High school students win 5th Avenue Theatre best acting awards

June 14, 2011

Tucker Goodman, a Liberty High School junior, accepts his award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a leading Role at the 5th Avenue Theatre’s annual awards June 6 honoring high school musical theater. By Sam Freeman/nwtnews

Two students from Liberty and Eastside Catholic high schools — junior Tucker Goodman and senior John Winslow — have landed the most prestigious acting awards of their young careers.

Liberty High School’s Goodman won Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role at The 5th Avenue Theatre’s annual awards honoring high school musical theater on June 6.

For the winning role, he played the Chairman of the Board for the Patriot Players’ performance of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” a musical based on an unfinished novel written by Charles Dickens.

This isn’t Goodman’s first nomination, although it is his first award from The 5th Avenue. In 2010, Goodman received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance as Cinderella’s prince in “Into the Woods”

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Students win acting awards from The 5th Avenue Theatre

June 7, 2011

NEW — 12:40 p.m. June 7, 2011

Two students from Liberty and Eastside Catholic high schools — junior Tucker Goodman and senior John Winslow — have landed the most prestigious acting awards of their young careers.

Liberty High School’s Goodman won Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role at The 5th Avenue Theatre’s annual awards honoring high school musical theater Monday.

For the winning role, he played the Chairman of the Board for the Patriot Players’ performance of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” a musical based on an unfinished novel written by Charles Dickens.

This isn’t Goodman’s first nomination, although it is his first award from The 5th. In 2010, Goodman received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance as a prince in “Into the Woods.”

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Patriot Players earn nominations for musical murder mystery

May 24, 2011

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” — a stage production based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished murder mystery — garnered Liberty High School performers a bevy of nominations in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s annual awards to honor high school musical theater.

The ladies of the opium den circle gather ’round the Princess Puffer, played by Senior Kelsey Canaga, during the Patriot Players’ musical ‘Drood’ at Liberty High School. By Mary Eck

The lush depiction of Victorian London garnered nods for Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Costume Design, Outstanding Program Design and Outstanding Performance by a Chorus. Performers Tucker Goodman, a junior, and Paige Fabre, a senior, also received acting nominations in the statewide competition.

The high school’s company, the Patriot Players, earned nominations in most major categories.

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” also earned the Patriot Players honorable mentions in the Outstanding Overall Musical Production and Outstanding Direction categories.

Liberty drama program director Katherine Klekas said the challenging musical required strong performers.

“We knew we had people to play some of these really pivotal roles,” she said. “There were plenty of people for several of the roles, but you also don’t pick a show like that if you don’t know that you’ve got people who can handle it.”

The performers rose to the challenge and, before each performance, slipped into period costumes and English accents to charm audience members.

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Liberty High School drama program earns award nominations

May 18, 2011

Liberty High School performers prepare for a scene from 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood.' By Mary Eck

NEW — 8 a.m. May 18, 2011

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” — a stage production based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished murder mystery — garnered Liberty High School performers a half dozen nominations in the annual 5th Avenue Awards Honoring High School Musical Theater.

The high school’s company, called the Patriot Players, earned nods for Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Costume Design, Outstanding Program Design and Outstanding Performance by a Chorus. Tucker Goodman and Paige Fabre also received acting nominations in the statewide competition.

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‘Next to Normal’ offers unfiltered portrayal of mental anguish

March 1, 2011

Something is not quite right about the Goodman family.

The bright and chipper matriarch, Diana, bounds to the breakfast table after a sleepless night to assemble enough sandwiches to supply a church picnic. Only, rather than the table, Diana uses the floor.

Alice Ripley (left) and Jeremy Kushnier perform in the celebrated musical ‘Next to Normal,’ a wrenching account of a woman’s struggle against mental illness. By Craig Schwartz

“Next to Normal” drops the pretense in the opening moments, as the Goodmans’ song about another ordinary day morphs into a call for help. Indeed, as patriarch Dan (Asa Somers) notes in the opening number, the family is “living on a latte and a prayer” amid the domestic tumult.

“Next to Normal” plumbs the mental illness afflicting Diana and unflinchingly details the corrosive effects the disease has on a suburban family. The subject matter sounds bleak and, no, the musical does not sugarcoat or recoil from the more unpleasant moments in the unending struggle against mental illness.

“Next to Normal” earned Tony Awards by the sackful and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Beneath the hardware is a musical unlike others in recent memory.

“Next to Normal” precursor “Feeling Electric” received tune-ups at Village Theatre in Issaquah. Village Theatre alumnus and Issaquah High School grad Brian Yorkey is responsible for the searing book and lyrics.

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Broadway beckons Village Theatre musicals

February 15, 2011

Musicals nurtured at Issaquah theater charm audiences and rack up awards in the Big Apple

Tony Award-winning actress Alice Ripley (center, seated) leads the ‘Next to Normal’ cast in a performance at the Arena Stage, the musical’s last stop before debuting on Broadway. By Joan Marcus

The brick-and-glass theater along a fashionable street in Oslo, Norway, seems like a strange place to re-create Yankee suburbia.

Onstage, “Next to Normal” — a rock musical fostered in Issaquah — is about to be performed. The story about a suburban — and quite American — family straining against mental illness has been translated into Norwegian for the international premiere.

The debut last September marked a milestone for the musical. “Next to Normal” had already stormed Broadway — earning Tony Awards and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama in the process.

Before the accolades and Oslo, “Next to Normal” emerged in a Village Theatre program designed to foster original musicals.

