Showing posts with label 2019. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2019. Show all posts

Monday, March 18, 2019

Juggler Shares His Experience On the Ice with Cirque du Soleil

Juggler Jorge Petite in Cirque du Soleil's "Crystal."
 (Photo by Matt Beard / Costumes: Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt)
For those who already have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time, try to imagine ice skating while juggling. Fortunately, that feat has already been mastered by Jorge Petite so that you don’t have to. Jorge appears in the amazing traveling show, Crystal by Cirque du Soleil coming to Everett from April 10-14, 2019.

I got a chance to meet Jorge and Julie Desmarais, a publicist for the show, to discuss this unlikely combination of ice skating and acrobatics. For Jorge, his story started in 2002 when he took ups juggling as a hobby in Chile.

“I just wanted to learn how to juggle three balls and then I started learning tricks from videos I found on the internet and then it became a very serious hobby,” he tells me. “I think five years after that I started doing acts and started performing a little bit. Thirteen years after that I went to École Nationale De Cirque (National Circus School) in Quebec and then started my professional career.”

I saved him from the jokes that I heard others commenting on that he must not have done a lot of ice skating while growing up in Chile, which then got me thinking. I wondered what the most annoying question people ask him was.

“If I juggle chainsaws,” he says. “They always ask me that.”

So, while Jorge may not risk his life, he is still pretty much a daredevil.

Jorge learned how to ice skate during the creation of Crystal about a year and a half ago and about three months before the soft premiere in Lafayette, Louisiana. And he wasn’t the only one. The whole crew had to learn how to ice skate for the company’s 42nd creation.

(Photo by Matt Beard / Costumes: Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt)
Unlike traditional circus show, this production has a storyline about a girl named Crystal trying to find her place in this world and finds it by diving into her own world of imagination. She’s young, creative and misunderstood by others. Her journey begins at a frozen pond where she sees her reflection and then falls through the ice. There, she finds herself in an upside down world where her reflection leads her to path to awaken her own creativity.

“The show Crystal is about looking at things from fresh angles, peeking through the veneer of everyday life, reframing one’s daily reality to see what one might have missed. Sometimes the only way to appreciate things is to look at them sideways,” says the show’s press materials.

So, how did this whole concoction of mixing ice with acrobatics come about? Cirque Du Soleil is known for always pushing the boundaries and creating a show on ice seemed like the next natural step for the company.

“We had to do a bit of research to see how we could implement acrobatics with ice skating,” says Julie. “We also did some workshops with ice skating coaches like Kurt Browning as well as acrobatic coaches and we experimented a lot of new things to see how this could be really possible.”

Jorge is just one of 43 performers in the show which includes trapeze artists, BMX ice bike riders, a clown and a three-person live band. The cast is about half acrobats and half ice skaters coming together as an ensemble performance.

Despite what you might think, Julie assures me that Crystal will present the same quality show usually found under their big top. Everything from the stage to the lights travels with this show in 17 semi-truck trailers traveling to more areas so that more people can experience a Cirque du Soleil show. In total, there are 90 people from 20 different countries that travel with the show for 10-12 weeks at a time. They take two weeks off and then hit the road again for about 300 shows a year.

Crystal will be presented in Everett at the Angel of the Winds Arena for eight shows over the span of five days from April 10-14, 2019. Shows will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 12:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday before the hit the road again. Tickets start at $109 and can be purchase online. The arena is located at 2000 Hewitt Ave., Everett, WA 98201.

Monday, February 11, 2019

How to Score Great Discount Tickets for Silverwood

Silverwood Theme Park in Athol, Idaho.
While the idea of splishing and splashing around at a water park might sound pretty foreign right now, summer WILL come again and when it does, you’ll be happy that you took advantage of the discount tickets being offered from Silverwood and Boulder Beach theme parks.

Silverwood is offering a $13 discount on one-day tickets if purchased online before February 28, 2019. The $40 tickets gives access to both parks for adults and ticket for kids ages 3-7 are just $22. Those who are 3 and under get in free! Tickets are valid any one day during the 2019 season which runs from May 4th through September 29, 2019.

