Peas, princes & patriot players

April 22, 2014

Award-winning Liberty High School theater program presents ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

There are overbearing mothers, and then there is “Once Upon a Mattress’” Queen Aggravain, alone in an altogether different stratosphere of dysfunction.

Photos by Sarah Edmonds Above, Queen Aggravain, played by Liberty High School senior Hailey Gumm, looks on in shock, while King Sextimus, senior Marcus Milyko, doesn’t seem amused in the Patriot Players’ production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’

Photo by Sarah Edmonds
Queen Aggravain, played by Liberty High School senior Hailey Gumm, looks on in shock, while King Sextimus, senior Marcus Milyko, doesn’t seem amused in the Patriot Players’ production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’

“Like her name suggests, she’s aggressive,” said Liberty High School senior Hailey Gumm, the one tasked with portraying her in the Patriot Players’ spring musical. “She definitely is a little bit crazy, but I think the crazy people are the fun ones. They are the meat of the show.”

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Issaquah innovators earn business honor

January 29, 2013

Innovation in Issaquah is exemplified by a leading apparel manufacturer, a revolutionary process to transform garbage into fertilizer and a theater renowned for fostering Broadway-bound musicals.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce and city leaders announced the Innovation in Issaquah honorees — apparel manufacturer SanMar, WISErg, a manufacturer of garbage-to-fertilizer harvesters, and the nonprofit Village Theatre — at a Jan. 24 ceremony and luncheon.

Leaders from the chamber and City Hall recognized the entrepreneurs’ accomplishments through the Innovation in Issaquah contest, a showcase for local businesses offering unique services. Honorees demonstrate innovation in product development, services, systems or strategies.

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‘Fiddler on the Roof’ sets Village Theatre sales record

January 29, 2013

By Jay Koh/Village Theatre Eric Polani Jensen stars as Tevye in Village Theatre’s record-setting production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’

Eric Polani Jensen stars as Tevye in Village Theatre’s record-setting production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

Theatergoers embraced “Fiddler on the Roof” and propelled the classic musical to a Village Theatre sales record.

The spectacle centered on the godfearing milkman Tevye played at the downtown Issaquah theater through November and December, and then shifted to the Everett Performing Arts Center.

In Issaquah, a record 32,726 audience members attended the show, including more than 14,000 single-ticket buyers — a significant number for a playhouse reliant on seasonal subscribers.

In Everett, “Fiddler on the Roof” set more milestones. The show reached the revenue goals before opening night — a first for Village Theatre’s Snohomish County stage — and broke the sales record for single-ticket revenue two weeks before “Fiddler on the Roof” closed Jan. 27.

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Issaquah memorable moments from 2012 entertain, educate

December 25, 2012

The cast of the national tour of the jukebox musical ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ performs a song in the Tony Award-winning show. File

Entertainment came to Issaquah in some surprising forms throughout 2012.

Besides the usual retinue on the page, stage and screen, a documentary peeled back the layers at Costco and big-name authors signed books for local readers.

The city hosted celebrities, spotlighted residents on the national stage and celebrated big debuts in recent months. The boldface names earned cred through stints on reality TV, titles on bestseller lists and hardware aplenty — a Tony Award, a National Book Award.

Reality TV plugs in local contestants

Lindzi Cox pursued “The Bachelor” and Lizzie Parker competed for the title “Fashion Star” as local women added grace to reality TV contests.

Cox, a 2003 Liberty High School grad, competed against 24 other bachelorettes to win a rose from the titular bachelor, Ben Flajnik, and reached the final round on the ABC dating game.

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Skyline High School student takes stage in ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’

September 11, 2012

Brendan Rosell rehearses a dance number from ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical.’ By C. Rupley

Skyline High School junior Brendan Rosell grew up on the theater stage.

From dance classes through Village Theatre’s KIDSTAGE program to starring roles in school plays, Rosell seized any local opportunity to perform for an audience.

“I’ve grown up in the performing arts community,” he said. “My mother was a dancer and performing has always been such an enriching thing for me.”

Now, Rosell, 16, will participate in his biggest performance yet when he joins Seattle Musical Theatre’s production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” beginning Sept. 14 at Magnuson Park in Seattle.

Based on the 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon, “Legally Blonde: The Musical” incorporates singing and dancing to the story about a sorority girl who attends Harvard Law School to try and impress her ex-boyfriend.

The show’s original run on Broadway in 2007 received seven Tony Award nominations.

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Huckleberry Finn comes to life on stage in Village Theatre’s ‘Big River’

September 4, 2012

Randy Scholz (left, as Huck) and Rodney Hicks (Jim) star in ‘Big River.’ By Mike Hippie/Village Theatre

The re-imagining of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” — “Big River” — sets the seminal novel to music and transports the landmark trip down the Mississippi River to the Village Theatre stage.

“Big River” debuted on Broadway in 1985, ran for more than 1,000 performances and earned Tony Awards aplenty. The show opens the 2012-13 Village Theatre season Sept. 12.

“We’re always looking for something to kick off the season that is exciting, to get people out of the beautiful September Seattle weather and get them into the theater,” Resident Music Director Tim Symons said. “‘Big River’ is a piece that’s so beautiful and all the music is in it is so gorgeous.”

The cast pairs a veteran, Rodney Hicks, and a newcomer, Randy Scholz, in the lead roles.

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‘Big River’ ticket sales start at Village Theatre

August 14, 2012

“Big River” — “Huckleberry Finn” retold in musical form — sails to Village Theatre and opens the 2012-13 season soon.

The production re-imagines the classic tale as a musical told from the protagonist’s perspective.

The musical is scheduled to run at the downtown Francis J. Gaudette Theatre from Sept. 12 to Oct. 21. Tickets cost $22 to $63. Call 392-2202 or go to www.villagetheatre.org

Village Theatre offers half-priced student and military rush tickets 30 minutes before shows. Village Theater also offers group discounts for parties of 10 or more.

Roger Miller — a songwriter known for “King of the Road” — penned bluegrass, blues and country songs to accompany the journey. The musical earned Miller a Tony Award for Best Score, plus other Tonys, for the original Broadway run.

What is the Festival of New Musicals?

August 7, 2012

The summertime festival at Village Theatre is a laboratory to test original musicals before audiences.

Often, selections from the festival re-emerge later at the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, or Mainstage, and sometimes on Broadway.

The festival introduced audiences to “Next to Normal” precursor “Feeling Electric” and “Million Dollar Quartet” before the musicals carted off Tony Awards on Broadway. “Next to Normal” also garnered the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a rarity for musicals.

The recent Mainstage productions “Take Me America” and “It Shoulda Been You” debuted to Issaquah audiences at the festival.

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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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Liberty High School drama program lands statewide theater honors

June 5, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. June 5, 2012

Liberty High School performers — and a scene-stealing, man-eating plant — snapped up more awards than any other high school drama program in a statewide competition Monday.

The school received four honors for a recent production of “Little Shop of Horrors” in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s annual awards to recognize musical theater at high schools across the Evergreen State. The honor is akin to a Tony Award for student performers and productions.

“Little Shop of Horrors” garnered awards for Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Scenic Design, Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and the top honor, Outstanding Overall Musical Production.

Jeremy Dodd earned the Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role honor for a turn as a floral shop proprietor in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

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