Welcome to the Jungle

​Review of Bethany at ACT by Kally Patz

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Bethany documents a jungle. It’s setting in suburban America may seem sterile. Those who live in it slick back their hair and put on suits. They follow its rules and rarely stray from protocol. They do and say the “right” things. They’re always courteous, always civilized.

But beneath the niceties and small talk, the intention of the jungle—the savage relationship between predator and prey—is very much alive. It’s easy to get lost in the chaos of economic free fall. And those who don’t make the sale, who don’t pry open the door, are liable to slip through the cracks.

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Breaking Down the Walls of Beauty

​Review of Impenetrable by SIS Productions

Do you think of yourself as beautiful? Whatever the answer may be, it’s more than likely you’ve been exposed to external forces that have shaped the way you perceive yourself and others that fall within certain standards of beauty. One powerful external force is the mammoth-like monster of the media sending the recurring message of the objectification of women’s bodies.

Impenetrable by Mia McCullough full-frontally deals with issues regarding the objectification of women in the media, beauty, religion, relationships, and rape culture in a compelling way. By engaging the audience through a narrative that involves sensitive topics, the show challenges the ideals entrenched in society that tend to value women for their outward appearance.

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Tiptoeing Through Delicate Illusions

​Review of The Suit at Seattle Repertory Theatre by Kally Patz

The Suit

Painted in primary reds, yellows, greens, and blues, the dozen chairs that make up the majority of The Suit’s set are unrealistically simple, impossibly bright. They’re the sort of chairs a child would draw for stick figures in a two-dimensional house, shallow and cheery.

The chairs are fitting for the home of Philomen (Ivanno Jeremiah) and his wife, Matilda (Nonhlanhla Khewsa). The two tiptoe around the delicate illusion they’ve weaved together. Playing house, they eat from an invisible tray, bathe in an invisible shower, and turn an invisible faucet. They pretend not to notice that two chairs make their bed, that a bare clothing rack serves as a wall. Philomen narrates his life in Sophiatown as if reading from a storybook approaching its happily-ever-after, as if he’s beyond the trials of South Africa’s apartheid and marriage’s pitfalls.

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Everything Your Secret, Greasy Heart Desires

​Review of Little Shop of Horrors at ACT in Collaboration with 5th Avenue Theatre by Maddie May

Little Shop Of Horrors

There’s a spaceship in the rafters.

At least, it looks like one. It’s white and ovate with jagged, tooth-like pieces of metal, conspicuously dangling among the stage lights overhead. I spent fifteen minutes wondering how an alien encounter could possibly fit into my painstaking research on the musical, the entire half paragraph of a Wikipedia synopsis that I skimmed beforehand. Then the house lights went dark, the twisted, purple wall onstage split wide open and a soulful trio of Skid Row Supremes (Nicole Rashida Prothro, Alexandria Henderson, Naomi Morgan) launched into the opening number. From that point forward, I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the stage.

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Breaking the Mold of Old, White Males

​Review of Third at ArtsWest

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Breaking the mold of old, white males pontificating on the meaning and beauty of the Bard, Professor Laurie Jameson is a feminist, anti-hegemonic force of progressive thought — or so she thinks. Seemingly unaware that her life of tolerance has instead made her intolerant, Laurie (played by Marty Mukhalian) must re-evaluate her beliefs and behaviors when they’re called into question.

In the midst of her mid-life crisis, the professor’s story may seem like one for an older crowd, but Third succeeds in being relatable to all. Whether it’s Laurie’s teenage daughter, her senile father, or the titular character, Third, everyone in this play is questioning their habits and ingrained beliefs — doubtlessly, much like everyone in the audience has had to do at some point.

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Best Show Ever IN ALL CAPS!!1!

​Review of Worst Trip Ever IN ALL CAPS!!1! at Jet City Improv by Joelle K.

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OK, so maybe it’s not the best show ever, but Worst Trip Ever IN ALL CAPS!!1! is certainly a fun and worthwhile way to spend your evening. This improvised show at Jet City Improv asks the audience to pick a place (anywhere in the world) and a category (attractions, restaurants, hotels, etc.), and then proceeds to find some of the worst reviews on TripAdvisor.com with these criteria.

Part of the fun of the show is hearing the actual reviews of bad experiences people post on TripAdvisor.com and the scenarios that ultimately led to the author’s urgent need to share such an experience online in the first place. From a covert mission in a museum in New Zealand to a strange gift of corn at a cathedral in Spain, the actors have the audience jet-setting around the globe with laughter as they experience the various misadventures that could have produced such terrible reviews.

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Poof, A Live Puppet!

​Review of Pinocchio at Seattle Children's Theatre by Kajmere H.

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I had the opportunity to visit Seattle Children’s Theatre and watch the newest adaptation of Pinocchio — and a new adaptation it was. The theater is known for it's well-acted plays for children and families. Having had the chance to enjoy several alongside my own family, I was excited to see what they would pull off this time.