Silverwood is home to both state-of-the-art thrill rides and old school favorites and plenty of others in between the two. Silverwood features four high intensity roller coasters including Tremors, Timber Terror, the Corkscrew and Aftershock which at 191 feet, it not only takes you forwards through a cobra roll and inverted loop, but backwards as well. The Spincyle is truly frightening as the giant disc rotates 360 degrees at 13 revolutions per minute while swinging like a large pendulum as high as 104 feet above ground. You'll also find plenty of live entertainment, lots of good food, souvenir shops and photo ops with Garfield and Odie.

The other half of the park belongs to Boulder Beach which features lots of wet and wild waterslides of all shapes and sizes.

Silverwood is located at 27843 US-95 in Athol, ID, 83801.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Love Stories

Reading someone else's mail and not getting in trouble for it.
Letters Aloud will present Love Me or Leave Me reading real letters written by real people including the likes of Mark Twain, Frida Kahlo, Charles Bukowski, George Carlin, Virginia Woolf, Napoleon Bonaparte and others. It’s a way to “take a trip from the romantically sublime to the pathetically ridiculous!” say event organizers. Read by Jen Taylor, Paul Morgan Stetler, Robert Clendenin and Robertson Witmer, the readings will take place on February 17 at the Northshore Performing Arts Center located at 18125 92md Ave. NE in Bothell. Tickets are $27 for adults and $20 for students.

Comedy of Love

"Comedy of Love" at Unexpected Productions
Unexpected Productions is offering their annual Comedy of Love: A Valentine’s Day Improv again this year on that magical and romantic day held on February 14 at 8:30 p.m. Located at the Market Theatre found near the gum wall at Pike Place Market, the show will be made up on the spot by veteran performers inspired by the audiences suggestions presenting “scenes rife with passion, lust, heartbreak and everything in between.” Tickets are $17.50 and can be purchased ahead of time online. The theatre is located 1428 Post Alley in Seattle.

Blind Love

The Blind Cafe is something you've never seen before.
Yes, you’ve heard the culinary trend of eating in the dark, but The Blind Café has raised the experience up a notch with its “social change dinner, discussion and music” event weekend. The Blind Café is sort of a pop-up restaurant that tours around the country. They are setting up shop in Seattle during Valentine’s Day weekend offering two shows nightly on February 14-16, 2019. Guests will enjoy a vegan and gluten-free dinner with ingredients that have been collected locally, enjoy a Q&A session with legally blind ambassadors and enjoy live music from Rosh and the Blind Café Orchestra.

Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at 2218 1st Ave. in Seattle. Tickets start at $125 and can be ordered online.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ Feels Fresh and New at Taproot

Abby Brewster (Kim Morris), Mortinmer Brewster (Richard Nguyen Sloniker)
and Martha Brewster (Pam Nolte). (Phtoto: Erik Stuhaug)
Joseph Kesselring’s “killer” play, Arsenic and Old Lace first opened on Broadway on January 10, 1941. The movie version starring Cary Grant opened in theaters in 1944. Since that time, the play has probably been presented by every high school drama class in the country numerous times. It’s one of those plays that “everyone” has seen and loved. However, it’s been a long time since any professional theater in Seattle has brought the classic back to stage (that I can recall at least) so it’s high time that should come about once again.

When performed correctly, Arsenic and Old Lace has a timeless quality to it despite how much our world has changed since it was written. The dark comedy has a real wit to it as a “fish out of water” type of story turned on its head. And I’m glad to say that Taproot does the playwright proud.

Mortimer (Richard Nguyen Sloniker) and
Jonathan (David Drummond) (Photo: Erik Stuhaug)
Arsenic and Old Lace features two of favorite local actresses in the lead roles. Kim Morris plays the headstrong but sweet Abby Brewster opposite Pam Nolte’s timid but equally sweet Martha Brewster, her sister. The two still live in the family home next to town’s church and graveyard and have a wonderful reputation by the locals as a couple of women looking out for others in their times of need. Living with them is their nephew Teddy Brewster (Stephen Grenley) who thinks he’s really Teddy Roosevelt and that the Panama Canal is located in the basement of the family home.

