Village Theatre’s ‘Foreigner’ feels like an old friend

January 28, 2014

Much of the success of Village Theatre’s latest production, “The Foreigner,” rides on the shoulders of actor Erik Gratton. Or, dare I say, his face?

When he first shuffles on set, Gratton must be channeling Droopy from the 1940s MGM cartoons. That he can maintain that hang-dog look while co-star Patrick Phillips prattles on, laying the background for the plot, lets the audience know they’re in for something special.

By Tracy Martin/Village Theatre Erik Gratton (left, as Charlie) listens in on a conversation between Jonathan Crimeni (Reverend David) and Angela DiMarco (Catherine) in a scene from the Village Theatre production of ‘The Foreigner.’

By Tracy Martin/Village Theatre
Erik Gratton (left, as Charlie) listens in on a conversation between Jonathan Crimeni (Reverend David) and Angela DiMarco (Catherine) in a scene from the Village Theatre production of ‘The Foreigner.’

In a play, written by Larry Shue, filled with over-the-top characters from the early ’80s South, Gratton’s interaction with them hinges upon his successful take of a man of a thousand faces.

Read more

KIDSTAGE revisits popular musical ‘Trust Me’

January 7, 2014

Village Theatre’s KIDSTAGE TeenSelect program’s latest production, “Trust Me,” brings the musical full circle for several of those involved.

Regan Morris, a 16-year-old student at Issaquah High School, has been involved in KIDSTAGE since she was 9. Her brother Collin played the original lead role in the musical’s debut in 2006. She is excited to play the primary love interest in the tale.

By Greg Farrar Bryan Sevener (left), in the role of commanding officer Markus Brennan, gets punched by Trent Moury, in the role of Turner, as they learn the choreography of a fight scene during a street-clothes rehearsal for the KIDSTAGE production of ‘Trust Me’ at Village Theatre’s First Stage.

By Greg Farrar
Bryan Sevener (left), in the role of commanding officer Markus Brennan, gets punched by Trent Moury, in the role of Turner, as they learn the choreography of a fight scene during a street-clothes rehearsal for the KIDSTAGE production of ‘Trust Me’ at Village Theatre’s First Stage.

“This was my favorite production my brother was in,” Morris said. “He was such an inspiration to me and was the reason I got into theater.”

Read more

What is the Festival of New Musicals?

August 7, 2012

The summertime festival at Village Theatre is a laboratory to test original musicals before audiences.

Often, selections from the festival re-emerge later at the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, or Mainstage, and sometimes on Broadway.

The festival introduced audiences to “Next to Normal” precursor “Feeling Electric” and “Million Dollar Quartet” before the musicals carted off Tony Awards on Broadway. “Next to Normal” also garnered the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a rarity for musicals.

The recent Mainstage productions “Take Me America” and “It Shoulda Been You” debuted to Issaquah audiences at the festival.

Read more

Village Theatre receives $25,000 grant

March 20, 2012

Village Theatre received a $25,000 grant from the city and Puget Sound Energy to maintain and upgrade Issaquah facilities, officials announced Feb. 23.

Bellevue-based PSE awarded the grant to the city and requested the funds benefit a local nonprofit organization. In the process to craft a 2012 budget, City Council members selected Village Theatre as the grant recipient.

Read more

Village Theatre receives $25,000 grant from city, Puget Sound Energy

February 23, 2012

NEW — 1:50 p.m. Feb. 23, 2012

Village Theatre received a $25,000 grant from the city and Puget Sound Energy to maintain and upgrade Issaquah facilities, officials announced Thursday.

Bellevue-based PSE awarded the grant to the city and requested for the funds to benefit a local nonprofit organization. In the process to craft a 2012 budget, City Council members selected Village Theatre as the grant recipient.

“By supporting the arts in Issaquah, this grant will benefit our local customers, their families and the greater community,” Andy Wappler, vice president of PSE Corporate Affairs, said in a statement. “We are very pleased to help Village Theatre continue its artistic excellence.”

The downtown Issaquah theater attracts more than 150,000 visits to the city each year. The theater’s classes, camps and productions for children and teenagers include more than 2,000 students.

Read more

20 reasons to ♥ Issaquah

July 2, 2011

The spectacular landscape is a reason to love Issaquah. By Connor Lee

Discover 20 reasons to love Issaquah, from the highest Tiger Mountain peak to the Lake Sammamish shoreline, and much more in between. The community includes icons and traits not found anywhere else, all in a postcard-perfect setting. The unique qualities — Issa-qualities? — start at the city’s name and extend into every nook and neighborhood. (The lineup is not arranged in a particular order, because ranking the city’s pre-eminent qualities seems so unfair.)

