Lose yourself in ‘Yonkers’ fine performances

January 26, 2010

Jennifer Lee Taylor (center) and Suzy Hunt enact the climactic confrontation between Aunt Bella and Grandma Kurnitz, as (from left) Mike Dooley, Nick Robinson, Collin Morris and Karen Skrinde, as Uncle Louie, Arty, Jay and Gert, look on in a scene from ‘Lost in Yonkers.’ By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

Silently, Arty and Jay Kurnitz wait in their grandmother’s living room. They question why they’ve come so far to see a woman they barely know and they plot their escape.

But leaving isn’t on the agenda.

What unfolds onstage in the next two and a half hours is nothing short of dramatic perfection and well-timed comedic relief, provided by a talented cast who embrace the irony of one of Neil Simon’s best-known plays — “Lost in Yonkers.”

Typically, reviewers find time to take light notes in the margins of their program during a play, but “Lost in Yonkers” proved so captivating that it didn’t happen this time.

Comfortable suspense — if there is such a thing — kept everyone in the audience waiting for the next character to unravel.

As the son’s broken father, Eddie, played by Bradford Farwell, tries to heal himself and the family bank account after his wife’s death, the boys are faced with the realities of adulthood.

The touching coming-of-age story is marked by realism, not simplicity or comfort. Rather, the two boys — Jay, played by Collin Morris, and Arty, played by Nick Robinson — learn no matter how simple they may seem, familial relationships are messy, complex and laden with history. Read more

Village Theatre presents a bold, fresh ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’

November 17, 2009

Clockwise from left, Ryah Nixon (Esther Smith), John David Scott (Lon Smith Jr.), Katie Griffith (Agnes Smith), Analiese Emerson Guettinger (Tootie Smith) and Bryan Tramontana (Rose Smith) share a scene together in Village Theatre’s production of ‘Meet Me in St. Louis.’ By Jay Koh/property of

Clockwise from left, Ryah Nixon (Esther Smith), John David Scott (Lon Smith Jr.), Katie Griffith (Agnes Smith), Analiese Emerson Guettinger (Tootie Smith) and Bryan Tramontana (Rose Smith) share a scene together in Village Theatre’s production of ‘Meet Me in St. Louis.’ By Jay Koh/property of

“Thump, thump, thump, went my heartstrings” as Village Theatre’s energetic holiday cast of “Meet Me In St. Louis” gave audiences the musical equivalent of perfection wrapped under the Christmas tree.

Drenched in dazzling lace and lush velvet dresses, women twirled about by men clad in seersucker and linen suits and a rich wood-paneled Victorian home, set close to the stage’s edge, sucked me inside the Smith family’s 1904 St. Louis home.

Scene three was barely over and I was hooked.

The show’s details are what recreate a feeling of a simpler life and time, but it’s the incredibly well-selected cast and ensemble of 26 that makes this show shine and stand apart from a beloved film, familiar to so many.

With a fresh face and bold vocals, 22-year-old Ryah Nixon returns to Village Theatre in the role of Esther Smith. Her last role at the theater was as Princess Amneris in “Aida” during the 2007-2008 season.

Reprising one of Judy Garland’s most well-known roles, Nixon’s high energy electrifies the stage and her portrayal of Smith, a young woman struck by love, is spot on and full of youth’s innocent exuberance. Read more

Hijinks, hilarity ensue in ‘Chasing Nicolette’

September 22, 2009

Kate Jaeger (Nun), Tanesha Ross (Nicolette), Nick DeSantis (Valere) and Matthew Kacergis (Aucassin) star in Village Theatre’s production of ‘Chasing Nicolette.’ By by Jay Koh/Property of Village Theatre

Kate Jaeger (Nun), Tanesha Ross (Nicolette), Nick DeSantis (Valere) and Matthew Kacergis (Aucassin) star in Village Theatre’s production of ‘Chasing Nicolette.’ By by Jay Koh/Property of Village Theatre

How do you spell fun? C-H-A-S-I-N-G N-I-C-O-L-E-T-T-E.

That’s Village Theatre’s production of “Chasing Nicolette,” playing now on the local mainstage until Oct. 25.

Or maybe it’s N-I-C-K D-E-S-A-N-T-I-S.

That’s Nick DeSantis, the actor who plays Valere and nearly steals the show with his hilarity, hijinks and outrageousness.

You honestly may never see anyone funnier on a stage.

But every cast member is great and you’ll find yourself enjoying the particular vocal and comedic talents of each and every one. The voice of Timothy McCuen Piggee (playing King) is especially deep and sultry.

The silliness begins in the first scene with the musical’s 10 characters singing about life in the year 1224. It continues throughout the production, never really letting up. Read more

10 things to love about ‘Show Boat’

May 19, 2009

 Richard Todd Adams (Gaylord Ravenal) and Megan Chenovick (Magnolia Hawks) sing  ‘I Have the Room Above Her.’ by Jay Koh/Village Theatre

Richard Todd Adams (Gaylord Ravenal) and Megan Chenovick (Magnolia Hawks) sing ‘I Have the Room Above Her.’ by Jay Koh/Village Theatre

If you’re in the habit of popping gum or a mint into your mouth at shows at Village Theatre, make sure you’re done with it before Cap’n Andy launches into finishing his play on “Showboat.” Otherwise, you might swallow it.

Larry Albert, who plays Andy, literally had people slapping their legs and howling with laughter as he acted several parts of the play, which gets interrupted by a gunshot from a member of the audience of the play within this delightful musical.

