What’s the score?: 20 plays, from Bainbridge to Tacoma

How do you see 20 plays in two days?

For one thing, the plays all have to be little short guys. For another, you have to be lucky with your timing.

The stars aligned in just such a fortuitous way this past weekend, when two local companies mounted entries in their annual one-act play productions — Island Theatre‘s Ten-Minute Play Festival had its fifth renewal Aug. 19 and 20 at Bainbridge Performing Arts, and Changing Scene Theatre Northwest trundled out the 14th edition of its “Summerplay” festival Aug. 20 at the Tacoma Musical Playhouse.

The Ten-Minute Play Festival, a survey of the best submissions from Bainbridge Island and Kitsap playwrights, wrapped up its three-performance run — all shows either sold out or nearly so — Aug. 20.

“Summerplay: A Festival of New Works” continued its four-performance skein with an Aug. 21 matinee, and offers two more performances (7:30 p.m. Aug. 27, 2 p.m. Aug. 28) in the spacious TMP, formerly the Narrows Theatre at 7116 Sixth Ave.

At 10 plays each, seeing the opening night performance of each, that was 20 plays in a little big more than 26 hours.

If you’re planning on heading across the Narrows Bridge to see one of the remaining “Summperplay” performances, keep in mind that the selected shows (from more than 100 submissions from the proverbial Far and Wide) are a wildly mixed bag, both in terms of writing quality and the acting involved.

The beauty of such collections is that short plays are like city buses. If you miss out on one, there’ll be another along in a few minutes.

Predictably, the strongest entries in 2016’s “Summerplay” came from the festival’s two most experienced playwrights and most loyal “Summerplay” submitters: Los Angeles’ Mark Harvey Levine contributed “Our Ten,” a few minutes in the lives of people ground to a halt on an L.A. freeway by a random tragedy. Denver’s Scott Gibson checked in with “Meanwhile, in the Backseat,” a charming two-character piece about siblings learning a little something from each other on a family outing. These two stood out because of the originality of their concepts and the cogent stories they told

Execution is key to “Summerplay’s” rendering of “Our Ten,” which began as a jumble of radio announcements 081916_KSFE_TenMinute2and dial-spinning static, then took us inside the cars of some of those who find themselves directly affected by the news story playing out. Lighting (by Branden Wilson and co-director Pavlina Morris) and sound (effects by Darren Hembd, who co-designed with Morris and the other co-director, Karen Hauser), both were well done, supporting Levine’s solid, thought-provoking storytelling.

14068072_10154126862158801_1484642353663947663_nGibson’s sweet little sibling revelry “Meanwhile in the Backseat,” on the other hand, is more actor-driven, and Tacoma teens Skye Gibbs and Sean Kilen both do admirable jobs of bringing their characters’ “are we there yet?” interactions to life.

The spartan settings and uneven acting in “Summerplay’s” other offerings are no big detraction; the problems I had with much of the material was that it seemed puffed and padded. Many of the plays took much longer to get to their points — when, indeed, they seemed to have a point — than they should have.

Still, there was much to intrigue and entertain in the playwrights’ various methods and madnesses, and the first human-to-goldfish dialogue I can remember seeing, anywhere.

Surprisingly well written — if not much longer on nuance — the 10 Ten-Minute plays leaned heavily on comedy, and in several cases seemed elevated by the acting. Richard Leinaweaver‘s “Sleep,” about a man taking control of his life by planning his own death, benefitted from some wonderful performances, chiefly Tim Tully‘s touching turn as Ben. Jim Anderson‘s intriguing “The Royal Deluxe” took advantage of the effective scenery-chewing of Barbara Deering, and Paul Lewis‘ nightmare comedy “One Night at the Hotel Barbary” got a boost from both Jalyn Green as the long-suffering businessman and Luke Walker as the Wacky Bellhop. Also, Hayden Longmire put a much-needed chilly edge onto Judith Glass Collins‘ “Of Poisoned Pens and Palates.”

