Village Theatre musical ‘Stunt Girl’ readies for Big Apple debut

June 2, 2010

NEW — 1:35 p.m. June 2, 2010

“Stunt Girl” — a musical account of groundbreaking journalist Nellie Bly — will become the latest Village Theatre production to make the journey from Issaquah to New York City.

The musical will receive a reading at the Manhattan Theatre Club on Monday. “Stunt Girl” premiered at Village Theatre last March.

Issaquah native Brian Yorkey — the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and lyricist behind another Village Theatre original musical, “Next to Normal” — will direct the “Stunt Girl” reading.

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Village Theatre musical earns Tony nominations

May 11, 2010

“Million Dollar Quartet” — a musical about the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll and developed at Village Theatre — has been nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

“Million Dollar Quartet” tells the true story of a chance meeting in December 1956 of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. The legendary entertainers jammed together at the Sun Records studio in Memphis.

Eager for the attention the impromptu jam session could attract, Sun Records owner Sam Phillips contacted local journalists to document the occasion. The subsequent newspaper account referred to the assembled performers as a “million dollar quartet.”

The production also received nods for Best Book of a Musical — for the spoken storyline of the production — and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Levi Kreis, the actor who portrays Lewis. Kreis originated the role in Issaquah.

The nominations from the American Theatre Wing on May 4 marked another milestone for the musical.

“Million Dollar Quartet” opened on Broadway last month to solid reviews and enthusiastic audiences.

Village Theatre Executive Producer Robb Hunt attended the opening. He said the creative team amped up the glitz for Broadway, but “Million Dollar Quartet” in the Big Apple remains “very much the same show people saw in Issaquah and Everett.”

Besides Kreis, the Broadway production includes performers from the Issaquah run: Lance Guest as Cash, Rob Lyons as Perkins and bassist Corey Kaiser.

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Musical developed in Issaquah earns three Tony nominations

May 4, 2010

NEW — 9:52 a.m. May 4, 2010

“Million Dollar Quartet” — a musical about the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll and developed at Village Theatre — has been nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The musical tells the true story of a chance meeting in December 1956 of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. The legendary entertainers jammed together at the Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tenn.

“Million Dollar Quartet” also received nods for Best Book of a Musical — for the spoken-word storyline of the production — and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Levi Kreis, the actor who portrays Lewis. Kreis originated the role in Issaquah.

The musical opened at Village Theatre in September 2007. The theater extended the run to 10 weeks to meet demand. Writers Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux developed the show as part of the Village Originals program to foster musicals at the Issaquah theater.

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Issaquah playwright Brian Yorkey wins Pulitzer Prize

April 13, 2010

Brian Yorkey

The musical “Next to Normal” — a daring look into bipolar disorder penned by Issaquah native Brian Yorkey and nurtured at Village Theatre — has won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Read more

‘Next to Normal’ wins Pulitzer Prize for Drama

April 12, 2010

UPDATED — 3:20 p.m. April 12, 2010

The musical “Next to Normal” — a daring look into bipolar disorder penned by Issaquah native Brian Yorkey and nurtured at Village Theatre — has won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The prize jury lauded the edgy, dysfunctional-family-drama as “a powerful rock musical that grapples with mental illness in a suburban family and expands the scope of subject matter for musicals.” The jury announced the award Monday.

Yorkey — a former Village Theatre associate artistic director and Issaquah High School alumnus — will share the honor with writing partner Tom Kitt. Yorkey wrote the lyrics; Kitt wrote the music. The duo will share a $10,000 prize.

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Musical with roots at Village Theatre and written by Issaquah native will tour to Seattle

March 7, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. March 7, 2010

The first national tour of “Next to Normal” — the Tony Award-winning musical penned by Issaquah native Brian Yorkey and originated at Village Theatre — will come to Seattle next February.

5th Avenue Theatre and Village Theatre will collaborate to bring “Next to Normal” to the Emerald City from Feb. 22 to March 13, 2011. Village Theatre and Seattle Theatre Group subscribers will be able to buy tickets to the show at a discount.

Tickets for the 2010-11 season at the 5th will be available Monday by phone at 206-625-1900, online or at the box office, 1308 Fifth Ave., Seattle.

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Tony Award winner adjusts to new normal

January 19, 2010


Tony Award winner Brian Yorkey (left) directs Suzy Hunt as she portrays Grandma Kurnitz, a main character in ‘Lost in Yonkers’ at Village Theatre. Village Theatre photo

Brian Yorkey returns to direct ‘Lost in Yonkers’

Everybody knew the odds — the cast, the producers, the director, the composer and, especially, the writer and lyricist.

