Monthly Archives: November 2008

LOCAL THEATER: ‘Iggy Scrooge’ Rocks at Times, but He’s Singing the Same Old ‘Carol’

Some technical difficulty here in The Sungeon is preventing me from posting a review of CSTOCK ‘s "The Salvation of Iggy Pop " (which we previewed online last week and in the Nov. 28 print edition of Kitsap A&E) last night, right after I attended the Nov. 29 performance. In the meantime, we’ll use the blog thingie and find out if there’s anybody out there this morning that still doesn’t have a CK Football Hangover:

By Michael C. Moore
MMOORE@KITSAPSUN.COM
SILVERDALE

When I was in sixth grade, at Cascade Elementary School in Marysville, we talked our teacher, Mrs. Swalling, into letting us do a class play for our Christmas party, before she hauled out the autoharp for carols.
She gave us 10 minutes to do our version of “A Christmas Carol, Starring Paul Revere and the Raiders” — I played Mark Lindsay , to enthusiastic reviews, especially my lead vocal on “Christmas (Just Keeps Gettin’ Harder to Find).” We didn’t have much to work with — just a record player, the “Greatest Hits” LP and some “guitars” cut out of cardboard.
But we thought it went pretty well. Then we had cupcakes.
Why am I telling you this? To make a point, doggone it.
The point is, just about everybody — even in outposts as remote as Marysville — has had a crack at re-inventing the Charles Dickens classic, in which Ebenezer Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas, and saves his own miserable carcass in the process.
The list of actors who’ve played Scrooge in one version or another is longer than Scrooge’s and Marley’s chains welded together. I mean, Tori Freakin’ Spelling played a character based on Scrooge (“A Carol Christmas,” 2003; look it up).
What I’m trying to say, in this little end-run of a preamble-ramble, is that there are a lot of adaptations of “A Christmas Carol,” and some of them are better than others. Some do a better job presenting the story and the moral, in their own way, and some even have a little nuance to add.
The Salvation of Iggy Scrooge ,” the 1990s, post-grunge revisionist version written by Seattle actors Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee , with music by Edd Key , never will be one of my favorites. And, while the production currently being mounted at CSTOCK under the direction of John Jensen is a game and courageous effort, with bonus points for chutzpah, it doesn’t do much to elevate the material.
There’s not much it can do. If there’s ever been a "been there, done that" play, this is it (Tori Spelling , people).
Some of the ideas and lines — having the spirits who visit Scrooge represented by old rock stars, or having Marley be late for “lunch with Hitler,” f’rinstances — are pretty funny, and some of the songs sound like they could stand on their own. In general, though, the book of “Iggy” is an awkward jumble of ’90s rock-speak and Dickens’ original prose, which really doesn’t have much of anything to add to Plan A.
As for my personal evening at the Silverdale Community Center, the first thing I can think to say is this: “I can’t get the smell out of my clothes.”
No, no, no; step away from the e-mail. I’m not talking about the show. I’m talking about the cigarette smoke from the intermission. Fool that I am, I thought I could wander across the parking lot and stow a Trop’s chockie in the glove box for my daughter, without being coated by Second-Hand Extra-Smelly, With a Touch of Menthol. But, noooo.

So I smelled — not the show. Wasn’t my favorite show, but odor needn’t be an issue.

I did have issues, both physical and technical. To make too big a deal of them, though, wouldn’t be entirely fair. The show I saw (Nov. 29, Night Two of the run) was played out in the slackest house I’ve ever seen at CSTOCK, and the energy level was fractional. It’s hard to do what amounts to a rock show under those conditions, and I think it would be a better show with a fuller house.

Still, the acting was generally quite thin, and Larson and Lee’s lyrics often were unintelligible, the result of acoustic voices backed by an electric band. Some of the characters wore mics, but they seldom worked, and though Don Olson (playing Iggy) sang his opening number into a mic, you could barely hear a word.
When I could hear him, I thought Olson acquitted himself well in general, bravely tackling the burned-out, hardened rock star Iggy (I can think of a few real-life burned-out rock stars who don’t sound any better). He managed some pretty effective vocal moments, particularly on a ballad about his lost love, Belle.
But the man of the match in Jensen’s multitasking little cast (including band members and a couple of recruits from the stage crew, who I think might’ve been covering for illnesses or absences of some other sort) had to be Friedrich Schlott , who handled three roles and supplied the ensemble with its best voice. Whether playing the self-torturing nun Sister Bull Imaculata; the affable watchman Oscar (replete with “Fargo” accent, offering Iggy a “battle of pap”) or the Ghost of Christmas Present, played as Elvis with a gold lame cape and a loaf of hair, the deadpan Schlott was consistently funny.
There were other good voices on display to varying degrees, too. The glorious pipes of Trina Williamson , who played the multiple keyboard voices in the band, only were audible a few times singing backup, and Megan Markle (as Tiny Tina Cratchit) got to sing all of one solo line — and that was post-mortem, poor kid.
High marks to music director Mark Jackson , who played guitar throughout, as well as singing and playing in Spook Costume for one number and pickin’ a mandolin for another. You could tell he’s done the rock musician thing a time or three.
The stage itself was efficiently set up, with a bandstand at the back and other scenes popping on and off, sometimes emerging from beneath said bandstand. And then there was the hot tub — when Iggy was dunked by a couple of spectres (Brianne Gray and Jessica Rothwell ), he came up genuinely wet.
But in "Iggy Scrooge" — and, indeed, in the vast pantheon of "Christmas Carol" re-dos — the best ideas still come directly from Dickens.

