Young actor readies for encore in ‘The Music Man’

February 5, 2013

Josh Feinsilber rehearses at The 5th Avenue Theatre as Winthrop Paroo in 'The Music Man.' By Jeff Carpenter/The 5th Avenue Theatre

Josh Feinsilber rehearses at The 5th Avenue Theatre as Winthrop Paroo in ‘The Music Man.’ By Jeff Carpenter/The 5th Avenue Theatre

River City, Iowa — a Main Street, U.S.A., hamlet created as the setting for Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” — is almost home for performer Josh Feinsilber.

The fledgling actor and Pacific Cascade Middle School sixth-grader portrayed shy Winthrop Paroo in a July 2012 youth production at Village Theatre and is poised to return to stage in the role as The 5th Avenue Theatre rolls out “The Music Man” on Feb. 7.

Josh, 12, is eager to slip into the role again after a turn in Village Theatre’s “Fiddler on the Roof” — a record-setting smash for the Issaquah playhouse.

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‘Fiddler on the Roof’ sets Village Theatre sales record

January 29, 2013

By Jay Koh/Village Theatre Eric Polani Jensen stars as Tevye in Village Theatre’s record-setting production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’

Eric Polani Jensen stars as Tevye in Village Theatre’s record-setting production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

Theatergoers embraced “Fiddler on the Roof” and propelled the classic musical to a Village Theatre sales record.

The spectacle centered on the godfearing milkman Tevye played at the downtown Issaquah theater through November and December, and then shifted to the Everett Performing Arts Center.

In Issaquah, a record 32,726 audience members attended the show, including more than 14,000 single-ticket buyers — a significant number for a playhouse reliant on seasonal subscribers.

In Everett, “Fiddler on the Roof” set more milestones. The show reached the revenue goals before opening night — a first for Village Theatre’s Snohomish County stage — and broke the sales record for single-ticket revenue two weeks before “Fiddler on the Roof” closed Jan. 27.

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‘Fiddler on the Roof’ delivers perfect match of familiar, fresh

November 13, 2012

Jennifer Weingarten and Eric Polani Jensen star as daughter and father in Village Theatre’s ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

“Fiddler on the Roof” is rooted in a bleak era and setting — circa 1905 czarist Russia, a bastion of anti-Semitic sentiment — and the plot only turns grimmer as the acts progress.

The musical bears a reputation as a downer and, on the surface, “Fiddler on the Roof” seems like a strange choice for Village Theatre’s holiday offering.

But “Fiddler on the Roof” also shares essential truths about family and, as lead character Tevye is fond to point out, tradition — important tenets in a season often focused on everything but.

Scribes Joseph Stein and Jeffrey Bock ladled on Borscht Belt humor to introduce audiences to the population of Anatevka, a shtetl, or village. The numbers “Matchmaker” and “If I Were a Rich Man” deserve entries in the Great American Songbook.

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Village Theatre’s ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ stars dynamic duo

October 30, 2012

Eric Polani Jensen (left) and Bobbi Kotula star as Tevye and Golde in Village Theatre’s upcoming production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ By Mike Hipple/Village Theatre

The lead actors in Village Theatre’s soon-to-open “Fiddler on Roof” share the same easy rhythms as a long-married couple — a comfortable arrangement, because Eric Polani Jensen and Bobbi Kotula play a long-married couple in the classic musical.

The professional relationship between Jensen and Kotula extends back to the early 1990s, and the duo is poised to share the stage again Nov. 7 as “Fiddler on the Roof” opens. In the musical, Jensen is Tevye, a Jewish milkman struggling to stick to tradition in czarist Russia, and Kotula is Tevye’s sharp-tongued but soft-hearted wife.

The duo often shares a stage at Village Theatre and other local playhouses. The familiarity comes across as Jensen and Kotula discussed the theme at the show’s core. In the opening number and throughout the musical, “Fiddler on the Roof” focuses on the tug-of-war between tradition and change.

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‘Little Shop of Horrors’ feeds school record for Liberty drama awards

June 12, 2012

Photos from Issaquah School District At left, seniors Sierra Hunt (Audrey) and Tucker Goodman (Seymour) perform in Liberty High School’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ Above, carnivorous plant Audrey II (Sheady Manning-Bruce, Natalie Gress and Addison Halpin-Higman) convinces Goodman to feed it.

Liberty High School performers — and a scene-stealing, man-eating plant — snapped up more awards than any other high school drama program in a statewide competition June 4.

The school received four trophies for a recent production of “Little Shop of Horrors” in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s annual awards to recognize musical theater at high schools across the Evergreen State. The honor is akin to a Tony Award for student performers and productions.

“Little Shop of Horrors” garnered awards for Outstanding Music Direction for choir director Robin Wood, Outstanding Scenic Design, Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and the top honor, Outstanding Overall Musical Production.

“We have a strong production team and strong talent,” said Katherine Klekas, longtime Liberty drama program director. “I think that was what made this one so special is that it was consistent across the board.”

The campy musical revolved around a carnivorous plant, Audrey II, a puppet comprised of limbs and vines crafted for the performance.

Jeremy Dodd earned the Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role honor for a turn as a floral shop proprietor.

The sophomore donned a bald cap and extensive makeup to transform from a teenager to the curmudgeonly Mr. Mushnik.

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Liberty High School drama program lands statewide theater honors

June 5, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. June 5, 2012

Liberty High School performers — and a scene-stealing, man-eating plant — snapped up more awards than any other high school drama program in a statewide competition Monday.

The school received four honors for a recent production of “Little Shop of Horrors” in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s annual awards to recognize musical theater at high schools across the Evergreen State. The honor is akin to a Tony Award for student performers and productions.

“Little Shop of Horrors” garnered awards for Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Scenic Design, Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and the top honor, Outstanding Overall Musical Production.

Jeremy Dodd earned the Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role honor for a turn as a floral shop proprietor in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

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‘Little Shop of Horrors’ scares up drama nominations

May 29, 2012

The scene-stealing, man-eating plant in “Little Shop of Horrors” scared up 13 nominations for the Liberty High School drama program in a statewide competition.

The bevy of nominations is for The 5th Avenue Theatre’s annual awards to recognize musical theater at high schools across the Evergreen State. The honor is akin to a Tony Award for student performers and productions.

The drama program at Liberty, the Patriot Players, presented “Little Shop of Horrors” in late April and early May. The campy musical revolved around a carnivorous plant, Audrey II, a collection of limbs and vines crafted especially for the Liberty performance.

The program received nods for Outstanding Overall Musical Production, Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Musical Direction and Outstanding Choreography.

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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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