Kitsap-bred playwright’s work gets staged reading in Seattle

So Damn Proud,” written by Los Angeles-based playwright Justin Neal (pictured below), will receive a staged reading at Northwest Playwright Alliance at the Seattle Rep Oct. 10. Neal was born in Bremerton and raised on Bainbridge Island.

The play, which weaves non-linear scenes surrounding a First Nations brother and sister, had its initial workshop at Native Voices at the Autry Museum as part of its New Play Festival injneal_sb_headshot2-lo L.A. in May 2015. It features two of the most notable up-and-coming Native American stage and screen actors in North America, Lily Gladstone and Shaun Taylor-Corbett. Macha Monkey co-founder Desiree Prewitt directs, with assistance from local choreographer Juliet Waller-Pruzan and filmmaker Melissa Woodrow. The line-up of Seattle actors includes Mark Fullerton, Meaghan Mary Halverson, Adria LaMorticella, Shane Regan and Sarah Winsor.

The staged reading is at 7 p.m. at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St. on the Seattle Center grounds. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.

INDIEGOGO FUNDING CAMPAIGN (for travel & honorariums):

— MM

Sylvie Davidson does Village Theatre song-and-dance

Poulsbo’s Sylvie Davidson continues to be one of the busiest performing artists to come from the Kitsap peninsula. She’s in Village Theatre‘s production of the musical “Pump Boys and Dinettes” which opened Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 23. From there, it moves to the company’s Everett location for four more weeks of performances, Oct. 28-Nov. 20.

Earlier this year, Davidson starred in an extended run of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, Calif., a show that also employed her husband, Trevor Wheetman, as musical director and multi-instrumental performer.

But the North Kitsap native has been building quite a resume in local venues, too, adding Issaquah’s Village Theatre to her resume with the role of Prudie Cupp in “Pump Boys and Dinettespb-5press-web.” She’s worked extensively with Book-It Repertory in Seattle, including reviving her title role in “Emma” last winter. She also has several credits at A Contemporary Theatre (ACT), several times taking roles in the theater’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol.”

Davidson (up front for a number in “Pump Boys and Dinettes in the photo above) was in Rubicon’s company for “Lonesome Traveler: A Journey Down the Rivers and Streams of American Folk” in 2011-12, and went on tour with the show to New York in spring 2015.

Davidson and Wheetman also are singer-songwriters and perform together as Trevor and Sylvie.

Information on “Pump Boys and Dinettes”: 425-392-2202,



Another Kitsap Bumbershooter

8308_604775439551578_1993177529_nI saw him; I just didn’t know him.

A reader pointed out a Kitsap product I missed while I was running down locals who would be performing at last weekend’s Bumbershoot music and art fair at Seattle Center.

I saw some of Shaprece‘s set at Fisher Green Sept. 4. But I didn’t know at the time that one of the guys in her band is Branden Clarke. Clarke is a Kingston native and graduated from North Kitsap High School. The DJ/producer also records and performs as his own entity, IG88.

So, better late than never …

— MM

Bumbershoot 2016, Day Three: Finding Flatstock wasn’t easy

I was talking to a former co-worker who has a stall at Flatstock, one of the visual-art mainstays of Bumbershoot. This year the exhibit, which features dozens of local graphic and poster artists, was moved into the Exhibition Hall.

Anybody who used to go to concerts in the ExHall knows it’s a crappy place to listen to music. Evidently, it’s also a crappy place for Flatstock.

The problem is that Flatstock, whether in the Center House — oops, copious apologies, make that The Armory — or Fisher Pavilion, was a destination for some, but a welcome walk-up thing for many others. Folks in the area with a little time to kill could stop in, and maybe shop in. It was good for the vendors, and a nice change of pace for a lot of Bumbershooters.

But the ExHall venue is out-of-the-way for most attendees. Traffic through this year’s Flatstock was “awful,” according to my ex-colleague. It looked awful, even though he said Monday was their best day of the three, and it also looked weird to not see people four deep in every aisle, checking out the posters, t-shirts and other wares.

New Porno0914_flavrbluegraphers and Schoolyard Heroes never deserved to have to play in the ExHall. And Flatstock doesn’t deserve to have to show there, either. Maybe AEG can figure out a solution by next year.

