Friday, July 20, 2018

‘Sweet Land’ is a Satisfying Experience

Hugh Hastings, Michael Winters, Pam Nolte, Molli Corcoran, Tyler Todd Kimmel, 
Daniel Stoltenberg, April Poland and Chris Shea. (Photo by Erik Stuhaug)

THEATRE REVIEW

Seattle’s Taproot Theatre often takes chances presenting plays and musicals based on works that are not that well-known instead of tried-and-true favorites. It can be difficult to drum up interest in such productions. Even though the theatre’s current production of Sweet Land is based on the 2006 movie of the same name, it is an independent movie and not too many people are aware of it, but they should. Taproot has the distinction of being the west coast premiere location for the musical which just might be the start for this new show.

The story of Sweet Land is a simple one. In 1920, a young German woman named Inge (Molli Corcoran) agrees to cross the sea to marry Olaf (Tyler Todd Kimmel) a Norwegian man whom she has never met. She knows very little English and on her journey has worked hard with one phrase, “I could eat a horse” finding that it isn’t as useful as she might have thought. The plan was for Olaf to pick up Inge at the train station and head straight to the church to be married. But there is a hitch. Still bruised from World War I, many residents of Park Rapids, Minnesota as suspicious of Germans thinking that Inge could be a spy. This includes Pastor Sorenson (Hugh Hastings) who refuses to marry the couple unless they can come up with some sort of references for the girl, preferably from a clergy member from her hometown. The justice of peace in town also refuses. The couple can’t get married and they can’t live in the same house as it would appear to not only scandalous but also against Inge’s and Olaf’s own religious upbringing.

To make matters even more difficult, Olaf is extremely shy and actually avoids his bride who is having her own hard time fitting in. Alvin and “Brownie” Frandsen (Chris Shea and April Poland) take in the girl to live with their rather large family while things get sorted out. Brownie shows Inge how to read American recipes and despite his uncertain feelings for Inge, Pastor Sorenson agrees to teach Inge English using the Bible as his guide. Still, suspicion and prejudice abound.

Molli Corcoran, Tyler Todd Kimmel (Photo by Erik Stuhaug)
On top of everything else, Sweet Land has a rather “sweet” message about the value of sexual purity of all things. As the audience, we get to see how this innocent romance between two strangers bloom. Both Inge and Olaf avoid any act or behavior that could be considered improper. The romance grows naturally and the two long for the day when they can finally be wed to experience all the joys that marriage has to offer. The story is a refreshing one and speaks volumes to many people today who hardly scoff at a one-night-stand.

I haven’t seen the movie and suspect that it is considered more of a drama than anything else. But the stage play has plenty of laughs in this fish out of water comedy. Kimmel and Corcoran are especially good as the potential love birds. I don’t know if Corcoran spoke German before she was cast in the play, but you’d never know if she hadn’t. Both she and Kimmel are very animated and their facial expressions are tell us everything that they are thinking without saying a word. The story moves at a good pace and music is pleasant enough and doesn’t pull the audience away from the story. There is an auction scene that is tied to a musical number that is especially good at creating tension. The musicians include Michael Matlock (piano), Dexter Stevens (reeds), Emily Ravenscraft (violin) and Leah Pogwizd (bassist). The cast is rounded out with Jenny Cross, Michael Winters, Pam Nolte and Daniel Stoltenberg, all equally good.

The only negative I found with Sweet Land is the portrayal of Pastor Sorenson. While on one hand he is scene a pillar of the community and one that is fully involved in helping the various neighbors during their crop’s harvests. On the other hand, he is shown as a judgmental jerk who assumes the worst about Olaf and Inge’s relationship and even spreads rumors about the two. Haven’t we had enough stories about judgmental clergy members? Isn’t it time to have stories that represent pastor and priests with good hearts and good examples for a change? They do exist.

Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 206-781-9707 or in person at the Box Office. Tickets range from $27-$50 depending on the performance. The theatre does offer some discounts, so be sure to visit their website to take advantage of them. Sweet Land is recommended for those age 12 and older. Taproot Theatre is located at 204 N 85th St. in Seattle.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Taproot Presents the West Coast Premiere of 'Sweet Land'

THEATRE

Taproot Theatre presents the West Coast premiere of Sweet Land which is based on the film of the same name (by Ali Selim) and the short story, "A Gravestone Made of Wheat" by Will Weaver. In this sweeping musical that soars like the Minnesota skies, a young German woman crosses the sea to marry a man she’s never met. What should be their happy ending is met with suspicion and prejudice as friends and neighbors abandon them. But when hardship befalls the community, Inge and Olaf sacrifice everything to save their friends.

