Predator Songstress Sets Our Ideas of Live Theater Free

Review of Predator Songstress on OntheBoards.tv

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Rosemary Sissel and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson

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Predator Songstress is an exquisite, soul-stirring work of art that asks era-defining questions about voice, freedom, and live performance. It’s magnificent, unique, and startlingly relevant today.

Originally staged in 2015, the recording of this performance has been available at OntheBoards.tv for five years now—but its message and storytelling style are fresher and more necessary than ever.

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A Nexus of Negativity

Review of Nexus by Danielle Mohlman, performed on Zoom

Written collectively by the Teen Editorial Staff

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Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. A man and a woman randomly meet each other and seem to hate each other’s guts. They’re total polar opposites. Gradually, they get more comfortable with each other, express themselves, and fall in love. Sound familiar? This is essentially what happens in the play Nexus, by Danielle Mohlman, performed on Zoom. However, Nexus adds a small twist by asking the question: What if they were in the “hating each other’s guts” phase for their entire relationship?

When the man (MJ Sieber) and woman (Keiko Green) first meet at a bus stop, you could already tell the guy was pushy. As the play progressed, and the couple met at various locations—a museum, their house, another museum, yet another museum, why do they keep going to museums?—we were struck by the consistent horribleness of the man. He picked a fight with her when she found out she had a tumor— which turned out to be benign, but yikes! But I guess that’s okay, because she’s horrible too! At one point she just went to Baltimore without telling him. Is this what adulthood is really like? Because if so...that sucks.

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The Art of Procrastination

Teen Editorial Staff May 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Anya Shukla and Kendall Kieras!

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Our quarantine art viewing is still going strong! One thing we have noticed during online school, however, is that we find ourselves procrastinating far more than we used to. Our emails are open, our phones are right next to us, and YouTube and Netflix are only one click away…

There’s also a lot to procrastinate! Some may say that because AP tests are only forty-five minutes, they cause less stress; others believe that because many final exams have been canceled, we don’t need to study; still others think that because many schools are going pass/fail, grades don’t matter anymore. To all those people, we say only this: we’re teenagers, and even when it’s not necessary, we make procrastinating a full-time job! (Also, do you see how we slid in an AP-English-worthy concession there? Take notes, College Board.)

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Creative Cures for Quarantine

Teen Editorial Staff April 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Olivia Sun and Lily Williamson!

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Even though COVID-19 has kept us inside, there are still plenty of ways to stay involved with art while practicing good social distancing. From online exhibitions to performance archives, the Seattle arts scene is still alive and well, even under quarantine.

The coronavirus outbreak not frightening enough? Give Dark Matters at OntheBoards.tv a try—a spine chilling performance combining elements of contemporary dance and theatre. Directed by choreographer Crystal Pite, this performance will take you on a wild emotional journey from the comforts of your own home.

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Jitney: How Small Victories Against Oppression Bring Large Change

Review of August Wilson's Jitney at Seattle Rep
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Jaiden Borowski and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla

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Warning: Spoilers ahead!

By creating a full world of its own from simple interactions, August Wilson’s Jitney artfully depicts the everyday interactions between employees of a jitney business during the 1970s. (To provide some context, jitney businesses offered unlicensed taxis for the black community when typical services would not due to racial discrimination.) Jitney displays the everyday hustle and bustle of working-class Americans, allowing the audience to create relationships with and appreciate the details and flaws of each of its characters.

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1984: Another Big Brother

Review of 1984 at 18th & Union Review.
Written by Teen Editor Josh Fernandes and edited by Press Corps Teaching Artist Omar Willey.

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1984 is the kind of book I definitely should’ve read, but I think one of the play’s strengths is how seamlessly the material is adapted for the stage. After reading Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale, I sort of dismissed 1984. Both of those dystopias have a unique form of control over their citizens: Brave New World controls through pleasure in order to eliminate conflict and for the prosperity of its citizens, and The Handmaid’s Tale controls through language in order to save the declining birth rates of the white race. 1984 controls through fear simply for the sake of the Inner Party’s personal whims, which I always assumed to be sort of basic. Sure, 1984’s influence can be felt in all kinds of media, but I never thought to read the original. However, 18th & Union's adaptation certainly proves the merit of the original work, and I have no shame in saying that this is how I first experienced it.

The play is set in a dystopian future and follows Winston Smith, a “records editor” who seeks to escape and rebel against the ever looming and controlling presence of Big Brother alongside his new love Julia. The play doesn’t start here however, rather the entire show is set in an interrogation room set after Winston has already been captured. The audience is shown his story through a reenactment put on by party members based on the writings they find in Winston’s diary. Marianna de Fazio, Brad Cook, Michael Ramquist, K. Brian Neel and Lyam White; Ryan Higgins facing upstage in 18th & Union's production of 1984. Photo by Marcia Davis.

