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.
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.
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.
July 2, 2011
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
May 17, 2011
The tale, so familiar to believers and nonbelievers alike, is upended as soon as “Jesus Christ Superstar” opens.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
February 15, 2011
Musicals nurtured at Issaquah theater charm audiences and rack up awards in the Big Apple
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.