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

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.)

THEATRE REVIEW

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)

THEATRE REVIEW

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.)

THEATRE

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.)

THEATRE

“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) 

THEATRE

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) 

THEATRE

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.

READ MY REVIEW

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)
THEATRE
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)
THEATRE
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)
THEATRE
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.