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Monster Robot Babies: Why Dance Nation is the Coolest Show Ever

Review of Dance Nation at Washington Ensemble Theatre

Written by TeenTix New Guard Member Daisy Schreiber and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster

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Good endings are hard to come by, and when I saw Dance Nation at Washington Ensemble Theatre for the first time, I didn’t really like the last few minutes. But the rest of it was kind of the Best Thing I’d Ever Seen, so I went back again. And again. And again. And again. By the fifth and last time I saw Dance Nation, the ending was one of my favorite parts. (My other favorite part was everything else.) There are approximately 15,000,000 different awesome things about the show, but Dance Nation, in one of its many acts of healing, offers a powerful paradigm shift–what if middle school makes us who we are? What if we aren’t a total write-off ages eleven to fourteen? What if we are ok now because of what happened to us in middle school, not just in spite of it?

Dance Nation catches its characters–members of an elite pre-teen dance team–at a delicate moment. They hover on the precipice of giving up dreams of dance stardom for other aspirations, like being a volcano scientist, or high school student, or diving deeper into the competitive dance world, knowing that they can never remake this choice. By the end of the ninety minutes, the girls have made their decisions, for the most part choosing each other over the rabid pull of being the best, and they are powerful. It is clear that their dance team friends will always be a part of their lives, and that, regardless of the future careers, dance is a force that connects them to each other as they take on the rest of their lives. Dance Nation at Washington Ensemble Theatre. Photo by Jeff Carpenter.

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Here We Go Again: Mamma Mia! is Simply Fun

Review of Mamma Mia! at Kirkland Performance Center
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Huma Ali and edited by Teen Editor Josh Fernandes

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Studio East and Kirkland Performance Center’s production of Catherine Johnson’s Mamma Mia! follows 20-year-old Sophie Sheridan (Rachel Kuenzi) as she unfolds a secret plan to find her father—or rather fathers, as she has narrowed the search to 3 potential candidates. Her ultimate goal: to have him walk her down the aisle at her wedding, which is merely days away. An island off Greece, a stuccoed hotel, unrequited love haunting the young and the old—it’s not a shock when things don’t go exactly as planned. But, it’s largely amusing to watch, even as a relative outsider to the franchise.

The stage opens to a fair, blonde Sophie standing next to a yellow mailbox, letters in hand. Recipients: Sam (Samuel Jarius Pettit), Bill (Hakan Olsson), and Harry (Ryan Lile). Sam Carmicheal is an architect and divorcee. Bill Anderson is an adventure-seeking writer. Harry Bright is an English banker. All under the impression of being invited by Sophie’s mother Donna (Shoshauna Mohlman), the three men fly to the island.

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Our Country’s Long

Review of Our Country's Good at Strawberry Theatre Workshop
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Anna Martin and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras

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People are people if you treat them as such. This strong and simple message takes almost three hours to deliver in Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s Our Country’s Good.

The setting is mid-eighteenth century Australia, as the first colony of criminals is arriving. The show focuses on a group of convicts as they join with the officers to put on a play for the inmates.

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Fresher Start!

Teen Editorial Staff March 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras!

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We all promise ourselves that the new year will bring a “new me,” but let’s all be honest and admit that the few people among us who still maintain resolutions have already forgotten about them by now. Who even designed the calendar system so that the year would start in the middle of winter? No, the true start of the year is now, with the beginning of Spring! It’s bright, it’s sunny, and we’ve got just the art to give you that fresh start we all need right now!

If you’re looking to shock yourself awake this Spring, there’s no better place to start than Rebecca Brewer’s Natural Horror at the Frye Art Museum. Toying with the psychological effect of the relationship between humans and the natural world, the pieces seem to come alive with their bold and flowing shapes evoking expressionistic painting through the medium of crafts.

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Recap: Theater Criticism Workshop at Snow White

Teen Reviews of Snow White at Seattle Children's Theatre

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The TeenTix Press Corps hosted a pop-up Theater Criticism workshop at a performance of Snow White at Seattle Children’s Theatre on February 29, 2020. Taught by playwright and arts journalist, Danielle Mohlman, the workshop covered the basics of theater criticism and how to approach writing a review of a play. After a pre-show lesson, teen participants attended a Snow White performance, and then met the next day for discussion and writing practice. Below are the reflections of the play a few of the participants wrote during the workshop.

Written by Faith - 9th grade

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Bodies of Color ≠ Numbers

Review of Admissions at Seattle Public Theater
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Huma Ali and edited by Teen Editor Olivia Sun

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Warning: Spoilers ahead!

An elite New England prep school run by a liberal white couple, salted by the ramblings of their “Republican” son, and peppered with misconstrued ideas about sharing space in positions of power—Seattle Public Theater’s production Admissions suggests that power and its distribution among white, “progressive” individuals is a complex issue.

