Arts & Entertainment

The Hive Dwellers “Streets of Olympia Town”

K Records - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 1:17am
 Nothing feels quite like a dumpster dive while bike riding through every alley in this town. Here are the Hive Dwellers chasing down all the streets of Olympia Town.   K Song of the Day: The Hive Dwellers “Streets of Olympia Town” from their  Moanin’ [KLP249] album. The Hive Dwellers album Moanin’ [KLP249] is available […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Pine Hill Haints “Villian vs the Kid”

K Records - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 1:27am
Match of the century! The Kid’s got spunk, no doubt about it. With Pine Hill Haints on his side, he’s a real contender. K Song of the Day: Pine Hill Haints “Villian vs the Kid” from their The Magik Sounds of Pine Hill Haints [KLP254] album. The Pine Hill Haints album The Magik Sounds of […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Marco Rossi for Mayor of Olympia!

K Records - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 3:52pm
There’s going to be a new Mayor in Olympia next year. His name is Marco Rossi and he is running on a slate of progressive candidates with the theme “Olympia for all”. They advocate a living wage, open and accessible government and police accountability. You can learn more at his WEBSITE. Mr. Rossi has lived […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Solving the Mystery of Edwin Drood at Lakewood Playhouse

South Sound Arts - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 1:44pm



  Published in the Weekly Volcano, June 25, 2015
Steve Tarry (Chairman), Gary Chambers (Jasper) and the ensemble cast. Photo by Kate Paterno-LickThe Mystery of Edwin Drood at Lakewood Playhouse is a deliciously funny romp through merrie olde England. Based on an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens, Drood is a musical comedy that asks the audience to vote on whodunit. What a fun and ingenious concept by Rupert Holmes, who wrote the book, music and lyrics. Holmes is a Gilbert and Sullivan fan and a lover of Victorian mysteries and English music hall, all of which play prominently in this production. 
It is ably directed by Chris Serface, who played the part of Nick Criker in this same show at Capital Playhouse in 2004. 
In the English music hall tradition, actors mingle with the audience as they are taking their seats, cajoling them to vote for them and to boo and hiss the villain, John Jasper (Gary Chambers). These antics prior to curtain seemed to be uproariously fun for most of the audience, but from where I was seated in a the middle of the middle section is was a babble — so I urge you to get seats close to the aisles if you want to join in the fun.
The story is a play within a play, with each actor playing an actor in London’s Music Hall Royale, so Chambers plays Mr. Clive Paget as John Jasper and Christopher S. Cantrell plays Mr. Nick Criker as Durdles, and Brynn Garrett plays, plays Miss Alice Nutting, London’s most famous male impersonator, as Edwin Drood. As in pantos and other English stage nuttiness, there are cross dressers and an emcee (Steve Tarry as Mr. William Cartwright) who constantly stops the action to deride the audience with quips both improvised and scripted. There is even a set of identical twins who are of different races and different genders (DuWayne Andrews, Jr. as Mr. Victor Grinstead as Neville Landless, and Heather Malroy as Miss Janet Conover as Helena Landless).
Lex Gernon’s set replicates a seedy 19th century music hall with its box seats in the wings and tacky red curtains and his brilliant use of a moveable thrust. The costumes by Alex Lewington are both authentic looking and funny.
Steve Tarry is an absolute natural as the emcee who pokes fun at actors and audience alike and appears to be having a wonderful time doing it. 
Chambers seems to equally enjoy playing the villain, plus he is articulate and sings wonderfully.Another actor who falls into his role so naturally as to become the character is Cantrell. His every move and facial expression is entertaining, down to the slightest movemen
Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson turns in a stellar performance as Miss Angela Prysock as the happiest of hookers, Princess Puffer. 
Also outstanding are Jed Slaughter as Mr. Cedric Moncrieffe as Rev. Chrisparkle and Derek Hall as Mr. Phillip Bax as Bazzard. Like Malroy as Helena Landless and Noah Goucher as Master Nick Criker as Durdles, Hall overplays to the hilt and does it like a pro. Plus his voice is astounding on the solo performance of “Never the Luck.”
There is some great music in the play provided by an eight-piece orchestra directed by Deborah Lynn Armstrong and some acrobatic dancing that is a treat to watch. The big numbers performed by the entire cast are particularly enjoyable. On some of the smaller numbers the music almost drowns out the singers.
At almost three hours, Drood is a little longer than I would have liked. By the time we got to the voting at the end I just wanted it to end. I wish Holmes had edited his script down closer to two hours. Other than these minor objections, I think it is a marvelously entertaining and delightfully bawdy musical romp. This weekend (((June 26-28) is the last chance to see it.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through June 28,
Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood, $29.00, $26.00 military, $27.00 seniors and $24.00 students/educators, pay what you can June 1, 253.588.0042, www.lakewoodplayhouse.org
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Jean Mandeberg’s ‘Now or Never’

