Dove earns (a few) positive notices for “Hairspray” performance

Reviews ran hot and cold for NBC’s “Hairspray Live,” which aired Wednesday night. But the notices were more positive for Bainbridge Island product Dove Cameron: The critics who noticed her seemed to like her.

The live-musical telecast, the fourth undertaken by NBC, was in many opinions the strongest so far. But it scuttled itself with many, many commercial breaks, lengthened by “behind-the-scenes” reports, that robbed it of its continuity and momentum.

I thought the New York Times’ review put it best: “NBC lassoed some talented performers with fine singing voices but sacrificed cohesion by cramming the evening with too much interstitial fluff.” The Times’ review, incidentally, made no mention of Cameron (at front in the blue party dress in the photo below), who played mean-girl Amber Von Tussle.

Newsday’s review made it sound like the reviewer would like to have seen more of her: “The great Kristin Chenoweth played Velma Von Tussle, though more as a Rockette than a racist. (Dove Cameron 636161081576933366-nup-176247-0879as her daughter, Amber, was good, but barely present).”

Hollywood Life’s Dina Sartore-Bodo seemed the most enthusiastic of any of the reviewers surveyed: “Speaking of duos that defied expectations, who didn’t love the chemistry between Dove Cameron and Kristin Chenoweth?! The Von Tussles haven’t looked this good since the original show in 2003!” That was the sentiment, although less gushing, in ew.com’s review: Kristin Chenoweth and Dove Cameron played the demonically blonde Von Tussles, a perfect pairing of mean-girl matriarch and fat-shaming teen fascist.”

Variety was quick to point out Cameron’s draw to younger viewers, owing to her successes on the Disney Channel — most notably playing both title characters in the sitcom “Liv and Maddie:” “It helped that Disney alums Ariana Grande, Dove Cameron and Garrett Clayton are all bona fide stars to the youngest members of the audience.”

Other review snippets:

USA Today: Those were just two standouts in what may be the strongest cast a TV musical has gathered. Veterans like Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Hudson, Derek Hough and Martin Short blended perfectly with Ariana Grande, Dove Cameron, Garrett Clayton and Ephraim Sykes — with each having a moment to shine.

The Hollywood Reporter: “The imbalance (between the show’s veteran stars and younger cast members) turned what has always been a tremendously entertaining musical into a lumbering vehicle, made worse by awkward ’60s-style “live” commercials and deadening segues to an over-enthusiastic Darren Criss with the studio audience.” Cameron, though, earned the terse positive “strong” in a parenthetical item.

Washington Post: “Dove Cameron … seemed particularly well-cast as Tracy’s nemesis, the bratty Amber Von Tussle.

St. Louis Post Dispatch: “Dove Cameron … was a great mean girl.”

 

Kelly Huddleston’s got a new career recipe

Kelly Huddleston‘s got something new cooking in Texas.

The former Silverdale resident, who went to college in southern California and stayed there to fashion careers as an actress and stand-up comedian, has moved her base of operations to the Design District of Dallas, where she’s opened a unique culinary school, “The Cookery.” She’s the owner and head chef instructor.

Huddleston, a Central Kitsap High School graduate, teaches her students an out-of-the-box approach to cooking. In her classes, students don’t learn to prepare a meal from a set recip229545_663905591069_2452024_ne. Instead, she’s interested in what a recent feature article at dallasnews.com called “a less linear, more organic approach to teaching and learning.”

“You come in, and there’s no recipe booklet,” Huddleston is quoted in the article. “I’m your guide.”

Huddleston studied acting at Chapman University in Los Angeles and built a strong resume of TV, theater, movie, Web series and commercial work. She was a YouTube sensation for a time as the sleewear-bedecked online college student / spokesperson for Education Connection. She then branched out into stand-up comedy, performing a number of gigs in some of the top clubs in southern California.

Just for variety, Huddleston also worked as a class V river guide on the Kern river (near Los Angeles) for Kern River Outfitters.

Dallasnews.com is the cyber entity of the Dallas Morning News, which published a print version of the article.

Read the story here: http://www.dallasnews.com/life/cooking/2016/12/06/hip-new-dallas-cooking-school-thinks-outside-recipe-box

— MM

‘Hairspray Live’ could be a breakout role for Dove Cameron

On NBC.com’s “Hairspray Live” page, Dove Cameron gets first billing.