A few impressions from Day Three:

  • More Venue Bitching: Got to the KEXP stage 20 minutes early and was still shut out from seeing one of my Festival Objectives, Thunderpussy. Checked back a couple of times during their set, but there was always a long line, and no one could go in until someone came out. And that, owing to the kinetic nature of Thunderpussy’s shows, wasn’t happening. Again, it’s nice that KEXP has its own cozy venue. But a lot of their artists aren’t getting the exposure they should, either because the place is a bit of a trudge to get to, or because, once you’ve made the trudge, you might not be able to get in, anyway.
  • Even More Venue Bitching: The long lines for KeyArena‘s shows were re-arranged somewhat for Sunday, after Saturday’s cluster(you-know-what). Wait times seemed shorter Sunday; I don’t know if that’s because some of the artists didn’t have the drawing power of the Saturday ones, or if any refinements in the system eased the pressure. It still seemed like there were thousands of kids waiting an inordinate amount of time just to get in. If there’s a push to keep KeyArena full throughout, this is an unhealthy side effect.
  • I wonder when running became such a thing in the Memorial Stadium venue. Not a few people, once in a while, trotting to catch up with friends or to fill a vacant spot before someone else beats them to it. No, lots of people, individuals and groups, trying to Usain Bolt their way across the crowded stadium floor. Hacky-sackers are one thing, but when you’ve got whole track teams worth of sprinters bearing down on you, oblivious to anyone’s presence but their own, there are accidents waiting to happen. I have bruises to prove it.
  • Speaking of Sunday’s Memorial Stadium shows, I will never be a fan of Tame Impala. And you can’t make me. I think they should immediately be renamed White Urkel.
  • From the bad news of not getting in to see Thunderpussy comes the good news of getting to see two of the day’s other best acts, Seattle’s The Flavr Blue (pictured above) on the Fisher Green Stage and Maiah Manser on the Starbucks Stage. The Flavr Blue’s electronic hip-hop R&B, with a taste of guitar-band bravado thrown in, is totally engaging, and Hollis Wong-Wear, Lace Cadence and Parker Joe put on a show that is utterly professional and lots of fun at the same time. Star power. Manser was one of several big voices on the Starbucks Stage Monday, along with indie pop belter Bishop Briggs and a pair of country singer-songwriters, Margo Price (traditional country; good) and Maren Morris (country/hip-hop, if there is such a thing; better). If you like a little variety, the Starbucks probably was the day’s strongest stage.
  • Out of curiosity — in large part because they’re such a young band that was given a plum spot on the Fisher Green schedule — I checked out Grave and the Pink Slips, a punky little outfit fronted by 17-year-old Grace McKagan, daughter of Guns ‘n’ Roses and Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan. The songcraft was limited, partially because they’re really young, but more likely because they simply ran out of lyric possibilities that rhymed with “F**k.”
  • Didn’t stay long at Third Eye Blind‘s set. Still mad at them from an awful Memorial Stadium show the last time they were here, when I was seriously contemplating rushing the stage and seeing how many of them I could punch in the throat before being wrestled to the ground by security. Not to mention that “Semi-Charmed Life” still is the soundtrack for many of my nightmares …
  • On my way back to the ferry, I noticed that Mark Farner was playing last night at the Triple Door. Mark — Grand Funk, “Closer to Home” — Farner, for Pete’s sake. Why wasn’t he at Bumbershoot? I didn’t even know he was in town, which is one of the major embarrassments of my career.

You realize, of course, that I write this stuff when I’m bleary tired, so anything you don’t agree with, you can just shrug it off. Won’t bother me in the least …

Anyway, another Bumbershoot is in the books. Forty-six of ’em now. And next Labor Day weekend, we’ll have a chance to do it all again, complain about every little thing that’s wrong, and still have the best weekend of the year.

If you go — and you should — say hi …

— MM

Bumbershoot 2016, Day Two: Three places at one time?

I already felt bad enough that I was going to have to split my time between two of the acts I really wanted to see in Day Two action at The ’Shoot, hitting the first half of Lemolo‘s show on the KEXP Stage and then catching the last half hour of the triumphant return of Reggie Watts to Fisher Green.

