Arts & Entertainment

Evita at Tacoma Musical Playhouse

South Sound Arts - Sat, 04/18/2015 - 8:57am

Published in The News Tribune, April 17, 2015
Juan Perόn (Jonathan Bill) and Eva (Alena Menefee). Photo by Kat DollarhideTacoma Musical Playhouse’s production of “Evita” is outstanding in every way. The set by Bruce Haasl and lighting by John Chenault are stunning, and the lead actors are outstanding. With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, “Evita” captured seven Tony Awards when it played on Broadway.
“Evita” is the story of Eva Perόn (Alena Menefee), an aspiring actress and singer who sleeps her way to fame and fortune, marries Argentine President Juan Perόn (Jonathan Bill), is seen by the people as a hero and a saint, and dies tragically and young.
The mood is set majestically with an amazing opening number, “Requiem,” performed by the ensemble in front of and behind scrims with projected video of the real Eva and her compatriots. The blend of action, music, video imagery and lighting in this and the followings scenes, “Oh What a Circus” and “On the Night of a Thousand Stars,” are musical theater at its finest. “Requiem” tells of the tragic death of Eva. In “Oh What a Circus” we meet Che (Rafe Wadleigh), the “Everyman” narrator who is cynical, angry, and seemingly the only person who can see through the political posturing. The third of these opening scenes takes place when Che says, quite snidely, that Eva met a tango singer, and we open on a club where Augustin Magaldi (Jeff Barehand) is singing. The opening of this scene is a visual marvel that looks like a baroque painting, and Barehand sings terrifically.
Eva Perόn (Alena Menefee) and Che (Rafe Wadleigh). Photo by Kat DollarhideFrom this auspicious beginning, the cast takes us through the stormy life of Eva Perόn. It is anything but light musical comedy. It is highly dramatic with dark scenes sparked by moments of subtle but sparkling humor and music with Latin and jazz influences. The oh-so-subtle comic relief comes primarily from sly expressions from Che, and from small but precious bits in the background by ensemble actor Samantha Camp and Francesca Guecia, whose one moments to step out of the background and into the spotlight comes when she solos superbly on the song “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” as Juan Peron’s mistress.
Menefee has a strong and lovely voice and is expressive as Eva. Bill presents a strong if somewhat stiff Juan Perόn and has a deep and resonant voice. Wadleigh absolutely steals the show. He has a commanding presence, a range of moves and expressions that nail the characters, and he sings with clarity and power.
The most famous song in the show is “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” which Menefee sings beautifully from a balcony. One of the most delightful songs is “Waltz for Eva and Che,” which is a kind of musical standoff or duel or tango between Menefee and Wadleigh. Other outstanding songs are “You Must Love Me” and “Lament,” both solos by Menefee.This may well be THE hit musical of the season in South Puget Sound. I definitely recommend it.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 21, Saturday matinees April 25 and May 3 at 2 p.m. WHERE: Tacoma Musical Playhouse at The Narrows Theatre, 7116 Sixth Ave., TacomaTICKETS: $20-$29INFORMATION: 253-565-6867,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Celebrating 50 years of art at TCC

