Showing posts with label Taproot Theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taproot Theatre. Show all posts

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.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Taproot's 'Baskerville' is a Hilarious, Yet Faithful, Sherlock Holmes Adventure

Review of "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery."
Michael Patten and Reginald André Jackson (Photos by Erik Stuhaug)

While perhaps not intending to, Taproot Theatre’s production of Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery offers a unique alternative to the usual Halloween fare around town. Of all of the Sherlock Holmes tales, The Hound of the Baskervilles is the most Halloween-ish story with a mysterious creature killing people in swampy area. Baskerville takes the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mystery and turns it into a family-friendly Halloween special. Though it only runs through October 20, chances are fairly good that it might be extended and continue throughout the month. I have no way of knowing for sure, so you’ll want to get your tickets now just to be safe.

Review of "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery."
Eric Hampton
Director Scott Nolte puts a little of his own sense of humor into this show which is already hilarious while also being faithful to the source material. In the story, Dr. James Mortimer pleads with Sherlock to investigate the death of his friend Sir Charles Baskerville who died on the grounds of his own estate reportedly attacked by a gigantic beast. Some say the death was part of curse. Mortimer tells Sherlock that he fears for Sir Charles’ nephew, Sir Henry, the sole heir of the estate, who plans to move into the now-vacant home. Fearing that Henry might suffer the same fate, he asks Sherlock to look into this mystery, something Sherlock has no trouble getting interested in.

Review of "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery."
Michael Patten, Elizabeth Keck, 
Nick Watson and Reginald André Jackson
In Baskerville, the story is given a comedy treatment with all 35 characters being played by only five actors. Okay, to be fair, Michal Patten and Reginald Andre Jackson play Holmes and Dr. Watson. It’s the other three actors who portray the other 33 characters. This calls for quick costume and character changes throughout along with a few technical mishaps and hi-jinx. The other actors are Nick Watson, Elizabeth Keck and Eric Hampton. Together, this troupe creates the perfect ensemble comedy where Sherlock is the main character, but not necessarily the star of the show. The honor is pretty much evenly spread between the five.

Baskerville is different in another way too. This Sherlock is bit different than what we usually see. Yes, his deductive reasoning is still uncanny to be sure, but this detective is more playful and fun. He’s smart, but not overly intellectual. The story also presents a unique friendship between Doctor Watson and Sir Henry (Nick Watson), a cowboy from Canada. There is also a large section of the play where Sherlock doesn’t appear at all, making this friendship even more important. If played by less talented actors, the story would surely drag.

Designed by Richard Lorig, the cartoonish set with it’s bright blue and purple colors serves as another character and plays multiple roles as well with quick change projections designed by Mark Lund. There is a lot going on here leaving a lot of room for mistakes, but the production I saw was nearly flawless.

As of now, Baskerville continues through October 20. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at (206) 781-9707. Taproot Theatre is located at 204 N. 85th St., Seattle 98103. Parking can be a bit tricky, so be sure to look at the Theatre’s suggestions on their website and leave early enough before the show to find a spot.

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)


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'


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.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Taproot’s ‘Camping with Henry and Tom’ is an Enlightening Experience

Camping with Henry and Tom at Taproot Theatre
David Pichette as Henry Ford, Rob Burgess as Thomas Edison and Frank Lawler as
 Warren G. Harding in Camping with Henry and Tom. (Photo by Robert Wade.)


Taproot Theatre has opened its 2018 season with Mark St. Germain’s clever Camping with Henry and Tom. Like last year’s production of Relativity, also by Germain, Camping with Henry and Tom is a “what if” story based on a real event with real flawed people, but their conversations have been reimagined. Here, the story is about auto manufacture Henry Ford, inventor Thomas Edison and President Warren G. Harding who find themselves lost in the woods while on a camping trip in Licking Creek, Maryland.

Directed by Taproot founder Scott Nolte, Camping features one the theatre’s best stage sets created by Mark Lund complete with Ford’s Model-T smashed into a tree. The brilliant cast includes David Pichette as Ford, Rob Burgess as Edison, Frank Lawler as Harding and Kevin Pitman as Colonel Edmund Starling. Ford and Harding do most of the talking in the production and perform a verbal seesaw taking subtle (and later, not-so-subtle) jabs at each other. Ford seems to know just how to get under the president’s skin and Harding reacts as if on cue to Ford’s delight. As the two debate about the issues of the day, they both badger Edison to side with them, but he doesn’t bite. He is having none of it and often calls each other’s bluff. It is at these moments when the play is its best. However, unlike Relativity, Camping feels uneven.