South Sound Arts - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 7:56am



Published in the Weekly Volcano, June 25, 2015"Gameboard" mixed media assemblage by Jean Mandeberg
"Keepers" mixed media assemblage by Jean Mandeberg. Photos courtesy Salon Refu
 If you don’t study them carefully, Jean Mandeberg’s metal and mixed media assemblages at Salon Refu appear to be sweet wall decorations and little more, but if you make the effort to look carefully you’ll see there’s much more to them that meets the eye in a cursory glance. There is a wry pop sensibility to Mandeberg’s assemblages. They are inventive and full of surprises, and well composed. She employs classical balance and a creative use of repetition and, most enjoyable to me, a visual trope I always highly admire: the subtle and often surprising use of variety within unity. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and suddenly there’s something different and unexpected.By way of analogy, it’s what Warhol did with his countless celebrity portraits with color changes and patterns within patterns of endlessly repeated images that were exactly alike yet different. Mandeberg does the same thing, but hers are much more nuanced.Featured in this show are numerous assemblages made of what I would call cages, square boxes made up of a dozen or so inner boxes in a grid pattern that extend three or four inches from the wall with found or made objects inside each inner box. The boxes are made of woven wire, and the objects within repeat in alternating patterns. Also featured are similarly made objects that hang like totems on the wall with repetition and variety within a vertical pattern, and boxes covered with decorative tin sheeting taken from commercial containers such as coffee tins or lunch boxes.She fills these assemblages with objects that in her hands become talismans, such as balls, dice, and enameled fortune strips of the kind found in cookies. The object in each seems to be a prayer for good luck.  There is a group of four that go together and represent popular games: bingo, bingo, bingo, and tic-tac-toe.“Measuring Up” is a box made from four corner pieces made of wood and covered with decorative tin; they fit together to form a bowl. The printed images are of a boy in blue that looks like Gainsborough’s famous “Blue Boy” and a similarly romanticized girl in a red dress. On each corner of the box is a length of tape measure, which hints at the double meaning of the title.Another classically balanced piece using patterns within patterns is called “Dirty Roll.” It’s a square cage of woven wire with a die in each section in alternating red and blue. Many of them (again in alternating patterns) are stamped with the words “Olympia Washington” in gold letters. Along the outer edges are buttons with the word “Luck” on them. But in keeping with her penchant for subtle surprises, two of the buttons have finger prints instead of words.Only one piece breaks the pattern of repetition within a grid. It is titled “Keepers,” and it is a seeming random collection of various amulets such as a star cookie cutter, a bullet, dice, and a gloved hand. They are like the trophy heads of animals killed in the hunt.These are interesting works of art with multiple meanings open to many interpretations. Salon Refu, Jean Mandeberg Now or Never, Thursday-Friday-Sundays 2-6 p.m., Saturdays 2-8 p.m. through July 4,114 N. Capitol Way, Olympia
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Thee XNTRX “Good Bad Girl”

K Records - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 1:41am
Heddie Leonne, also known as Everybody Weekend,  raps hard and slow to a beat comprised of a sample from the Calvin Johnson album Before the Dream Faded… [KLP170]. She easily makes it her own. View the video for “Good Bad Girl” HERE.   K Song of the Day: “Good Bad Girl” from the NW hip […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Miz featuring QP and Zikki “Talkin’ My Shit”

K Records - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 3:48pm
The latest from Miz (of Real Life Click), backed up by QP and Zikki is “Talkin’ My Shit”, produced by Nemisis, included on their album History: MIZ and Nemisis Greatest Hits. Both Miz and Zikki appear on the NW hip hop compilation All My Friend’s Friends [KLP255] as members of Thee XNTRX. Miz appears on […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Kendl Winter & Lowest Pair on Olympia Pop Rocks!