Directed by Karen Lund, the Sweet Land musical was written by Perrin Post and Laurie Flanigan Hegge with music by Dina Maccabee and lyrics by Laurie Flanigan Hegge. Sweet Land will play from July 11 to August 18, 2018. Regular performances will be held Wednesdays and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday matinees will be performed at 2:00 p.m. Special performances include Post Play Discussions after every Wednesday performance, the "Pay What You Can Afford" performance will be presented on July 18 at 7:30 p.m. and the Senior Matinee (for those age 62 and older) will be presented on July 17.

Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 206-781-9707 or in person at the Box Office. Tickets range from $27-$50 depending on the performance. The theatre does offer some discounts, so be sure to visit their website to take advantage of them. Sweet Land is recommended for those age 12 and older. Taproot Theatre is located at 204 N 85th St. in Seattle.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What You'll Miss If You Skip Seafair 2018

(Photo: Sterling Yun)

SPECIAL EVENTS

The Seattle Seafair Weekend Festival has been in operation since 1950. This year, it promises to be just as much fun (if not more) than it was 69 years ago. Sure, some of the sights and sounds have changed, but the spirit of the festival continues to impress and entertain every year. This year’s festival will take place on August 3-5, 2018 at Genesee Park (4316 S Genesee St, Seattle, WA 98118) with festivities happening in the air as well as on the water each day from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Boeing Air Show Featuring the Blue Angels
The Boeing Seafair Air Show features those men in blue performing acrobatic stunts and demonstrations with twists, turns, flips (and hopefully not flops) by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, A10 Jet, A-10 Thunderbolt Warthog, P-51 Mustang Warbird, Mike Wiskus Aerobatic Stunt Plane, Brad Wuersten Aerobatic Stunt Plane, PBY Catalina also known as the American flying boat, the Port Angeles US Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and a bunch more.

Albert Lee Appliance Cup Featuring H1 Hydroplane Racing
The Albert Lee Appliance Cup is the third oldest unlimited race site. Hydroplanes sort of “fly” above the water by a principle of fluid dynamics known as “planing." Only a small part of these ship’s hull actually touches the water during the race! Definitely a must see event.

Other Events
Other events happening this year at the 2018 Seafair Weekend include the Graham Trucking Seafair Cup, the Hyperlite World Class Wakeboarding competition, Monster Energy's BMX Stunt Bikes, the Kids Zone with inflatables and game and more!

Dates, Times, Tickets and All That Jazz
This year’s festival happens August 3-5, 2018 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day. Single day admission ticket are $30 if purchased before August 2, 2018. Ticket prices increase to $40 at the gate. The 3-Day Festival Championship Admission is $75. Youth (ages 6-12) and Seniors (age 62 and up) are just $10 each.

Grandstand Seating on Friday is $30 and $60 on Saturday and Sunday (each day). Friday’s Captain’s Club Seating is $125 and the Captain’s Club Seating for Saturday and Sunday is $150 (each day). Pit Passes are $10.

Active duty, reserve, & retired military may enter Seafair Weekend Festival for free by presenting their Military ID badge at the special Boeing & Military entry gate at Genesee Park. Active duty, reserve, & retired military may also purchase additional reduced price general admission tickets at the gate for $20 per ticket, per day.

Log Boom Tickets
Arguably the best view of the hydroplanes races and the Blue Angels is from what is known as the Seafair Log Boom. Space is limited and tickets are pricey, but if you’re in the mood to splurge (and a lot of people do) here’s your chance.

The Best 4th of July Events in Seattle

Best 4th of July activities in Seattle
(Pixabay)
SPECIAL EVENTS

While more cities and towns are banning personal fireworks, their Independence Day events are getting bigger and better every year providing safe, fun and (often times) free family celebrations. Here is a list of where to check out this year. All are expected to have a large attendance, so the earlier you arrive the better. Also, don't plan to leave in a hurry either. Be sure to pack up your patience you when pack up your picnic supplies.