The long-running program has cemented the reputation of the downtown Issaquah playhouse as a cradle for Broadway.

Village Theatre cultivated “Next to Normal” and the jukebox musical “Million Dollar Quartet” from unpolished ideas to splashy Broadway musicals in recent years.

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What is ‘Normal’?

February 15, 2011

‘Next to Normal’ tour is homecoming for Issaquah native Brian Yorkey

Actors Jeremy Kushnier (left), Alice Ripley and Asa Somers perform a scene in the national 'Next to Normal' tour. By Craig Schwartz

Long before the Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, and longer still before director Rob Reiner indicated interest in a possible film adaptation, the blockbuster musical “Next to Normal” originated as a barebones reading at Village Theatre.

Now, almost a decade and a cartful of statuettes later, the national “Next to Normal” tour is about to reach The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. The musical opens Feb. 22.

The opening represents a homecoming for the author and lyricist, Issaquah native and Issaquah High School graduate Brian Yorkey. “Next to Normal” precursor “Feeling Electric” received a reading at the 2002 Festival of New Musicals and a 2005 workshop at the downtown Issaquah playhouse.

“So much of my theatrical life is in Seattle, and people know my work more as a director and from other shows, and for them to have a chance to see ‘Next to Normal’ — which is maybe the thing that I’m proudest of that I’ve done — is really exciting for me,” Yorkey said.

The rock musical about a family on the edge and tackling mental illness opened on Broadway in early 2009. Then, came a cavalcade of honors for show: Tonys for the lead actress, score and orchestrations; a Pulitzer Prize for Drama; and a national tour.

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Meet the many faces of Tony-winning ‘Next to Normal’ actress Alice Ripley

February 15, 2011

Alice Ripley as Diana Goodman

Actress Alice Ripley cries a monsoon in each “Next to Normal” performance as suburban mom Diana Goodman.

The lead character suffers from bipolar disorder, but electroshock therapy and pills, pills, pills cannot quiet the illness. Ripley has occupied the challenging role since “Next to Normal” debuted Off Broadway in early 2008 and earned a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the Broadway staging the following year.

“I see ‘Next to Normal’ as a story about every family that has experienced loss and grief, because that is what ‘Next to Normal’ is about, in my view,” she said.

Ripley and the national “Next to Normal” tour reach The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle on Feb. 22.

“Alice did what you always hope an actor does with such a vital role in a new show,” Issaquah native and “Next to Normal” author-lyricist Brian Yorkey said. “You want an actor to come into the rehearsal room and pick up the script and say, ‘OK, this part’s mine. I am this person.’”

Alice Ripley as Diana Goodman

Yorkey and composer Tom Kitt kept Ripley in mind as “Next to Normal” and the precursor “Feeling Electric” ricocheted from workshop to workshop.

“Initially, I am drawn to raw material. Then, I saturate myself with facts from the world I am entering — her story,” Ripley said. “After that, anything goes. Actors must use their imaginations to fill in the gaps of information.”

“Next to Normal” demands a nonstop stream of combustible emotions from Ripley in each performance. The actress has left a long-lasting imprimatur after hundreds of outings as Diana.

“Since Diana lives in me and I am an ever-changing human, it stands to reason that we have both grown and changed in the four years that I have known her,” Ripley said.

Emma Hunton portrays troubled daughter Natalie in the national tour. The role puts mother and daughter at loggerheads.

“It’s like watching a master class, because Alice is one of those actors who will challenge you onstage,” Hunton said.

The unfiltered look at mental illness — and the anguish the Goodman family endures — has imparted lessons to Ripley’s “Next to Normal” costars.

“With Alice, it’s sort of unexpected. You never know what you’re going to get, which keeps you on your toes and makes the show really fresh,” Hunton said. “If I’ve learned anything from her, it’s never to do the same thing twice.”

Annie again: Issaquah girl’s latest acting gig is voice for ‘Magic Tree House’

February 8, 2011

Emily Rudolph records the voice for Annie, a character from the ‘Magic Tree House’ book series. By Cricket Moon Media

Jack and Annie climbed into their magic tree house and pointed at a book. As in all of the “Magic Tree House” stories, the book they chose sped them through time and space.

Random House Children’s Books brought the series to life with its Magic Tree House website, where a spunky Annie and eager Jack quiz readers about their historical, out-of-this-world adventures.

Issaquah Middle School sixth-grader Emily Rudolph knows the website well — she does the voice for Annie, guiding participants through games on the website.

“I’ve been reading ‘Magic Tree House’ since second grade,” she said. “I feel like I can relate to Annie.”

Emily has already recorded twice at Cricket Moon Media in Seattle, and Producer Laura Nash said she looked forward to more sessions with the pint-sized star.

“She just has a really great reading voice,” Nash said. “She is unusually peppy and friendly. She sounds like an all-American kid without trying, which is really hard to do.”

Though new to voice recording, Emily is familiar with show business. In 2007-08, she and her older brother Josh Rudolph played two of the King of Siam’s children in “The King and I” at Village Theatre.

The acting bug bit her. Onstage she could sing, dance and transform herself into another person.

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County leaders celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 16, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) and County Councilman Larry Gossett honor Martin Luther King Jr. at a Jan. 13 celebration. Contributed

NEW — 10 a.m. Jan. 16, 2011

King County leaders honored Martin Luther King Jr. and highlighted local efforts to eliminate inequality at a jubilant celebration Jan. 13.

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