REVIEW
‘The Salvation of Iggy Scrooge’
Who: Central Stage Theatre of County Kitsap (CSTOCK)
What: Musical comedy by Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee (book and lyrics) and Edd Key (music), based on "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
Where: Silverdale Community Center, 9729 Silverdale Way NW
When: Through Dec. 21: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 6 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $15 to $10
Information: (360) 692-9940, cstock.org

When They Say ‘Family Show,’ They MEAN ‘Family Show’

Two of the Christmas shows that open in the next couple of weeks on local stages have a little extra bit of that "family" feel.

At "Ovation!" Musical Theatre Bainbridge (which actually stages its productions at Bainbridge High School), it’s always a family affair, of course, with artistic director Ron Milton directing the shows and handling many of the technical issues while his wife, Marijane , acting, singing and doing publicity. (Daughter Piper , who’s been a regular castmember the last couple of years, must be off at college or something …)

For "Oliver!", which opens Dec. 5, there’s the usual several sets of siblings doing chorus-ensemble duties. But there’s also a father-son tandem in an interesting casting twist. Young Sam Warkentin plays Oliver Twist, and his dad, Don Warkentin , plays Mr. Brownlow. So, the father and son play what turns out to be a grandfather and son (OOPS! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!). Aw, you guys all know by now how "Oliver!" turns out … don’t you?

Over at Bainbridge Performing Arts, where "Once Upon A Mattress" opens Dec. 11, they’ll have three Denis-es in the cast — Robin Denis plays Queen Aggravane, and two Denis relations — husband Peter and offspring Rowan — are among the lords and ladies. There’s also the two Hosterman sisters — Claire and Chloe — who have become downright regulars on the BPA stage.

As a bonus, director Corey McDaniel points out, the characters of love interests Lady Larken and Sir Harry are being played by a real-life husband and wife — Heather McRobbie and Brian Edwards .

So, when they say something’s a "family show" around here, remember — that’s true both figuratively and literally.

For information on the two shows: "Oliver!" — (206) 842-0472, ovationmtb.com. "Once Upon A Mattress" — (206) 842-8569, bainbridgeperformingarts.org.

More later … — MM

Key City Goes Public With 2009 Season

Port Townsend’s excellent Key City Public Theatre has announced its 2009 season last week. It includes:

Feb. 20 to March 8: 13th Annual Playwrights’ Festival , the three winning entries in the theater’s annual one-act play competition; directed by Jeane Myers. This year’s selectees are plays by Flip Wingrove, Jack O’Connor and James Daly.

April 10 to May 2: "Birnham Woods ," mystery by Wendy MacLeod; directed by KCPT artistic director Denise Winter.

June 26 to July 19: "What the Butler Saw ," farce by Joe Orton, directed by David Hundhausen.

Aug. 7 to 23: Shakespeare in the Park production of "The Comedy of Errors " at Chetzemoka Park; directed by Paula Bennett.

Nov. 26 to Dec. 20: "Scrooge: The Musical ," Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol" set to music by Leslie Bricusse and featuring songs like "Thank You Very Much" and "I Hate Christmas;" directed by Denise Fleener.

Information: (360) 379-0195, keycitypublictheatre.org.

‘Funny Five’ Set for Admiral Comedy Show

Seattle Laugh-Off’s ‘Funny Five’ Visit

To win the 29th Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition, the five finalists will have to go through Bremerton.
The fourth of five shows in the laugh-fest’s final round is at 8 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Admiral Theatre, 515 Pacific Ave. in Bremerton. The “Funny Five” will each do their darnedest to make a theater full of Kitsappers laugh before heading back to the contest’s home base, the Comedy Underground, for the final stop in the monthlong process.
The finalists who’ll be performing at the Admiral include Seattleite Justin Rupple, Nate Jackson of Lacey, Todd Johnson of Boise, Lars Cailliou of Edmonton, Alberta and Tommy Savitt of Los Angeles.
Tickets for the 8 p.m. show — which might well contain some adult language, so consider yourselves warned — are on sale for $25 to $20, and are available from the Admiral box office, (360) 373-6743 or admiraltheatre.org.