K Records - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 1:49am
Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee – aka The Lowest Pair – appear on the Olympia, WA podcast Olympia Pop Rocks. They discuss their latest album The Sacred Heart Sessions (Team Love Records), and their wandering troubadour ways (their interview begins at 14:40). Listen to The Lowest Pair on Olympia Pop Rocks HERE.   The […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Jeremy Jay “Abandoned Apartments”

K Records - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 1:25am
Jeremy Jay sings of mysteriously abandoned apartments. Not even a mouse. Was it only a dream?   K Song of the Day: Jeremy Jay “Abandoned Apartments”, from  Abandoned Apartments [KLP247]. The Jeremy Jay album Abandoned Apartments [KLP247] is available now from the K Mail Order Dept.  
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Shivas “You Make Me wanna Die”

K Records - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 1:13am
You heard “You Make Me wanna Die” on the Shivas volume in our International Pop Underground series [Vol. CXLIII]. It was updated for the ’90s and included on the You Know What to Do [KLP252] album, and here it is! In all its tragic glory.   K Song of the Day: Shivas “You Make Me […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Pine Hill Haints “Valentine Killer”

K Records - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 1:23am
It’s getting grim out here, in a light hearted way.  K Song of the Day: Pine Hill Haints “Valentine Killer” from their The Magik Sounds of Pine Hill Haints [KLP254] album. The Pine Hill Haints album The Magik Sounds of Pine Hill Haints [KLP254] is available now from the K Mail Order Dept.  
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Tartuffe: A Laugh Riot

South Sound Arts - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 12:35pm



Moliere comedy at the Midnight Sun Published in the Weekly Volcano, June 18, 2015
from left: Heather Christopher, Michael Christopher and Christian Carvajal. Photo by Austin Lang.

Theater Artists Olympia brings a comedy by 17th century French writer Molière to the Midnight Sun, and it is as funny today as it must have been in Paris 48 years after the death of Shakespeare (whom I mention because lines from Shakespeare are quoted in Tartuffe, probably intended as both satire and homage).
The language is surprisingly modern even if spoken in rhyme and with a noticeable lack of F-bombs and other foul language so common in contemporary plays. Even the rhyming sounds like modern kitsch, and everything is easily understood.
Tartuffe is satire that blasts religious posturing and hypocrisy in the form of romantic farce with lots and lots of physical comedy. 
Tartuffe (played by Michael Christopher at his absolute best) is a charlatan who pretends to be a man of God in order to bilk the rich out of their money and women out of their pantaloons. Orgon (Christian Carvajal) is hornswoggled by Tartuffe. He believes the slick charlatan is a saint and admires him so much that he makes him heir to his fortune and promises him his daughter’s hand in marriage. The daughter, Mariane (Vanessa Postil), is in love with and betrothed to another man, Valere (Xander Layden). But Tartuffe is more interested in Orgon’s sexy wife, Elmire (Adriana Chavez) and is determined to bed her.
Everyone except Orgon sees right through Tartuffe’s deception. They try to warn Orgon but he will not listen, so Elmire risks pretending to fall for Tartuffe’s advances in order to prove to Orgon just what a deceptive beast the so-called saint really is.
The acting brilliantly combines modern day slapstick with a takeoff of 17thcentury histrionics (we have little knowledge of how actors actually acted in 1664). Christopher, Carvajal, and Chavez, are all marvelously over the top and out of control. Also worthy of the highest praise is Amanda Stevens as the wise and sassy maid, Dorine. Her delivery and timing, and her eye-rolling, head shaking, teeth-gnashing expressions between lines and when others are speaking are comic gold. When Tartuffe and Orgon are on stage together, Christopher and Carvajal are like a couple of Marx Brothers, and Christopher and Chavez are insanely funny in the seduction scene. This is comic acting of the highest order.
And it would be wrong of me to not mention the director, Maggie Ferguson-Wagstaffe in her directorial debut. Much of the impeccable timing and blocking throughout has to be credited to her.
And then there’s the costuming by Jim Morgan. The rococo extravagance of the women’s dresses and lingerie and the cleverly modern take on period French clothing is fabulous, and the subtle coloring of actors’ hair to match their costumes is sheer genius.Theater Artists Olympia’s production of this classic farce is hilarious and beautiful.
Opening night was sold out, and I wouldn’t be surprised if every other night doesn’t sell out soon, so I recommend getting tickets early.
Tartuffe, 8 p.m., June 18-20 and 25-27, 2:30 p.m. June 21, The Midnight Sun Performance Space,113 Columbia St., Olympia, $15, at door or online at brownpapertickets.com ($16.52 with service fee), pay what you can June 18.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Riding the Bus and the Elephant

