Scene Theatre Northwest‘s “Summerplay” festival of new one-acts plays, the line-up for which recently appeared on the company’s Web site (changingscenenorthwest.org).

The capper of the festival’s first decade will be presented Aug. 31 to Sept. 9 at the Bremerton Eagles Aerie 192, 205 Sixth St., according to Changing Scene artistic director Pavlina Morris. Friday and Saturday performances will be at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Playwrights John C. Davenport, Scott Gibson and Josh Hartwell, all of whom have extensive histories with the Bremerton troupe — who have been celebrating summer by producing evenings of original short stage works from around the country since their inception. At the same time, Darren Hembd, one of Changing Scene’s longest-tenured members as an actor, director and technician, takes the play-writing plunge with a show titled “The Playwright.”

Morris has doled out two of the plays each to two first-time directors, Jeffrey Bassett and Dray Young, and Samantha Camp, who’ll be making her Changing Scene debut. Bassett, one of the area’s busiest actors, just completed a tour-de-force run as Arnold Beckoff in Changing Scene’s production of “Torch Song Trilogy.” Young, another “Torch Song” veteran, is a CSTN regular. And Camp has worked on stages in Tacoma, Gig Harbor and Port Orchard, notably Western Washington Center for the Arts’ production of “Hot L Baltimore.”

Bassett will direct Davenport’s “Collector’s Edition” and “Airport Diner,” by Californian Carol Roper. Another California writer, Stanley Toledo, contributed “Introductions,” to be directed by Camp, who’ll also helm Gibson’s “Professional Eye-Opener.” Young gets the director’s chair for Hembd’s debut piece, as well as Hartwell’s “The Extraordinarily Mundane Adventures of Earth Boy.”

Seattleite Davenport and Colorado-based Gibson and Hartwell make up a sort of all-star team of providers of original material to the Bremerton-based fringe company, which is an offshoot of the original Changing Scene Theatre in Denver. Among them, they’ve had five full-length plays and a festival full of one-acts produced in Bremerton.

Another franchise player in the “Summerplay” pantheon, L.A. playwright Mark Harvey Levine, is notably absent from this year’s lineup. But Morris has hinted that an evening of selected Levine one-acts might be in the offing in the near future.