OK, the list is alphabetical. But still …

The Bainbridge Island-raised Cameron is part of the all-star cast of NBC’s latest foray into live-theater telecasts. which airs at 8 p.m. Dec. 7. In the adaptation of John Waters‘ cult movie hit, she plays Amber Von Tussle, the lead dancer on the Corny Collins TV show who feels her top-of-the-heap status challenged by “pleasingly plump” newcomer Tracy Turnblad.

Cameron, a veteran of Disney Channel series “Liv and Maddie” — in which she plays both title roles as identical-twin sisters — and movies like “Descendants

HAIRSPRAY LIVE! -- Season: 2016 -- Pictured: Dove Cameron as Amber Von Tussle -- (Photo by: Brian Bowen Smith/NBC)
HAIRSPRAY LIVE! — Season: 2016 — Pictured: Dove Cameron as Amber Von Tussle — (Photo by: Brian Bowen Smith/NBC)

and “Cloud Nine,” again will be teamed with Kristin Chenoweth, a veteran Broadway and movie star and Dove Cameron supporter who played Cameron’s mother in “Descendants.” She’s cast as Velma Von Tussle, Amber’s bigoted mother.

The cast also features Harvey Fierstein, Ariana Grande, Martin Short, Jennifer Hudson and Andrea Martin. Tracy will be played by newcomer Maddie Baillio.

“Hairspray Live” will attempt to break a string of less-than-enthusiastic reactions to NBC’s earlier live-theater telecasts, which began with 2014’s “Peter Pan” and have also included “The Sound of Music” and “The Wiz.”

As part of the promotional blitz for “Hairspray Live,” the cast was featured in a remote performance during NBC’s coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which you can watch here: http://www.nbc.com/hairspray-live/video/hairspray-live-macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-performance/3429754

Prior to relocating to Hollywood to pursue her acting and singing careers, Cameron performed in several productions at Bainbridge Performing Arts.

— MM

Sound Theatre Company’s new season includes Keiko Green play

Seattle’s Sound Theatre Company, founded by regular Bainbridge Performing Arts contributor Teresa Thuman, has taken Outstanding Theatre of the Year honors in the Gregory Awards two of the last three years.

So, having your play tabbed for their 2017 season is no small potatoes. But Bainbridge-based playwright and actor Keiko Green has accomplished that feat. Her original play “Nadeshiko” will lead off Sound Theatre Company’s 2017 season, with performances April 13-May 7 at Seattle Center House Theatre.

The world-premiere production of “Nadeshiko” is part of a season Sound Theatre have titled “Amplify! Raising Women’s Voices.” The three plays in the lineup all are written and will be direnicole-keiko-green-003-lcted by women.

“Nadeshiko,” directed by Kaytlin McIntyre, tells the story of “two generations of Asian women who are reclaiming their power from idealized perceptions of beauty.”

Green, a New York stage veteran who launched her Puget Sound career with a star turn in BPA’s “Private Eyes” in 2012. She has gone on to become one of Seattle’s busiest actor, and a charter selection for the core acting company at A Contemporary Theatre, where she recently completed a run of “Dangerous Liaisons.”

She also has appeared in recent shows at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company and Seattle Public Theater. Her plays “Bunnies” and “Puny Humans” premiered at Seattle Rep’s Annex Theatre, where’s she’s a member of the Rep’s Writers’ Group.

Other shows announced for Sound Theatre’s upcoming season include “Hoodoo Love,” by Katori Hall, July 13-30, and “Goblin Market,” by Polly Pen, Peggy Harmon and Christina Roetti, directed by Thuman.

“I have been looking to dedicate 2017 toplays by women for some time,” Thuman said in a press release, “and the current events have only affirmed that this was the right direction for our next season.”

Information: soundtheatrecompany.org

— MM

Lemolo, with strings, in Seattle concert Dec. 2

Meagan Grandall has always defined her dream-pop music project, Lemolo, as a two-person thing: Just Grandall singing and playing guitar and keyboards, and a drummer.

Dec. 2, though, Grandall and drummer Adrian Centoni will have lots of backing for a concert at Abbey Arts at St. Mark’s Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave. E. in Seattle. The two will be backed by what Gra1202_ksfe_lemolondall describes as “a string ensemble and other orchestral elements” in an 8 p.m. show (doors open at 7) that also will feature Portland’s Loch Lomond and Seattle electronic duo NAVVI.

Orchestral arrangements for Lemolo’s set were supplied by Alex Guy of the band Led to Sea.