Bellevue
More than 60,000 people are expected to attend and roam around the 20-acre park for the 27th annual Bellevue Family 4th presented by The Bellevue Collection. The free festivities include live music, kid’s activities, family entertainment and a spectacular fireworks show set to a performance by the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra.The runs from 2:00-10:30 p.m. at Bellevue Downtown Park located at 10201 N.E. 4th St. Complimentary parking will be available at The Bellevue Collection beginning at 6:00 p.m. More info>>> 

Edmonds
For 111 years, the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce has sponsored this all-day party event which begins at 10:00 a.m. Festivities for the day include a 5K Beat Brackett Fun Run, two evening parades, food trucks, live music, dancing and of course fireworks beginning at 10:00 p.m. at Civic Field located at 6th Ave. N. More Info>>>

Everett
Begin the day off at the Colors of Freedom Parade beginning at 11:00 a.m. down Colby and Wetmore Avenue in downtown. Lots of marching bands, floats and more. Then, head to Legion Park for the Freedom Festival held from 1:00-11:00 p.m.Free kids’ activities, food fair, beer garden and live music. The Thunder on the Bay fireworks show begins at 10:20 p.m. More Info>>>

Federal Way
Federal Way's Red, White and Blues Festival will be held at Celebration Park located at 1095 S. 324th St. beginning at 3:00 p.m. Enjoy entertainment, games, arts and craft and more. Fireworks begin at 10:00 p.m. or so. More info>>>

Kent
The Fourth of July Splash will be held on the shores of Lake Meridian Park located at 14800 SE 272nd St., a full day of fun is planned beginning at 12:00 noon with bouncy houses, T-Bird Puck and Shoot, food booths, old-fashioned games, pie-eating contests and live entertainment all day long. Fireworks begin at 10:00 p.m. More Info>>>

Kirkland
Celebrating the 4th in Kirkland is an all-day affair. Beginning at 10:00 a.m., children will decorate and prepare for the Children’s parade which begins at 11:30 a.m. followed by the Old Fashioned Downtown parade at noon. Then, head on over to Marina Park at 1:00 p.m. to picnic or purchase food from local vendors. Live music begins at 5:00 p.m. and the day finishes up with fireworks at 10:15 p.m. More Info>>>

LakewoodLakewood’s Freedom Fest will be celebrated at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Cowan and Memorial Stadiums from 11:00 a.m.-10:30 p.m. with a carnival, car show, roving entertainers, live music, lots of food vendors and more. More Info >>>

Newcastle
Celebrate the 4th from 6:00-10:00 p.m. at Lake Boren Park with food, live music and fireworks starting at 10:00 p.m. More Info >>>

Renton
Renton’s Fabulous 4th of July kicks things off early at 7:00 a.m. Festivities will be held at the Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park located at 1201 Lake Washingon Blvd. N. The Sand Blast Volleyball Tournament will go on from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.n. at the YMCA, KidZone activities including inflatables and face-painting will be held at Walmart from Noon-8:00 p.m., live music will be presented from 12:30-9:30 p.m. and the fireworks show will begin at 10:00 p.m. More Info >>>

SeaTac
SeaTac’s Family Fourth of July will be held at Angle Lake Park located at 19408 International Blvd. featuring a spray park, bouncy houses, live music and more from 11:00 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Fireworks begin at 10:00 p.m. More Info >>>

Seattle
The mother of all Independence Day events, the Seafair Summer 4th will be celebrated at both Gas Works Park from Noon-11:00 p.m. and Lake Union Park from 4:00-11:00 p.m. Both events are free but if you’d like reserved seating for the spectacular fireworks show, that is available as well. Lots of food vendors and a beer garden and live music. The All-American Games in Gas Works Park will feature pie-eating contests, sack races and more. The legendary fireworks show begins at 10:20 p.m. featuring 8,500 pounds of fireworks, so leave your sparklers at home. More Info >>>

Tacoma
Tacoma celebrates its 40th year of the Freedom Fair, Car and Air Show held at the Tacoma Narrows Airport (located at 4109 E-7 Bridgeport Way, University Place, WA 98466) from 10:00 a.m.-10:30 p.m. The event features seven stages of live entertainment, an air show, multiple car shows, honoring of military heroes and international food marketplace. Fireworks to begin around 10:00 p.m. More Info >>>

Tukwila
Family 4th at the Fort will be held from 9:00 a.m.-10:30 p.m. at Fort Dent Park located at 6800 Fort Dent Way, Tukwila, 98188. Special event activities begin at 4:00 p.m. with inflatables, live music, food vendors, games and more. Fireworks begin at about 10:00 p.m. More Info >>>

Monday, March 12, 2018

Shen Yun Returns to Seattle

(Shen Yun)

DANCE

“In ancient times, China was known as the Land of the Divine. Everyone, from emperors to the common people, believed that their culture was a gift from heaven. They lived in harmony with the universe and saw a connection among all things. Traditional Chinese culture carried these principles for thousands of years—until this world was lost,” so states the Shen Yun website.

