Village Theatre sets intriguing drama in ‘The Mousetrap’

January 22, 2013

Mysterious guest Christopher Wren, played by Quinn Armstrong, passes his dark coat, light scarf and felt hat to Monkswell Manor’s proprietor Mollie Ralston, played by Hana Lass. By John Pai/Village Theatre

Mysterious guest Christopher Wren, played by Quinn Armstrong, passes his dark coat, light scarf and felt hat to Monkswell Manor’s proprietor Mollie Ralston, played by Hana Lass. By John Pai/Village Theatre

To enjoy some of the finer things in life, there are rules. For example:

  • The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club.
  • What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
  • And, do not reveal the plot of “The Mousetrap.”

Each has its own reason to remain spoiler free. Village Theatre hopes its patrons adhere to the latter so subsequent audiences can enjoy its latest production, Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap.”

What started as an 80th birthday tribute written for Queen Elizabeth in 1947, Agatha Christie thought her radio broadcast, “Three Blind Mice,” adapted for stage would have an uneventful eight-month run, tops.

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Village Theatre is set to spring ‘The Mousetrap’

January 8, 2013

Expect more than a month of snow — on the Village Theatre stage, at least — as the scene-setting snowstorm in “The Mousetrap” is re-created night after night.

The classic whodunit is considered mystery maven Agatha Christie’s masterpiece. “The Mousetrap” opens Jan. 16 as the lone play — the only nonmusical offering in the 2012-13 lineup — in the Village Theatre season.

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‘The Producers’ at Village Theatre charms, offends for laughs

May 15, 2012

Brian Earp (Leo Bloom), Richard Gray (Max Bialystock), Nick DeSantis (Roger De Bris) and Chris Ensweiler (Carmen Ghia) perform a scene in ‘The Producers.’ Photo by Jay Koh/Village Theatre

“The Producers” caricatures and offends in strokes as broad as the Brooklyn Bridge.

The musical is the ultimate equal-opportunity offender. “The Producers” aims and fires at Jews, gays, women, Nazis — yes, Nazis — and almost everyone else in a rollicking production onstage at Village Theatre.

Indeed, the questionable material, especially the can-they-do-that moments, is the most enjoyable part of “The Producers.”

The mega-musical runs until July 1 and closes the 2011-12 season at Village Theatre.

“The Producers” is a breathless tribute to Broadway and, often in the same breath, a knife-edged parody. The appeal is the cynicism and crassness in the absurdist romp. So what, then, if some songs seem almost forgettable? The numbers still act as a capable delivery device for a handful of funnyman Mel Brooks’ sharpest lines.

The musical is a smash imported to Issaquah 11 years after Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick tore up Broadway in the original run. The lackluster 2005 film adaptation introduced audiences farther afield to the unabashedly old-school show.

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‘The Odd Couple’ is fresh, funny at Village Theatre

January 24, 2012

Felix Ungar (Chris Ensweiler, front) receives a massage from mismatched roommate Oscar Madison (Charles Leggett) in Village Theatre’s ‘The Odd Couple.’ By John Pai/Village Theatre

Neil Simon is a regular at Village Theatre.

The playwright — gilded in Tony Awards aplenty and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama — often offers rich material to Village Theatre producers. In the past decade, the downtown Issaquah theater presented “Barefoot in the Park” and “Lost in Yonkers” to audiences. The latest Simon offering on stage is “The Odd Couple” — perhaps the most recognizable piece in the playwright’s oeuvre.

“The Odd Couple” — re-imagined on stage and screen more often than Felix Ungar scrapes up crumbs — is a solid choice as the selection for the play in a Village Theatre season defined by musicals.

The play is a charming anachronism, 47 years after “The Odd Couple” debuted on Broadway. The boozing and smoking recall a looser era before political correctness. Still, the dialogue and the mismatched-roommate premise remain universal almost a half-century after Simon introduced audiences to uptight Felix and untidy Oscar Madison.

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Cast prepares to play mismatched roommates in ‘The Odd Couple’

January 10, 2012

Chris Ensweiler (left, as Felix Unger) and Charles Leggett (as Oscar Madison) act a scene from the Village Theatre production of ‘The Odd Couple.’ By John Pai/Village Theatre

The journey to portray fastidious Felix Unger and untidy Oscar Madison in Village Theatre’s “The Odd Couple” suited the actors in the lead roles.

Charles Leggett, as Oscar in the classic Neil Simon play, is the more rumpled half. Chris Ensweiler is more comfortable as the neatnik Felix.

“I’m no neat freak — I can tell you that,” Leggett said in the Village Theatre lobby about a month before “The Odd Couple” opened.

Ensweiler, meanwhile, readied to portray Oscar’s mismatched roommate.

“I’m very fastidious and organized,” Ensweiler said. “CDs are alphabetized. Clothes are arranged according to color. I certainly respond very well to that.”

“The Odd Couple” opens to audiences at the downtown Issaquah playhouse Jan. 18.

Village Theatre presents a single play each season. “The Odd Couple” falls into the 2011-12 season lineup after the Wild West spectacle “Annie Get Your Gun” and before the original musical “It Shoulda Been You.”

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‘The Odd Couple’ ticket sales start at Village Theatre

December 13, 2011

Ticket sales for Village Theatre’s “The Odd Couple” start Dec. 14.

The classic Neil Simon play is scheduled to run at the downtown Issaquah theater from Jan. 18 to Feb. 26. Tickets cost $22 to $62. Call 392-2202 or go to www.villagetheatre.org.

Village Theatre offers half-off student and military rush tickets 30 minutes prior to shows. The theater also offers group discounts for parties of 10 or more.

“The Odd Couple” ranks among the most famed plays in American theater history. The interplay between Oscar Madison, a carefree and unkempt, divorcé, and roommate Felix Unger, fastidious, uptight man, means laugh-out-loud comedy for audiences.

‘Annie Get Your Gun’ and ‘The Producers’ round out upcoming Village Theatre season

March 2, 2011

Village Theatre dips into the Great American Songbook, re-imagines Broadway blockbusters and polishes original musicals for the Mainstage during the 2011-12 season.

Performers present a reading of the musical ‘It Shoulda Been You’ at the 2010 Festival of New Musicals. By Sam Freeman

For the fourth consecutive season, the downtown Issaquah playhouse plans to feature a pair of original musicals on the Mainstage — rarity for regional theaters.

The lineup includes the classic musicals “Annie Get Your Gun” and “The Producers” — plus the original musicals “Take Me America” and “It Shoulda Been You.” The lone play in the upcoming season is a Neil Simon chestnut, “The Odd Couple.”

The season kicks off in Issaquah just after Labor Day. The productions then head to the Everett Performing Arts Center after the local engagements conclude.

‘Take Me America’

Sept. 14 to Oct. 23

“Take Me America” last appeared on the Village Theatre stage as a reading at the 2009 Festival of New Musicals.

The rock musical presents tales from refugees struggling to gain political asylum in the United States — and of the immigration agents responsible for deciding the refugees’ fates. The immigration agents labor to find a balance between the refugees’ humanity and a difficult professional position.

Though the subject matter has significant heft, “Take Me America” intersperses comedy throughout the musical.

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