Camping with Henry and Tom at Taproot Theatre
Rob Burgess and David Pichette. (Photo by Robert Wade)
While overall the dialog is witty and pretty believable, but at times it feels as if the author wasn’t sure what he was trying to say with the play. At one point of the play, Edison’s character shares some boyhood memories that are truly disturbing, and it is meant to be so, but how this short scene relates to the rest of the play is unclear. The play also suffers from the use of two somewhat unsavory characters which I assume is a fairly accurate portrayal of the actual people. No doubt Ford was brilliant, but he was also stubborn, hard-headed, convinced pretty heavily that he is always right and had some far out views about the afterlife. President Harding isn’t much better. At first he seems to be a fairly level-headed man, but the more he speaks (and the more his skeletons come out of their hiding places) the less appealing this man of leadership appears. It’s hard to watch such a play when you don’t really have anyone to root for.

Camping with Henry and Tom isn’t a bad play, and all the actors involved do a bang up job, but compared to Germain’s other plays, including the amazing Best of Enemies (also based on real events and presented at Taproot), this play lacks heart and hope. With that said, despite the fact that this play takes place in the 1920’s, some of the discussions feel quite contemporary and any history buff who enjoys learning more about such characters or can't get enough of political drama, will no doubt enjoy this production.

Camping with Henry and Tom continues through March 3, 2018 at Taproot’s Jewell Mainstage theatre. Due to some strong language and adult themes, the play is recommended for those age 14 and up. Tickets range from $27-$50 depending on the performance and can be purchased online or by calling the box office at (206) 781-9708. The theatre is located at 204 N. 85th St. in Seattle, WA 98103.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

'Relativity' Presents a Thought-Provoking "What if" Story About Albert Einstein

Review of the play "Relativity" at Taproot Theatre.
Dennis Bateman & Candace Vance in Relativity at Taproot Theatre. (Photo by Erik Stuhaug)


Mark St. Germain’s play, Relativity brings a unique theatrical experience to Taproot Theatre about the life of Albert Einstein with themes of public vs. private, genius vs. eccentric and good vs. great. Though “relatively” short, this play tackles a lot of ground that is sometimes comedic, sometimes heartbreaking but wholly thought-provoking.

Based on real history events based of the life of Einstein, Relativity is actually a fictional tale of “what if.” History books share information about Einstein’s two sons and one daughter who was born in 1902. However, there is no mention of her after 1904 leaving many to speculate what happened to the girl. Did she die? Was she given up for adoption?

Relativity takes place during an interview with the professor in his home in 1949. Dennis Bateman plays Einstein wild hair and all. And quite believably too. Though famous, Einstein is rather reclusive separating his public life from his private life. His live-in maid, Miss Dukas (Pam Nolte) serves as a watchdog keeping out unwanted guests. However, she meets her match when Margaret Harding (Candace Vance) arrives home with the professor one afternoon in December. Harding is a reporter for the Jewish Daily who has been turned away from Miss Dukas twice in the past. Undeterred, Harding gets Einstein’s attention on the campus of Princeton University and follows him home. The conversation begins rather cordial but soon becomes more intense as Harding pushes for answers on whatever happened to Albert’s daughter which later turns into a debate on whether or not Einstein, considered by many to be a “great” man, could be considered a “good” man as well.

This is Bateman’s debut performance at Taproot having performed at the 5th Avenue and Village Theatre as well as many episodes of the radio drama show, Imagination Theater. He’s a fantastic addition. Vance on the other hand has performed in many Taproot productions and is a favorite of many. The two spare back and forth well. And though this is manly a two person play, Nolte does get a few choice moments as well. The play is directed by Pam’s husband and co-founder of Taproot Theatre, Scott Nolte with a set design by Mark Lund that compliments Einstein’s character very well.