Also living with the spinster sisters, at least temporarily, is Teddy’s brother Mortimer (Richard Nguyen Sloniker) who is a theatre critic who hates the theatre. He has literally fallen in love with the girl next door, Elaine Harper (Elizabeth Keck), the daughter of Reverend Harper (Bill Johns) who disapproves of his daughter seeing an art critic afraid what has rubbed off onto him. A bit wacky, but everything seems normal enough until Mortimer finds a dead body in the house’s window seat. Things go downhill when he tells his aunts the shocking news and they aren’t surprised by it at all and plan to hold a Methodist funeral for the man.

This leads to more uncomfortable revelations about Mortimer’s family, hiding information from the police and the return of Teddy and Mortimer’s long lost brother, Jonathan (David Drummond). Looking like a Hollywood monster and seeking out a place of refuge with his plastic surgery doctor, Dr. Einstein (Nolan Palmer), Jonathan thinks that the old Brewster homestead would make for the perfect hideout. It’s enough to drive a guy to drink. Just don’t touch the homemade elderberry wine!

Abby (Kim Morris), Teddy (Stephen Grenley) and Jonathan
(David Drummod) (Photo: Erik Stuhaug)
There really isn’t a weak link with this production. All of the characters play their roles with intense earnestness and are able to utter the most absurd lines without losing character. Both Mark Lund’s multi-level set and Jocelyne Fowler’s costume designs are amazing. The Brewster home is so warm and inviting, you can totally see yourself curling up in the living room with a good book. (The Brewster’s should really consider opening it up as a B and B.)

Arsenic and Old Lace continues through March 2, 2019. Performance times are Wednesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and an additional Saturday matinee performance at 2:00 p.m. Tickets range from $27-$50 depending on the performance. Visit the website for information about discount ticket options and special performances that include post-play discussions and more. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 206-781-9708. Taproot Theatre is located at 204 N. 85th St. in Seattle, 98103.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

REVIEW: Heartwarming ‘Matilda’ Could Be More Magical

Review of Village Theatre's "Matilda."
Nava Ruthfield as Matilda (Mark Kitaoka/Village Theatre)
I didn’t know much about the story of Matilda before seeing Village Theatre’s production of the musical, but what I did know is that the main character develops telekinetic abilities that she uses as a way to get back to the people who have wronged her. Also knowing that the story is based on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name, I came to the theatre expecting to see something magical and I did; it just took a while.

The story of Matilda is a clever one that is played out with an upbeat tone even though it features some dark material, but should be praised for its positive messages about the importance of reading, standing up for what you believe is right and having sympathy for others. The show begins with a chorus of children singing the praises of themselves stating “My mommy says I’m a miracle” and “My daddy says I’m his special little guy.” Then the parents join in singing about the trials of being parents in unison and then overlapping with the kids. It’s as unique as it is catchy, but the point of the scene is showing how most kids are loved by their parents. That’s not the case for Matilda Wormwood.


Review of Village Theatre's "Matilda."
Nava Ruthfield (Matilda), Ann Cornelius (Mrs. Wormwood),
Chris Ensweiler (Mr. Wormwood), and Maddox Baker (Michael).
(Mark Kitaoka/Village Theatre)
The next scene shows Mrs. Wormwood (Ann Cornelius) at the doctor’s office finding out that her “condition” is actually a case of being nine month pregnant and is about to give birth at any moment. She makes it clear that she doesn’t want another child as she has a ballroom competition to attend. Mr. Wormwood (the great Chris Ensweiler) arrives right after the birth of Matilda and is disappointed that she isn’t a boy.

