I saw this last year, and it was awesome. Grace O’Malley was an amazing woman, and this play does an outstanding job telling the story of her remarkable life. So if you’re in the Seattle area, go see, and help Burien Little Theatre present another fantastic season.
Most of us haven’t got air conditioning up here, and it’s going to be a hot weekend. You could do lots of stuff to cool down, but Burien Little Theatre has air conditioning, and this is opening weekend for Anna in the Tropics. What’s that, you ask? It’s this:
A poignant and poetic play set in 1929 Florida in a Cuban-American cigar factory. When a new “lector” reads aloud to the factory workers from “Anna Karenina,” he becomes a catalyst for his listeners, for whom Tolstoy, the tropics and the American dream prove a volatile mix. In English.
So there’s a little bit of a lot, here. You’ve got literature, you’ve got Cuban-American culture, you’ve got the Roaring Twenties, you’ve got the workers rising… sounds hot! Only it’ll be cool, because air conditioning.
You can see it come together here, and hit the stage here, and read the director’s notes here, but what I’d do first is get a flower for your hair and head down for some entertainment. I won’t be doing that, because we’re headed to Mount St. Helens for the weekend. But if you’re anywhere near Burien, you can snicker at me sweating my arse off under the merciless sun in the blast zone while you relax in a cool theatre and watch excellent entertainment. Lucky barstards.
If you’re too far away from Seattle to attend, you can tell me if you’ve ever made it through a Tolstoy novel, and if so, whether it changed your life. Or you can tell me how much you hate me for going to Mount St. Helens without you. Whichever works.
So you’ve missed the Reason Rally, you’ll be AWOL at Rock Beyond Belief, and you’re stuck in the Pacific Northwest with nothing to do. If you’re near Burien, you could console yourself with some rock opera. This is the last weekend for Tommy. Grab yer chance before it’s gone.
I’m still boggled. And I’m starting to believe Burien Little Theatre is going to have to strike the “little” from its name. Read the whole thing and see if you don’t agree with me.
Aside: I actually watched a concert recording of Tommy the other night. I must be of a youngish generation. It was bizarre seeing Roger Daltrey being the lead singer of The Who. The first time I’d seen him (as opposed to merely hearing him) was as Fitzcairn on the Highlander tv series. Bizarre, but I liked. His stage presence is awesome. I loves me some Roger Daltrey, whether dressed as an immortal or a rock star. He’s one of the most awesome people who’s ever lived.
But, and no offense to The Who, I actually liked BLT’s production better than the concert.
I know, I know. I’m an ungrateful young whippersnapper who don’t appreciate the greats of rock-n-roll properly and all that. But, damn it, BLT did one hell of a job. However, as I haven’t seen the actual movie, I can’t compare that to the theatre production. I still think BLT would come out on top. I’m probably a bit partial.
You can see for yourself every weekend through March 25th. And remember: discounted tix if you wear tie-dye!
My jaw aches. It’s been hanging open most of the night, dragging on the floor. Burien Little Theatre is known for pulling off productions that it shouldn’t be capable of, but this one takes them all.
The Who’s Tommy is a tremendously complicated show on all fronts, and they made it all come together. They built a new stage out into the middle of the auditorium, with the seats moved to either side, so you feel like you’re in the middle of the production rather than merely watching it. This sensation is justified as, at one point, the actors grabbed audience members and took them onstage to become part of the show. There’s a rock band, an excellent one, playing on the main stage – no canned music, this is all live. The whole place thunders with the music. And they found immensely talented people who could not only act, but sing. The Tommys are fabulous. The older Tommy, especially, has a fantastic voice and plays the role with just the right sense of gravitas. Lovely! And a little haunting.
Every piece of the set is on wheels, and there are no pauses to restage things – everything’s wheeled around as the music goes on, and it adds a dizzy sort of feel that’s perfect for a play about a catatonic kid who becomes a famous pinball wizard.
The costumes, too, evoke the time and place so well that an older audience member felt she was reliving the periods portrayed. My friend Craig’s hard work with the images and clips running on screens in the background enhances that. He did an amazing job, and I’m hoping he’ll come by to tell us about it, because it wasn’t easy. The poor man’s been a shadow of himself for weeks. But it was worth it. It came together beautifully.
A few trigger warnings: there’s sexual abuse, which, while not graphic or extensive, could still be uncomfortable for those who have been through it. Also, anyone who lived through World War II might find occasion to flash back a bit. With those caveats, though, I have no qualms about asking anyone in the Seattle area to please make time to see this musical. It’s one of the best things BLT has done, and they’ve done some pretty amazing things in the past.
