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.”

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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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Kiwanis Club of Issaquah hosts Titanic expert

May 15, 2012

Don Lynch, a historian considered among the foremost Titanic experts on the planet, descended to the wreck in August and September 2001. The noted author is due in Issaquah next month to discuss the Titanic for a Kiwanis Club of Issaquah fundraiser.

The event is June 16 at the First Stage Theatre, 120 Front St. N. Call 392-3598 or 392-4016, or go to www.issaquah.kiwanis.org.

The ticket pricing is arranged similar to the passenger classes on the Titanic — $55 for first class, $40 for second class and $25 for steerage. The first-class “passengers” can attend a meet-and-greet session with Lynch, receive a complimentary glass of wine or beer, and take home a souvenir from the event.

Lynch also served as a consultant on director James Cameron’s 1997 film about the doomed ocean liner.

April 15 marked 100 years since the Titanic tragedy unfolded about 400 miles from Newfoundland.

Even a century after the Titanic departed the surface, the disaster — 1,514 passengers and crewmembers perished in the sinking — continues to capture imaginations. Only about 700 people survived the catastrophe.

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Horton hears a cue in Village Theatre’s ‘Seussical Jr.’

April 17, 2012

Rachel Donka (left), as JoJo, and Sarah Dennis, as The Cat in the Hat, enact ‘Oh the Thinks You Can Think’ from the Village Theatre KIDSTAGE production of ‘Seussical Jr.’ By Jean Johnson/Village Theatre

In the can-do universe of Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!” is the mantra.

The latest “think” from the KIDSTAGE program at Village Theatre is “Seussical Jr.” — a musical based on the poetic pulses and colorful characters of Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Theodor Seuss Geisel.

The musical debuts at First Stage Theatre a little more than a month after students in Issaquah and around the globe celebrated 100 years since Geisel’s birth March 2. The film adaptation of the seminal Dr. Seuss tale “The Lorax” opened the same day.

So, as Dr. Seuss re-enters pop culture in grand fashion, young performers at Village Theatre started rehearsals on Geisel’s birthday.

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Kiwanis Club of Issaquah hosts Titanic expert to commemorate tragedy’s 100th anniversary

April 10, 2012

Don Lynch, author of ‘Titanic: An Illustrated History,’ stands on the Grand Staircase set for the 1997 film ‘Titanic.’ Contributed

In the icy deep, more than 12,500 feet beneath the surface, a steel wall emerges, alien and foreboding, from the North Atlantic seabed.

Don Lynch peers through a porthole in a small submersible, as bulbous as a whale and built to endure the extreme cold and intense pressure at such depths. The other occupants in the craft include filmmaker James Cameron.

“We pulled up to the side of it and Jim was like, ‘There’s the Titanic for you,’” Lynch recalled in a recent interview. “In the movies, you always come up to the bow and the prow’s sticking up and rising above you, but it was just this flat wall out in front of us.”

Lynch, a historian considered among the foremost Titanic experts on the planet, descended to the wreck in August and September 2001. The noted author also served as a consultant on Cameron’s 1997 film about the doomed ocean liner.

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‘Seussical Jr.’ to riddle Village Theatre audiences

April 10, 2012

The young performers in the Village Theatre KIDSTAGE program look to Dr. Seuss for inspiration in “Seussical Jr.”

The musical runs April 13-29 at the First Stage Theatre, 120 Front St. N. Tickets cost $14 to $16. Call 392-2202 or go to www.villagetheatre.org.

The writers behind the landmark musical “Ragtime” created “Seussical Jr.” — a shorter version of “Seussical,” a onetime Broadway show based on the characters created by Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

“Seussical Jr.” features cherished characters, such as the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, Mayzie LaBird and Whos aplenty. The musical styles in the show include a cornucopia — funk, gospel, Latin, pop, R&B and swing.

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