Relativity plays through October 21, 2017 (but don’t be surprised if it gets held over) at Taproot Theatre’s Jewel Mainstage Theatre located at 204 N 85th St. in Seattle, 98103. Performances are held at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and special matinee performances are also presented on Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets range from $27-$47 depending on the performance and can be purchased online or by calling (206) 781-9707. Taproot offers a $5 senior/student discount off of regularly priced tickets. This play has a age recommendation of 12 and up.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

World Premiere Jane Austen Musical

"Persuasion" at Taproot Theatre
Cayman Ilika, Nick DeSantis & Matthew Posner in Persuasion. (Photo by Erik Stuhaug.)


Taproot Theatre Company has the honors of presenting the world premiere production of Harold Taw's and Chris Jeffries' musical, Persuasion (based on Jan Austen’s last novel of the same name) in Taproot’s Jewell Mainstage this summer.

“The beloved novel has been transformed into a breathtaking new musical filled with love, laughter and second chances,” says Taproot. The musical touches on love, longing and second chances as main character, Anne Elliot, was persuaded to abandon true love but now her past mistakes and long-lost hopes have returned. The play is recommended those age 12 and up.

Persuasion, directed by Karen Lund, will be presented from July 12 through August 19. Persuasion is a 2015 product of The 5th Avenue Theatre’s inaugural NextFest: A Festival of New Musicals. It has since been workshopped at the Texas Musical Theatre Workshop in 2016.

Performances will be held on Wednesday and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and matinee performances will be held on Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. Post play discussions with Taproot staff and cast will be held after each Wednesday performance (after the preview), a Senior Matinee will be held on July 18 and a Pay-What-You-Can-Afford performance will be held on July 19. (No performance will be held on July 26). Tickets range from $27-$47 depending on performance date. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone by calling (206) 781-9707 or in person at the box office. Taproot Theatre is located at 204 N. 85th St., Seattle.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

'Evidence of Things Unseen' Found at Taproot

"Evidence of Things Unseen" at Taproot Theatre Company
Jenny Vaughn Hall, Michael Winters and Christine Marie Brown in Evidence of Things Unseen 
at Taproot Theatre. (Photo by John Ulman.)


“If faith is the evidence of things unseen, then why are we all so certain of the truth?” asks Taproot Theatre which will be presenting the world premiere of Katie Forgette's play, Evidence of Things Unseen from March 29 through April 29. Taproot describes the play as follows: “Unexpected circumstances find sisters Jane and Abigail taking care of their bird-watching father. As they struggle with grief, loss and their opposing beliefs, they discover that the truth sometimes finds you.”

Evidence of Things Unseen stars Michael Winters, Jenny Vaughn Hall, Chip Wood and Christine Marie Brown and is directed by Taproot’s co-founder, Scott Nolte. Due to some profane language in the play, this play is recommended for those age 16 and up. Performances will be presented Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday matinees are available at 2:00 p.m. Tickets range from $27-$47 depending on the performance and special discounts can be found by visiting Taproot’s website. Special post play discussions will be offered after each Wednesday night performance (excluding the preview night) as well as after the April 4th matinee performance.

Taproot Theatre is located at 204 N. 85th St. in Seattle, 98103. For tickets or more information, call (206) 781-9707 or visit their website.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

REVIEW: “Room Service”

Review of Taproot's "Room Service"
Nikki Visel, Erwin Galán, Laura Lee Caudill, Christopher Morson, Eric Hampton and
Daniel Stoltenberg in Room Service. (Photos by Erik Stuhaug) 


Taproot Theatre took a risk in promoting their latest play as a “Marx Brothers comedy.” Even though the play is a farce and was turned into a movie in 1938 that starred the Marx Brothers, the end result is more sophisticated than the crazy antics found in the movie version. The plot and much of the lines are the same, from what I can tell, but the stage play doesn’t feature Groucho’s rising eyebrows or his brothers’ silly shtick. However, don’t get the wrong idea, this is still one silly play, but one that is a lot more fun to watch.

Erwin Galán leads the romp playing Gordon Miller, a producer for a new play. He and his troupe are living and practicing in a hotel while looking for a backer for the play so they can pay their bills, if not, they’ll have to skip out, something this group has done before. Miller’s cohorts include his girlfriend and actress, Christine Marlowe (Melanie Hampton), fellow actor Faker Englund (Eric Hampton), and director Harry Binion (Daniel Stoltenberg). Miller and crew are getting pressure to cough up the money from hotel manager and brother-in-law, Joseph Gribble (Mike Spee) and his boss, Gladys Wagner (Nikki Visel). Adding fuel to the fire is Leo Davis (Christopher Morson) who is the writer of the play and has left his home without a penny to his name to join the group to embark on a new career.

