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Posts tagged: plays

‘Much Ado’ about quality

I caught the Spokane Shakespeare Company's free production of “Much Ado About Nothing” on the lawn at Gonzaga Prep and I was astonished at how good it was.

This cast — mostly college-age or just a little beyond — brought this comedy to life. They did the three things required to turn Shakespeare from a mere recitation into a lively, engaging work of theater:

  • The cast, without exception, had great enunciation and projection.
  • They had fun with Shakespeare's language, delivering the juiciest phrases with evident relish.
  • They accompanied nearly every line with some kind of visual cue or comic business, which made it easier for us to grasp the meaning. It also, not coincidentally,  made the show funnier.

The credit for this must go to director Kevin Connell, who was endlessly inventive in helping his actors “suit the action to the word and the word to the action.”

The run is over for the summer. Here's hoping they're back next year. 

Brush up your Shakespeare

We have plenty of Shakespeare in the region this month, including:

  • “Much Ado About Nothing,” on the lawn at Gonzaga Prep, 1224 E. Euclid Ave., weekends through Aug. 21 – The Spokane Shakespeare Company, under the direction of Kevin Connell, continues its run of this sprightly comedy over the next two weekends (Fridays and Saturdays at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.). Admission is free, and no reservations are required; donations will be accepted. Bring your own food and other refreshments and maybe a blanket. Seating is on the grass. The Spokane Shakespeare Company includes a number of area college actors and local theater veterans.
  • The Shakespeare Walla Walla Summer Festival, through Aug. 14 – This new festival is doing  “The Comedy of Errors” and “Swansong” (which is by Patrick Page but is about Shakespeare) – at two venues. “Swansong” runs through Aug. 14 at the newly renovated Power House Theatre, 111 6th St. (at Rose Street) in downtown Walla Walla, and is performed by Shakespeare Walla Walla.The two Shakespeare plays will be performed by the Seattle Shakespeare Company at the Fort Walla Walla Amphitheatre, 757 Myra Road. You’ve already missed out on “Macbeth,” since the last performance was Sunday, but “The Comedy of Errors” runs Wednesday through Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. For tickets and details go here. By the way, playwright Page, who won the American Theater Critics Association award for Best New Play for “Swansong,” is a Whitman College grad.
  • Montana Shakespeare in the Parks – This annual free tour, which covers Montana all summer, will sneak into our region for a couple of performances of “Much Ado About Nothing.” The show will be at the Heron, Mont., Ballfield on Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. (Mountain Time) and at Liberty Lake’s Pavillion Park on Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. Yes, Montana Shakespeare does sneak into Washington occasionally.

An outdoor ‘Much Ado’ at G-Prep

Free Shakespeare will return to the lawn on the Gonzaga Prep campus, with “Much Ado About Nothing,” Aug. 5-21. This follows a successful “Taming of the Shrew” in 2009.

Director and creative force Kevin Connell (also known as the G-Prep principal) said this year's production will be a little different: Three more performances have been added and most shows will be in early evening (6 p.m.) instead of in the afternoon. Seating is on the grass, so blankets and lawn chairs are a good idea.

Here's the complete info, from Connell's press release:

The Spokane Shakespeare Company will present Much Ado About Nothing, one of Shakespeare’s most popular romantic comedies, on the first three weekends of August outdoors on the campus of Gonzaga Preparatory School.  Much Ado tells the story of the “merry war” between Shakespeare’s wittiest lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, as they employ every verbal weapon at their command to resist the irresistible attraction that everyone but themselves can see pulling them together.  The production will be staged in the days after WWII as men return home from battle and women refuse to surrender the independence their war-time responsibilities have won them.  The cast features actors from EWU, GU, and SFCC along with several popular local theater veterans and is directed by Kevin Connell, S.J. of GU’s Theatre Arts Program and the principal of Gonzaga Prep.  Performances will take place Friday through Sunday, August 5-7, 12-14, and 19-21.  Friday and Saturday shows will begin at 6 p.m. and Sunday shows at 3 p.m.  The performance runs 90 minutes and is suitable for all ages.  Seating is on the grass and patrons are encouraged to bring their own food and refreshments.  Admission is by donation and reservations will not be taken. For more information call 509-994-2788 or consult Spokane Shakespeare Company on Facebook.

Spokane’s Sophia, in the NY Times

Spokane's Sophia Caruso, 9, pictured here in rehearsals for “The Miracle Worker” at Interplayers Professional Theatre, was in the pages of the NY Times on Monday. She was one of thousands of little girls auditioning for a new production of “Annie” in New York. Here's the link to the story.

She made it through the first call-back, and has been asked to return for a second call-back, which is already a victory. She still has a lot of competition, as you can see from the interactive feature the NY Times did on 43 other girls (not Sophia) who were auditioning.

