‘Take Me America’ tackles asylum question

September 6, 2011

Village Theatre Performers present a stripped-down reading of upcoming Mainstage production ‘Take Me America’ at Village Theatre’s 2009 Festival of New Musicals. By Sam Freeman/

The subject for the latest original musical from Village Theatre is rooted in human rights and national security — ambitious issues to address onstage and in song.

“Take Me America” offers tales from refugees seeking political asylum in the United States, as well as the government agents assigned to determine the applicants’ fates.

The opener for Village Theatre’s 2011-12 season Sept. 15 is the West Coast premiere for the show.

Bill Nabel, “Take Me America” author and lyricist, said “Well-Founded Fear” — a 2000 documentary about the asylum process — laid the foundation for the rock musical. The filmmakers recorded the last interviews of applicants in the asylum process for the piece.

“To me, a musical is about where you find your heart,” Nabel said. “There’s a very large part of that in the asylum question. Asylum is much more than a legal question to us. How do we make a human decision about a law?”

The author also received inspiration from a Broadway blockbuster.

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Village Theatre’s ‘42nd Street’ seeks to dazzle audiences

May 4, 2010

Get ready for a tap dancing good time as your favorite Broadway tunes come to life with exciting new choreography in the show-stopping, backstage tale of “42nd Street.”

The show debuts May 13 on Village’s Mainstage and closes out a year of celebrating the historic theater’s 30 years in Issaquah.

Pulling out all the stops, the show boasts a large cast of 26 that celebrates local actors and designers, like Bob Dahlstrom, who did the scenic design for “Show Boat,” and costumer Melanie Burgess, who created designs for “Chasing Nicolette” and “Stunt Girl.”

Audiences will follow the story of star-struck Peggy Sawyer, a fresh-from-the-farm Pennsylvanian, as she receives her first big break in New York after the star of her show is injured during a rehearsal. Her dreams unfold, surpassing even her wildest, as audiences enjoy their favorite Broadway musical tunes, like “We’re in the Money,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” and “Lullaby of Broadway.”

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10 things to love about ‘Show Boat’

May 19, 2009

 Richard Todd Adams (Gaylord Ravenal) and Megan Chenovick (Magnolia Hawks) sing  ‘I Have the Room Above Her.’ by Jay Koh/Village Theatre

Richard Todd Adams (Gaylord Ravenal) and Megan Chenovick (Magnolia Hawks) sing ‘I Have the Room Above Her.’ by Jay Koh/Village Theatre

If you’re in the habit of popping gum or a mint into your mouth at shows at Village Theatre, make sure you’re done with it before Cap’n Andy launches into finishing his play on “Showboat.” Otherwise, you might swallow it.

Larry Albert, who plays Andy, literally had people slapping their legs and howling with laughter as he acted several parts of the play, which gets interrupted by a gunshot from a member of the audience of the play within this delightful musical.

And because it’s hard to review a play without spoiling it for those who still wish to see it, (and those who know the story will likely reach different conclusions than those who don’t) this will instead give you a list, in no certain order, of other things to love about the musical, which runs until July 3:

-The sultry, smoky voice of Cayman Ilika, who plays Julie LaVerne. She can make you feel heartbreak deep in your soul.

-The equally smoky, but even deeper reaching voice of Ekello Harrid Jr., who plays Joe. You’ve never heard “Ol’ Man River” like this before. Read more

‘Show Boat’ director makes main stage debut

May 5, 2009


‘Show Boat’ Director Jerry Dixon is all smiles in from the balcony of VIllage Theatre, as the river boat set is constructed on the main stage last week. By David Hayes

First thing’s first — Jerry Dixon, director of Village Theatre’s “Show Boat,” is not currently, nor has ever been, the bass guitarist for 1990s hair metal band Warrant.

Dixon said the two have been mistaken enough times in correspondence that he had to put a disclaimer at the top of his Web page.

“We get each other’s e-mail all the time. I’ve even had to return some very large royalty checks to him,” Dixon said.

He said it’s funny until he has to clear up the mistaken identities with the Internal Revenue Service.

Besides appearances, the other obvious difference between the two is heavy metal Dixon has probably never been to Issaquah, while theater Dixon has. Read more

Book club enjoying good reads since ’63

May 5, 2009

Madelyn Larsen (top) reads her review of ‘Schultz and Peanuts: A Biography’ as another Belle Arts Book Club member looks at the final ‘Peanuts’ strip that ran in The Seattle Times. By David Hayes

Madelyn Larsen (top) reads her review of ‘Schultz and Peanuts: A Biography’ as another Belle Arts Book Club member looks at the final ‘Peanuts’ strip that ran in The Seattle Times. By David Hayes

In 1963, some members from the Church Women’s Organization were looking to form a club to get better acquainted.

Discarded were dinner clubs and bowling teams. They instead went with Mary Wells’ idea of a book club. Thus, the Belle Arts Book Club was born.

“It never crossed my mind that it could survive this long,” said Wells, 85, a resident of Bellevue since 1962. “I think it’s the fact that we all enjoy good literature and most of us belong to the same church.”

The group has kept its membership at a constant 24, as most homes can’t accommodate larger numbers, she said. About one-third of the membership, open to Eastside residents, hail from Issaquah. At 49, Connie Stromberg is one of the youngest members. She said what’s kept her in the club after 10 years are lively discussions about a variety of topics.

“At one point, we had a discussion on capital punishment,” recalled Stromberg, a past president. “We had a member whose brother was a governor of a state. Her conversations with him with his years of experience dealing with death penalty cases added so much to our discussion that it enriched the whole evening.” Read more