Review of the play "Room Service."
Daniel Stoltenberg, Erwin Galán and Eric Hampton 
Tension rises and this drama team has to come up with the money that the hotel is owned or they will all be thrown in jail. Davis pretends to be sick so that the hotel can’t through him out. Bill Johns does a brilliant job playing four different roles including Sasha Smirnoff, a Russian actor who is also an inspiring waiter. Favorite Taproot character actress, Kim Morris, plays two roles including Sylvia Jenkins who represents a mysterious backer and Laura Lee Caudill makes her Taproot Theatre debut as hotel worker Hilda Manney who crushes over Leo.

While overall a clever play with many likable characters, the play does have one drawback. Stoltenberg, who was so good in Taproot’s Christmas play, The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, choose to play his role in an effeminate manner which really didn’t fit and was off-putting. Harry Binion owns a moose head and says that he killed the moose himself, which is something you can’t see Stoltenberg’s version of the character doing. Other than that, the play is a delight and one that you probably haven’t seen before, so go give it a try.

Room Service continues through March 11, 2017. More info>>>

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

‘Room Service’: Marx Brothers Comedy Brought to Life

"Room Service" playing at Taproot Theatre
Laura Lee Caudill, Christopher Morson and Bill Johns in Room Service. (Photo by Erik Stuhaug) 


Taproot Theatre’s next production is Room Service inspired by the 1938 Marx Brother’s movie of the same which is described simply as “Madcap mishaps and little lies take on lives of their own as a theatrical troupe chases their dream of Broadway. Or Off-Broadway. Make that Off-Off-Broadway.”

Room Service opens on February 1, 2017 and continues through March 11, 2017. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and special matinee performances will also be performed on Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets range from $15-$47 depending on the performance. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the ticket office at (206) 781-9707. Taproot Theatre is located at 204 N. 85th St., 98103. The play is recommended for those age 12 and older.


Special performance dates to note:
Pay-what-you-can: February 8.
Special Valentine’s Day performance: February 14.
Post play discussions nights are after Wednesday night performances.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Charlie Brown Christmas – Live on Stage

Jessi Little, Benjamin Wippel, Brad Walker, Carly Squires Hutchison, Bretteny 
Beverly & Andrew Scott (Photo by Erik Stuhaug)
Sure, you’ve seen A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV hundreds of times, but have you ever seen it up close and personal on stage?

Taproot Theatre is currently presenting the show based on the 50+ year old animated TV special in their Isaac Studio (same building as their main stage) through December 28 (with the exception of Christmas Eve). Everything you love about the TV special is in this production and the performance time has a kid-friendly length of less than 45 minutes so even the squirmiest of kids will be able to sit through and totally enjoy it at the same time. It’s a simple play and simple story that promotes the true meaning of Christmas in a fun way.

A Charlie Brown Christmas does come with a few options as well. All daytime performances at 1:00 pm. and 4:00 p.m. are for all ages. Evening performances at 7:00 p.m. are for those age 5 and up. Sensory friendly performances (increased lighting in the seating area throughout the performance, lower sound levels, a smaller audience, etc.) are also available on December 3 at 1:00 p.m. and December 10 at 4:00 p.m.

Tickets for A Charlie Brown Christmas are $25 for adults and $15 for kids age 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased online or calling the box office at (206) 781-9707 or online. Taproot Theatre Company’s Isaac Studio Theatre is located at 212 N. 85th St., Seattle 98103.

Monday, November 28, 2016

REVIEW: The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge

Nolan Palmer, Larry Albert and Robert Gallaher (Photo by Erik Stuhaug)
If you are like me, you’ve seen your share of various renditions of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol from The Muppets to Mister Magoo. Some versions are better than others but they all pretty much tell the same story. The idea of seeing yet another Scrooge story may not appeal to you, but I think I might be able to change your mind.