DAILY DRIVEL — How to Screw Up a Kid’s Life, in Two Easy Words

In the ongoing efforts of our young wave of publicity-hound stars to create an even more screwed-up generation than their own, we give you the moniker chosen by Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson for their first offspring:

Bronx Mowgli

… good one, kids.

_____

Now Michael Jackson ‘s being sued for $7 million by some sheik in Bahrain?

Poor Michael … now he has to get away from the place he got away to.

More later … — MM

Admiral Announces ‘Sounds of the Season’ Finalists

Twenty finalists have been selected for the Admiral Theatre ’s 10th annual “Sounds of the Season” community talent show and competition at 7 p.m. Dec. 18.
Auditions earlier this month yielded a roster of finalists ranging from dance groups to vocal and instrumental music acts. Juggler-comedian Greg Bennick once again serves as master of ceremonies for the variety showcase.
The 2008 finalists include: Sam Picart, Tanner Peavey, Erin Taylor, Just for Kicks “Green Eggs and Ham,” “Stamp Your Feet” and “Calabria,” Academy of the Performing Arts “Flower Dance” and “Flutes Dance (from ‘The Nutcracker’),” the Gray Girls, Anna Moya, Daniel Hrnatavic, Just for Kicks “Stamp Your Feet,” Julie Fedorko, Allison Verhofstadt and Maria Richardson, Shelly Shelton, Bethany and Kristi Tanaka, Oasis-A cappella, Taylor Murphy, Nicole Eckart, Yuex/Lawson Duet and Brianna Eddy.
Tickets range from $20 to $12. The theater is at 515 Pacific Ave. in Bremerton. Information: (360) 373-6743, admiraltheatre.org.

More later … — MM

DAILY DRIVEL — Singin’ the Blues About RS’ Latest List?

Now that the election’s over and their Main Man Barack O’Bama ‘s won, Rolling Stone can get back to what it’s supposed to do best — cover music.

The new issue includes one of their inimitable lists: The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

Not "The 100 Greatest Rock Singers of All Time," or "The 100 Greatest Singers of the Second Half of the 20th Century ," but the greatest of all time.

Whew. That’s a tall order, just like some of their previous lits — best bands, best albums, best songs.

They’re exhaustive lists, to be sure, and the folks RS employed to help put it together certainly pack the necessary cred. But this kind of list, however exhaustive, never can be comprehensive. It’s a lot of words, but it’s not the last word.

Instead, it’s to ponder, to pick apart, to argue over. And mostly, it’s to try and figure out who was left off.

In this case, the omissions are glaring. I’ve got no problem with almost everybody who made the list, but judging from some of the omissions I came up with, off the top of my head and in just a few minutes while I was waiting for my "SO EASY EVEN A HOWLER MONKEY CAN DO IT" software to load, some of the judges did (or are still doing) a lot of drugs during their careers.

RS’ top 10 (in order): Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Elvis, Sam Cooke, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder and James Brown.

Some good pipes there, and some wonderfully evocative, expressive interpreters, both of their own and others’ work.

Just for fun, though, here’s 10 (rendered alphabetically) of People Who Were Left Off:

Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton, Chris Cornell, Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Lou Gramm (Foreigner), Chrissie Hynde (the Pretenders), Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), Ann Wilson (Heart)

Want another 10?

Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Sir Gary Brooker (Procol Harum), Elvis Costello, Ray Davies (The Kinks), Peter Gabriel, George Harrison, Richie Havens, Billy Preston, Layne Staley, Levi Stubbs (The Four Tops)

And if we’re really talking about the greatest singers of all time, where’s Sinatra? Where’s Pavarotti, Sutherland, Piaf, Carreras, Kathleen Battle, Placido Domingo … where’s Belafonte? Where’s Bing?

If Neil Young (37) can be on the list, why can’t David Crosby, Stephen Stills or Graham Nash?

And where in the name of all that is good and decent is the late, lamented Steve Marriott ???

Ah, it’s just a list. It’s there so you can come up with your own list of singers they left off and harrumph off feeling all superior.

It’s incomplete. It’s subjective (since when was anything in Rolling Stone anything but?). It’s selected more in the interest of style than true substance.

But it’s a helluva lot of fun.

Send in the omissions you come up with, and we’ll make up a "100 Not Quite Greatest Singers of All Time" and post it in an upcoming D.D.

More later … — MM

Comedy Competition Down to 10

The field of comics still standing in the Seattle International Stand-Up Comedy Competition has been winnowed down to 10. After the semifinals, five finalists will remain for a last leg of performances, including a Nov. 29 stop at the Admiral Theatre in Bremertron.

