Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: Nostalgic, If Not Timeless

Review of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at Fifth Avenue Theater

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Lorelei Schwarz and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Kyle Gerstel

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When the faux snowflakes drift into the audience during the finale of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas from the 5th Avenue Theatre, it’s impossible to deny the magic of this show, the cable-knit sweater coziness of it all. Unfortunately, the chances of it snowing outside are slim to none, but you walk out of the theater convinced that life leans toward the magical, expecting a blanket of white to cover the city streets.

White Christmas, a stage adaptation of the 1954 movie musical of the same name, features holiday classics and angsty love songs alike. In the show, World War II veterans-turned-star singing duo Bob Wallace and Phil Davis decide (well, Phil decides and Bob is reluctantly dragged along) to follow another singing duo, the Haynes sisters, to Vermont.

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December’s Kaleidoscope of Inspiration

Teen Editorial Staff December 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Anna Melomed and Daphne Bunker

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It's wintertime! Even in Seattle's bleakest months of the year, vibrancy and inspiration are definitely not gone from Seattle’s arts scene. This month our writers will be putting on their explorer hats and experiencing art from around the globe. So join them on experiences ranging from Indonesian Gamelan to Nordic sculptures to contemporary Seattle experimentation.

Seeking to disrupt and reinvent, NextFest NW 2023 at Velocity Dance is a celebration of experimentation. Northwestern artists Maximiliano, Kara Beadle, Danielle Ross, and Sophie Marie Schatz present a singular yet cohesive experience from dancing, movement, and light. NextFest runs December 7-9 + 14-16, so don’t miss the contemporary event of the season at 12th Ave Arts.

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ENOUGH! Is the Start This Country Needs

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Daniela Mariz-Frankel

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I was quietly taking notes in an eighth-grade Algebra class when I asked my deskmate if she ever thought about what she would do in a school shooting.

At first she said, “No.” Then tilted her head and said, “Sometimes.” Little did we know that a girl named Alyse sitting a few rows over would survive a shooting at her new high school.

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How ENOUGH! Uses Theater to Discuss Gun Violence

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Mickey Fontaine

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In America, gun violence has been rising since the 90’s, taking tens of thousands of lives in the process. It is undeniable that this has become a crisis; some have even called it an epidemic. Gun death has become so common in our culture it’s hard to find the motivation to create change. With another tragedy sweeping through the nation every month, how can there be hope for a better future?

This is especially prevalent for youth. This generation has grown up in a country plagued by gun violence, living with shooter drills, teen suicides, and accidental deaths, making this their everyday life. This makes youth voices critical in the discussion of gun violence.

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Enough is Enough: Teens Challenge Gun Violence Through Theater

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Violet Sprague

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ENOUGH! PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE is a nationwide initiative to confront gun violence in a new way. Guided by teens with a passion for theater and activism, this festival is a collection of staged readings of six bold 10-minute plays written by students around the US. These plays are saying what needs to be said about the impact of gun violence and inspiring meaningful action in communities across the country. The performance takes place in 30 states, in 53 cities, all on the same night. These teen playwrights have turned to theater to avoid becoming just another statistic, and their plays make the statement: Enough is enough.

I attended the festival, produced by Seattle Children’s Theatre, The 5th Avenue Theatre, and The Alliance for Gun Responsibility, on November 6, with my dad and my friend Rhea Thombre (age 14, she/her). The seats in the audience were full of a whole collection of people. The tickets to the show were free, which ensured everyone who wanted to was able to attend—all different ages, abilities, races, joined together by a taste for change. As we sat there in the small theater, there was a sense of community, a we're-all-in-this-together feeling.

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Make or Break Tradition this Holiday Season

Teen Editorial Staff November 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Aamina Mughal and Daphne Bunker

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This November, as the clocks fall back and the rain keeps falling, we at the TeenTix Newsroom are turning our attention to tradition: maintaining beloved ones and forging others that are fresh and new. With a TeenTix pass this month, there’s plenty of time to both return to classic stories and explore contemporary ideas.

At Seattle Rep, Little Women runs from November 10 to December 17, a staging of Louisa May Alcott’s adaptation of her own 1868 novel. Following the aspiring writer Jo March and her three sisters throughout each of their lives, Little Women centers on the joy of family. But the cozy community fun doesn’t stop with the play itself; the run includes dates with a Winter Market taking place in the Rep’s lobby, a double feature date in collaboration with SIFF Uptown, and more.