And because it’s hard to review a play without spoiling it for those who still wish to see it, (and those who know the story will likely reach different conclusions than those who don’t) this will instead give you a list, in no certain order, of other things to love about the musical, which runs until July 3:

-The sultry, smoky voice of Cayman Ilika, who plays Julie LaVerne. She can make you feel heartbreak deep in your soul.

-The equally smoky, but even deeper reaching voice of Ekello Harrid Jr., who plays Joe. You’ve never heard “Ol’ Man River” like this before. Read more

‘Stunt Girl’ is great fun — that’s the headline!

March 23, 2009

If you think you’ve seen the best musical Village Theatre has to offer, you better think again. Read more

‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ a sumptuous delight

January 26, 2009

In a scene featuring most of the cast of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ are (from left) Jason Collins (Algernon Moncrieff), Paul Morgan Stetler (John ‘Jack’ Worthing), Angela DiMarco (Cecily Cardew), Jennifer Lee Taylor (Gwendolen Fairfax) and Laura Kenny (Lady Bracknell). By Jay Koh/Property of Village Theatre

In a scene featuring most of the cast of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ are (from left) Jason Collins (Algernon Moncrieff), Paul Morgan Stetler (John ‘Jack’ Worthing), Angela DiMarco (Cecily Cardew), Jennifer Lee Taylor (Gwendolen Fairfax) and Laura Kenny (Lady Bracknell). By Jay Koh/Property of Village Theatre

Sumptuous. Delightful. Exquisite. Decadent.

That’s the sets, the dresses, the cast and the lines.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” is deeply shallow and shallowly deep. And that makes it a lot of fun.

But this isn’t a musical. There’s no singing and there’s no dancing. If you go, you’re going to have to work for this one.

But “Earnest” is totally worth it, so pay close attention.

There are three acts, not two. So, when the first interval happens, it’s a surprise that left many people wondering, how can it already be halfway through? Also, those two intervals are not very long, which is amazing, because that’s when the crew changes the sets. 

A city house becomes a country garden becomes the inside of the country home in nothing flat. And all three of those places are gorgeous in their simplicity. Read more

‘Nutcracker’ fills the season with wonderment

December 8, 2008

Pacific Northwest Ballet Co. dancers and PNB School students in ‘Nutcracker.’ Photo by Angela Sterling.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Co. dancers and PNB School students in ‘Nutcracker.’ Photo by Angela Sterling.

Whether you’re an annual viewer, an occasional ticket holder or a newcomer, young or old, the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker” is a feast of wonderment for the eyes and ears. 

This year’s 25th anniversary production is no exception. McCaw Hall itself drips with holiday magic and the possibility that makes this season so bright. 

But it’s truly the performers who bring “Nutcracker” to life.It’s hard not to feel wonderment as the rich costumes and sets fill the stage and as Clara’s dreams transport her to other worlds. 

It’s a timeless story created by PNB Founding Artistic Director Kent Stowell and world-famous children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (“Where the Wild Things Are”) that will have Seattle’s “Nutcracker” celebrating its 1,000 performance Christmas Eve. Read more

Come be enchanted by ‘Beauty and the Beast’

November 18, 2008

It doesn’t matter if you love the story from your childhood, barely remember it or only recall the 1980s’ television series (starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton), you shouldn’t miss Village Theatre’s latest creation, “Beauty and the Beast.”

The Beast, Eric Polani Jensen, laments that he will not get Belle or anyone else to fall in love with him before a magic spell condemns him to remaining a beast forever. By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

The Beast, Eric Polani Jensen, laments that he will not get Belle or anyone else to fall in love with him before a magic spell condemns him to remaining a beast forever. By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

Mesmerizing, enchanting, joyful — what a perfect choice for this year’s holiday production!

Jennifer Paz is an exciting and fun Belle. She brings a strong voice, abundant emotion and lots of spunk to this traditional story about love and seeing people for who they are on the inside.

Maurice (John X. Deveney) gives a touching performance as her sweet and loving father.

And there’s nothing more heart wrenching than a broken Beast (Eric Polani Jensen) as he falls to his knees, choking out the words of “If I Can’t Love Her” at the end of Act 1. Bring a hankie for this number.But the name of this play should be changed to “Lumiere and the Beast’s Other Wonderful Inanimate Objects,” because they truly steal the show.

Read more

‘Saint Heaven’ is an innovative, inspiring musical

September 23, 2008

Allan Snyder (left) stars as Thom Rivers and Tanesha Ross portrays Eshie Willington.

Allan Snyder (left) stars as Thom Rivers and Tanesha Ross portrays Eshie Willington.

Village Theatre’s “Saint Heaven” goes to the past and comes up with a soul-stirring new musical that will leave you wanting to hear more. 

Set in the fictional, rundown mining town of Saint Heaven, Ky., during the 1950s, the musical tests its characters’ strength of faith as they sit on the cusp of drastic changes relating to medicine, religion and interracial relationships in American society. 

Its main character, Thomas Rivers, played by Allan Snyder, returns to what he perceives as his backward hometown after his father, Thomas Rivers Sr., the town’s doctor, dies unexpectedly.

Rivers returns to shut down his father’s practice and leave. But his childhood friends and a passionate young woman, Eshie Willington, played by Tanesha Ross, have more in store for him.

Willington’s passion and misunderstood “gift,” which is actually epilepsy, is the driving force prolonging Rivers’ stay.

Snyder excels in his role as both a hero and villain as he confronts his jaded memory of his father and the demons he thought he Read more

« Previous Page