South Sound Arts - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 12:30pm





Two exhibitions in one at Tacoma Library
Published in the Weekly Volcano, June 18, 2015
“Chihuly on Bus,” mixed media wall sculpture by Lynn Di Nino. Courtesy the artistLynn Di Nino comes up with more unique and often hilarious ideas than you can shake a stick at. Her latest — two shows in one, one curated by Di Nino and the other featuring her sculpture — is a delightful concept but more successful as an idea than as executed. 
Exhibition number one is A Fable, inspired by the parable of the blind men and the elephant. The elephant is a wall-size, cartoon-like drawing in pink with 25 artist-made dolls attached to it, each about six inches tall and standing on a little shelf. The dolls are made by: Becky Frehse, Marita Dingus, Claudia Riedener, Doug Mackey,  John Carlton, Marta Olson, Marsha Conn, Sam Tower, Elayne Vogel, Amy Reeves, Steve LaBerge, Analee Reutlinger, Di Morgan Graves, Eddie Graves, Chocolate Chimpo, Heather Cornelius, Pam Orazem, Kathy Gore-Fuss and Loralin Toney, Karen Perrine, Ann Meersman, KaCe Whitacre, Ruby Re-Usable, Dick Weiss, Jeremy Gregory and Sharon Styer. Most face the elephant on the wall, backs turned to the viewer. On an adjacent wall are statements by the artists explaining the figures and, for most, short essays about their relationship with and feelings toward the city of Tacoma.
LaBerge created a blind man with a cane. He has apparently bumped into the elephant. The Towers must have had the same idea. They also created a blind man with a cane.Some of the written statements are poetic, and some are humorous. My favorite is from Dingus, who writes “I’m better at making things than I am at using printed words to express myself” — a statement that should probably be a mantra for most artists.
The other part of the show, Riding the Express Bus 594, consists of 14 dolls by Di Nino, each seated in a window seat on the bus. Through the windows we see what the passengers see while riding the bus from Tacoma to Seattle, each scene represented by a color photograph.
The passengers are little clay figures dressed in the kinds of garb one might expect of them. There’s a golfer with a golf bag full of clubs in his lap. Outside his window is the Indian Smoke Shop. At one point the bus passes by Di Nino’s actual house and out the window we see the artist waving from an upstairs window (she must have recruited someone else to take that photo). There’s one called “Peacefulness” that has a woman in a gray hoodie with a picture of a marijuana plant on her back. The view out her window is a placid field and woods. The woman has head-in-hand and appears to be crying.
There’s a woman in black shorts and yellow halter top passing the Weyerhaeuser building, which is slated to move to Seattle. The interesting thing about this woman is that she is facing right while the other 13 sculpted passengers are facing left. I don’t know the significance of that, if any. Maybe she’s on the return trip.
The most I can say about this show is that it is cute and the figures are thought-provoking.
Handforth Gallery at Tacoma Public Library, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays-Saturday, through July 24, 1102 Tacoma Ave. S, Tacoma