Semifinalists — the best five of whom will be on hand for the Bremertron show — are:

Drew Barth Seattle WA
Lars Cailliou Edmonton AB Canada
Tyler Hawkins Edmonton AB Canada
Nate Jackson Lacey WA
Todd Johnson Boise ID
Seth Perry Vancouver BC Canada
Justin Rupple Seattle WA
Tommy Savitt Los Angeles CA
Murv Seymour Tampa FL
Kortney Shane Williams Seattle WA

Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are available from the Admiral box office, (360) 373-6743 or admiraltheatre.org.

Come ready to laugh, and leave the kids at home (there must might be naughty language).

More later … — MM

Richie Havens Mixes Past and Present at the Admiral

Richie Havens said last week that the songs just kind of "go through" him.

As his concert Nov. 15 at the Admiral Theatre proved, that’s both a good and a bad thing. The show, for the most part, had a fine, off-the-cuff feel to it, as if the venerable folkie really was just channeling the songs.

It didn’t seem, though, like he was quite channeling all the lyrics all the time.

There’s no downplaying Havens’ voice as a force of nature. Hearing him sing live is like holding a baby … very comforting, but with a little bit of underlying tension — you can’t help wondering what the baby’s about to do.

And, on stage, Havens was the soul of affability, even absent-mindedness. But after a cross-country trip to play one show, a 67-year-old can be forgiven a shred of dottiness.

The show itself, with Havens and guitarist Walter Parks on duty throughout and joined for the final song of the first set and all of the second by cellist Stephanie Winters , was an uneven affair, really. Much time was spent tuning, particularly in the oddly paced first set, and when Havens would launch into a song with his trademark, doubletime strum, Parks sometimes seemed left with nothing to do but noodle little arpeggios (many of them quite lovely, by the way) around the edges. The tone of Winters’ cello, when you could hear it, was a gorgeous addition.

The good news is that Havens played a lot of the songs from his excellent latest CD, "Nobody Left to Crown ." The title tune was a highlight of the opening set, along with a much-anticipated reading of George Harrison’s "Here Comes the Sun ," and the lovely "One More Day " was a centerpiece of the second.

(If it seemed like there was a lot of guitar tuning going on, go home, grab your own axe and hammer away on it for 10 minutes like Havens does. Guaranteed you’ll have to re-tune it.)

The rouser, though, was the sequence near the end of the set, which started with a gripping version of Joni Mitchell’s "Woodstock" (which suffered just a tad, however, as he seemed to struggle with the lyrics) and continued through an impassioned reading of Bob Dylan’s "Maggie’s Farm ," with a verse of Pete Townsend’s "Won’t Get Fooled Again " effectively folded in. (There’s a really good, full-length re-imagining of "Won’t Get Fooled Again" on "Nobody Left to Crown," by the way.)

After that, even Havens’ great Woodstock amalgam, "Freedom / Motherless Child ," for all its string-breaking passion, seemed, well, perfunctory. He probably knew there were patrons who would block the exits until he played it.

Not all the oldies worked as well. The rendition of Gary Wright’s "Love Is Alive ," which started off the second set, seemed to meander awkwardly, and the encore — one a cappella verse of the Joe Cocker chestnut "You Are So Beautiful " (actually written by the late Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher), was too brief, although you could definitely make out little bitty snippets of Havens’ gospel and doo-wop beginnings in his treatment.

Overall, I have to say that while normally I’m a fan of spontaneity, this concert might have been a little too loose. Still, I’m not disappointed. Havens, after more than 40 years on stage, is still one hell of a channeler of songs.

More later … — MM

Local Actress Back for Second Year of ACT’s ‘Christmas Carol’

Got a note earlier today from the Brummel household in Chimacum (they recently moved from Hansville), letting me know that our own Amelia Rose Brummel will be back for a second year in A Contemporary Theatre ‘s holiday tradition (they’ve been doing it since 1976, fer goodness sake), "A Christmas Carol ."

The Charles Dickens classic, adapted by Gregory A. Falls and directed by Kurt Beattie, runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 27 at the theater, 700 Union St. in Seattle. Amelia will play Belinda Cratchit and Lil Fezziwig.

Last fall, the 12-year-old Amelia (well, she was 11 then) landed the understudy job for Red Riding Hood in the 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of "Into the Woods," then earned a spot in the "Christmas Carol" cast. She first caught our eye a little earlier as Little Sally in BPA’s production of "Urinetown: The Musical."

So, if you needed an excuse to venture across the roiling waters of Puget Sound to see one of Seattle’s holiday entertainment stalwarts, here’s a local for you to go cheer on.

More later … — MM