The Who’s Tommy’s running through March 25th. Wear tie-dye, and you can get $5 off your ticket. Sit within a few rows of the stage, and you could become part of the show for a time. If you like community theatre, if you like musicals, if you like classic rock, if you like productions that make you wonder just how the hell they did what they did with a tiny budget and an even smaller theatre, this is a show you shouldn’t miss. Go. Now. And have fun!
Burien Little Theatre always puts on something whacked out for the holidays. None of this sappy-happy crap for them. Oh, no. It’s usually hilarious, always completely warped, and a great antidote to all that cloying Christmas music you’ve been enduring. Inspecting Carol was no exception to that rule. It’s chaos right from the very beginning. And you think you know where it’ll end up, but it doesn’t go there. It turns left at Albuquerque and ends up – well, by then you’re laughing too hard to notice the “Welcome to X” sign.
It’s got a whole bunch of these perfect little moments. You will never hear the word “utensils” in quite the same way again. And the ending. Just when you think the ending’s going to sag just a bit, it hits this crescendo of absurdity that caps the whole thing like that one perfect cherry on a Dadaist banana split.
You will see an Asian in a serape and a diaper, and it will make sense.
You will see some of the best worst acting in the business.
You will see Scrouge holding stuffed animals.
You will see a person in a dress doing a back-crawl on stage.
And you will marvel at the technical aspects, because just like you have to be a superb actor to play a bad one, you have to be technically perfect to pull off multiple stage disasters.
The actors did a phenomenal job. They don’t stop acting when the focus isn’t on them, either. Spare a glance for those on the periphery of the scenes, because their reactions are priceless. It’s just marvelous, what they’ve done. They’re all fantastic, and while I doubt anything will ever dethrone Martha, Josie and the Christmas Elvis as my all-time favorite fucked-up holiday play, this came perilously close.
So just go. Don’t deprive yourselves. And give a huge round o’ applause to the actors who made this such a delight. They were amazing, every one.
Andy Beal (Luther Beatty)
Sarah Bixler (MJ McMann)
Robert Harkins (Sidney Carlton)
Eric Hartley (Phil Hewlitt)
Adam Hegg (Kevin Emery)
Nathaniel Jones (Wayne Wellacre)
Russ Kay (Larry Vaushall)
Kevin Schilling (Bart Frances)
Tim Takechi (Walter E. Parsons)
Vera Werre (Dorothy Tree-Hapgood)
Rochelle Wyatt (Inspector Betty Andrews)
Yvette Zaepfel (Zorah Bloch)
If you went to Frankenstein, you’ll recognize Russ Kay, who was The Monster. I just want to say that he makes a gorgeous dude-playing-Scrouge. Nathaniel’s one of my favorites from many other BLT productions, but he’s never slayed me like he did this time round. And Vera Werre – just delightful. Tim Takechi was fucking incredible. So were all of them, and I’m going to stop naming names now because we’ll be here all night – just bloody go see the show, m’kay?
And forgive them for making Los Links a day late. If you see the show, you’ll understand why that was worth it.
So, you don’t shop (or you’re done shopping), you’re sick of hanging round the house looking at relatives and leftover turkey, and you’d like to go do something interesting with your life. Possibly even with your relatives.
I haz things for ye.
Burien Little Theatre’s Inspecting Carol opens this weekend. Saturday’s date night will get you two-for-one tickets if you order by email or phone. I believe Sunday’s sold out, but the play’s on until December 18th, so you’ve got a little time. It looks hysterical – don’t miss it. I’ll be going either next Sunday or the one after – if you’re interested in heading down there with me, let me know, and we’ll make a day of it.
On Monday night, the Forum on Science and Ethics Policy has an event you might want to partake of:
FOSEP will co-host the Science on Tap talk on November 28th at 7pm at Ravenna Third Place Pub. A clinical veterinarian from SNBL (Preclinical Services for Drug Development) USA will present “Drug Safety and Animal Research – No safe alternatives”. This presentation will discuss why animals are needed for certain laboratory studies and the role of alternative solutions in animal research. Please note, that this talk does not reflect the views of FOSEP or its members in line with our non-advocacy position; however, we are excited to work with Science on Tap!
I’m hoping to make it, but I’d dedicated this weekend to the gods of NaNo. Even an atheist doesn’t fuck with them. But we’ll see if I can negotiate a temporary release.
So there you go. Things to do! People to see! Fun to be had!
As for my non-Seattle area readers, I’m afraid all you can do is look on us with envy. That, or find local events of your very own.
Yeah, I know. It’s the Winter Writing Season: I’m supposed to spend my days off with me arse superglued to my chair and bleeding words all over the keyboard. However. I’m ungluing my butt on Sunday and heading out into the big, wide world for a little entertainment and some possible public humiliation.
If you’re round Burien tomorrow, I beseech you, come down! Join the chaos! Be entertained! Support community theatre! And goggle at the poor souls who won’t sleep and will barely eat for 24 hours so that the show can go on.