Tickets are on sale through Brown Paper Tickets, 800-838-3006, brownpapertickets.com, priced at $15 advance, $20 day of show and $13 student.

The concert is part of a series being produced by Abbey Arts at the historic cathedral. Lemolo’s show will be followed on Dec. 3 by Damian Jurado.

Information: 206-414-8325, fremontabbey.org, lemolomusic.com

— MM

Garrison Keillor sets an Admiral Theatre date

Tickets are on sale at the Admiral Theatre for an April 15 appearance by writer-humorist-storyteller Garrison Keillor, he of “A Prairie Home Companion” fame.
Tickets for the show, an add-on to the theater’s 2016-17 subscription series, went on sale the morning of Nov. 16. Prices range from a top end of $95, which includes a main-floor reserved seat and a catered dinner, to $40.
The show will start at 7 p.m., with dinner served beginning at 5:30 p.m.
One of the most prolific American storytellers of all time,  Keillor recently retired as host of the popular live radio variety show, “A Prairie Home Companion,” attracting more than 4 million listeners on more than 600 public radio stations each week.

1118_ksfe_keillorKeillor is also the host of the daily radio and online program, “The Writers Almanac,” and the editor of several anthologies of poetry, including “Good Poems: American Places.” A best-selling author, he has published more than two dozen books, including “Lake Wobegon Days,” “The Book of Guys,” “Pilgrims,” “Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny,” and “Homegrown Democrat.”

In 2006, Keillor played himself — alongside a cast that included Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin and Kevin Kline — in the critically acclaimed film adaptation of “A Prairie Home Companion,” directed by Robert Altman.

In addition to Grammy, ACE, and George Foster Peabody awards, Keillor has also been honored with the National Humanities Medal, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Information: 360-373-6743, admiraltheatre.org

— MM

Bainbridge-raised bassist returns with Cave Clove

Alisa Saario returns to her childhood home of Bainbridge Island when she and her bandmates in the Oakland, California-based quartet Cave Clove play an 8 p.m. set Nov. 16 at the Treehouse Cafe.

The 21-and-older show is free.

Saario joined guitarist Brent Curriden and founding members Katie Colver (vocals and guitar) and Kendra Kilkuskie (drums.)  The released their latest CD, eponymously titled, Nov. 4.final-full-body-cc-press-shot-1-768x830 She’s second from right in the photo.

Cave Clove also play Nov. 14 at Barboza, 925 E. Pike St. in Seattle, supporting the Jezabels. Tickets ($16) for that show are available at etix.com.

This from the Treehouse’s Web site:

“In March of this year, they began recording at Tiny Telephone Studios with Courtney Fairchild and co-producer Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie / Bob Mould / Thao & the Get Down Stay Down), who also engineered and mixed the album. The result of their efforts is an eleven-song collection that debuts a reimagined Cave Clove sound. From the first note to the last, Colver’s lyrics and distinctive vocals guide the listener on a journey through tracks that highlight the band’s multifaceted influences. At its center, Cave Clove is a rock album with the band drawing on the many sub-genres and eras the define rock music; the album gains depth and dimension as undertones of classic Motown, 90s beach music, R&B, psychedelia, the Blues and classic pop come in and out of focus along the way.”

Information on the Treehouse show: 206-842-2369, treehousebainbridge.com

— MM

‘Rocky Horror’ opens four-day run at WWCA

Zander Martin has a little experience playing Dr. Frank N. Furter, the mad transvestite scientist of “The Rocky Horror Show.”

Martin played the part in CSTOCK’s black-box production in October 2011. He’ll be back in the fishnets and heels this weekend when Western Washington Center for the Arts puts on a four-show run of Richard O’Brien‘s kinky little cult class at the Little Playhouse on Bay Street.

The show, directed by Rebecca Ewen, also features a number of WWCA regulars in the iconic roles. Brad and Janet, the unsuspecting couple who duck into Furter’s mansion to get out of the rain and call a tow truck, will be played by Glenn Milligan (“A Little Night Music” earlier this season) and Erika Miller (“Caught in the Net” a little later this season).

Ewen herself has been involved in two shows at once at WWCA. She also directed the two-person chamber musical “The Last Five Years,” which wound up its run the weekend prior to “Rocky Horror” taking over.