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Lonely Rice Cookers: A Snapshot of a Generation

Review of Cuckoo by Jaha Koo at On the Boards
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Sky Fiddler and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson

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Cuckoo: a one-man play in Korean about sentient rice cookers and loneliness.

When I read that description, I knew I had to make it to On The Boards and see it—this creation appeared to be different than any play I’d seen before. The set was simple, with only a box-like table framed by a large projector screen, the stage otherwise so black and barren that it looked like a portal into the void. Cuckoo simultaneously chronicled Korean history since the late 90’s economic crisis, the experience of a generation of young people, and artist Jaha Koo’s own life.

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Not Just Hearts And Roses

Teen Editorial Staff February 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editors Anya Shukla and Olivia Sun

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February is such a beautiful month. It’s full of sappy Hallmark cards, sappy Hallmark movies, sappy Hallmark hearts, and… freedom? Yep, February 1, is actually National Freedom Day. In that spirit, we’ve chosen to free ourselves from the cliche of Valentine’s Day as this month’s theme. (Also, a bit of an aside, but February doesn’t have a National Sappy Hallmark Day! Crazy.)

Some of our shows are more literally related to freedom, like Our Country’s Good, Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s play about the prison system, as well as SIFF’s Noir City, a festival featuring detective-and-crime-filled noir films. SAM’s new Asian Art Museum frees itself from tradition, intermixing art from various cultures in the same gallery. Admissions at Seattle Public Theater and #adulting at 18th and Union connect to our theme in a more abstract way: we all will someday have our first taste of independence—and for some of us, the transition can be rocky. Finally, for all you love-story enthusiasts out there, we’re seeing Mamma Mia! at Kirkland Performance Center, which, with all of its island fun, gives us the freedom to have a good time! And also, we love Mamma Mia!

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Liberté, Égalité, Sororité

Review of The Revolutionists at ArtsWest.
Written by Teen Editor Tova Gaster and edited by Press Corps Teaching Artist Jasmine Mahmoud.

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“That’s no way to begin a comedy!” cries out a woman dressed strikingly in a flowing pink gown, her powdered white hairdo adding almost a foot to her height. This is Olympe de Gouges (Sunam Ellis), a feminist playwright attempting to capture in writing the tumult of the French Revolution. In The Revolutionists at ArtsWest, the revolution is not televised: it’s written into a darkly funny play covering the Reign of Terror, intersectional feminism, and playwriting itself.

Written by the prolific playwright Lauren Gunderson, The Revolutionists is an earnestly optimistic and hilarious argument for feminist solidarity in uncertain times. It explores the dynamics between four very different women: writer Olympe de Gouges, Haitian revolutionary Marianne Angelle, young assassin Charlotte Corday, and the infamous Marie Antoinette. The Revolutionists became a meta narrative about Olympe’s play, influenced by each woman who enters. Although the humor leans distractingly self-conscious—it’s a play within a play and Gunderson doesn’t let you forget it—the witty dialogue and nuanced treatments of identity are fun and thought-provoking. How do we build real solidarity between women when virtue signaling often takes the place of organizing, and as gender categorization at all is increasingly blurry? And where do we find a voice in a history that erases us?

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An Emotional Sing Along

Review of Shout Sister Shout! at Seattle Rep.

Written by Franklin High School student, Julie La.

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Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry are few of the many artists that became famous and overshadowed their influencers. Sister Rosetta Tharpe is considered to be the Godmother of rock ‘n’ roll, but she wasn’t recognized for her contribution until 2018, where she was inducted into the Roll of Fame.

Playwright Cheryl L. West along with director Randy Johnson brought to life, Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s story through the play Shout Sister Shout! at the Seattle Rep. The musical had a powerful and intriguing storyline of an artist whose legacy was forgotten. Sister Rosetta Tharpe's story has many twists and turns. She crossed boundaries and disregarded social and cultural norms of her time. Throughout the play, there were many interactions with the audience. Carrie Compere who played Sister Rosetta Tharpe along with many others, included the audience into the play. They encouraged the audience to clap along and sing along if they knew the lyrics to a song.

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She Came, She Saw, She Shouted

Review of Shout Sister Shout! at Seattle Rep.

Written by Franklin High School student, Clara Olson.

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When I think of rock ‘n roll, I think about the legends like Mick Jagger or Elvis Presley. I don’t think about a black woman from Arkansas playing gospel music with an electric guitar. And I’m sure the average person doesn’t either. But the newest play being shown at the Seattle Repertory Theater showcases this woman—who pioneered the way for these later legends.