South Sound Arts - Thu, 04/16/2015 - 1:24pm

Published in the Weekly Volcano April 16, 2015
Gallery installation view with Kyle Dellehay sculpture in foregroundFor its 50thanniversary Tacoma Community College features works by current and former art instructors and alumni, and it’s one of the better shows I’ve seen there in quite some time.
Entering the gallery, you’re faced with a wall of circular shapes in shades of white and brown that looked to me like oversized sand dollars. My wife, who attended the show with me, thought they looked like extremely thin slices of wood. The piece is called “Consumption.” It’s by Kyle Dillehay, and it’s made of 69 coffee filters stained with coffee and water and arranged in a grid with a single empty space disrupting the otherwise perfect symmetry. It’s a wonderful piece of wall sculpture.
In many ways, Dillehay dominates this show through the variety, number and inventiveness of his work. In addition to the coffee filter piece there is an installation called “Process” that is like a museum ode to photography and printing with many photographed faces on glass plates arranged on a table with photographic equipment, and on the wall behind them are prints of faces presumably made from the same or similar glass plates. I loved the subtle variety of colors in the soft-focus prints and the antique look of the installation.
Another Dillehay piece dominates the back section of the gallery. It is a sculpture with three large honeycombs set in a wooden tray that balances at an extreme angle on a stand that is a tree branch.
Painting from the “Biome” series by Merit BergI was impressed with Merit Berg’s four oil paintings from the “Biome” series, each on a canvas shaped like a house with a peaked roof. In each of the four there are three layers of imagery. The lower level is a landscape. On the middle layer are rectangular shapes painted in flat colors that look like windows in one of the paintings and like floating monoliths in the others, and on the top layers are contour drawings of birds and animals. All of the animals, being contours only, appear to be transparent. The beauty of these paintings is that the images, while clearly layered one on top of the other, do not violate the integrity of the flat picture plane (a concept from Greenbergian formalism that remains important today, despite claims to the contrary by many contemporary critics).
The show also features a lot of nicely-done ceramic vessels by various artists, one of the nicest of which is a water jar by Anthony Gaudino; a delightful group of gouache paintings of ceramic dogs by Melinda Liebers Cox; and a terrific little painting by Frank Dippolito of a flock of crows flying close to the ground with a black hashtag floating in the clouds.
There are too many others of note to mention them all, but I will close with pointing out one other series of digital prints on what the wall label calls “time warp inkjet paper.” By The pieces in the series by Anthony Culang are called “Rift#1,” “Expand #2” and “Rip#3,” each is an image of a woman in a red dress on what appears to be a floor of concrete tiles. The woman’s body is distorted as in a funhouse mirror, and the floor undulates in waves. These are strange and fascinating images.
"TCC 50," noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, through April 30, Tacoma Community College, Building 5A, entrance off South 12th Street between Pearl and Mildred, Tacoma, visitor parking in Lot G. 
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Linda Weintraub: Wednesday, April 22nd, 11:30-1:00 pm, Lecture Hall 1

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Thu, 04/16/2015 - 10:16am

Linda with chickenLinda Weintraub is a curator, educator, artist, and author of several popular books about contemporary art. Her recent writing explores the vanguard intersection between art and environmentalism, including TO LIFE! Eco Art In Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet (University of California Press). Weintraub’s previous books on eco-art include the series, Avant-Guardians: Textlets in Art and Ecology (2007). Weintraub established Artnow Publications in order to apply environmental responsibility to the books’ material production. She is also the author of In the Making: Creative Options for Contemporary Artists and Art on the Edge and Over: Searching for Art’s Meaning in Contemporary Society. Weintraub served as the Director of the Bard College museum where she curated over sixty exhibitions. She was the Henry Luce Professor of Emerging arts at Oberlin College. Her current book projects include Art-is-an Environmental Health Clinic (author) and  In The Making: Creative Options For Contemporary Architecture (editor).


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Thee XNTRX “Dancefloor on the Warpath”

K Records - Thu, 04/16/2015 - 1:06am
Techno-clash of the masses, a badge of honor.  The end of all time, take two. You dig? K Song of the Day: “Dancefloor on the Warpath” from the NW hip hop compilation album All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255], produced by thee XNTRX. The NW hip hop compilation album All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] is available […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Dystopian Violet “Wednesday Knows”

K Records - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 1:37am
The irrepressible Jeremy Jay is at it again with a new combo of moderns who know no bounds when it comes to the gently moody modish rock and sway. The imagery accompanying “Wednesday Knows” is from the animated short Ships Passing in the Night (Mystery Films London) directed by Oliver Twisted. The most recent Jeremy […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Sub Pop U.S.A. in Ellensburg, Moscow!

