Cheers! Downtown Issaquah wine celebration returns

January 29, 2013

Revelers can sip, snack and shop as the Downtown Issaquah Wine Walk series returns.

The popular winter and springtime event launched last February to attract people to downtown merchants even as the weather turns gray and soggy. Organized by the Downtown Issaquah Association, merchants host musicians, and offer sips from Washington vintners and hors d’oeuvres, during the monthly event that launches Feb. 1.

Though the event is designed to appeal to oenophiles — the 1-ounce wine pours remain limited to the 21-and-older crowd — creativity is showcased in arts-focused downtown, too. Highlights at the opening event include demonstrations by master glass blower Lenoard Whitfield at artbyfire and artEAST’s latest exhibit, “Stitch,” at UP Front Gallery.

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Issaquah memorable moments from 2012 entertain, educate

December 25, 2012

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

Entertainment came to Issaquah in some surprising forms throughout 2012.

Besides the usual retinue on the page, stage and screen, a documentary peeled back the layers at Costco and big-name authors signed books for local readers.

The city hosted celebrities, spotlighted residents on the national stage and celebrated big debuts in recent months. The boldface names earned cred through stints on reality TV, titles on bestseller lists and hardware aplenty — a Tony Award, a National Book Award.

Reality TV plugs in local contestants

Lindzi Cox pursued “The Bachelor” and Lizzie Parker competed for the title “Fashion Star” as local women added grace to reality TV contests.

Cox, a 2003 Liberty High School grad, competed against 24 other bachelorettes to win a rose from the titular bachelor, Ben Flajnik, and reached the final round on the ABC dating game.

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Village Theatre’s KIDSTAGE hosts Sing It Forward fundraiser

October 16, 2012

Performers in Village Theatre’s KIDSTAGE program plan to sing to raise money for the youth education effort.

Sing It Forward includes a benefit concert from young performers in the KIDSTAGE and Village Theatre Institute programs. The program includes a benefit concert at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 and a pizza party at 6 p.m. Oct. 21.

The benefit concert is meant for patrons 21 and older; the pizza party is more casual and open to all ages. Both events take place at Village Theatre’s First Stage Theatre, 120 Front St. N.

Tickets for the benefit concert cost $100. Tickets for the pizza party cost $40 for general admission and $20 for youth admission. Learn more at www.villagetheatre.org/SIF-Issaquah.php.

‘Que Será!’ musical honors Doris Day’s iconic career

October 9, 2012

Vocalist Kristi King embodies legendary performer Doris Day in the musical ‘Que Será! Celebrating Doris Day.’ By Jim Dorothy

Iconic American songstress Doris Day may have left showbiz for good in the 1970s, but that doesn’t mean enthusiasm has soured for the performer who starred in classic films such as “Teacher’s Pet” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

“Que Será! Celebrating Doris Day,” a musical coming to Village Theatre’s First Stage Theatre on Oct. 14, pays tribute to the legendary singer.

Vocalist Kristi King dons a familiar platinum-blonde wig and sings more than 20 of Day’s greatest hits in the show. King also tells stories of Day’s life, in the actual persona of the beloved entertainer.

“It’s really a walk down memory lane of one of the most amazing performers ever,” King said.

Accompanied by the Hans Brehmer Quartet, King will sing some of Day’s most popular songs, including, of course, “Que Será, Será.” She will also re-enact a scene from “Pillow Talk,” the award-winning romantic comedy starring Day and Rock Hudson.

King has always been a fan of Day, ever since her mother, also a singer, played Day’s records in their Portland home.

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Inaugural Issaquah Film Festival features classic movie musicals

September 11, 2012

The stars on screen during the inaugural Issaquah Film Festival need no introduction.

Moviegoers can see The Beatles slog through “A Hard Day’s Night” and the fleet-footed Gene Kelly dance across the screen in “An American in Paris” as the festival runs from Sept. 14-16 at Village Theatre’s First Stage Theatre.

The festival lineup focuses on the evolution of musicals on film, from 1933 and “Footlight Parade” to 1980 and the last days of disco in the Village People farce “Can’t Stop the Music.”

