Village Theatre announces Festival of New Musicals

July 15, 2014

Village Theatre presents its 14th annual Festival of New Musicals Aug. 8-17.

The festival invites Village Originals members to help critique the theater’s upcoming original musical productions. For example, the musicals “Next to Normal” and “Million Dollar Quartet” got their start through the Village Originals program and went on to win multiple Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize between them.

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Musical about surviving high school is as easy as ‘Rocket Science’

January 1, 2013

Nick McCarthy (left) as Heston, Frankie Curry-Edwards as Honoria, David Ibarra as Hal and Katie Griffith as Jenny perform a scene from the KIDSTAGE production of ‘Rocket Science’ at Village Theatre. By Jean Johnson/Village Theatre

Hal Hefner is accustomed to high school’s indignities and perils.

Besides a tumultuous home life, high school presents a treacherous gauntlet for Hal, a stutterer. The clumsy attempts at romance, friendship and, importantly, earning a spot on the debate team form the plot for “Rocket Science” — a musical created for youth performers and set to open at Village Theatre’s First Stage Theatre on Jan. 5.

The decision to present “Rocket Science” — a musical fostered on the Village Theatre stage in the Festival of New Musicals — is not rocket science, cast members and the director said.

The piece is written specifically for teenagers. “Rocket Science” marks the first time KIDSTAGE performers presented a musical from the festival. The show also marks the debut for the “Rocket Science” musical.

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Village Theatre’s ‘Lizzie Borden’ musical promises more than 40 whacks

August 7, 2012

Long before Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony turned legal proceedings into media circuses, a comely ax murderess morphed into a cause célèbre.

Lizzie Borden

Lizzie Borden captivated the Gilded Age nation after a hatchet felled parents Andrew and Abby Borden. The ensuing trial and media firestorm guaranteed the ultimately acquitted Lizzie Borden a place in history.

The original musical “Lizzie Borden” lifts facts from the court transcripts and adds a rock ‘n’ roll score. “Lizzie Borden” debuts to the public at First Stage Theatre during Village Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals. (The show opens almost 120 years to the day after the murders occurred.)

The coarse language and thumping score represent a mash-up between the 1890s and present day.

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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.

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‘The Music Man’ comes to town

July 24, 2012

Josh Feinsilber (clockwise from bottom right), Emily Johnson, Dan Ostrander, Regan Morris and Taylor Stutz star in ‘The Music Man.’ By Jean Johnson/Village Theatre

“The Music Man” rolls onto the Village Theatre stage soon as young performers conjure Americana, circa 1912, and upend small-town life after a con man comes to town.

“The Music Man” follows slick, silver-tongued Harold Hill, a con man posing as a bandleader to sell band instruments and uniforms to the unknowing population of River City, Iowa, and then skip town with the money.

The hitch in Hill’s scheme is Marian Paroo, River City’s prim-and-proper librarian and piano teacher. Paroo starts to uncover the deceit just as she falls for the con man.

KIDSTAGE performers present “The Music Man” as a SummerStock production from July 28 to Aug. 5 at the Frances J. Gaudette Theatre, or Mainstage.

Under the guidance of professionals, cast members between ages 8 and 18 perform. The orchestra includes advanced student musicians, too.

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Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on as ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ returns

May 8, 2012

Jukebox musical revives classic rock ‘n’ roll

The cast of the national tour of the jukebox musical ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ performs a song in the Tony Award-winning show. By Jeremy Daniel

“Million Dollar Quartet” is a multimillion-dollar phenomenon.

The rock ‘n’ roll musical about the “million dollar quartet” — Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis — collaborating for one night at the storefront Sun Records studio led to successful runs at Village Theatre in Issaquah and Everett, and then in Chicago, New York City and London.

The inaugural national tour of “Million Dollar Quartet” reaches the Paramount Theatre in Seattle on May 15 — a homecoming of sorts for a musical shaped a half-dozen years ago at Village Theatre.

The musical is based on a seminal jam session at the Sun Records studio in December 1956.

In the touring production, Christopher Ryan Grant plays rock ‘n’ roll impresario Sam Phillips, the Memphis mogul and Sun Records founder responsible for the “million dollar quartet.”

“You listen to these songs today and they seem simple, but maybe that’s part of the appeal,” Grant said in a phone interview from a stop in Costa Mesa, Calif. “There’s not a whole lot of messy production behind them that you get these days with synthesizers and canned beats.”

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Village Theatre blazes ‘Trails’ for next season

March 13, 2012

The musical “Trails” — a tale about childhood friends embarking on a journey along the Appalachian Trail — is poised for a premiere in the trailhead city, Issaquah.

“Trails” is the original offering in a lineup of classics Village Theatre plans to present during the 2012-13 season. The downtown Issaquah theater announced the lineup March 7.

The musicals “Big River” — “Huckleberry Finn” retold in musical form — and “Chicago” bracket the season. “Fiddler on the Roof” and “The Mousetrap” complete the upcoming season.

“For years, we have listened to the feedback of our audience and our artists when selecting shows — this coming year is no exception and we think our patrons will be very pleased with this diverse lineup,” Executive Producer Robb Hunt said.

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You are cordially invited to ‘It Shoulda Been You’

March 6, 2012

Village Theatre hosts a wedding in original musical

John Patrick Lowrie (George), Timothy Wilson (Brian) and Jayne Muirhead (Georgette) star as the Howard family in ‘It Shoulda Been You.’ By Erinn Hale/Village Theatre

The tension at the Steinberg-Howard wedding is as tight as a bridesmaid’s dress in “It Shoulda Been You” — the latest offering at Village Theatre.

The original musical about in-laws-to-be struggling to get along opens at the downtown Issaquah theater March 14.

The plot appears straightforward upon initial inspection. Rebecca Steinberg (Mara Solar) is about to marry Brian Howard (Tim Wilson) — even if the union between a Jew and a gentile causes heartburn for the Steinberg and Howard clans.

Just before the couple is due to step down the aisle in showy ceremony, Rebecca’s old boyfriend Marty Kaufman (Josh Carter) crashes the wedding and asks for another chance. Then, the plot turns more tangled.

“The first thing that I was told was, ‘There’s a really great twist,’” Wilson said.

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Village Theatre’s ‘It Shoulda Been You’ ticket sales start

February 21, 2012

Theatergoers can snag tickets for Village Theatre’s “It Shoulda Been You” — a musical comedy about a race to the altar.

The original musical is scheduled to run at the downtown Francis J. Gaudette Theatre from March 14 to April 22. Tickets cost $22 to $62. Call 392-2202 or go to

Village Theatre offers half-priced student and military rush tickets 30 minutes prior to shows. The theater also offers group discounts for parties of 10 or more.

“It Shoulda Been You” last appeared on the Mainstage during the 2010 Festival of New Musicals, a showcase for original shows.

The cast includes Seattle stalwarts Leslie Law, John Patrick Lowrie and Jayne Muirhead. John Dewar — a member of the original Broadway cast of “Les Misérables” — and up-and-coming local actors Joshua Carter, Aaron Finley and Diana Huey round out the cast.

Milestones from the year 2011 reflect changes

December 27, 2011

Renewal defined the year, as the community paused after a population boom and economic bust — and positioned Issaquah for the decades ahead.

Milestones from the last 12 months offer contrasts.

Leaders opened showcases for “green” design and concluded a milestone effort to preserve Tiger Mountain forestland. Tragedy left indelible impressions, too, as a gunman menaced downtown pedestrians on a September morning and turned a school campus into a crime scene.

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