Bookies and bloggers predicted a sweep. The feel-good “Billy Eliot” seemed poised for glory, not “Next to Normal” — a musical built around electro-shock therapy, raw emotions and even rawer nerves.

Everybody knew the odds at the Tony Awards last June — but nobody envisioned the upset to come, especially not the writer and lyricist, Issaquah native Brian Yorkey.

Nobody expected the odds to be so miscalculated, yet Yorkey and composer Tom Kitt toppled “Billy Eliot” to win the Tony for Best Original Score. The other nominees included songwriting titans Sir Elton John and Dolly Parton.

Yorkey, a Village Theatre alumnus stunned about the unexpected win, accepted the award from the presenter, comedian Will Ferrell, and mentioned the Issaquah playhouse during the national broadcast.

“We kind of went into it sort of expecting that ‘Billy Eliot’ would sweep, and that’s a great show, they deserve it, and just to be here is amazing,” Yorkey recalled in early January. “Then, to add on the win was kind of unbelievable. It was a little bit out of body. It didn’t sink in for a few days, I don’t think — if it has at all.”

Next came the dizzying sequence of congratulations, interviews and countless thank-yous from the humble Yorkey, who recalled, “all the clichés apply.” “Next to Normal” won another pair of Tony statuettes, for best orchestrations and best actress in a musical. Read more

‘Lost in Yonkers’ readying for Village Theatre debut

January 19, 2010

Collin Morris, Nick Robinson and Jennifer Lee Taylor (from left) appear as Jay, Arty and Bella in the Village Theatre production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Neil Simon play ‘Lost in Yonkers.’By Jay Koh /Village Theatre

The skeletons hidden in the closet rattle loose in “Lost in Yonkers,” as the Neil Simon dramedy plumbs deep into the emotional trauma buried by the Kurnitz clan, a family led by a ruthless grandmother.

Enter Jay and Arty, teenage boys, the youngest family members and the latest to be thrust into the emotional maelstrom at Grandma Kurnitz’s apartment. “Lost in Yonkers” unfolds above a candy store where the stern grandmother is the proprietor, but the setting is saccharine only in the literal sense.

Village Theatre alumnus Brian Yorkey will direct the ensemble cast when the theater revives the period piece Jan. 20. The tale recounts the tense times after serious Jay and wisecracking Arty move in with Grandma Kurnitz. The boys arrive at the apartment after their mother dies and their father takes work out of town to pay back a bad debt.

Jay and Arty also share the apartment with dim-witted Aunt Bella. The scarred Kurnitz brood also includes Uncle Louie, a small-time thug.

“Lost in Yonkers” shares DNA with “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” “Biloxi Blues” and “Broadway Bound” — other semi-autobiographical works in the Simon canon.

“He really, I think, dug deep for this one,” Yorkey said. “It’s one of his best, and the chance to work with a cast of some of Seattle’s best actors on a play this meaty, you can’t pass that up.” Read more

Top 10 news stories of 2009

December 29, 2009

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Sisters Jennifer Davies, Julianne Long and Mindy Heintz (from left) retrieve belongings Jan. 8 from the toppled guesthouse at the home of their parents, Jack and Karen Brooks, beside Issaquah Creek in the 23300 block of Southeast May Valley Road. — By Greg Farrar

Growth slowed and the economy cooled throughout 2009. The watershed moments in Issaquah hinged on expansion and recession. Leaders broke ground for a major new employer, even while other businesses left town for good.

Issaquah began the first decade of a new century as a fast-growing city, a title the city held for years. As 2009 reached a close, however, officials pared the size of government to face the new economic reality.

From January floods to record July heat and brutal December cold, 2009 was jam-packed, but the year was never dull.

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Brian Yorkey wins Tony for best lyrics

June 9, 2009

Brian Yorkey

Brian Yorkey

The Village Originals musical “Next To Normal” took home three Tony Awards at the 63rd Annual Tony Awards Ceremony June 7. 

The awards were Best Original Score (music by Tom Kitt; lyrics by Brian Yorkey), Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (Alice Ripley) and Best Orchestrations (Michael Starobin and Kitt).

“Next To Normal” (formerly titled “Feeling Electric”) began as a staged reading at Village Theatre in March 2002. The creative team went on to develop the production further as a Village Originals workshop in June 2005. Read more

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