It wasn’t until day’s end, as the Hyak nursed its way back to Bremertron on one engine, that I realized there was yet another band I should’ve been seeing. I’d been curious about the alt-country edge of Escondido, but they were on the Starbucks Stage at the same time as both Lemolo and Watts.

Curse Bumbershoot. Curse KEXP and AEG. Curse them all, for not consulting … me, I guess. I would’ve told them to space those three acts out a little. And I would’ve been right.

At least I got to see two out of three, if half-sets count. Lemolo — Meagan Grandall, with drummer Adrian Centoni, predictably filled the little coffee-house cubby-hole over which those hipsters from KEXP preside, and were doing their usual mesmerizing job, leaning heavily on tunes from “Red Right Return.” And Reggie, well, he just manages to be the best bandleader, soul singer, beat-boxer and comedian on the grounds, all at the same time. He makes you laugh and dance at the same time.

I couldn’t help but watch, while Lemolo was limbering up and then breaking into their set, the seemingly endless stream of people being herded through the maze of walkways that, eventually, funneled them into KeyArena. (At least I hope they did. Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing any of those kids again later.)

I know, once they got in, they got what they wanted in the Key; the musical equivalent of car chases and explosions. But I still felt sorry for all that time they waited in line, while I was experiencing two different kinds of music that invited me to listen, and think, and interpret, and didn’t simply appeal to me on a visceral level.

On the plus side, I guess, with all the kids waiting in line and crammed into the Key, it leaves a little elbow room outside for the rest of us.

A few notes on Saturday’s BumberDay:

  • I really wanted to dislike Joywave, 10926338_767676469953333_6782854157808700237_othe Rochester, N.Y. band that preceded Watts at Fisher Green. But their music was smart, catchy and had a sense of humor, and they won me over
  • The Starbucks Stage was a much hotter place to be than on Friday, with several strong acts. I can’t vouch for Escondido (see above), but enjoyed retro R&B crooner Desi Valentine, fun and sultry crooner Donna Missal and — especially — the charming pop-punk of the all-female Spanish four-piece Hinds (pictured). The problem with the Starbucks Stage this year is that it’s used as much for a conduit for people coming in from the Broad Street gate, who in past years were able to fan out in several directions. The grassy amphitheater, for many, is merely a place to be walked through, and the bands on stage often don’t get the attention they merit. I saw that happen a few years ago when they tried a stage outside of EMP, on the pavement where a lot of the Fun Forest used to be. I was shocked that people came in through the entrance and blew right past a fine little band called Lake Street Dive. Spectators were on their way somewhere else, ignoring a band that was on its way to big things.
  • Speaking of problems with stages … While I guess I enjoy the hipster aesthetic of KEXP’s venue, it’s not very conducive to discovery of bands by casual fans. Some of my favorite memories from Bumbershoots past are of idling around and happening upon a performance that became a highlight. The old Flag Plaza Pavilion, now the cheap seats for Fisher Green, was one of those places you could be walking past and hear somebody (Peter Himmelman and Phat Sidy Smokehouse come to mind, if that gives you any idea how long ago this must’ve been) that stopped you in your tracks. The KEXP Stage is the opposite. You have to very specifically be going there, and you have to go a ways away from much of anything else (except those long, serpentine lines into KeyArena) to get there.
  • I was surprised how much I liked the evening Fisher Green set by JoJo (Levesque), who was a pop princess in the early 2000s, but has been pretty quiet. She and her band delivered a set filled with hooks and energy, and she does have some vocal chops. She seems like she’s ready to elbow her way back onto the scene.

Sunday, we’ll see if I’m still around for Death Cab for Cutie‘s 9:10 set in Memorial Stadium, or if I’m worn out by Billy Idol (8:30, Fisher Green). There’s another three-places-at-one-time conflict (Thunderpussy plays at KEXP at 4:10, and The Flavr Blue starts at Fisher Green at 4:30) to be resolved, leaving Maiah Manser (4:20, Starbucks Stage) as the odd act out.

If you go, say hi …

— MM

Bumbershoot 2016, Day One: It’s all beer, all the time

It was, I suppose, inevitable: The entire Bumbershoot festival is now one big beer garden.

