School bond campaign seeks success with YouTube song

February 21, 2012

The members of Listen Up — Sarah Kim, Monti Fleck, Luca Nardi, Emily Rudolph and Caitlin Neill (from left) — perform the ‘Pass the Bond’ song on a video shot at Issaquah Valley Elementary School. YouTube

An unlikely combination of a local school bond issue and a veteran Broadway lyricist has made local celebrities out of five young girls known collectively as Listen Up.

As of Feb. 16, a YouTube video of them performing Martin Charnin’s “Pass the Bond” song had received about 2,000 hits.

“I think it’s really great that this is happening,” said Luca Nardi, 10, one of the members of Listen Up.

Fellow singer and friend Monti Fleck, 10, said having the video gain some notoriety was “weird and cool” at the same time.

The song was written to promote the Issaquah School District’s construction bond issue that’s on the April ballot. That the catchy lyrics work so well is no accident.

Read more

Bookmark and Share

Listen Up sings ‘Pass the Bond’ / Feb. 13, 2012

February 21, 2012

Bookmark and Share

Teen performers offer middle school musical, ‘13’

April 5, 2011

Some milestones trigger stomach-churning dread.

Turning 40 comes to mind, but turning, say, 18 or 21 does not.

The Village Theatre KIDSTAGE production of ‘13’ includes the work of adults Casey Craig, choreographer (far left) and Suzie Bixler, director, along with Matt Sleeth, 15, as Evan Goldman, and Katie Griffith, 13, as Patrice DeCrette. By Greg Farrar

The latest musical from the KIDSTAGE program at Village Theatre stares down another fraught numeral: 13, the year acne and angst transform cherubic children into temperamental teenagers.

The musical “13” offers a little more edge and sass than “High School Musical” and other shows geared for teenage performers. The show premieres at the rebuilt First Stage Theatre on April 7.

“Kids love the show” and the material, director and KIDSTAGE Programs Manager Suzie Bixler said.

Divorce upends life for Evan, a 12-year-old Manhattanite.

Read more

Bookmark and Share

Theater legends dish about Broadway

March 15, 2011

Experience the magic of the Great White Way at “Broadway Spoken Here” — a collection of anecdotes, songs, rumors and tales about theater.

Issaquah residents — and husband and wife — Martin Charnin and Shelly Burch, accompanied by Mark Rabe, present “Broadway Spoken Here” at 7:30 p.m. March 21 at Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Ave.

Charnin has acted as creator, lyricist or director for 125 theatrical productions, including “Annie” — the long-running Broadway musical and Tony Award winner.

Burch starred in the original Broadway cast of “Nine” and, later, in the daytime soap “One Life to Live.”

Tickets to “Broadway Spoken Here” can be purchased for $10 at, by calling 800-838-3006 toll free or at the door.

Bookmark and Share

‘Annie’ composer reflects on life after ‘Tomorrow’

February 22, 2011

Issaquah resident and ‘Annie’ lyricist Martin Charnin discusses long theater career

The list is impressive: gold and platinum records, Emmy Awards, and Drama Desk and Tony awards for a blockbuster musical about a redheaded orphan.

“Annie” elevated Issaquah resident Martin Charnin — already a successful songwriter — into the Broadway stratosphere in 1977. The comic-strip-turned-musical marked another milestone for Charnin, the director and lyricist.

Martin Charnin wrote the lyrics and directed the original Broadway production of the blockbuster musical ‘Annie.’ Contributed

Charnin originated the role of Big Deal, a Jet, in the original “West Side Story” production and later penned the musicals “Two by Two” — a Noah and the ark retelling — the immigrant tale “I Remember Mama” and “The First” — a show about color-barrier-breaking baseball star Jackie Robinson. The lyricist also collaborated alongside Richard Rodgers in the years before the seminal composer died in 1979.

“Annie” — and the chipper anthem “Tomorrow” — continues to define a long theater career.

“You reach a point in your life where it sort of becomes your middle name,” Charnin said. “It becomes Martin ‘Annie’ Charnin and, while I’m not for a moment dumping on that — I think that’s grand — and every author, writer, director, producer should have one of those.”

Charnin settled in Issaquah after a 2004 stop at Village Theatre to direct “Robin Hood: The Legend Continues” — a musical about the aging outlaw and middle-aged Merry Men. The longtime scribe created the lyrics for the show, too.

Charnin agreed to direct the mystery “Sleuth” in the ongoing Village Theatre season. The play runs at the downtown Issaquah theater through Feb. 27.

Read more

Bookmark and Share

Annie again: Issaquah girl’s latest acting gig is voice for ‘Magic Tree House’

February 8, 2011

Emily Rudolph records the voice for Annie, a character from the ‘Magic Tree House’ book series. By Cricket Moon Media

Jack and Annie climbed into their magic tree house and pointed at a book. As in all of the “Magic Tree House” stories, the book they chose sped them through time and space.

Random House Children’s Books brought the series to life with its Magic Tree House website, where a spunky Annie and eager Jack quiz readers about their historical, out-of-this-world adventures.

Issaquah Middle School sixth-grader Emily Rudolph knows the website well — she does the voice for Annie, guiding participants through games on the website.

“I’ve been reading ‘Magic Tree House’ since second grade,” she said. “I feel like I can relate to Annie.”

Emily has already recorded twice at Cricket Moon Media in Seattle, and Producer Laura Nash said she looked forward to more sessions with the pint-sized star.

“She just has a really great reading voice,” Nash said. “She is unusually peppy and friendly. She sounds like an all-American kid without trying, which is really hard to do.”

Though new to voice recording, Emily is familiar with show business. In 2007-08, she and her older brother Josh Rudolph played two of the King of Siam’s children in “The King and I” at Village Theatre.

The acting bug bit her. Onstage she could sing, dance and transform herself into another person.

Read more

Bookmark and Share

‘Sleuth’ promises puzzles aplenty at Village Theatre

January 11, 2011

Village Theatre MJ Sieber, as Milo Tindle (left), and David Pichette, as Andrew Wyke, enact a scene from the Village Theatre’s production of ‘Sleuth.’ By Jon Pai

The stage thriller “Sleuth” presented a mystery to the director.

Director Martin Charnin hoped to ferret out a copy of the 1972 film adaptation — a whodunit starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.

The search turned up only a single DVD. The cost: $120. The catch: The version featured Bulgarian subtitles. Read more

Bookmark and Share