K Records - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 1:38am
The Sub Pop U.S.A. road show is heading east! Bruce Pavitt recently bundled his Subterranean Pop fanzines from 1980-’83 with his Sub Pop U.S.A. columns for Seattle’s The Rocket magazine and published them in book form as Sub Pop U.S.A. the Subterranean Pop music Anthology 1980-1988 (Bazillion Points). it’s a lively read through the musical […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Shivas “Do the Crocodile”

K Records - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 1:06am
Wicked cool instrumental radiation emanating from Shivas central.   K Song of the Day: Shivas “Do the Crocodile” from their album You Know What to Do [KLP252]. The Shivas album You Know What to Do [KLP252] is available now from the K Mail Order Dept.  
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Adrian Teacher & the Subs, “When Did I Get Older”

K Records - Mon, 04/13/2015 - 1:05am
Adrian Teacher (most well known as the voice behind Apollo Ghosts and Cool TV) visited the Dub Narcotic Studio and recorded a five song EP, Sorta Hafta, with Calvin Johnson at the dials. The above video accompanies one of of the songs from Sorta Hafta, “When Did I Get Older”. Dang thas some catchy stuffs! […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Susan Christian’s sticks on the wall

South Sound Arts - Fri, 04/10/2015 - 7:27am

"Caravan" painted stick construction by Susan Christian
Published in the Weekly Volcano, April 9, 2015
I’ve been keeping up with Susan Christian’s art for well over 20 years. The nine little paintings she has on display at Batdorf and Bronson’s flagship coffee house in Olympia are among the best of her works I have ever seen.
"Island View" by Susan Christian.Here’s the thing about Susan Christian: Based solely on her art, it seems she does whatever she damn well pleases and doesn’t fret over what others might think. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t care what others think; she just doesn’t let it influence her art.About two years ago she got the idea she wanted to paint sticks, so she got a bunch of sticks and painted them. She asked friends to give her sticks. She bought lathe from lumber yards. So simple; so Susan. Sometimes she painted them solid colors, and sometimes she painted patterns on them. And then she propped them against walls or laid them on the floor or in the grass. She even stuck them in trees and took pictures of them. That was her art, and it was wonderful. Or the idea and the few photos I saw were wonderful. I never saw any of the actual pieces until today.
The audacity of it! I can imagine Marcel Duchamp doing something like that, or maybe Andy Warhol, but I can’t imagine many other artists doing anything so radical. Yet, however radical the idea of painting sticks may be, her pieces at B&B are as traditional and as unpretentious as abstract art can be.
Unlike the pieces I saw photos of that looked to have been tossed willy-nilly in trees, in these pieces she has combined the sticks into simple constructions and painted them with beautiful, simple and decorative patterns using house paint. They are stunning.
There’s one called “Canoe” that is made from five sticks in alternating colors laid out horizontally with a long yellow stick in the middle and a shorter stick dead center. Who uses such extreme classical balance? That’s radical while looking traditional.
“Suspend” is a vertical piece in tones of dark blue with sloppily painted triangles up and down the left edge and right about the middle is draped what looks like a chain of white beads.
“Caravan” and “Cardinal” are among the smallest pieces and the most elaborately constructed with interlocking horizontal and vertical sticks in dark blue and square and triangular blocks of wood in red, yellow and white. They are fresh and deceptively simple, and they remind me of something kids might make with popsicle sticks, but the patterns and color combinations are much more thoughtful and complex than they might appear to the untrained eye.
There’s on called “Danae” that is mostly white and soft blue with one skinny yellow stick and a cascade of white paint that runs downward until it piles up almost at the bottom. Another favorite is “Jeanman Says,” which has a triangular construction that somehow reminds me of a metronome, superimposed over side-by-side sticks, all in subtle colors with a tiny spark of brightness.
This is a small show with unobtrusive paintings (just right for a coffee shop where most people are not there to look at art). But there’s much more to it than that. For those who do bother to look, this is truly outstanding art.
Susan Christian at Batdorf and Bronson, 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, through April 23, 516 S. Capitol Way, Olympia.
Photos courtesy of the artist.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Pine Hill Haints “What Am I Gonna Do but Wait Right Here”

K Records - Fri, 04/10/2015 - 1:40am
Another Saturday night strumming on something cold and black. Bringing new light to an old conundrum, Pine Hill Haints-style.   K Song of the Day: Pine Hill Haints “What Am I Gonna Do but Wait Right Here” from their The Magik Sounds of Pine Hill Haints [KLP254] album. The Pine Hill Haints album The Magik […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Yonatan Gat at Dub Narcotic Studio!