 Sophia  played Helen Keller in the “The Miracle Worker” this spring.  She's loaded with talent and moxie.

Go get 'em, kid.

Shakespeare’s Globe, coming to a screen near you

Can’t afford the trip to London to see Shakespeare performed in the best of all possible venues, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre?

Catch it right here on the big screen, at the Northtown 12 Cinemas, 4750 N. Division St.

The same company that has been bringing the Metropolitan Opera to local theaters has announced a new series, filmed last year at the Globe and broadcast digitally to 260 movie theaters around the country.

Here’s the lineup:

“The Merry Wives of Windsor” – June 27.

“Henry IV, Part 1” – Aug. 1.

“Henry IV, Part 2” – Aug. 18.

“Henry VIII” – Sept. 15.

All shows are at 7 p.m., and each showing includes a 20-minute historical feature on the Globe, the modern replica of Shakespeare’s original theater. Tickets will be $15, available at the theater box office, or here.

Robert Cray, John Prine booked into Spokane

Two new shows to report:

  • The Robert Cray Band, an old favorite among Spokane blues aficionados, will play the Knitting Factory Concert House on July 2, 8:30 p.m. Cray was a fixture in Spokane clubs before he broke out and became an international star. Tickets will be $25 general admission in advance, on sale Friday through Ticketfly outlets, or $27.50 at the door, day of show.
  • John Prine, one of America's premier singer-songwriters, will play the Bing Crosby Theater, on Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $53.50, on sale Friday through TicketsWest.

Your best options for ‘Wicked’ good tix

Here are the “Wicked” performances in Spokane that have the best ticket availability:  May 18, 7:30 p.m., May 19, 2 p.m., May 24, 7:30p.m.,  May 25, 7:30 p.m., and  May 29,, 1 p.m..

Many of the other “Wicked” performances are already sold out and  many others have only a few tickets left. So if you want to catch “Wicked” at the INB Performing Arts Center (and it appears that 40,000 people will), you might want to start with the above dates.

Go to the Ticketswest site for tickets.

‘Michael Jackson Immortal’ tribute adds second show

A second show has been added to “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” at the Spokane Arena on Nov. 13, 4 p.m.

The original show was scheduled on Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. and it has evidently sold well enough to justify another date. This is a Jackson tribute and celebration, presented by Cirque du Soleil.

Tickets to the second show range from $50 to $250, on sale Monday at noon through TicketsWest.

‘Spamalot’ comes to Spokanalot

I  taunt you not — “Monty Python's Spamalot” is returning to the INB Performing Arts Center for a one-night-only performance on Nov. 11.

This will be an add-on show to the Best of Broadway series, announced earlier. Subscribers can now add it on to their ticket package. Individual tickets will go on sale at a later date, to be announced.

This show, based on the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” did a week long run in Spokane in 2009. It was, without a doubt, the funniest musical I'd ever seen.

‘Poppins’ and ‘Frankenstein’ booked for Best of Broadway

The 2011-2012 Best of Broadway season will feature the Chairman of the Board, an English nanny and a guy with a bolt in his neck.

Here’s the lineup of touring shows for next season, announced Thursday by WestCoast Entertainment.

“Come Fly With Me,” Nov. 17-20 – The Frank Sinatra musical revue, with choreography by Twyla Tharp.

“Young Frankenstein,” Dec. 15-18 – The musical version of the great Mel Brooks movie comedy.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” Jan. 26-29 – One of the most popular and successful stage adaptations of a Disney animated film.”

“In the Heights,” April 12-15 – The 2008 Tony-winner for Best Musical, filled with the music and dance of New York’s Dominican community.

“Mary Poppins,” June 12-17, 2012 – The popular stage version of the classic Disney musical film about a magical governess and her charges.

WestCoast Entertainment also announced a few “specials” – shows that are not part of the regular subscription package, but can be added on: “Defending the Caveman,” Oct. 8; “The Official Blues Brothers Revue,” Nov. 13; The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Jan. 14; and the “New Shanghai Circus,” Feb. 18.

Season tickets are now on sale through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, Individual on-sale dates will be announced later.  All shows will be at the INB Performing Arts Center.

“Spelling Bee” sold out

This just in: The entire run of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at the Spokane Civic Theatre is already sold out.

That includes the two extra Saturday matinees that had already been added on to the regular run, which ends Feb. 20.

This is no big surprise, since (1) The show is in the small Studio Theatre space that seats less than 100 and (2) It's a hoot of a show that is getting great word of mouth.

The Civic may be wondering if it should have run upstairs on the much-larger-capacity Main Stage, yet the intimate setting is one of the reasons the show works so well.

You may be able to catch a cut-down version of the show in March. The Civic plans on making this show its competition show for the 2011 Kaleidoscope Festival — which will be hosted by Civic March 11-13.

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