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“Perverse and wrong grabs people’s attention”

Interview with Valentine Wulf, Playwright for ENOUGH! PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Kaylee Yu


“Enough is enough.” How often have we heard that appeal? Activists, politicians, and journalists alike use this catch-all, pithy saying to back any number of social injustices—often pairing it with a heaping serving of inaction. It’s cliché and overused. ENOUGH! PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE, at Seattle Children's Theatre on November 6, begs the question: what if enough really is enough?

What if we confronted gun violence in a new, unpredictable way?

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Youth Performer on Empathy, Activism, and the Value of Teen Voices

Interview with Hannah Smith, Performer in ENOUGH! PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Lorelei Schwarz

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As she prepares for her roles at the Seattle Children’s Theatre (SCT) in teen-written plays about gun violence, fifteen-year-old Hannah Smith says the production process has been both informative and self-reflective. “This experience has made me realize that we do have voices,” she says, “and we will be listened to if we’re brave enough to use them.”

Smith, a Running Start student at Tacoma Community College, began acting last year at the Oregon Children’s Theatre before moving to the Seattle area. She’s part of a small class at SCT, along with two other teens. For the past six weeks, the group has been preparing to perform several short plays from ENOUGH! PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE, which selects six pieces each year from young playwrights’ submissions to be performed at theaters across the country. The plays are slated to be performed for one night only, on November 6—exactly one year before the 2024 presidential election. Each play requires only a few actors or readers and provides a unique perspective on the issue of gun violence: one is about 911 operators trying to help during a shooting, while another tells the story of a girl who confronts the police in an attempt to save her brother from harm. Smith’s plays, Lightning Strike and The Matter at Hand, are similarly distinct takes on the issue.

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Theatre with a Twist: Passengers Redefines Cirque

Review of Passengers at Seattle Rep
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Kaylee Yu and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Aamina Mungal

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The stage is dim– lit only by a soft white glow. Nine actors breathe in a haunting, rhythmic chorus. Their bodies sway to the chugging of the train. The rise and fall, the side to side, calls to mind deep-seated nostalgia, the feeling of travel that, as a child, felt never-ending. As Passengers progresses, the Seattle Repertory Theatre stops feeling like a theater. The acrobats stop being just actors, their daring stunts transform from just circus spectacle. The audience is pulled into a heart-wrenching and deeply human story, told masterfully with the bodies of the performers. Circus is used as a creative device, where the stunts come second to the story. Passengers is one of the most uniquely beautiful things I have ever seen.

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Cambodian Rock Band Captures the Soul of Cambodia

Review of Cambodian Rock Band at ACT Theatre

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Indigo Mays and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Daphne Bunker

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The best way to capture my experience at Cambodian Rock Band, playing at ACT Theatre from September 29 to November 5, was the elderly woman who sat two spots down from me. As we all came back to our seats at the end of intermission, a ginormous version of the Cambodian flag during the period of Khmer Rouge was draped over the small stage. The red stage lights lit up the flag in a way that made it appear bloody and threatening, and the entire fifteen-minute intermission took place over a recording of uniform military marching, immersing the audience in a fear of the looming Khmer Rouge. As we tried to make small talk, a small elderly woman offered us lumpia out of a bag she had brought into the theater, for, I presume, her grandson. Separated by a language barrier and a general principle of not accepting food from strangers, I politely declined, but my friend, who was hungry, eagerly took one. The smell of fried crunchy carbs overwhelmed me and I also took one. We showed our appreciation the best we could before the lights started to dim again and the show unpaused. What is true to both the play and reality is that even in the brutal conditions and mere threat of the Khmer Rouge, the soul and spirit of the Cambodian people went undeterred. Brooke Ishibashi, Jane Lui, Abraham Kim and Tim Liu in Cambodian Rock Band at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Cambodian Rock Band, written by Lauren Yee and directed by Chay Yew, tells the story of former musician Chum, through the narration of both Chum himself and the cynical war criminal, Duch. The story starts when Chum returns to Cambodia for the first time since the regime of Pol Pot to convince his American daughter, Neary, to drop her case against Duch, the prison manager of the infamously lethal S-21, and become a lawyer in the U.S. After finding out her father is the eighth survivor of S-21 and her key to indicting Duch, Neary and Chum have a huge fight over victimhood, assimilation, and accountability, leading Neary to disappear. Over voicemail, Chum jumps back in time to explain to his daughter the plights, pride, and nuanced events of his youth.