As often as not, I found myself thinking that I’d seen the plots and premises in the Ten-Minute collection before, and that the plays seemed like variations or rehashes; competently rendered, but derivative. And some of the shows might’ve gone well longer than their allotted 10 minutes, or at least seemed to.

That sounds cranky, but it’s not. The Ten-Minute Festival, like “Summerplay,” is an afternoon or evening of ideas, both in the scripts and the mounting of the plays. You’re not going to like everything you see, but you are liable to learn something, or walk away thinking about what you might’ve done differently.

We used to be able to see “Summerplay” in Bremerton. But at least it’s still alive and kickin’, in what seems to be a mutually agreeable arrangement with TMP. Because you just can’t get enough short plays.

Says the guy who saw 20 in two days.

— MM

Photos — Top: Danna Brumley, Jennifer Jett and Bob Downing rehearse Wendy Wallace’s “Plugged In” for the Ten-Minute Play Festival. Bottom: The cast of “Summerplay’s” “Our Ten,” by Mark Harvey Levine, rehearse on the Tacoma Musical Playhouse stage.

 

 

Bainbridge actors nominated for Gregory Awards

Two Bainbridge Island products are among the nominees for Theatre Puget Sound‘s Gregory Awards, which will be doled out in October.

Jocelyn Maher is nominated in the Supporting Actress category for her work in Seattle Public Theater’13903298_10154008558119545_7330367182487270464_ns “The Other Place.” And Quinn Liebling is a nominee for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for “Billy Elliot” at the Village Theatre.

Maher (pictured at left) has been busy on stages around the Puget Sound, including work at the University of Washington. She’s also appeared in shows at ACT, Book-It Repertory Theater and many others. Earlier, she smm_be-480x640_cdid several shows at Bainbridge Performing Arts, including “Distracted,” “The Sisters Rosensweig” and “Anton in Show Business.” During BPA’s 2006-07 season, she played Chloe in Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia,” a role she reprised with Seattle Public Theater in 2014.

Liebling (left in the photo at left) has recent credits at both BPA (“Mary Poppins”) and Ovation! Musical Theatre Bainbridge (“Evita”), as well as a part in the 5th Avenue Theater’s production of “A Christmas Story.”

Another BI-based actor, Keiko Green, was a cast member of ACT’s “Stupid F***ing Bird,” which garnered nominations for Outstanding Production, Best Director (Jessica Kuzbansky) and Actor (Adam Standley).

The Gregory Awards ceremony is Oct. 24 in Seattle.

 

Bumbershoot’s KEXP stage has a Kitsap feel

Bumbershoot released the final schedule for the 2016 renewal of Seattle’s music and art fair, with Olympic High School graduate Ben Gibbard‘s band, Death Cab for Cutie, tying a bow on things with a 9:30-10:50 p.m. Memorial Stadium performance Sept. 4, closing night.

But Gibbard won’t be the only thing Kitsap about this year’s Labor Day weekend celebration (which, curiously this year, doesn’t include the actual Labor Day, as this year’s renewal will be a Friday-Saturday-Sunday affair), thanks to the stage sponsored by KEXP, which apparently moves back this year to the lawn adjacent to Broad Street on the Seattle Center campus.

Lemolo, the dream-pop brain child of North Kitsap singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Meagan Grandall (pictured below), plays at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 3 . Day 2 usually is the busiest of the Bumber1023_KSFE_Lemolo1Days, and this year looks no different — Lemolo, for instance, is scheduled in exactly the same time slot as festival favorite Reggie Watts, who’ll be on the Fisher Green stage, a13909191_1823425694545724_2048973451823129016_ond the evening headliners are Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, fresh off their “Camping Trip” tour of small Washington venues that included an Aug. 31 gig at the Admiral Theatre.

