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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Festive Mishaps at Renton Civic Theatre

Review of Nuncrackers at Renton Civic Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Serafina Miller and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras.

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Nuncrackers is the latest in a long line of satirical holiday musicals put on by the cozy Renton Civic Theatre. With all of the big budget productions at TeenTix Partners, small theatre companies like Renton Civic Theatre can often get lost in the shuffle. Nuncrackers is a bright, shining reminder of the warmth community theatre can bring to the holiday season.

Nuncrackers follows the taping of the Mt. Saint Helens Convent’s first cable TV holiday special, drawing its patrons into strenuous last minute solutions to their problems of injured performers and unfortunate, on-air innuendos. The audience is thrown into the shenanigans of the convent's sisters as the actors draw the “live viewer audience” into the shenanigans with ‘secret’ Santas and sing-alongs. The show bursts with comedy and life as the sisters perform original Christmas carols like "Twelve Days Prior to Christmas" and "Christmas Time is Nunsense Time" and perform their new and improved version of the classic Nutcracker.

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The Dina Martina Christmas Show is a Hilarious, Cynical Delight

Review of The Dina Martina Christmas Show at ACT Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Valentine Wulf and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson.

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Whether you’re a grinch like me or the most obnoxiously festive person on earth, there’s no way you won’t laugh out loud at Dina Martina’s delightfully irreverent Christmas show at ACTLab.

From the cheery set decor alone, you’d think you were in a sickeningly wholesome holiday tale, that is until drag queen Dina Martina herself stumbles onstage. In a particularly itchy-looking red sweater and Santa hat, she begins cheerily singing her cover of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” complete with holiday greetings and "fun AA meetings."

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A Comic, Musician, and Composer Walked into a Village with a Story to Tell

Review of Susan at On the Boards

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Leuel Bekele and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster.

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Shortly after doing my first comedy set at UW RETROs open mic I was fortunate enough to see a show that changed my conceptions of stand up comedy as a genre: Susan at On the Boards. The show was headed by stand-up comedian, trumpet-player, and composer Ahamefule (pronounced aha-may-foo-lay) J. Oluo (o-lu-o). He named the show after his mother. This show was deeply heartfelt and personal. In it Oluo recounts the complex relationship he had with his parents, how his mother dealt with the absence of his father, and how it shaped him as an adult. It was a great mix of music, storytelling, and stand up comedy. His goal with this show was to find a common understanding with the audience, because we all go through hardship in life. In an interview, Oluo said, “you make it more about [the audience] by making it more about you … because at the end of the day people are the same.”

The music was a vibrant composition of instrumental jazz and vocal performances. On stage alongside Oluo were Jerome Smith on the trombone and sousaphone, Jason Cressey also on the trombone, Skerik on the saxophone, Marina Christopher on the bass, D’Vonne Lewis on the drums, Marina Albero on the keyboard, and two vocalists: Okanamode, and Tiffany Wilson. While Oluo would take most of the stage time with his captivating storytelling, as he changed topics the music helped set the mood as the show went on. Susan at On the Boards. Photo by Haley Freedlund.

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The True Meaning of Christmas

Review of Christmastown: A Holiday Noir at the Seattle Public Theater.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Vanessa Chen and edited by Teen Editor Olivia Sun.

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Warning, spoilers ahead.

Christmas—a time for drinking hot chocolate, hanging lights, giving gifts, and making snow angels—has long been celebrated by many American households. People celebrate Christmas not only for its religious context, but also as a cultural holiday. Growing up, children are taught that Christmas is about giving to others because only the good boys and girls—those who spread kindness—will be visited by Santa Claus every year. But, they aren’t taught who Santa Claus really is.

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Childhood, Revisited

Review of Corduroy at the Seattle Children's Theatre.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Triona Suiter and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras.

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This holiday season, Seattle Children’s Theatre brings much-loved picture book Corduroy to life under the enthusiastic direction of Kathryn Van Meter. Expanding on the original story by Don Freeman, Barry Kornhauser’s warmhearted adaptation will delight younger attendees and coax forth the child within older ones.

The play begins on an empty stage glowing a rich blue. Combining the talents of scenic designer Tony Bend and lighting designer L.B. Morse, faint concentric circles painted on the walls and floor give the stage the appearance of a whimsical tunnel, drawing the eyes of audience towards its softly glowing orange center. First to enter are two clowns, played by teen actors, who perform an animated routine of physical comedy. The clowns then appear to use the force of their minds to drag on set pieces, slowly assembling a department store. Right from the start, the goofy and whimsical sound effects coupled with the pair’s exaggerated body movements give the show a playful and cartoonish feel.