Taproot Theatre is currently presenting Mark Brown’s TheTrial of Ebenezer Scrooge which definitely borrows elements and characters from the original story, but retells it from Scrooge’s point of view and with some hilarious results. (That sounds like a sales pitch, but seriously, this is one funny play)

The play begins one year after the three Christmas spirits and the spirit of his old business partner, Jacob Marley, visited Ebenezer on that fateful night and with Scrooge being Scrooge, he’s taking them to court! The charges? Trespassing, kidnapping, assault and battery.

Larry Albert, Daniel Stoltenberg and Faith Bennett Russell
 (Photo by Erik Stuhaug)
The audience actually plays a role in the production as well serving as the audience attending the trial. They are expected to stand during the “All rise!” when Judge Stanchfield R. Person (Steve Manning) enters the courtroom. The prosecutors are Solomon Rothschild (Bill Johns) and Ebenezer Scrooge (Nolan Palmer) who is representing himself because it is cheaper that way. You may recognize the voice of the bailiff who is played by Larry Albert as he has appeared on Imagination Theatre, the radio play show on KIXI Radio 880. His role is small, but he makes the most out of it.

Taproot favorite, Nolan Palmer, makes for a perfect Ebenezer Scrooge with just the right amount of sarcastic wit (“He’s as sharp as a tennis ball, that one.”) He’s back to his Scroogey self as both he and Rothschild put various characters from the original story on the stand. Other Taproot favorites, Robert Gallaher and Faith Bennett Russell play multiple roles. Gallaher plays both Bob Cratchit and is almost unrecognizable as the ghost of Jacob Marley while Russell plays Mrs. Cratchit, Sara Wainwright and Mrs. Dilber, but perhaps her best performance is playing the translator for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come since she speaks “ghost.” It’s a fantastic scene when the ghost is brought to the stand. He stands about seven or eight feet tall, has bony hands and is intimidating. At one point, through the translator, he explains that he is cold, so the bailiff offers him his red scarf which he wears for the remainder of the scene. If you are not familiar with Palmer, Gallaher or Russell, you owe it to yourself to seem them in action. Fortunately, as good as these actors are, they don’t over-power the play or steal the limelight.
Larry Albert and Steve Manning (Photo by Erik Stuhaug)

Daniel Stoltenberg plays the Scrooge’s nephew Fred, who is the polar opposite of Scrooge and Anastasia Higham has the challenge of playing back-to-back roles of the Ghost of Christmas Past, Scrooge’s sister Fan and former girlfriend Belle.

Directed by Taproot co-founder Scott Nolte, The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge should not be missed as it is not only an amusing comedy, but it also shares a message of goodwill and serves as a reminder to us all about what it means to have the spirit of Christmas in your heart all year long.

The play continues through December 30, 2016. Moreinfo>>>

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ebenezer Scrooge Goes on Trial in Taproot's Christmas Play

"The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge" plays at Taproot Theatre
Steve Manning & Nolan Palmer in The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge. (Photo by John Ulman)
Chances are pretty good that you have seen A Christmas Carol on TV, in a movie theater and even on stage. Chances are still pretty good that you have seen different versions of the Charles Dickens classic over the years as well. However, it is also a fairly good chance that you haven’t seen Mark Brown’s The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge which will be playing at Taproot Theatre in Seattle this holiday season.

Taproot describes the play like this: “In an unbelievably bold move, Ebenezer Scrooge has charged Jacob Marley and the Christmas Spirits with trespassing, kidnapping, assault and battery: certain proof that he’s reverted to his old disagreeable self. Can the goodness and grace of Christmas survive?”

“It’s a fun and brilliant script, with most of the text drawn from Charles Dickens’ original story A Christmas Carol, but it’s been reconfigured into testimonies and cross examinations in a British courtroom, says director Scott Nolte.

The cast includes local favorites Larry Albert, Robert Gallaher, Anastasia Higham, Bill Johns, Steven Manning, Nolan Palmer, Faith Bennett Russell and Daniel Stoltenberg.

The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge runs from November 18 through December 30. Special performances include post play discussions, Pay-What-You-Can-Afford, Early Bird, Intergenerational Matinees, Senior Matiness and Dinner and Theatre Package performances. (Visit the Taproot Theatre website for all options).

Tickets can be purchased in person, online or by call the ticket office at (206) 781-9707. Taproot Theatre is located at 204 N. 85th St., Seattle 98103.