As the story goes, Gepetto, a poor woodworker, makes a puppet from said wood and calls it Pinocchio. All Gepetto wants is for his puppet to be alive, to be the son he never had, you know the story. And in a short time that’s just what happens — poof, a live puppet! But what I apparently missed was that there was no magic, no fairy, nothing.

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The Beauty of Friendship

​Review of Steel Magnolias at Edmonds Driftwood Players by Ivy R.

Get a taste of Southern hospitality by joining six women as they embark on a moving journey in Edmonds Driftwood Player’s newest production, Steel Magnolias. Each woman in this production comes with her own unique sass, flair, and outlook on life as they come together in Truvy’s home beauty salon. With secrets bigger than the hair seen in this show, get to know the gossip around town and get a first-hand look into these abstract women’s monumental life moments and the emotions that follow. Shelby, an ambitious Southern belle brings the group closer as she sets off the story on her wedding day when we slowly uncover Shelby’s medical secret, a potentially deadly one. It is Shelby’s constant drive and ambition that inspires and strengthens the group to journey out of their comfort zone and come into their own during the process. Whether you’re out on a girls night, mother-daughter date, or just looking for a quality story, join Shelby, Clairee, Truvy, Annelle, Ouiser, and M’Lynn through weddings, divorce, births, funerals. This touching performance reveals the beauty of friendship, through both prosperity and hardship.

Steel Magnolias Edmonds Driftwood Players February 14 - March 2

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More Than a Tall, Green Monster With Bolts Through His Neck

​Review of Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus at Book-It Repertory Theatre

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When most people think of Frankenstein, they think of a tall, green monster with bolts through his neck. However, Book-It Repertory Theatre creates a performance that goes beyond that. Director David Quicksall, who also directed Moby Dick and Dracula, puts together a performance well-worth its iconic source material, creating a spooky yet enticing tale of life and death — and what that means. The classic story of Victor Frankenstein (Connor Toms) is known world-wide: A mad scientist, obsessed with blurring the lines between life and death, creates a monster (Jim Hamerlinck), which proceeds to wreak havoc on his life, tearing apart his family and everything he knows. Fans of the novel will likely enjoy this show, due to the fact that the show’s dialogue is made up entirely of direct quotes and lines of narration from the original Mary Shelley novel. Book-It has a very unique style of theater in which all of the spoken words are taken directly from a literary text. Instead of doing an injustice to the horror feel of the show, once the viewer has gotten used to the style, the narration often doesn’t feel out of place or strained. It’s able to add background and emotion to the characters without feeling cheesy. The sets and lighting are beautifully done, staying very simplistic while adding to the creepy feel of the play. Toms’ Victor Frankenstein strikes the perfect balance of being likeable yet absolutely insane. The actors are able to make the audience laugh with an over-dramatic childhood sword fight, squirm while Dr. Frankenstein chops the arm off of a body, and stay on the edge of their seats until the very end of the performance, when the haunting final visual will stick with you long after you go home for the night.

Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus Book-It Repertory Theatre February 12- March 9

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Bringing Broadway to Seattle

​Review of Monty Python's Spamalot at 5th Avenue Theatre by Degraceful

Spamalot

5th Avenue Theatre is currently putting on a spectacular rendition of Monty Python’s Spamalot. And after that, it will be done again with their high school-aged students (Go support teens in the arts too!).

Spamalot, written by Eric Idle, is a goofy spoof of the famous movie, Monty Python and The Holy Grail. Even if you’ve never seen Monty Python and The Holy Grail, this spoof is witty, hilarious, and performed amazingly by the 5th Avenue cast. In Spamalot, after King Arthur gathers troops for his round table — well, gambling table — he and his knights are sent by God on an absurd adventure to find the Holy Grail.

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Weird of the Week!

​The Room Nobody Knows at On the Boards

This weekend, On the Boards offers a theater experience unlike any other — one that involves a miniature set, pig faces, and giant phalluses. Directed by a psychiatrist who has decided to leave his practice to become an artist, The Room Nobody Knows promises to be a show unlike any your own mind could imagine. It has been described as experimental, surreal, psycho-erotic, and bizarre. So if you're up for something a little outside the norm, check it out.

Though the show is technically sold out, On the Boards is offering a waitlist exclusive to TeenTix users for the following performances: Feb. 6, 8:00 p.m. Feb. 7, 8:00 p.m. Feb. 8, 8:00 p.m.

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Not One-sided, Black and White, or Villains and Heroes

​Review of A Great Wilderness at Seattle Repertory Theatre by Anika

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A Great Wilderness tells the story of Walt, played by Michael Winters, who has spent his life counseling young boys out of their homosexuality at a remote summer camp in the woods. Walt is aging, and he is taking one last boy before moving into an assisted living home. This last boy, played by Jack Taylor, disappears, influencing the events that transpire during the rest of the show. This play features questions of aging, religion, and self-acceptance.