Shout Sister Shout!, written by Cheryl West, showcases the talents and achievements of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a black woman who is considered the “godmother of rock ‘n roll”. Sister Rosetta, played by Carrie Compere, was born in 1915 in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, but the play begins in 1962 behind the scenes of a televised performance of a Sunday special. The show soon flashes back to 1933 when Rosetta is eighteen and singing in her mother’s church. As the show progresses, the audience follows Sister Rosetta’s life from her husbands, to her performances, to her gains and losses of both friend and family relationships, and her own personal journey.

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Rockin’ and Rollin’ with Sister Rosetta

Review of Shout Sister Shout! at Seattle Rep.

Written by Franklin High School student, Ngoc-Linh Truong.

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Johnny Cash? Elvis? You may have heard of those names when thinking about rock and roll, but what about Sister Rosetta Tharpe? If you didn’t know, she was a black woman who many called “the Godmother of rock and roll”. In Shout Sister Shout!, from director Randy Johnson, a tornado of sounds and colors flew through the theater as we follow Sister Rosetta from her juvenescence to her final years.

Despite her illustrious career, Rosetta faced lifelong obstacles offstage. “Devil’s music” was what her mom called it. Rosetta, played by Carrie Compere, started out as a young girl performing at church before leaving for New York City. Her mother (Carol Dennis) disapproved of the new music that Rosetta was playing. Their meeting in New York City was the beginning of a difficult relationship in the upcoming years. Her lovers, from her first controlling husband to the singer, Marie Knight, were also unsteady. Career and love clashed in Rosetta’s personal life, where reality eventually sets in. Her church, a place where Rosetta started performing, didn’t accept her because of her new music. These stories from different parts of her life are weaved between the bright lights and energetic singing, playing a quieter role that captured Rosetta’s loneliness as an artist.

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From Movie to Stage: The Transformation of Daniel Hillard to Mrs. Doubtfire

Review of Mrs. Doubtfire at 5th Avenue Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Jaiden Borowski and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes.

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There is a certain gleeful apprehension that is felt in anticipation for remakes, particularly as the public waits to find out which type of remake it will be. Nowadays remakes either prompt the audience to angrily revel in its soulless attempt at recapturing nostalgia, or surpass expectations as they redefine what the story has become, improving and modernizing the beloved tale. From the very first words, pizza roll, sung to the tune of "Figaro Figaro Figaro!" onwards, Mrs. Doubtfire is revealed to be the latter. Every scene has heart, and through each character a new aspect of the story is revealed, enhanced through powerfully humorous song.

Although my memories of the movie version are shrouded by the fog of the past, I found myself attempting to compare the musical with the movie at every point. The story of Daniel Hilliard, a divorced father trying to see his children, dressing up as an elderly nanny and assuming the role of “Mrs. Doubtfire” is, understatedly, very unique. Putting a new spin on top of that is an interesting challenge, and I was surprisingly pleased with the relevancy of each new joke. However, my mother, who had seen the movie more recently and with a better memory, recognized many of the most charming lines as direct or near-direct quotes. As is the case with every remake, the creators of this musical had to draw the line between exact copy and embellished celebration of what the original is. With Mrs. Doubtfire, it was important to leave such iconic lines untouched in order to ground it in some semblance of the original nostalgia. Due to the musical additions and flashy stage performance, the show could have lost its deep connection with the movie if it hadn’t stayed true to its most iconic moments. Additionally, I heard many other audience members talking about how novel and interesting these copied lines seemed, mirroring my own sentiments and apparently not noticing or not caring about the duplications. Whether it was to familiarize a seasoned audience member with the source material or stay true to the original for fresh eyes, the quotes and scenes that paralleled the movie were vital.Rob McClure stars as Daniel Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo by Tracy Martin.

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Fresh St(ART)

Teen Editorial Staff January 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes!

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2019 was the year of death. We waved goodbye to the beloved characters of film franchises like Star Wars and Marvel, mourned the loss of real life heroes, and said farewell to the 2010s. But now is the time to be reborn with iron clad resolutions for the new year, and what better resolution than to seek out the freshest art of the decade?

At Seattle Art Museum there's Into Existence, an exhibit all about giving new life to the items America discards and using them to express the stories America tells. Witness security gates, afro wigs, and car parts weave together and form into the ideas and dreams of artist Aaron Fowler in the shape of cultural icons and personal figures. If you're left craving a different mix of history and creativity, check out author Isabel Allende and dive into her book A Long Petal of the Sea at Town Hall Seattle. Using the story of two refugees fleeing a fascist Spain in the 1930s to explore motifs of oppression, exile, and hope, this event is sure to please any fans of historical fiction. If you're still looking for that perfect mixture of education and entertainment, then Jaha Koo: Cuckoo at On the Boards might be what you're looking for. It analyses the rocky history of Korea over the past 20 years and the isolationism that currently grips the population through the commentary of a South Korean artist and his three rice cookers.

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