There is no doubt that Shen Yun’s traditional dances are beautiful with costumes that are beyond belief but today’s performance combine the ancient dance form with new technological innovations. “We let classical Chinese dance do the storytelling, and share with you beautifully diverse ethnic and folk traditions.”

<<<GROUPON DISCOUNT AVAILABLE!>>>

The sad thing about this show is that it cannot been seen in China. According to their website, authentic Chinese culture is seen as a threat to the Communist Party which controls China. “In 2006, a group of elite Chinese artists came together in New York with a mission to revive traditional culture and share it with the world. They created Shen Yun and brought this majestic culture back from the brink of extinction.”

Shen Yun will perform at McCaw Hall for seven performances from March 28 - April 1, 2018. Tickets range from $70-$180. McCaw Hall is located at 321 Mercer St., Seattle, Washington 98109. For tickets and more information, call (800) 745-3000 or visit the Shen Yun website.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

REVIEW: The 'Gin Game' is More Exciting Than it Seems

Review of "The Gin Game" at Village Theatre
Marianne Owen and Kurt Beattie in The Gin Game (Village Theatre)

THEATRE REVIEW

At first glance, The Gin Game seems to have everything working against its success. The play features only two characters interacting within an old folks’ home with the action happening around a fold-up card table. Watching two seniors playing cards doesn’t sound like much to get excited about, but this Pulitzer Prize-winning play is full of surprises.

Some might mistake The Gin Game as a romantic comedy, but actually, the play has been described by some as a tragi-comedy which starts out rather benignly and then builds to strong finale. Weller is a fairly new resident at a home for seniors, but he acts like he has lived there for years. He’s lonely and bitter and plays solitaire to amuse himself. He doesn’t like any of the “old” people living there. One day during visitor hours, Weller meets Fonsia, an even newer resident to the home, skipping out on the festivities. Neither of them have any visitors to talk to. They strike up a conversation which leads to a friendly game of Gin Rummy. At first.

The two couldn’t be more different. Weller is outspoken, foul-mouthed and cranky. Fonsia is timid, a little religious and kind. Fonsia admits that she hasn’t played cards in years but Weller assures her that she’ll get the hang of it pretty quick. And she does. Fonsia has an impressive streak of beginner’s luck. Soon, though, the conversation becomes less about the game and more personal. As they chat, each begin to learn how alike they are. Weller begins to remind Fonsia of her former husband and in turn, Fonsia has some mannerism that remind Weller of his own mother, and these are not happy memories.

<<<GROUPON DISCOUNT AVAILABLE HERE>>>

The Gin Game stars Kurt Beattie and Marianne Owen, two Seattle theatre icons and real-life married couple. They play off each other beautifully with the help of director Jeff Steitzer. As is often the case at Village Theatre, the set design almost serves as a third character. The set (designed by Bill Forrester) is hugely over-sized for its small cast but it is incredible looking like a rundown dollhouse with most of the action happening on the sun porch.

Review of "The Gin Game" at Village Theatre
(Village Theatre)
Full of humor, the first half of the play is very enjoyable to watch. The duo's timing is perfect. Unfortunately, the second half of the play contains equal parts of humor and tension. We see that a thunderstorm in rising up in the background as a nice piece of foreshadowing. The two characters spar back and forth with more intensity and even more curse words. The more Fonsia asks to not take the Lord’s name in vain, the more Weller does it. The final scene gets pretty uncomfortable and then, poof, it’s over.

Although good, The Gin Game feels unfinished as if there is a lost third act to the production hidden away somewhere. Those wanting a more solid ending will be frustrated. Still, this is one play worth seeing these two local masters of the stage verbally chew up the scenery.

The Gin Game continues playing at the Everett Performing Arts Center through March 25. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 425-257-8600. The Arts Center is located at 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett, WA 98201.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Annual 'Director's Choice' Will Make You Leap

Director's Choice will be presented March 16-25, 2018

DANCE

This year’s Peter Boal’s annual selection of ballet performances at the Pacific Northwest Ballet offers audiences a riveting duet, a favorite work, a little controversy, and a world premiere by PNB dancer Ezra Thomson.