From the moment you walk into the theater, you are transported to a cabin in the woods. The set is so beautifully designed, with an amazing number of intricacies, that it is hard to pull yourself out of the play. The team at Seattle Repertory Theatre put good work into ensuring that the show was everything that it could be aesthetically. Furthermore, this is a beautiful, extremely well-cast play. Every single actor seems to have a deep understanding of their character, and the work put into making the show believable and compelling is apparent throughout. Normally, I am kind of put off by an excessive amount of overly-dramatic moments (e.g., frequent crying and deep conversations) because I believe they can get old fast and can make the important moments less striking, but I found that the drama was done so well in this show that I wasn’t bothered by the number of head-in-hands, let’s-talk-about-death moments. The cast is truly all-star, and I think that this group of actors could carry almost anything and do it well, but the writing is so good it could stand on its own as well. Playwright Samuel D. Hunter has written complex characters who are all but dull. I walked into this show expecting to see the story of a fanatic, hard-to-empathize-with, hyper-religious man whose entire life is dedicated to torturing away homosexuality. I imagined that this man would come to realize his wrong-doings with the help of a charismatic, intelligent young boy. This was not the case. Hunter writes characters who reject any and all stereotypes. They are not one-sided, black and white, or villains and heroes. I felt deeply for each character, and I came to understand each of their situations. This show does not feel like an attack on any belief system or group, nor did it seem to present an obvious moral. Rather it presents the audience with a question that is up to us to answer. I highly recommend A Great Wilderness to anyone. I think that it serves as a good catalyst for conversation and is truly one of the most thought-provoking theater experiences that I’ve had in a while. Every element of the show stands out — from the set to the actors to the writing — so please, go and see all three.

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Why Do I Feel Like Everybody is Getting Great Jobs and I Am Just Sitting Here Eating a Taco?

​Review of American Wee-Pie at Seattle Public Theater by Tracy Montes

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Have you ever thought of trying Oaxacan mole flavored cupcakes? Or savory wasabi cupcakes with framboise? American Wee-Pie invites you to discover the wonderful possibilities in life when you open up to new things, opportunities, and flavors.

Lisa Dillman’s American Wee-Pie takes place in a “dead end” town as Zed (Evan Whitfield) returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of his mother. As a middle-aged adult, Zed’s life is at the pinnacle of dreariness, with a sprinkle of despair. He is a textbook editor who seems tired all the time. As the play unfolds, little by little Zed learns to open up to new possibilities that will ultimately change his life.

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A Laugh-filled Time, Completely Worth the Hurt the Next Morning

​Review of Upside Downton at Jet City Improv by Griffin Scott-Rifer

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Let me start off by saying that I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey. I love all of the drama, romance, and, of course, the beautiful costumes. Jet City Improv’s new improvised take on the show, entitled Upside Downton, has all of these plus hilarious mockery of the show I love.

I know that Downton Abbey is over-the-top dramatic, and Jet City’s take on it made me laugh at that fact. I loved Molly Arkin’s hilarious turn as Lady Eleanor, a Lady Mary-esque countess who won’t reveal who the father of her unborn child is because she was too drunk to remember.

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14 plays in 48 hours? Hell ya.

​Review of 14/48: The World's Quickest Theater Festival by Alden Nagel

14/48: The World's Quickest Theater Festival is a 48-hour festival in which 14 plays are written, cast, directed, rehearsed, scored, designed, and premiered all within those two days. The 14/48 Festival at ACT is renowned for its ability to produce a plethora of plays at a breakneck speed, being able to produce them quite well, and put on a great show all the while.

And last weekend — the first of two making up the entire festival — 14/48 did exactly that! The plays, each unique to the nights they were performed, were all very energetic, if not in movement, then in emotion and thematic progress. And they were all very well played-out, more or less. The 14 shows, as a whole, were a solid mix of both comedy and drama. Some were written better than others, I have to admit, but both nights began and ended well, that’s for sure.

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A Zany, Crazy, Unfettered Opera

​Review of Jerry Springer: The Opera by Balagan Theatre by Mobird

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“Want it to be just like old times, with baby Jesus by my side, I want my old wings back as well, wanna get out of this dump called Hell, but first and most importantly, I want a f-ing apology!” So says Satan in this zany, crazy, unfettered opera in which Jerry Springer — of the famously raucous talk show — has a day that is, quite literally, hell. The poor man has to deal with a crazily obsessed warm-up man, guests who act completely insane, and a very annoying inner Valkyrie. That's enough to send anyone over the edge!