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Tartuffe: A Laugh Riot

South Sound Arts - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 12:40pm


Moliere comedy at the Midnight SunPublished in the Weekly Volcano, June 18, 2015from left: Heather Christopher, Michael Christopher and Christian Carvajal. Photo by Austin Lang.Theater Artists Olympia brings a comedy by 17thcentury French writer Molière to the Midnight Sun, and it is as funny today as it must have been in Paris 48 years after the death of Shakespeare (whom I mention because lines from Shakespeare are quoted in Tartuffe, probably intended as both satire and homage). The language is surprisingly modern even if spoken in rhyme and with a noticeable lack of F-bombs and other foul language so common in contemporary plays. Even the rhyming sounds like modern kitsch, and everything is easily understood.Tartuffe is satire that blasts religious posturing and hypocrisy in the form of romantic farce with lots and lots of physical comedy.  Tartuffe (played by Michael Christopher at his absolute best) is a charlatan who pretends to be a man of God in order to bilk the rich out of their money and women out of their pantaloons. Orgon (Christian Carvajal) is hornswoggled by Tartuffe. He believes the slick charlatan is a saint and admires him so much that he makes him heir to his fortune and promises him his daughter’s hand in marriage. The daughter, Mariane (Vanessa Postil), is in love with and betrothed to another man, Valere (Xander Layden). But Tartuffe is more interested in Orgon’s sexy wife, Elmire (Adriana Chavez) and is determined to bed her.Everyone except Orgon sees right through Tartuffe’s deception. They try to warn Orgon but he will not listen, so Elmire risks pretending to fall for Tartuffe’s advances in order to prove to Orgon just what a deceptive beast the so-called saint really is.The acting brilliantly combines modern day slapstick with a takeoff of 17th century histrionics (we have little knowledge of how actors actually acted in 1664). Christopher, Carvajal, and Chavez, are all marvelously over the top and out of control. Also worthy of the highest praise is Amanda Stevens as the wise and sassy maid, Dorine. Her delivery and timing, and her eye-rolling, head shaking, teeth-gnashing expressions between lines and when others are speaking are comic gold. When Tartuffe and Orgon are on stage together, Christopher and Carvajal are like a couple of Marx Brothers, and Christopher and Chavez are insanely funny in the seduction scene. This is comic acting of the highest order. And it would be wrong of me to not mention the director, Maggie Ferguson-Wagstaffe in her directorial debut. Much of the impeccable timing and blocking throughout has to be credited to her.And then there’s the costuming by Jim Morgan. The rococo extravagance of the women’s dresses and lingerie and the cleverly modern take on period French clothing is fabulous, and the subtle coloring of actors’ hair to match their costumes is sheer genius.Theater Artists Olympia’s production of this classic farce is hilarious and beautiful. Opening night was sold out, and I wouldn’t be surprised if every other night doesn’t sell out soon, so I recommend getting tickets early.
Tartuffe, 8 p.m., June 18-20 and 25-27, 2:30 p.m. June 21, The Midnight Sun Performance Space,113 Columbia St., Olympia, $15, at door or online at brownpapertickets.com ($16.52 with service fee), pay what you can June 18.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Gyasi Ross “Thanks for the Isskootsik Love!”

K Records - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 5:14pm
In case you were wondering what this Gyasi Ross Isskootsik is all about, the man himself explains it in the friendliest of terms. The Gyasi Ross videos for his songs “Marlon Brando” (featuring Sacred Water) and “Winona LaDuke” are must-sees.   The Gyasi Ross album Isskootsik (Before Here Was Here) [KLP257] is available now from […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Judy Bardin at Capital City Pride Parade!

K Records - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 2:44pm
 Judy Bardin is running for Olympia City Council. More importantly, Judy Bardin is in this weeked’s Capital City Pride Parade! As you can see in the above photog, she’s got herself a stylish ride as an accoutrement while partaking in the season’s most with-it community parade, which takes place at noon on Sunday, June 21. […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