The story fast forwards years later and things haven’t changed much. Matilda’s brother is too interested in the TV to notice her, Mrs. Wormwood gets annoyed listening to her stories and Mr. Wormwood continues to call her “boy.” Matilda’s only friends are the ones she reads about in books and Mrs. Phelps (Shaunyce Omar) the local librarian who unlike her mother, loves listening to Matilda’s stories.

School isn’t much better for Matilda (played by Holly Reichert or Nava Ruthfield depending on which performance you attend). She and the other “miracles” have high hopes for school only to have them dashed by the older kids telling them horror stories about the school principal Miss Trunchball (Basil Harris) who was a champion hammer thrower who tends to throw kids around as well. She demands discipline even when the kids haven’t done anything wrong. (Her relationship with the children isn’t much different from Miss Hanigan’s from Annie.) At least her teacher, Miss Honey (Marissa Ryder) is nice. She loves to teach and appreciates her students’ clever personalities.
There is much to like in Matilda. As always, the set design is amazing. This time around, Matthew Smucker replaced traditional curtains with giant chalkboards that open from different angles giving the sets a whimsical look. The library scene features a literal floor to ceiling wall of books. Special effects include story characters coming to life accented by fog and lights. (You have to feel bad for conductor Josh Archibald-Seiffer and the ochestra trying to see their music sheets at times.)

Review of Village Theatre's "Matilda."
The "kids" and Miss Trunchbull (Basil Harris)
(Mark Kitaoka/Village Theatre)
The Wormwood family are over-the-top caricatures, but Ann Cornelius is especially good in her solo musical number, “Loud” singing about the virtues of highlighting one’s looks. And Basil Harris’ characterization as Miss Trunchbull almost steals the show. In fact, the title of the show could easily be changed to Trunchbull and I don’t think anyone would care. He’s hilarious and earnest in this once-in-a-lifetime role.

There are a number of songs that resonate too including “Naughty” where Matilda sings about how sometimes one has to do something naughty to make a difference and “When I Grow Up” has a multi-generational message of not waiting until one “grows up” to become strong enough to make a difference.

However, it is unfortunate that this version of the production misses the mark somewhat. For starters, unlike Annie, half of the students are played by actual children while other older kids are played by adult veteran actors. The mix doesn’t really work. When the older ones are introduced it’s unclear if they are fellow students, ghosts from the past, or just what. It’s hard to accept a bearded man or one who is bald to be a child. Both kids and adults are good in their roles, but the adults overshadow the younger ones at times. Meanwhile, the younger ones ham it up on stage with over exaggerated movements and facial expressions in hopes of getting a laugh. They haven’t learned about the art of timing of a joke and it’s uncomfortable at times.

Although there really isn’t any reason to keep the setting of the story in England, it is and because of that, we get a wide range of English accents from all of the actors making it difficult to understand what they are actually saying at times. Many of the songs are well-written with great lyrics, but they get lost. It all sounds like a lot of mumbling.

Review of Village Theatre's "Matilda."
Miss Honey (Marissa Ryder) and Matilda (Mark Kitaoka/Village Theatre)
Thirdly, the show is slow moving focusing on scenes that seemingly don’t forward the story, while others that are crucial to the story-telling get lost. (For instance, Matilda continues to share a story with Mrs. Phelps throughout the show, and it turns out that it is important, so pay attention.) The fact that Matilda can move things with her mind doesn’t come into play until the second half of Act II after the intermission. It almost feels like an afterthought.

Finally, there is a lack of connection between the characters. It’s odd that Matilda gets angry when things are “not right” but isn’t really sad that she isn’t loved by her parents. The kids at school never really seem like they are friends with each other. One proudly states that she her “best friend” is Matilda, but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of that. Miss Honey lacks chemistry with her students too, but does better with Matilda one-on-one. To be fair, this may have to do with Miss Honey’s fear of failure. The best interaction between characters is between Matilda and Mrs. Phelps which seems genuine and natural.

Matilda continues its run at the Everett Performing Arts Center through February 3, 2019. The theatre is located at 2710 Wetmore Avenue in Everett, 98201. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 425.257.8600.