However, after dealing with a bisexual man who is cheating on the woman he is cheating on his fiancée with, a man who wants to be his baby's baby, and a red-neck who is part of the tap-dancing Ku Klux Klan, Jerry doesn’t get to just go home and sleep. The Prince of Darkness recruits Jerry to put on a special show for him after our host is shot in order to get an apology from Jesus. Now, there are two rules he gives Jerry: 1) read the cue cards and 2) get that apology. If Jerry doesn’t get the Devil the apology, he will have barbed wire shoved into the most unsavory of places. The Devil really steals the show. Sean Nelson, formerly of Seattle indie-rock band Harvey Danger, plays the Prince of Darkness, and he has a simply phenomenal voice that brings tremendous power and, dare I say, sex appeal to his dastardly role. Costumed in a deep purple smoking jacket, he reminds us all that "everyone must go down" in the end. Between threatening Jerry with barbed wire and awkwardly slow-dancing with God, Nelson as Satan really captured my interest. His range is astounding, and his lung capacity stole my heart. I have rarely seen or heard someone with lungs like his, and that was enough of a treat for me that I'm going to go back to see Jerry Springer: The Opera a second time! Now, this isn’t a show for the novice theater-goer, or for the under-17 crowd. Nor is it a show you would take your conservative parents or your significant other’s family to. This is a show you go to so you can laugh at everyone, relax, cuss your heart out, and generally have a blast. I leave you with the final words of Jerry himself: “It’s been a hell of a day. I’ve learned that there are no absolutes of good and evil and we all live in a glorious state of flux. What can I say? You’re not looking at a dying man here… you’re looking at yourselves in a matter of months or years or whatever. And for better or worse, history defines us by what we do, and what we choose not to do. Hopefully, what will survive of us is love. So, until the next time, take care of yourselves and each other.”

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The King of History Plays

​Review of Richard II by Seattle Shakespeare Company by Bethany Boyd

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What’s the first play you think of when I say Shakespeare? One of the tragedies like Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth? Or one of the comedies, like A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing? Most likely, you don’t think of Richard II, a history play about the life and death of a king of England. Is that memorable yet? No? You’re right. If that was all there is to this play, I wouldn’t have much to say about it. But Seattle Shakespeare Company’s production of Richard II is one of the most moving Shakespearean plays I’ve ever seen. The poetic King Richard (played by George Mount) starts strong in his rule, but he slowly crumbles as the play progresses. The vulnerable ruler loses everything but earns the audience's attention with a final realization. Set in a classic time period with elaborate costumes, you don’t necessarily feel like you’re sitting through a history or that you’re learning something. Instead, it’s a moving drama with heroes, villains, and action. The set is a single throne that is moved, lit, and used dynamically throughout the play. The simplistic design of the chair with the lights is the perfect portrayal of the play. It’s a perfect piece to set the story around, as the crown and throne go hand-in-hand. As Richard falls from favor, he loses his place, and instead of sitting in the throne he lies, crumbled, before it. Even though I loved the entire production, you should know what you’re getting yourself into; it’s a two and a half hours long history play that is rarely performed. Though there are fights, sabotage, banishment, and even murder, you may find your focus wandering during some parts. If you’re looking for quick entertainment and drama, this may not be the best choice (maybe try The Bachelor). But if you’re up for an investment, you will find this production to be rewarding. Instead of a shallow plot and quick thrills, Richard II pulls you into the king’s story and his head. With poeticism and quick wit, this production is more than just a history play. It’s a masterpiece.

Richard II Seattle Shakespeare Company January 8-February 2

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Only an Inch

​Review of Hedwig and the Angry Inch by Balagan Theatre by Degraceful

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Have you ever seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show? If you have, and it didn’t scare you, then you’d probably enjoy seeing Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Moore Theatre (running for only 3 more days!).

Okay, I know all you’re thinking about right now is “What’s the angry inch?” But I can’t tell you. Not because it’s a big secret or anything — if you ask anyone else (particularly anyone from Jinkx Monsoon’s cult following), they’ll tell you immediately — I just can’t bring myself to type what it is.

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Chloe & Iman + ArtsWest

​TeenTix members Chloe and Iman describe their first trip to ArtsWest

All month long, we'll be sharing these videos of TeenTix members talking about memorable arts experiences, so check back often. Without the financial support of the families who use TeenTix, like yours, these kinds of experiences would be out of reach for most teens. We are working to raise $5,000 by December 31st.

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Everything We Love, Hate, Love to Hate, and Hate to Love About the Holidays

​Review of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and The Santaland Diaries at Seattle Public Theater

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There’s plenty of holiday cheer filling up the Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse this season. Between its two holiday performances, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and The Santaland Diaries, Seattle Public Theater meets all wintery needs.

A very family-oriented show, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever offers the lightheartedness and caring the holidays are meant to inspire. It’s a show about understanding, giving, and empathy — the essential qualities often forgotten amidst Christmas chaos.

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