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Getting Festive

Teen Editorial Staff December 2019 Editorial

Written by Teen Editors Lily Williamson and Tova Gaster!

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Sorry Boomers: in Seattle at least, you’ve pretty much lost the “War on Christmas.” While in the days of yore, our monthly theme for December might have been limited to Christmas, we at TeenTix respect cultural and religious diversity—so our reviews this month will simply be getting Festive (whatever that means to you).

MOHAI’s new exhibit, Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, displays the rich history of the Indian American community in the PNW and throughout the country. Through video, audio, and photographs, learn about the underrepresented history of one of America’s largest immigrant groups.

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The Importance of Tradition for a New Generation

Review of Sugar Skull: A Día de Los Muertos Musical Adventure at Tacoma Arts Live.

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Mila Borowski and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson.

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The first hint of the show were the silhouettes of the band members entering the back corner of the stage, nimbly tucking themselves into the arrangement of musical instruments already set up. The house lights dimmed and the stage lights faded on, lighting up the fanciful skeleton makeup that adorned the faces of the band and every cast member. Excitement already began to bubble up amidst the audience members, from elementary school kids to older adults. All have gathered to celebrate the Day of the Dead through the show Sugar Skull! A Día de los Muertos Musical Adventure at Tacoma Arts Live; a story described by Peter Bogdanos, the show’s producer, as “perfectly fitting for a varied audience.”

The play began by introducing us to Sugar Skull, a skeleton made of sugar with a captivating and energetic personality who watched along with the rest of us as the second protagonist, Vita Flores, wandered on stage, very much caught up in the music playing from her headphones. She halfheartedly rummaged with an odd photo or two upon the ofrenda (an altar set up for deceased relatives) before muttering about the absurdity of a display for the dead. This triggered a conflict between the apathetic teen and Sugar Skull, who, in his opening remarks, expressed admiration for the tradition.

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An Over Decent Play Called Indecent

Review of Indecent at Seattle Rep.

Written by Franklin High School student, Tommy Trenh.

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As the warm air began to fill with a cold breeze, the drops of rain hit the wooden floorboards. The dull and dark lighting began to lighten up as the lights reflected through the raindrops to create a glistening effect. These were the characteristics of a play called Indecent, where a group of Jewish actors travel through America and Europe during the early 20th century to spread the works of a writer named Sholem Asch and his play God of Vengeance which featured a love between two women which did not end so well. The play was an overall great experience, with how realistic the scenes were and the story that was being shared about a group of Jewish people before, during, and after World War II.

Indecent had many moments where the stage became very realistic and felt like a 3D movie. One moment that stood out was at the end when Rifkele dances with Manke and rain starts to drop down on the stage. When real rain started to pour down from the ceiling, it began to feel colder and made it feel as if I was in the scene with the actors as well. It made the anticipation for this rain dance scene even more exhilarating as lots of people had been waiting for this scene throughout the play. Another scene that had an impact was when the actors were reenacting God of Vengeance near the end for a small crowd. In the middle of a scene being acted out, tremendous bombs were dropping down and the vibration could be felt throughout the entire theatre. With feelings of fear and tension left from the bombs, it became more suspenseful as the audience did not know what to anticipate from the next scenes. This also connects to how Jewish people had to live in constant fear of being targeted and killed at any time in World War II.

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Finding Balance

Review of Indecent at Seattle Rep.

Written by Franklin High School student, Savannah Blackwell.

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*Please note, this review includes spoilers

A show that beautifully demonstrates how Jews (and all people, really) are multidimensional, individual, human beings. Indecent, by Paula Vogel and directed by Sheila Daniels (with the Seattle Rep), weaves the complexities of one’s identity in a powerful hour and forty-five-minute show. Indecent is a play within a play. It follows the playwright, Sholem Asch, and his actors’ process in performing the controversial play, God of Vengeance. In the show, props, light, words, projection, and music come together to create a full and complete story. It was a privilege to witness their interpretation of intersectionalities all humans carry and the commonalities of them with others. We see two lesbian Jews, a playwright with “taboo” ideas, and a Black Jew all in one show. These are identities we rarely see, but they’re very real.

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