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Two Big Black Bags: A Journey to Self-Forgiveness

Review of Two Big Black Bags at West of Lenin

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Juliana Agudelo Ariza and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Anna Melomed

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With her unfettered ability to enthrall an audience, playwright Julieta Vitullo is no stranger to eclectic artistry. Her most recent composition titled Two Big Black Bags has begun its performances on the welcoming stage at West of Lenin in Fremont. Vitullo, an award-winning author and playwright, brings her unique perspectives and expertise to stage in a nostalgic yet lighthearted production that centers on a veteran in search of a way to amend the past.

After a night of carousing, James (Tadd Morgan) awakens to two black bags in his living room and no clue as to how they got there. This sparks a journey of self-introspection and healing as he travels all the way down to South America and the path to confronting his burdens. This performance and its theatrical constituents resonate and evoke genuine emotions in the audience, and highlight what life is like for those who endure life that follows war.

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New Styles Falling Upon Us

Teen Editorial Staff October 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Kyle Gerstel and Audrey Gray

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Fall has fallen upon us, and with it comes a new batch of exciting art to be covered on the TeenTix blog in October. This month, our writers are covering a range of films and plays that seek to tell stories usually left untold, in styles never before seen. Dust off your TeenTix pass, bundle up against the dropping temperatures and check out the unique and international perspectives showcased in Seattle this month.

SIFF’s 31st annual Seattle Polish Film Festival will kick into full gear on October 13 with a selection of the last couple of years’ best Polish films. Included among them is Anna Jadowska’s Woman on the Roof, screening on October 15 at the SIFF Film Center, a visually stunning existential drama following a 60 year-old woman as she makes the desperate decision to rob a bank at knifepoint.

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A Totally True Tale of Friendship and the Complex Climb to Fame

Review of Matt & Ben at ArtsWest

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Raika Roy Choudhury and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Kyle Gerstel

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ArtsWest’s production of Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers’ Matt & Ben is a playfully delightful time. Portraying Matt Damon and Ben Affleck before fame, Matt & Ben exaggerates the archetype that Matt is a tortured intellectual while Ben is just a silly, good-looking guy. In classic Kaling fashion, like in The Office or The Mindy Project, Matt & Ben has an ironic twist: both privileged, white, male characters are actually depicted by women and grapple with the script of Good Will Hunting literally falling into their laps. The play puts the audience through the trials and tribulations of friendship and creates a satire on the difficulties of pursuing a dream.

As soon as I walked into the venue, it was evident that Matt & Ben was a highly anticipated show– Kaling’s name was included in all advertising, and ArtsWest’s cozy waiting area was packed full during the play’s closing weekend. As a huge Kaling fan, the excitement was palpable, and only exacerbated by the incredible set design. The set captures a moment in time, grabbing at the essence of a post-college former frat boy’s apartment (immediately revealed to be Ben’s). Food wrappers and boxes are scattered around, shoes left astray, and laundry covers the floor. The mess feels perfectly intentional, which is almost paradoxical, and provided something to marvel at before the play started (even from the left wing, where I watched).

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Seattle Reconciles Future Dreams with Past History in September

Teen Editorial Staff September 2023 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Aamina Mughal and Anna Melomed

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With the first installment of articles from the TeenTix Newsroom coming out in the next few weeks, the Press Corps is writing about works that talk about the tensions between one’s dreams and one’s past as well as the different forms that one’s dreams may take.

At ArtsWest, we’ll be covering Matt & Ben, a look at Matt Damon and Ben Affleck before their fame, in their Good Will Hunting era, pursuing their dreams. Though being a comedic take on the two Hollywood headliners, Matt & Ben reminds us to not let our dreams be deferred but to take on the oncoming year in storm.

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Theatre is a Two Way Street at Public Works

Written by TeenTix Alumni Cordelia Janow

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Public Works, a program at Seattle Rep, is dedicated to bringing theatre to everyone. Through partnerships with community-based organizations, Public Works brings free theatre classes, productions, and performances to people in the greater Seattle area. This August 25-27, The Public Works Team will be putting on The Tempest, completely free of charge. I sat down for a conversation with Ally Poole, Public Works Manager, Talia Colten, Public Works Assistant, and Donovan Olsen, Public Works Associate, to speak with them about their work and the importance of the Public Works Program.

What is Public Works?