K Records - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 3:01pm
Stradling March and April Yonatan Gat spend several days at Dub Narcotic Studio recording with Calvin Johnson, in between playing shows in Olympia, Seattle and Portland. Crazy times back and forth instrumental, Hebrew text multiplied by improvisational bursts of enrapture. Goo Goo Muck times 10! Calvin Johnson plays melodica and then shouts the blues. Will […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Bobby Hansson

Olympia Dumpster Divers - Tue, 04/07/2015 - 10:56pm

Tin can artist Bobby Hansson, who passed away on March 5, 2015, demonstrating how to reuse trash materials to make fun things like masks and “canjos.”

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

George Romansic at the Drums!

K Records - Tue, 04/07/2015 - 10:57am
In 1980 Seattle took four giant steps toward a cultural revolution; the reverberation from those stomps are still being felt. The Beakers (in above photog: Franke Sundsten, Mark Smith, George Romansic, Jim Anderson) lived their brief frantic life that year, one of the many underground Seattle combos in which George Romansic was behind the drums. […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Sister Spit: Wednesday, April 15th, 11:00-1:00 pm, Lecture Hall 1

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Mon, 04/06/2015 - 2:46pm

Screen-Shot-2014-12-22-at-8.04.50-PM-1Sister Spit began in San Francisco in the 1990s as a weekly, girls-only open mic that was an alternative to the misogyny-soaked poetry open mics popular around the city (and the nation) at that time. Inspired by two-bit punk bands who managed to go on the road without hardly knowing how to play their instruments, Sister Spit became the first all-girl poetry roadshow at the end of the 90s, and toured regularly with such folks as Eileen Myles, Marci Blackman, Beth Lisick, and Nomy Lamm. The tour was revived as Sister Spit: The Next Generation in 2007, and has toured the United States annually since, with authors and performers such as Chinaka Hodge, Dorothy Allison, Lenelle Moise, Justin Vivian Bond, and many others. In this next incarnation, out of respect to the changing gender landscape of our queer and literary communities, Sister Spit welcomes artists of all genders, so long as they mesh with the tour’s historic vibe of feminism, queerness, humor, and provocation.

In addition to the authors of Sister Spit Book’s two most recent publications, Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man, and Rad American Women A-Z, the tour incorporates artists and activists with wide-ranging audiences, styles and voices. Furthermore, the Sister Spit Tour invites local guest writers to add to the lineup.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Apple Tree showcase

South Sound Arts - Mon, 04/06/2015 - 11:09am
A fundraiser for special needs students Apple Tree Productions in Olympia is hosting a concert featuring Caspar Babypants in April as a fundraiser for the company's Special Needs Acting Showcase.

Apple Tree Productions invites students of every need and ability to a free summer performing arts program, taught by Heidi Fredericks. Students learn about acting, singing and movement through group activities, games and exercises designed for special needs students. Suitable for all ages and ability levels.  There will be one final performance for family and friends. Students do not need to have prior experience.  Several experienced teachers and volunteers will be on hand to help Heidi guide students through fun acting and singing lessons.

Heidi is public school teacher and is the proud mother of a 6-year-old autistic son, but has no other formal training in working with special needs students. This program is not intended to take the place of therapy. She has taught drama for almost 20 years, and has found through working with her son that singing and acting games excite his imagination, maintain his focus, and ease their connection to one another. She has taught a free special needs acting class for three years, and understands the need for a free class instead of further additional expenses.