Selections included in the performance are Slingerland Duet, Red Angels and One Flat Thing. Performances will be presented March 16-25, 2018 at McCaw Hall with tickets starting at $37.

Slingerland Duet
William Forsythe’s Slingerland Duet was first performed by Pacific Northwest Ballet as part of New Suite. It features music from Gavin Bryars (String Quartet No. 1, “Between The National and The Bristol“). Dance writer Roslyn Sulcas referred to Slingerland as “one of Forsythe’s most poetic and magical ballets, with its post-apocalyptic world of scattered stones, its supernatural fairies of the corps de ballet in tutus that look like crisp, curved potato chips [this costume recently has been redesigned by Forsythe for the pas de deux], its Beckettian tramps, and passages in which individuals suspended in harnesses achieve the weightless dream of the dancer, yet float (to mysterious music by Gavin Bryars) in vulnerable limbo, unable to dance without gravity.”

One Flat Thing (PNB)
Red Angels
Red Angels premiere at the PNB on September 2005. It is a ballet of intense dramatic impact that is calculated to charge all the senses. Dressed in scarlet leotards and bathed in white and red hot light, four dancers perform with powerful athleticism to a riveting score for electric violin. It features music from Richard Einhorn and Choreography by Ulysses Dove

One Flat Thing
Originally presented in March of 2008, One Flat Thing caused a stir when it premiered. Set to a rumbling sound construction by the choreographer’s frequent collaborator, composer Thom Willems, and performed by fourteen dancers on and around twenty metal tables, One Flat Thing thrilled some, challenged others, and, for some, called into question the definitions of “ballet” and “dance.”

Tickets for Director’s Choice can be purchased online or by calling the box office at (206) 441-2424. McCaw Hall is located at 321 Mercer St. Seattle 98109.




Thursday, March 1, 2018

Get Your Geek On

Geekwire Bash will be held on March 15, 2017.
(Geekwire.com)

SPECIAL EVENTS

Now in its 7th year, Seattle’s Geekwire Bash is just the ticket for techies. Held at the CenturyLink Events Center, the event features video games, arcades, beer pong, ping-pong, dodgeball, sumo wrestling, cornhole and foosball tables at “Seattle’s biggest, geekiest tech party.” But its more than just fun and games, it’s a unique experience for men and women and mix and mingle with hundreds of other people just like you in the tech community.

Geekwire Bash 2018 event will be held on Thursday, March 15 from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. and as much as kids would love to go, this is a 21+ event. Tickets start at $69 ad can be purchased here. The CenturyLink Events Center is located at 800 Occidental Ave. S., 98134.

Where to Find Awesome Irish Eats

Mulleady's Pub in Seattle

FOOD & DRINK

While most Irish restaurants and pubs in the greater Seattle area do well all year long, St. Patrick’s Day week is like Christmas for them. And don’t feel left out if you don’t have an Irish heritage – they would love to have you!

Celebrate the holiday with a traditional meal, fish and chips or go crazy by trying out something totally new to go along with your green beer. Paddy Coynes on Pier 70 creates a cinnamon and clove braised corned beef that is then sautéed in garlic. The dish is served with red potatoes, green cabbage, kale and a side of house-made sweet mustard sauce. T.S. McHugh’s serves up traditional soda bread alongside modern favorites, but we suggest trying the Ploughman’s Platter (banger sausage with wedges or Irish and English cheeses), a pot pie or the All Irish Reuben sandwich which is stuffed with thinly-sliced corned beef and topped with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on light rye. Then, the sandwich is grilled and served with their own Ballymaloe sauce. All three Shawn O’Donnells locations prepare a family recipe of corned beef and cabbage that has been handed down for generations where the beef is cooked in Guinness beer and is served with Irish Champ Potatoes.

For the best in Irish fare, visit any (or all) of the following:

The Blarney Stone
The Blarney Stone
1416 1st Ave., Seattle WA 98101 - (206) 448-8439

Paddy Coynes
2801 Alaskan Way #103, Seattle, WA 98121 - (206) 737-8891

T.S. McHugh's Irish Pub & Restaurant
21 Mercer St., Seattle, WA 98109 - (206)282-1910

Shawn O’Donnells
Smith Tower, 508 2nd Ave., Seattle, WA 98104 - (206) 602-6380
3601 Fremont Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103 – (206) 420-3656
122 128th St. SE, Everett, WA 98208 – (425) 338-5700

Mulleady’s Pub
3055 21st Ave W., Seattle, WA 98199 - (206) 283-8843