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Teenagers’ sustainability films garner spotlight

September 11, 2012

In June, city leaders put out a call for students to create films to answer the question, what does sustainability mean to you?

Now, audiences can see the results as organizers screen a pair of films in the inaugural Sustainability Film Shorts contest. Moviegoers can see the films from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 15 at Village Theatre’s First Stage Theatre, 120 Front St. N.

Organizers encourage attendees to arrive at noon to talk to local environmental and nonprofit partners in the theater lobby, and enjoy a snack before the event. Everybody attending the event receives a gift, and organizers also plan to award door prizes.

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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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Issaquah Film Festival features movie musicals

July 24, 2012

Downtown Issaquah is poised to host a film festival in September, as the municipal Arts Commission shows a series of musicals on the silver screen.

The inaugural Issaquah Film Festival is scheduled for Village Theatre’s First Stage Theatre, 120 Front St. N., from Sept. 14-16.

The lineup includes Busby Berkeley’s “Footlight Parade” and the disco farce “Can’t Stop the Music” — a pseudo-biography of the Village People. The Beatles’ groundbreaking “A Hard Day’s Night” concludes the festival.

Tickets cost $10 per night or $25 for the entire festival. Find tickets and information at www.issaquahfilmfestival.com.

The event also includes a VIP reception featuring wine from local winery Twin Cedars, guest speaker Howard A. DeWitt and Beatles music by Undercover.

DeWitt, a professor emeritus at Ohlone College in Fremont, Calif., has written 21 books, including “The Beatles: Untold Tales,” “Paul McCartney: From Liverpool to Let It Be” and “Beatle Poems.”

In ‘Assassins,’ teenage performers take aim at political correctness

July 3, 2012

Jake Nicholson portrays the Balladeer (left) and Patrick Ostrander portrays assassin John Wilkes Booth in KIDSTAGE’s ‘Assassins.’ By Jean Johnson/Village Theatre

Some names live on in eternal infamy. John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald come to mind.

Others ended up relegated in history textbooks. Charles Guiteau and Leon Czolgosz faded into the footnotes.

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Sara Jane Moore turned into comedians’ punch lines after botched assassination attempts.

The assassins — and wannabe assassins — of presidents occupy a strange place in U.S. history. The cadre is reviled and, in some cases, forgotten.

Not in “Assassins” — a Stephen Sondheim musical about the strange group. The show opens at Village Theatre’s First Stage Theatre on July 13.

The dark musical is the latest offering from KIDSTAGE, the long-running youth education program at Village Theatre.

The show is designed, directed and performed by high school and college-age students. Though professional mentors offer guidance, “Assassins” is managed from opening number to curtain call by student-actors in the program.

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Titanic connection leads North Carolina family to Issaquah

June 12, 2012

Ruth Becker

The tang of saltwater drifted on the cold, midnight air. So, too, did frantic calls for help from hundreds of people.

Titanic — a superlative achievement in engineering, grand and unsinkable — struck a history-altering iceberg minutes earlier.

Ruth Becker, roused to the deck after the collision, headed below for blankets to protect against the chill. By the time the 12-year-old girl returned moments later, blankets in hand, she needed to act fast to board a lifeboat as the ocean liner sank into the North Atlantic.

Becker’s cousin, Jill Carrizales, remembers hearing the account as a child. The tale sparked a lifelong interest in the tragedy. Now, Carrizales and her daughter Jennifer Ramsey plan to travel from Gastonia, N.C., to Issaquah to attend a June 16 event dedicated to the Titanic disaster.

In order to commemorate 100 years since the tragedy, the Kiwanis Club of Issaquah plans to host pre-eminent Titanic historian Don Lynch at a June 16 discussion.

The trip to Issaquah represents a milestone in Carrizales’ yearslong quest to meet Lynch. The historian interviewed Becker, then Ruth Becker Blanchard, before she died in 1990 at age 90.

Carrizales praised Lynch for coaxing Ruth Becker to open up about the disaster.

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