April 11 at 2:30 p.m., Tumwater High School Performing Arts Center

For more information and to request an enrollment form, contact Apple Tree Productions  at

For more information on Apple Tree Productions see my article in Thurston Talk.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Laughing Stock at Olympia Little Theatre

South Sound Arts - Sun, 04/05/2015 - 9:26am

Abby Wells as Mary and Ryan Martin Holmberg a Dracula.
People were laughing uproariously at Olympia Little Theatre’s Laughing Stock the night I saw it. I’m talking about the kind of laughter where you rock back and forth in your seat and practically fall on the floor, the kind where tears stream down your cheeks.  It’s an insanely funny show. But not every moment is funny. There were some bits that I thought were ridiculous, such as when a bunch of incompetent stagehands—it’s a show about a theater company— were unable to complete the simple task of carrying a ladder from one place to another. This bit and some others like it were either too silly or too juvenile, or they went on too long. There were also some serious moments that would have been stronger if they were shorter. However other scenes were comic gold, such as Ryan Holmberg’s “entrance” as Dracula (pronounced Dra Kool) the undead impaler, through a door that isn’t there, and the insane moment in rehearsal for Charlie’s Aunt when the director makes the actors pretend to be animals at a watering hole in an African jungle, and when a stage hand (Hannah Eklund) inexplicably crawls across the stage like a cat darting after a mouse. Bonnie Vandver as Daisy and Richard Young as Vernon. Photos courtesy Olympia Little TheatreIn other words, it is a farce, and this type of over-the-top comedy is always risky. The writer, actors and director have to have the guts to take big chances on things that may or may not work or that will be hilarious to some people and senseless to others. Laughing Stock by Charles Morey and directed by Christian Carvajal is mostly hysterically funny.Set in 1993, the Playhouse is a summer stock theater that has been hanging on by the skin of its teeth for years. The artistic director, Gordon Page (played by Rick Pearlstein), wants to do serious dramas by the likes of Ibsen and Shakespeare, but the theater’s major donor, without whom they can’t survive, wants them to do Sound of Music. Placating the money lady is a constant struggle for him. Another constant struggle is dealing with a motely group of actors including Tyler Taylor (Holmberg), possibly the most melodramatic ham ever to trod the boards; a terrible director named Susannah (Jess Allan), who is college roommate of the daughter of the Playhouse’s backer; a couple of old-timers: Daisy Coates (Bonnie Vandver) and Richfield Hawksley (John Pratt), who can’t remember characters’ names or much of anything else; and an over-acting and overly sexed ingénue named Mary (Abby Wells).The Playhouse is doing Dracula, Charlie’s Aunt and Hamletin repertory and, of course, everything that can possibly go wrong does, Opening night is a disaster, but in the end there is a Kumbaya moment when everyone realizes that a theater company is truly a family. While true that theater folk do bond over the course of a play or a season, this particular moment borders on maudlin. But it is a sweet ending.The set, which is really no set at all, is a floor painted to look like a barn floor with a curtained stage at the back, and that works nicely. Tables, chairs and various props are brought out as needed. The blocking, which I like to think of as the unseen choreography, is excellent. The acting is uneven in spots. Holmberg is outstanding. I can’t imagine anyone else playing that role as well. Pearlstein, who has been developing as an actor over the past four years, gets better with every play, and he is terrific here. David Phillips as the head tech guy is excellent, Heather Cantrell is loveable and believable as Sarah, the  stage manager who is Gordon Page’s ex-wife, and Pratt is aptly ditsy as the forgetful Richfield. Overall it’s a fun show. It’s loaded with insider theater jokes, but you don’t have to get them all to enjoy this show. Performances have been selling out, so it is advisable to get tickets as early as possible.WHEN: 7:55 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 1:55 p.m. Sunday, through April 19WHERE: Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave., NE, OlympiaTICKETS: $10-$14, $2 student discountINFORMATION: (360) 786-9484,