Sept. 4, fast-tracked Seattle band Thunderpussy — who include Bainbridge Island expatriate Leah Julius on bass (at right in the photo at left) — will be on the KEXP stage. The all-female quartet recently won the distinction of being the first band invited to play the main stage at Sasquatch without yet having a record release on their resume. The Sept. 4 lineup also includes Bumbershoot’s annual unearthing of some excellent dinosaur-rock act, this year’s being Billy Idol (8:30 p.m., Fisher Green).

The schedule and ticket information are at bumbershoot.org

— MM

Sound Theatre’s ‘Guvnors’ is music-hall madness

So, what to make of a show that includes a fight scene involving — among other things — Stan Laurel, Charlie Chaplin and a vicious stuffed puppy dog?

That’s just a sample of the goofiness that pervades Richard Bean‘s “One Man, Two Guvnors,” which opened last weekend at the Seattle Center Armory under the auspices of Sound Theatre Company and the direction of Ken Michels. Physical comedy, Anglo-snark, double entendre and sexual innuendo all abound, sometimes seeming to compete for laughs in what comes off as an old-school British music-hall romp on Judd Apatow steroids.

It’s one of those shows that doesn’t even pretend to be plausible. Bean’s account of Brighton buffoonery — an adaptation of “The Servant of Two Masters,” Carlo Goldoni’s 18th-century Commedia dell-arte comedy re-set in England in 1963, just as the Beatles are poised to get fab — simply lays down a gauntlet and invites audiences to try — just try — to keep up in what is essentially a skit-sized plot fleshed out to a generous two acts with funny business.

If it doesn’t make sense, you’ll be too busy laughing for it to matter.

What plot there is centers ar0819_KSFE_Guvnors1ound Francis (a brilliantly locomotive David Roby (pictured at left), a comic force of nature who’ll burn through a double order of fish ‘n chips nightly), who’s cast his lot with not one, b0819_KSFE_Guvnors2ut two bosses — “Guvnors” — and attempts to keep his respective responsibilities sorted out while also trying (initially) to fill his belly and (secondarily) fulfill his libido.

One guvnor is Charlie “the Duck” (John Clark, so wonderful in Key City Public Theatre’s “The Mystery of Irma Vep” last year); the other is loutish Stanley (Luke Sayler). Both are entangled, in unrelated ways, with a shady character named Roscoe Crabbe, who might or might not be dead, and might or might not be homosexual, but is certainly betrothed to  Charlie’s daughter Pauline (Christine Riippi), who’d much rather marry Alan (Daniel Stoltenberg), an aspiring bad actor and the son of Charlie’s solicitor, Harry Dangle (Sierra Kagen).

Things thick enough for you? We’ve only just begun to convolute, people. Add in the show’s many musical numbers (with most of the cast contributing vocals and/or instruments to the basics supplied by guitarist John Brenner and pianist Elijah Pasco), frequent Beatles references, and Francis’ gleeful penchant for not just breaking the Fourth Wall but disregarding it completely (including the recruitment and subsequent mistreatment of audience members), and there’s more going on than will fit on any traditional scorecard.

Michels — familiar to Kitsap audiences from his frequent duties at Bainbridge Performing Arts — keeps his mostly tremendous cast whipped into a frenzy throughout, finding and utilitizing every opportunity for Roby et al to grind out every possible laugh. Not everyone supplies all the substance they might, and I had trouble deciphering some of the accents, but all hands dive into the slapstick style of the thing with wild abandon.

A couple of standouts (besides Roby): Kayla Teel (pictured above) makes for the most unlikely of tough guys as Roscoe, but still manages to imbue him with enough slimy, swaggering weirdness that the character comes off both edgy and funny at the same time. And Stoltenberg wraps himself around his every over-emoted, over-elocuted and over-amped line (“My honor has been fiddled with!”) to the point where you’re simply left with no choice but to laugh.