Martin returns to WWCA for the first time since the spring 2014 production of “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Taylor Herbstritt, recently in Paradise Theatre’s “Next to Normal,” plays Riff Raff (the part originated by O’Brien when “Rocky Horror” made its debut on London’s West End in 1973, and also played the part in the 1975 film adaptation, which remains a Halloween midnight-movie staple to this day. Ty Bolin (from WWCA’s “You Can’t Take It With You” last winter) is cast as Rocky.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28, 29 and 31, with a 5 p.m. Sunday show Oct. 30 at the WWCA playhouse, 521 Bay St. in Port Orchard. Tickets are $12.

Information: 360-769-7469, wwca.us

— MM

More about Morse Code music

I had some fun in a story previewing Dr. Peter Mack‘s Oct. 22 performance with the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra, as the Seattle-based pianist recalled his only previous performance in Bremerton.

Mack recalled playing for a concert celebrating what he remembered was the 75th anniversary of what we know now as Naval Base Bremerton, and hearing a piece that contained a Morse coded message composed right into one of its rhythms and played by solo oboe.

It didn’t take long for the piece’s composer and another former BSO musician to check in with the actuals of the situation.

The concert was to celebrate the Bremerton centennial, according to trombonist and composer Jim Brush, who was commissioned by the symphony and the city to write a commemorative orchestral work.

“I did,” Brush wrote from his home near Las Vegas, “and then returned to Bremerton to conduct the symphony in its premiere, in early November 2001.”

Brush remembered that the piece was “well received by a near capacity audience.” He added that he got a laugh by telling the crowd he “didn’t think it would receive even a kneeling ovation.”

Pat Bailey, a percussionist with the symphony at the time, and was known to Brush as a radioman from his Navy days. He used a synthesizer keyboard to tap out the coded message “Bremerton 100,” and Brush incorporated it, played by solo oboe, in the piece.

The eight-minute work, Brush wrote, “consisted of original melodies and celebratory (fanfarish) sections, sometimes intertwined with short musical mentions of “Anchors Aweigh,” “The Navy Hymn” and the “Marines Hymn.” He added that the music also was informed by the fight songs from East and West Bremerton high schools and Olympic College.

The idea for the Morse code message, he said, came from Richard Rodgers’ “Victory at Sea” televisions series, orchestrated by Robert Russell Bennett. An oboe also imitated the code sound in that music.

“He (Brush) didn’t realize the difficulty in writing good Morse Code in rhythm,” wrote Bailey.

Brush taught instrumental music in Bremerton for more than 30 years, from elementary school to community college level, prior to his retirement. He and his wife, Judie, live in Las Vegas — where, coincidentally, Bailey was born.

Bailey joined the symphony while stationed aboard the USS Kitty Hawk in 1964 (after seeing an audition notice in the Bremerton Sun), and rejoined several years later moving back to Kitsap with his wife. He played until the mid-1990s, and worked at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard until retiring in 2007. He now volunteers at Esquire Hills Elementary School.

The article on Dr. Mack and the Oct. 22 concert can be found here: http://www.kitsapsun.com/entertainment/a-great-time-playing-gershwin-3eea1053-f895-38dd-e053-0100007f32c8-397346781.html

— MM

OHS musicians will be part of Admiral’s ‘In My Life’ show

There’ll be not one, but two quartets on stage when the show “In My Life — A Musical Theatre Tribute to the Beatles” returns to the Admiral Theatre at 7 p.m. Oct. 13.

First, there’s the Beatles tribute band Abbey Road play the parts of John, Paul George and Ringo in the show. They’ll be accompanied on five songs by a local foursome, the Olympic High School String Quartet.

Violinists Julia Macazo and Cecilia Alvarado, bassist Myron David and violist Megan Gardner (clockwise from top left in the photo) will offer string accompaniment for
“Eleanoohs-quartetr Rigby,” “Yesterday,” “A Day in the Life,” “Hello Goodbye” and “Hey Jude,” according to information provided by the show’s producers.

This is the second time a OHS quartet has been brought on for “In My Life,” students also performing in 2014 after the show’s producers contacted OHS instrumental music director Paul Williams looking for a referral. This actually is the show’s third time in Bremerton after making its Admiral debut in 2013.

“When we find a strong program like the Olympic High School orchestra, we seek them out year after year,” said producer Andy Nagle.

The show is critically acclaimed, including one review from the Orange County (Calif.) Register that enthused, “If you see one tribute show, see this one — smart and loads of fun.”

Macazo is the only senior with the quartet this year; Alvarado, Gardner and David all are juniors.

Information: Admiral Theatre, 360-373-6743, admiraltheatre.org

— MM