Don’t forget, the Tip jar. Thank you.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Latest shows at Kittredge Gallery

South Sound Arts - Fri, 04/03/2015 - 3:32pm

Between Chance and Control Published in the Weekly Volcano, April 2, 2015

Makato Fujimura "ISCP Performance," 2007, and is in the collection of the Taylor, Clayton and Lydia Fujimura Trust. The title of the smaller show in the back gallery at Kittredge Gallery is “Between Chance and Control.” That title well describes the main show as well: “Process Drawings; Recent Works by Makato Fujimura.”
I’m tempted to say Fujimura’s drawings are dull, and in a way they are — dull in the sense of being muted. They are called drawings but are paintings in every sense  of the word. They are large, wall-hanging pieces in mineral pigments, platinum and gold on Japanese papers. These papers look like canvas and the paintings on them look like paint that is poured, splattered, brushed and dripped on unprimed canvas. It soaks into the surface as in works by Helen Frankenthaler or as in some Jackson Pollocks, and in some instances lies on top like paint on the side of an old barn.
A number of them are in tones of gold and gray on a dark brown surface and look for all the world like James Abbott McNeil Whistler’s “Nocturne in Black and Gold.” Others are in black and gray or tones of blue on off-white paper. These are dreamy and contemplative paintings with spiritual and metaphysical themes that call to mind galaxies in the night sky — or in the case of the black-and-whites, Japanese Sumi  paintings, and in the case of the ones in blue, reflections of sky in water.
In a wall statement, the artist writes that his technique “derives from de Kooning’s method of ‘freezing’ the gestures of paint with newsprint.” I’ve looked at works by de Kooning that employ this technique, and for the life of me I can’t imagine any connection to what I see in these paintings.
In the smaller back gallery is a group of works by three former UPS students created at a residency in Leipzig, Germany. The artists are Haley Andres, Abbie Baldwin and Kristan Shuford.
Andres is showing a group of large paintings in oil and watercolor on unstretched canvas that look almost like copies of Fujimura’s drawings but with a little more color. They are cruder in application. Sweeping charcoal or pencil lines give them more definition, as opposed to the mushiness of the poured paint.
Shuford is represented by an installation of two paintings, also on unstretched canvas, and a cardboard sculpture hanging from the ceiling that looks like a Russian constructivist airplane. I like the way the paintings and sculpture work together as a single piece. I just wish the colors weren’t so washed out.
Baldwin is showing a set of wire sculptures that jut out from the wall and look like insect wings.
Like Fujimura’s drawings, all of these are competently executed works but none of them particularly grab me. Perhaps they’ll grab you.
Process Drawings; Recent Works by Makato Fujimura,  Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through March 2, Saturday noon to 5 p.m., Kittredge Gallery, University of Puget Sound, 1500 N. Warner St., Tacoma, 253.879.3701]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Arrington de Dionyso Exhibition, Performance!

K Records - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 11:51am
This Friday evening (April 3) coming up fast is the opening reception for a group art show in Los Angeles featuring Olympia folks Arrington de Dionyso and China Faith Star. Performing at the reception will be Arrington de Dionyso (who provided the poster illustration for the reception invite, above), Lilacs and “Special Guests” (top secret! […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Yonatan Gat in Olmypia!

K Records - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 3:30am
Yonatan Gat is touring through the NW this week making a stop in Olympia to play a house show Thursday, April 2, at 1611 4th Ave. E. with the Philadelphia combo Sheer Mag and Olympia bands Vexx, Gag and Nasti. Could be a time.  
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Judy Bardin Campaign Kick-off April 2!

K Records - Mon, 03/30/2015 - 1:41pm
Judy Bardin is a friend who has decided to run for Olympia City Council position 2, the seat being vacated by Steve Langer. Judy has worked on City Council advisory boards including the Utility Advisory Board and Planning Commission, for which she received the Key Award by the Washington Coalition for Open Government in 2014. […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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