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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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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Line up to see local actor in ‘Urinetown’

April 17, 2012

Some teenage performers need audiences to go to Urinetown.

No, Urinetown is not a real place, at least not outside of a satirical musical with the same name.

Andrew Gryniewicz, a Sammamish Plateau resident and student at Bishop Blanchet High School in Seattle, plays the psychopath Hot Blades Harry in the show.

(Gryniewicz starred as Edna in the Village Theatre KIDSTAGE production of “Hairspray” last summer.)

The drama program at Gryniewicz’s school is presenting “Urinetown” the musical from April 27-29 at The Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., Seattle. Tickets cost $15 to $28. Call 877-784-4849 toll free or go to

In “Urinetown,” a prolonged drought has caused a water shortage and a soulless corporation controls all toilets. Citizens must relieve themselves in public restrooms. Violators get sent to a penal colony called — you guessed it — Urinetown.

‘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

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.

KIDSTAGE singers join Seattle performance

March 20, 2012

Performers from the Village Theatre KIDSTAGE program plan to join singers from the Seattle Men’s Chorus and the Seattle Women’s Chorus to present a concert to Seattle-area children and family members March 31.

See 20 or so KIDSTAGE performers ages 11-19 join the choruses on stage for a free hourlong performance at 2 p.m. at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle.

Before the concert, KIDSTAGE is offering free hands-on workshops at 1 and 1:30 p.m. for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Find the workshop space in McCaw Hall’s upper lobby in the Norcliffe and Allen event rooms. Call 206-388-1400 for reservations.

Teenage performers skewer beauty pageants in KIDSTAGE musical ‘Hot Mess’

March 13, 2012

Teenage performers skewer beauty pageants in KIDSTAGE musical ‘Hot Mess’


“Hot Mess” — a fledgling musical about beauty pageants — is not afraid to address some ugly truths.

The creators poke a high heel behind the scenes at a beauty pageant in the comedy, the latest offering from Village Theatre’s KIDSTAGE Company Originals program — a collaboration among young performers and theater professionals. The creators then perform the piece.

“Hot Mess” is due to receive a barebones reading — no costumes, no sets — at First Stage Theatre from March 23-25.

The team behind “Hot Mess” is a group of seven teenage girls, ages 14-17. Director Kiki Abba, a mentor and, more importantly, a grown-up, encouraged the girls to rely on personal experiences in the theater realm and the pressure cooker of high school to fashion the plot.

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KIDSTAGE offers summer camps, classes

March 6, 2012

Opportunities abound in the Village Theatre KIDSTAGE program for children and teenagers interested in the performing arts.

The popular program includes a series of summer camps and theater classes for students of all ages.

In Issaquah, the class lineup includes popular classes throughout the summer. The summer camps in Issaquah start June 11.

The program makes KIDSTAGE students eligible for half-price single student tickets to any Village Theatre Mainstage production on sale during the course of the camp.

Village Theatre holds classes at the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front St. N., the First Stage Theatre, 120 Front St. N., and the Issaquah Train Depot, 50 Rainier Blvd. N.

Find a complete listing of classes on the Village Theatre website,

Teen actors examine faith in Village Theatre’s ‘Godspell’

January 3, 2012

Regan Morris (front row, third from the left), featured in ‘Turn Back O Man,’ sings during rehearsal with the ensemble in the Kidstage production of ‘Godspell.’ By Jean Johnson/Village Theatre

Months after professional actors re-imagined “Jesus Christ Superstar” on the Village Theatre Mainstage, teenage performers plan to raise the curtain soon on “Godspell” — a similar musical from the same era.

Both shows opened in 1971 and offered a contemporary — critics said blasphemous — perspective on the Gospels. In the years since, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Godspell” became rooted in pop culture.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” depicts the last days in Christ’s life. “Godspell” is structured as a series of parables.

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KIDSTAGE rehearsal for ‘Godspell’ / Dec. 30, 2011

January 3, 2012

City offers 2012 arts grants to local organizations

September 9, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. Sept. 9, 2011

The city Arts Commission seeks cultural organizations and programs for the latest round of arts grants.

The city offers grants each year for organizations to present performances and programs in public spaces and local schools.

Only projects inside Issaquah city limits or at Issaquah School District campuses qualify for funding. The deadline to apply for the grants is Nov. 4.

Commissioners awarded about $120,000 to 21 projects. The lineup included ArtWalk, Issaquah Farmers Market entertainment, Concerts on the Green, Shakespeare on the Green, performances at local schools and programs to help troubled youths.

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