Burton Yuen‘s multi-layered, 3-D set is extensive and evocative, but sometimes leaves out of the action the audience members seated off to the sides. Set changes and lengthy and detailed, but covered quite nicely by the aforementioned musical selections.

“One Man, Two Guvnors” is eager to please, anything — and I mean anything — for a laugh, old-school English mega-farce. It’s not to be taken in any way seriously, and certainly not to be watched with a straight face.

You couldn’t, anyway, even if you tried.

NOTE: The 2 p.m. Aug. 20 performance is designed exclusively for families and groups whose members include people on the autism spectrum.

REVIEW

‘ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS’

Who: Sound Theatre Company

What: Comedy by Richard Bean, based on “The Servant of Two Masters” by Carlo Goldoni

Where: Seattle Center Armory, downstairs

When: Through Aug. 27; 7:30 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. matinees Saturdays and Sundays. NOTE: The 2 p.m. Aug. 20 performance is autism-friendly

Tickets: $25-$15

Information: 206-856-5520, soundtheatrecompany.org. Brown Paper Tickets — 800-838-3006, brownpapertickets.com

PHOTOS BY KEN HOLMES  |  SOUND THEATRE COMPANY

— MM

Changing Scene grows its foothold in Tacoma

Changing Scene Theatre Northwest, which added an intriguing black-box element to the Kitsap theater scene from 2002-13, might be back in Bremerton and environs at some point.

For now, though, artistic director Pavlina Morris seems to be strengthening the company’s foothold in Tacoma. For the second straight year, Changing Scene will perform its “Summerplay” one-act festival at Tacoma Musical Playhouse. They were are Tacoma Little Theatre in 2014 after having staged “Summerplay” at several different Bremerton venues.

In addition, TMP has scheduled a “mini-season” of three CSTN productions for its second space, known as The Spire. TMP’s offerings will be the two-person holiday comedy “A Tuna Christmas” (Dec. 2-17); “Love: You’ve Got to Be Kidding,” a collection of short plays by Seattle playwright (and frequent “Summerplay” contributor) John C. Davenport (Feb. 10-25); and “The Taming of the Shrew,” Shakespeare’s comedy staged in the commedia dell’arte style (May 5-21).

Tacoma Musical Playhouse is at 7116 Sixth Ave., just across the Narrows Bridge, and The Spire is at 710 S. Anderson.

Tickets and other information: 253-565-6867, tmp.org, changingscenenorthwest.org

— MM

BPA’s ‘Amadeus’ wins critics’ ‘Best Play’ award

Amadeus,” Bainbridge Performing Arts‘ ambitious winter-spring 2016 production, has been recognized by the South Sound Critics Association as the “Best Play” of their 2015-16 season.

“Amadeus,” directed by Kate Carruthers and featuring an award-winning Supporting Actor performance by Luke Walker (Mozart) and a nominated Lead Actor effort by Nelsen Spickard (Salieri), was one of two BPA offerings nominated for “Best Play,” along with the 2015 holiday-season production of “Mary Poppins.”

The production, which the Kitsap Sun’s review called “rich and incredibly detailed,” featured an evocative set by Will Langemack, period costumes by Barbara Klingberg and atmospheric lighting by Tess Malone, is technically a non-musical. It does feature a soundtrack of music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and other composers of the era, but normally is perforDSC_0592_grandemed with that soundtrack pre-recorded.

That’s where the ambition comes in. BPA employed a chamber orchestra, with fresh orchestration by Jon Brenner, and a choir/ensemble, both live on stage with pianists Josh Anderson (the musical director) and Elizabeth Faye.

BPA’s “Amadeus,” according to the Sun’s review, was “crisp and comprehendable, draped in luxurious visuals and accompanied by exquisite playing and singing throughout.”

(For the record, the Sun and its theater reviewer, Michael C. Moore, are not affiliated with South Sound Critics Association. The Sun annually publishes its own “best of” survey, but culls its nominees from the calendar year — January to December — instead of the fall-to-spring theater season. The Sun will run its “best of” compilation at the end of 2016.)