A Different Kind of Reading With Christian Carvajal and Amanda Stevens

South Sound Arts - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 8:43am



Not appropriate for young children, stuffed shirts or uptight people of any age
The reading from my novel Visual Liberties at the Lacey Library will be completely different than the recent readings at Orca Books in Olympia (with actors Michael and Heather Christopher) and at Kings Books in Tacoma (with actors Scott C. Brown and Syra Beth Puett) — different scene, different actors.And you won’t have to listen to me reading the introductions to the various scenes. The actors this time are Christian Carvajal and Amanda Stevens, seen most recently in amazing performances as Orgon and Dorine in Theater Artists Olympia’s production of Tartuffe. This time I did something I’ve never done before. I gave the actors free reign to pick what parts of the novel they wanted to read and to adapt it as needed. I trust them because I know them well. Carvajal is not only an accomplished actor and director, but he is a published novelist (I loved his novel a href="http://campanilebooks.com/books/current-catalog/lightfall-by-christian-carvajal/" target="_blank">Lightfall) and a longtime writer for the Weekly Volcano.
Instead of doing a series of short scenes as we did in other readings, they chose a single scene that is highly dramatic but not without humor, and they adapted it so that it reads more like a short story or a play than like a scene from a novel.Tonight (I’m writing this almost a month before the scheduled event) Carv and Amanda are going to rehearse the scene with Gabi and I as listeners. We might make a suggestion or two, but I highly doubt it because they are such skilled professionals that they won’t need guidance from the likes of me. This will be our one and only “official” rehearsal, but knowing them as I do, I suspect they’ll work on it some more leading up to the event, because that’s just what they do. They prepare for a reading or a play the way Russell Wilson prepares for a football game.As for the scene itself, I don’t want to spoil it, so all I’ll say is that it crams a whole lot of sex, violence, and absurdity into just a few minutes. Not appropriate for young children, stuffed shirts or uptight people of any age.
For those who didn’t see the announcements/invitations, here’s the scoop:Visual Liberties is the third and final book in the “Freedom Trilogy,” a set of novels set in the fictional town of Freedom, Mississippi. The reading is Friday, July 10 at 7 p.m. at the Lacey Timberland Library, 500 College St. SE, Lacey, Washington.After the reading there will be a discussion/Q & A with the author (that’s me, Alec Clayton) and the actors. I’ll talk about the process of creating a three-book series and of inventing a fictional town and a whole cast of characters, and you’ll be able to ask anything you want of me and the actors. Just don’t expect us to give away the plot.

Books will also be available for purchase/autographing. Pictured: Amanda Stevens and Christian Carvajal in Tartuffe at Theater Artists Olympia. Photos by Austin Lang

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Intriguing installations in the Woolworth Windows

South Sound Arts - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 1:29pm




Published in the Weekly Volcano, June 11, 2015
Sarah Casto’s installation “We Part to Meet Again,” detail. Photo courtesy Spaceworks Tacoma
I search my mind and my memory banks for clues as to the meanings of Nathan Orosco’s installation, “Take It to the Bridge” and Sarah Casto’s “We Part to Meet Again,” but I can’t imagine what must have been going through the artists’ minds — what message, if any, they are attempting to convey.
I like that they present mysteries with implied meanings. I like that I can’t figure it out. Casto’s is a two-part installation in windows separated by a doorway. In the smaller of the two windows sits a headless manikin on a stool wearing jeans and a black jacket. On the floor are white porcelain hands with stems wrapped in red material protruding from the wrists. The hands are crawling in military formation like an army of ants toward the second and larger part of Casto’s installation. In this one two more manikins, headless, female and unclothed, stand leaning against each other. Neither could stand without the other. Behind them on the wall is an array of scissors of various types, and hanging in the air between the figures and the wall are parts of animal skeletons. In the back corners stand two blue neon tubes. You can’t see the light from the tubes in daylight, but I have seen a nighttime photograph and the blue light on the white figures is beautiful. The title hints at a possible story of people, perhaps lovers, separated and then coming back together again. The overall feel is ominous.
Orosco’s “Take It to the Bridge” appears to be more abstract in nature and possibly is intended to be viewed in purely visual terms, but I suspect some greater meaning may be implied. It could be symbolic of the bridge in the recently released movie Selma. There are exquisite black and white paintings in delicate ink washes with drips and black coated sticks that could be seen as easels or as the sticks holding up picket signs. There are also strips of purple cloth and sheets of aluminum foil, both of which reinforce the interpretation of the piece as an abstract representation of the marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge into Selma.
Another interpretation might be that the tableau represents the remains of a building that has burned to the ground. No matter the meaning, it is a gritty and quite attractive installation.
Also in the windows is a sampling of photographs from a project by the Gender Alliance of South Sound called “T-Town Transgender Neighbors.” Each photo is a portrait of a transgender man or women who lives in a Tacoma with their printed stories below the photographs.
In the Commerce Street windows is a piece called “Say My Name” by Marisa Vitiello and Beate Liepart, which illustrates a myth about a woman and a dolphin, both of which are huge cut-out shapes that hang from the ceiling. The dolphin, which is yellow, looks rather silly and childish like part of a stage set for children’s theater. The woman’s figure is more lyrical and features a nice combination of materials.
Woolworth Windows, Broadway and Commerce at 11th Street through Aug. 20, on view 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Top 5 or so Musicals