The fences are down and the beer-swilling hordes now mingle with us tee-totaling bumpkins. This year, once you’ve had your ID checked and are issued an wristband, you can sidle right up to one of the beer and wine dispensaries that are as plentiful on the Seattle Center grounds as Starbucks on the downtown streets.

The good news there is that there’s a lot more shoulder room for non-drinkers, who were left with increasingly less space at the venues in recent years as the beer gardens and sponsored “VIP” enclaves multiplied like fruit flies.

The bad news is that the brewski is now omnipresent. It’s ubiquitous. It’s everywhere. And its consumers reel among us, all tipsy and oblivious to things like kids and decency and everybody else’s personal space. In other words, this Bumbershoot is a little bit more like a fraternity party than any previous edition.

Probably because of the rain — and perhaps in part because much of the teenaged attendance block seemed to cloister themselves in Key Arena all day to take in whatever super-amplified swill was being force-fed them — Day One didn’t seem all that crowded. Memorial Stadium was less than half full for Father John Misty, although things picked up quite a bit in anticipation of the evening’s 1-2 punch of Halsey and Kygo. And the once prestigious Mural Amphitheatre — oops, fervent apologies, the “Starbucks Stage” — didn’t draw flies until the evening set by Zella Day, ostensibly a set-up job for closers the Blind Boys of Alabama which turned out to be a star turn for the 20-year-old singer-songwriter from Pinetop, Arizona.

Some impressions from Day One:

  • If you want to see Lemolo (5:30 today, KEXP stage), get there early. The venue is tiny, in the rooms west of the Northwest Court (north of KeyArena) where the art exhibitions held court for the festival’s first 44 years or so. There’s a coffee joint and a vinyl record shop built right into the space, which is probably pretty nice the other 362 days of the year, but simply take up space that could’ve been spectators for Lemolo, Thunderpussy (4:10 Monday) and all the other acts booked in by KEXP.
  • Friday, anyway, the KEXP Stage seemed haunted by weak bands with weak gear; the Starbucks Stage, at least early in the day, was weak bands with better gear; and the Fisher Green stage was weak bands with really good gear, perhaps a single streaming on one of the services and maybe a song “featured” on the CW network. St. Lucia seemed like something right out of the Nineties, and Atlas Genius and Bob Moses never really popped.
  • The Starbucks Stage didn’t fare much better until the set by the aforementioned Zella Day (pictured), who delivered a short (scheduled that way), intense set of dramatic originals, sung and occasionally shrieked by Day, who had a nice — but entirely too loud — bmaxresdefaultand behind her. She was the first artist I saw all day who seemed like she was really trying to make an impression. She did.
  • One of the reasons I liked Day so much was that I had just come from an embarrassing set at Fisher Green by Chevy Metal, a side project of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. I thought covers (the Van Halenized version of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” for instance) were verboten at Bumbershoot, but I wouldn’t have minded if they’d been better covers.
  • Joshua Tillman, Father John Misty’s frontman, called their main stage show “the last show of the current album cycle.” He said the massive tour numbered 240 shows. And, frankly, the band seemed utterly without pep. Still sounded pretty good, though.

Saturday, it might come down to a coin flip between Lemolo and Reggie Watts, both of whom play at 5:30 p.m. (Watts will be doing his beat-boxing, improv-ing thing at the Fisher Green Stage.) I could try to go half-and-half, but if I invest the time to get to the KEXP shoebox early enough to get so see Lemolo for my first time in a couple of years, I ain’t leaving. If it goes down that way, Reggie will understand.

It’ll be back to the stadium to see Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (8:50 p.m.), who I didn’t get to see when the “Camping Trip” tour stopped at the Admiral last Wednesday — although, judging by the Thursday water-cooler conversations in the Sungeon, just about every other Sun employee did.

If you go, it’s liable to be warmer and drier than it was Friday. Use sunscreen, and drink mucho liquid. God knows that’ll be a pretty simple proposition, given that you can’t throw a rock at Seattle Center this weekend and not hit a beer stand. There are a few water stations, too, so re-fill early and often. Have fun, and say hi …

— MM

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

— 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.



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, Brown Paper Tickets — 800-838-3006,


— MM