Shannon Burch, a frequent contributor at Paradise Theatre, won Best Actress honors for her role in the Gig Harbor company’s “Next to Normal.” The chamber musical was another Best Play nomination, and also earned a Supporting Actor nomination for Taylor Herbstritt and a Supporting Actress nod for Ashley Roy.

Spickard was one of three actors with Kitsap ties to earn Best Actor nominations. The others were Pete Benson (for BPA’s recent “Bard at Bloedel” production of “Much Ado About Nothing“) and Jeffrey Bassett (for Paradise’s “Scrooge the Musical“).Joseph Grant, playing Willie Loman in the Lakewood Playhouse’s “Death of a Salesman,” was the Best Actor honoree.

Lisa Mandelkorn, who played the title role in BPA’s “Mary Poppins,” joined Burch among the Best Actress nominees. Jenna McRill, who’s appeared in several shows at Paradise, was a Best Actress nominee for her title-role performane in “Romeo and Juliet” at Tacoma’s New Muses Theatre.

Bremerton’s Diana George was a Supporting Actress nominee for the Lakewood Players’ production of “Noises Off!”

Other best play nominees came from Tacoma Little Theatre (“Second Samuel”), Lakewood Players (“Death of a Salesman”) and Tacoma Musical Playhouse (“Mary Poppins”).

— MM

Dove Cameron tabbed for ‘Hairspray Live’ role

Bainbridge Island product Dove Cameron has sung and danced her way onto NBC’s December live broadcast of the Tony Award-winning hit musical “Hairspray.”

Cameron, currently playing identical twin sisters on the Disney Channel series “Liv and Ma0429_KSFE_Doveddie” (which begins airing its fourth season this fall), has been tapped to star as mean girl Amber Von Tussle.

Another Disney Channel alum, Garrett Clayton (the “Teen Beach Movie” franchise) was announced to play teen heartthrob Link Larkin. The casting of Cameron — who turned 20 in January — and Clayton is thought to be a move by NBC to attract a younger audience to the network’s ongoing series of small-screen live musical adaptations.

Previously, NBC announced that Harvey Fierstein will recreate his Tony Award-winning Broadway role as Edna Turnblad; Kristin Chenoweth is on board as Velma Von Tussle; Martin Short will play Wilbur Turnblad; pop star Ariana Grande is cast as Penny Pingleton; Derek Hough will be TV host Corny Collins; Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson will play Motormouth Maybelle. Newcomer Maddie Baillio, a New York high school sophomore, won the role of Tracy Turnblad.

Chenoweth, one of the biggest stars in musical theater, was Cameron’s castmate in the 2015 Disney Channel movie “Descendants,” and voiced her support for Cameron to be cast in Disney’s upcoming big-screen version of “Wicked,” in the role of Glinda — which Chenoweth played on Broadway.

“Descendants 2” is set to air on Disney Channel in 2017. Cameron also has participated in other Disney Channel products, including a lead role in the film “Cloud 9.” Outside of the Disney Channel, she earned thumbs-up reviews for her part in the 2015 film “Barely Lethal.” She made her first marks on Hollywood in 2012 with guest spots on the TV series “Shameless” and “The Mentalist.”

“Hairspray Live” will air December 7 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

— MM

 

Chenoweth picks Dove Cameron for ‘Wicked’ film role

Kristin Chenoweth, who played Glinda during the Broadway run of “Wicked,” has an opinion about who should play the part in the upcoming Disney live-action film version: Bainbridge Island native Dove Cameron.