South Sound Arts - Mon, 06/08/2015 - 10:08am



Elise Campello as Sally Bowles in Cabaret at Tacoma Little Theatre. Photo courtesy
DK Photography When I reviewed Cabaret at Tacoma Little Theatre for The News Tribune the thought crossed my mind that this show must be one of the greatest musicals of all time, which sent my neurotransmitterscareening in my brain like balls in a pinball machine. I thought that even though I’ve never liked musicals half as much as I like drama, over the years I have come to like at least some of them a lot. I’ve always thought that actors suddenly bursting into song is ridiculous, and I’ve always thought that the ridiculousness of musicals was epitomized by the silly, often racist, jingoistic, chauvinistic and cliché ridden big musicals of the 1950s, the so-called golden years of musical theater. As my mind went bouncing and pinging through this pinball machine of musical theater I thought: If Cabaret is one of the greatest of all time, then what are the other greats?Off the top of my head and without much thought, I came up my top five list.#1 – Cabaret. Its combination of raunchy, bawdy, exhilarating music and the most tragic and horrifying of world events has got to be the most volatile thing every presented as musical entertainment. I fell in love with Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey when I saw the movie. Years later I was blown away by David Devine as the emcee in the Capital Playhouse production in my little hometown of Olympia, Washington. (I heard that Devine went to New York shortly thereafter and was in the cast of The Lion King.)  And just last week I saw Cabaret again, this time at Tacoma Little Theatre, and I fell in love with Sally Bowls and the emcee all over again (Elise Campello and Mauro Bozo).  Read my review.#2 – Les Misérable. Granted, it taxes credulity.  Nobody short of Jesus Christ has ever been as good and self-sacrificing as Jean Valjean and nobody in the history of literature, other than Ahab in Moby Dick, has ever been as obsessed as Javert. But these larger-than-life characters are more symbolic or even allegorical than real, and the story is larger than life and heart wrenching. It’s probably the most epic story ever put to music, and the music is beyond reproach.#3 – West Side Story. I know it might be somewhat dated, and the street gangs are like kindergarteners in comparison with today’s street gangs, but the story is timeless (how could it not be? It’s a retelling of Romeo and Juliet or, in other words, the story of two teenagers stupidly in love). West Side Story was radical for its day and the theme of conflicts between people of different ethnicities, religions or nationalities seemingly never ends. Leonard Bernstein’s music is fabulous, and depending on what company produces it, the dancing is exciting and the love story touching. Plus there’s a lot of humor thrown into the mix.#4 – For All That. What!? You’ve never heard of this one? Of course not. It was written by Alan Bryce, the artistic director of a small regional theater south of Seattle—Centerstage in Federal Way, and has been performed only there. It may be fated for obscurity, but if there is any justice in this world it will travel to Broadway and to London’s West End. For All That is a disturbing yet hauntingly beautiful musical about young men from the Island of Lewis off the coast of Scotland who go off to fight in World War I, and about the women they leave behind. It is one of the more stunning musicals I have ever seen. The cast of For All That at Centerstage. Courtesy Centerstage.#5 – The Last Session. Yes, this may be another one you’ve never heard of. It was a hit Off Broadway with other shows including Laguna Beach, CA and a London run. It has a cult following, but it never made it to the Great White Way, so relatively few people have had the opportunity to see it. Written by Steve Schalchlin at a time when he was dying of AIDS but before some of the lifesaving drugs became available, it is the highly autobiographical story of his struggle with this devastating illness set to music. Schalchlin’s partner Jim Brochu, who wrote the book, said it is the funniest story about suicide ever written.Brief and over simplified synopsis: Gideon, a once popular gospel music star, is dying. He invites his old backup singers to join him in a recording studio to record one last album before he commits suicide, which, of course, they don’t know he’s going to do. By a strange twist of fate (actually devious betrayal), a young evangelical Christian who has long admired Gideon shows up as a substitute for the singer who couldn’t make it, and a theological war breaks out. The Last Sessionhas been favorably compared to Rent. Similar themes but more intimate and focused.That’s five already, and I can think of many more that are worthy of equal credit—and what order they should come in is a coin-toss. Just a few that come to mind immediately are Chicago, Rent, and Ragtime; anything with music by Kander and Ebb and anything Bob Fosse had anything to do with. What are your favorites?
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Agamemnon scores big at Dukesbay Theater