Salmon Days

The annual salmon-centric celebration is stitched into the city’s fabric. Salmon Days serves as a last hurrah before autumn, a touchstone for old-timers and a magnet for tourists. The street fair consistently ranks among the top destinations in the Evergreen State and, for a time last year, as the best festival on earth — in the $250,000-to-$749,000 budget category, anyway.

Issaquah Alps

The majestic title for the forested peaks surrounding the city, the Issaquah Alps, is a catchall term for Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains. (Credit the late mountaineer and conservationist Harvey Manning for the sobriquet.) The setting is a playground for outdoors enthusiasts. Trails — some official and others less so — for hikers, bikers and equestrians crisscross the mountains, like haphazard tic-tac-toe patterns.

Read more

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ reopens old debates

June 28, 2011

“Jesus Christ Superstar” started raising eyebrows — and ire — before the initial run debuted on Broadway in 1971, and the production at Village Theatre in downtown Issaquah is no exception.

Aaron Finley (left), as Jesus, and Michael K. Lee, as Judas, star in Village Theatre’s modern-day interpretation of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

The groundbreaking rock opera about Jesus Christ’s last days has attracted criticism from audience members since the show opened May 11.

“We’ve had some people that feel like it’s in some way sacrilegious because it’s not a traditional robes-and-sandals telling,” Village Theatre Executive Producer Robb Hunt said.

The playhouse is celebrated — and sometimes denounced — for bold choices, including a same-sex kiss in “The Wedding Banquet” in 2003 and male nudity — albeit, a snapshot — in “The Full Monty” late last year.

Read more

Rejoice for Village Theatre’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ reboot

May 17, 2011

The tale, so familiar to believers and nonbelievers alike, is upended as soon as “Jesus Christ Superstar” opens.

Michael K. Lee (center) performs as Jesus alongside the apostles in Village Theatre’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

The apostles scale a chain-link fence and enter a fascist alternate reality steeped in modern dress and slang.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” is more Lady Gaga’s “Judas” than Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” in Village Theatre’s just-opened production. The monumental rock opera runs through July 3 and closes the theater’s 2010-11 season.

In the Issaquah playhouse’s rendition, the greatest story ever told trades robes and sandals for bandanas and drainpipe jeans, and from performance to performance, trades actors in the lead roles.

Read more

Meet the original superstar

May 3, 2011

Village Theatre re-imagines ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

“Jesus Christ Superstar” at Village Theatre is a reboot — New Testament 2.0 for theater audiences raised since the original run debuted on Broadway 40 years ago.

Michael K. Lee (left) as Jesus and Aaron Finley as Judas plan to alternate roles from show to show in Village Theatre’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

The latest outing at the Issaquah playhouse trades the ancient setting for a gritty alternate reality similar to modern times, sheds the robes and sandals, and re-imagines the apostles as hipsters in horn-rimmed glasses and scarves. The storyline about Jesus Christ’s last days and crucifixion, however, remains familiar.

The esteemed musical — billed as a rock opera since the initial album came out in the early ’70s — closes the Village Theatre season. “Jesus Christ Superstar” opens May 11.

Michael K. Lee, a Los Angeles-based actor, and local actor Aaron Finley star as the title character and Judas. Lee and Finley plan to alternate the roles from show to show — a rarity for the biblical musical. So, a theatergoer catching a Saturday matinee and a Saturday night performance could see the actors switch in the same day.

Read more

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ tickets on sale

March 29, 2011

Village Theatre is preparing a rock opera of biblical proportions to conclude the ongoing season: “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

The downtown Issaquah theater presents the blockbuster show about the last weeks of Jesus’ life from May 11 to July 3.

Purchase tickets at the theater website, www.villagetheatre.org. Or call the box office at 392-2202. Tickets can also be purchased at the box office, 303 Front St. N., from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.

Tickets range from $20 to $60. Students and military members can pick up half-price tickets 30 minutes prior to curtain for any available seat. The theater also offers group discounts for parties of 10 people or more.

Issaquah native Brian Yorkey — a Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winner for the musical “Next to Normal” — is set to direct “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

The show opened on Broadway in October 1971 to controversy, because some religious groups considered some elements as blasphemous. The original run ended in June 1973 after 711 performances.

Next Page »