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All the World’s a Stage at GreenStage’s Shakespeare in the Park

Written by TeenTix Alumni Haley Zimmerman

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The opening of Romeo & Juliet takes on a special significance when performed at GreenStage’s outdoor Shakespeare in the Park. The play opens with a lovely little prologue summarizing the “two hours’ traffic of our stage” — the “star-crossed lovers,” their “misadventured piteous overthrows,” their “death-marked love.” It concludes:

“The which, if you with patient ears attend,

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Hedwig is Timeless

Written by Cordelia Janow, TeenTix Alumni

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The stage is set for a night of glamour and rock at Arts West’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch. A sign in the corner reads “Black Trans Lives Matter”, inclusive pride flags sit on the desk, and the stage emanates Seattle’s Pioneer Square, setting up this modernized and localized interpretation of the show. The actors enter an exit as the audience finds their seats, checking on wigs, the soundboard, and whatever else Hedwig needs to start her show. When the show begins Hedwig (Nicholas Japaul Bernard) enters decked in pride flags and a contrasting American flag slung over her shoulders, but when she takes it off it reveals the confederate flag on the other side, immediately calling out the racist undercurrents of America. The opening speech, full of self-aware comments and Seattle-specific references, sets up a new vision for Hedwig: She exists in the modern day and the past, calling audience members to suspend their disbelief as she carries them through her story.

The modern-day aspects serve Hedwig well in addressing the issues that genderqueer and transgender people, especially those of color, face in America today. While staying true to the historical aspects of the show, Hedwig is timeless, referencing both old and new, reminding us that transgender people have been here and will continue to be here, and their stories deserve to be heard. The show's bones lend themselves to be manipulated and altered to fit the story that needs to be told at the time, and the actors and creative team do a fantastic job of sharing the story in a way that feels true to them and their artistry.

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Examining Journalism through the Lens of Director Christie Zhao

Written by TeenTix Writer Raika Roy Choudhury

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Masterfully maneuvering the challenges of cultural and linguistic differences, Director Christie Zhao is dedicated to shining light on “essential truths” about our social and political realms through theater. Stumbling upon theater classes whilst pursuing, and soon achieving, a degree in computer science, Zhao unexpectedly “fell deeper and deeper” into its activist potential and culture. In March of 2022, after working in a software engineer role, Zhao even founded Yun Theatre, a nonprofit dedicated to building a multilingual theater community and creating radical theater in the Pacific Northwest.

To Director Zhao, “Journalism is a form of theater.” And theater, she notes, is “a space to bring people together to embody a story… either far or close to us,” where everyone can “reflect and experience at the same time.” Theater is important because it forces proximity to heavy issues, calling the audience’s attention and care to them. It is a medium that “embraces the subjectivity of journalism,” reflecting the “essential truth” of life. For Zhao, her genre of theater is a way to “reclaim the agency of [her] own language,” truly speaking to the versatility of the art form.

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"Sweeney Todd" is a Color-Conscious Triumph

Review of Sweeney Todd at The 5th Avenue Theater

Written by Teen Editor Kyle Gerstel and edited by Press Corps Mentor Omar Willey

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In the program for Sweeney Todd at The 5th Avenue Theatre, director Jay Woods states that her team has “been granted the privilege to investigate th[e] text in the way the late great Stephen Sondheim felt was most important,” to put “risk-taking at the heart of creation.” I assume Woods is talking about the production’s use of color-conscious casting, drawing parallels between one of the most famous revenge plots of all time and contemporary race relations. Although the casting is bold and artistically effective, the production is most impressive because of its consistently strong performances and stunning marriage of design and direction.

Sweeney Todd is wildly popular because it is the rare thoughtful musical theater spectacle. It’s also rare as a mainstream musical centered around cannibalism. The plot is structured so the show is always a few steps ahead of the audience, delivering a satisfying and unexpected narrative without relying on shock value. The score is uniquely atmospheric and the text’s use of dramatic irony is delightful. However, the slow pace often took me out of the world of the show.

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Theatre in a Gym: Heartwarming Step by Performers Inspires New Talent

Written by TeenTix Writer, Adrija Jana

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As an elementary school student, Daira Rodriguez remembers being excited to go on a field trip to a show of Annie the Musical. However, when a sudden thunderstorm led to plans being canceled, the theatre team decided to come in and perform in the small gym inside the school, with nothing but costumes and props. Something about the gesture struck a chord with Daira, which it seems, never stopped resonating. A professional director, Daira recounts: "Honestly, I don’t know what it was about that grand gesture that made me beg my mom to sign me up for a youth theatre immediately afterwards—but I did. It was the first community I felt part of and the one I’ve consistently sought since. Something stuck I guess!"

Having decided to make a career in theatre, Daira admits that it has not always been easy, nor would it be, especially if you are not a male director. "For my family, it was about showing them that I was committed and that I could do it…And a responsible amount of lying—I was supposed to double major in something practical!"

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