South Sound Arts - Sat, 06/06/2015 - 6:45am



 Published in the Weekly Volcano, June 4, 2015Samantha A. Camp and Brian Wayne Jansen, J. Carrie Ivory in background. Photo by Bruce Story-Camp.Watching Agamemnon at Dukesbay Theater opening night was a totally immersive theatrical experience. This is the way theater was in the beginning when many theatrical traditions still in common use were first invented, and it plays as well in 21st century Tacoma as it must have in Greece 2,400 years ago. The set by Matthew Philbrook and Brittany Porter is thoroughly modern and gorgeous; the movement of the actors — most notably the chorus — is highly stylized like a ballet set to words, and those words are plain spoken and easily understood. The drama is so intense it’s a wonder audience members did not flee screaming, especially taking into account the intimate seating where actors practically touch some of the audience.
Photos by Bruce Story-CampThe story is set at the end of the Trojan wars. Greek King Agamemnon (played with gravitas by Brian Wayne Jansen) has triumphed in war and is on his way home. He has sacrificed his daughter, Iphigenia (J. Carrie Ivory) to the gods, an atrocity which his wife, Clytemnestra (Samantha A. Camp) can never forgive, and he is bringing home with him a slave concubine, Cassandra (also played by Ivory), who was captured in Troy. She is also a prophetess who can see the future.In a Greek tradition that has endured up until modern times, much of the story is told by the chorus. Every cast member is in the chorus at some point and each steps out of the chorus to play various characters. Even the lead characters, Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, take their turns in the chorus, and Jansen even takes a turn as an unnamed guard.The abstract patterns of movement by all of the actors in and around the equally abstract set is choreographed by Katie Lappier and creates an otherworldly mood suitable to a time in which gods interacted in the lives of men and women. There is chanting and poetry from the chorus and both Ivory and Glenn Guhr, who plays Menelaus and Aegisthus, sing separate funeral laments. Ghur’s voice is deep and beautifully controlled while Ivory’s is hauntingly sad and lovely. Jansen’s and Camp’s performances are almost indescribably intense. Jansen, a large man who somehow looks even bigger than he is in this performance, is magisterial and commanding. It is believable that his subjects would look to him as to a god. His expressions of grief and pain are overwhelming. I first saw Jansen in a couple of comedies, Picasso at the Lapin Agileand Take Me Out, and thought he was a natural comedian. And then I discovered upon seeing him in Titus Andronicus (in which he was also paired with Camp) that he can be equally adept at high drama. Camp is also amazing. She begins as likeable and charming but devolves into a hideous person in an acting stint that is spectacular.No makeup artist is listed in the program. I suspect the actors did their own.  Clytemnestra’s blood smeared face and the black makeup around Agamemnon’s eyes are simple and highly effective. The costumes are clearly put together with little or no budget and almost succeed in making contemporary clothing look like clothes worn in ancient Greece. The light gray hoodies worn by the chorus and the women’s gray skirts create an overall ashen look of mystery.The set is a modern art installation of brightly colored twine in cones of light that flow from platforms on the floor to high on the wall. They are strikingly minimalist and highly appropriate to the stylized manner of presentation.Agamemnon is not an easy play to watch. It looks into betrayal and murder and deals unflinchingly with difficult questions or loyalty and justice without providing easy answers. The drama is heavy and unrelenting. But anyone who appreciates fine art should find it fascinating.Congratulations to the cast and crew and especially director Kathryn Philbrook for a job well done.Agamemnon,  Friday.-Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m. through June 14, Dukesbay Theater in the Merlino Arts Center, 508 South 6th Ave., Tacoma, $15, $10 students/seniors, http://agamemnon.brownpapertickets.com/


Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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