Chenoweth was asked during an interview with VH1 who she would cast in the film, and her answer was:

“For some0429_KSFE_Doveone in their 20s, I would go for Dove Cameron (pictured at left, as Glinda) and Lea Michelle (from “Glee,” as Elphaba),” Chenoweth told VH1, as reported by justjared.com. “Someone in their 30s, I would go with Beth Behrs (from “Two Broke Girls,” as Glinda) and maybe Zooey Deschanel (from “The New Girl,” as Elphaba).”
Michelle’s name has been connected to the Elphaba role in the “Wicked” film, which is still in the development stage, several times, along with Anna Kendrick, who was Cinderella in Disney’s recent film reboot of “Into the Woods.”
Chenoweth and Cameron worked together on last year’s “Disney’s Descendants,” a Disney Channel original movie that cast Chenoweth as Maleficent of “Sleeping Beauty” fame and Cameron as her daughter, Mal.
Cameron currently stars in “Liv and Maddie,” prepping for its fourth season on the Disney Channel. The 20-year-old plays both title characters in the situation comedy.
The justjared.com item is at:
— MM

Macklemore, Ryan Lewis quickly sell out Bremerton show

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are going on a “camping trip” — an eight-stop late-summer tour of venues around Washington — which includes an Aug. 31 stop at the Admiral Theatr1401x788-GettyImages-470909850e in Bremerton.

Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. May 20 — and sold out in less than an hour despite limited advance publicity — for the show, part of a tour that also will make stops in Spokane, Yakima, Walla Walla, Enumclaw, Olympia, Hoquiam and Bellingham. The shows were announced by Macklemore and the Admiral on their respective Web sites and social media outlets only when the ticket sale began.

According to Admiral general manager Brian Johnson, Macklemore wanted to keep advance notice of the shows to a minimum, publicizing them only at the last minute on social media. The theaters involved in the tour were allowed to post their own notices only after the ticket sales had begun.

“I couldn’t even tell my staff about it until yesterday,” Johnson said. “They wanted to do the shows in small venues for their true fans.”

The “Thrift Shop” guys finish a long summer tour with a show in Jakarta, Indonesia on Aug. 13, but will be back in action just 10 days later for the “Camping Trip” swing, which begins Aug. 23 at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane. Following the Admiral stop, there’s one more campsite in Bellingham before they return to Seattle to headline the Bumbershoot music and art festival Sept. 2-4.

Other shows on the “Camping Trip” include the Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima Aug. 24, Main Street Studios in Walla Walla Aug. 25, the Chalet Theatre in Enumclaw Aug. 27, the Capitol Theatre in Olympia Aug. 28, the 7th Street Theatre in Hoquiam Aug. 29 and the Wild Buffalo in Bellingham Aug. 31.

General admission tickets for the Admiral show and the others on the tour were $20. The Admiral business office was closed during the morning hours (staffers probably were girding for a night shift, with the Kingston Trio in town). The ticket office closed as soon as the last of the “Camping Trip” tickets were sold. Maximum capacity for the show is 999.

Information: 360-373-6743, admiraltheatre.org

— MM

Bumbershoot lineup has Kitsap connections

Bumbershoot announced the music lineup for its Labor Day weekend, and it includes a couple of Kitsap connections.

The top names on the list of performers are Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Death Cab For Cutie. Death Cab, of course, is fronted by Olympic High School product Ben Gibbard.

BS16_Poster_Web-vert_rgbThose two acts will doubtless be among the mainstage performers for the Sept. 2-4 festival, which runs on a Friday-Sunday schedule this year instead of the traditional Saturday-Monday.

Lemolo, the dream-pop brain child of North Kitsap’s Meagan Grandall, will be making a return appearance. With a second CD — the excellent “Red Right Return” — to play, they’ll be in the Seattle Center extravaganza for the first time since 2011.

Also among the acts announced for Bumbershoot 2016 are KYGO, Tame Impala, G-Eazy, Pretty Lights, Halsey, DJ Snake, Father John Misty, and … Billy Idol. Every year, the festival seems to come up with one or two veteran artists that up the Cool Quotient, and this year, it’s … Billy Idol.

Passes go on sale April 29 at bumbershoot.com

— MM