Students win acting awards from The 5th Avenue Theatre

June 7, 2011

NEW — 12:40 p.m. June 7, 2011

Two students from Liberty and Eastside Catholic high schools — junior Tucker Goodman and senior John Winslow — have landed the most prestigious acting awards of their young careers.

Liberty High School’s Goodman won Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role at The 5th Avenue Theatre’s annual awards honoring high school musical theater Monday.

For the winning role, he played the Chairman of the Board for the Patriot Players’ performance of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” a musical based on an unfinished novel written by Charles Dickens.

This isn’t Goodman’s first nomination, although it is his first award from The 5th. In 2010, Goodman received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance as a prince in “Into the Woods.”

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Patriot Players earn nominations for musical murder mystery

May 24, 2011

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” — a stage production based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished murder mystery — garnered Liberty High School performers a bevy of nominations in The 5th Avenue Theatre’s annual awards to honor high school musical theater.

The ladies of the opium den circle gather ’round the Princess Puffer, played by Senior Kelsey Canaga, during the Patriot Players’ musical ‘Drood’ at Liberty High School. By Mary Eck

The lush depiction of Victorian London garnered nods for Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Costume Design, Outstanding Program Design and Outstanding Performance by a Chorus. Performers Tucker Goodman, a junior, and Paige Fabre, a senior, also received acting nominations in the statewide competition.

The high school’s company, the Patriot Players, earned nominations in most major categories.

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” also earned the Patriot Players honorable mentions in the Outstanding Overall Musical Production and Outstanding Direction categories.

Liberty drama program director Katherine Klekas said the challenging musical required strong performers.

“We knew we had people to play some of these really pivotal roles,” she said. “There were plenty of people for several of the roles, but you also don’t pick a show like that if you don’t know that you’ve got people who can handle it.”

The performers rose to the challenge and, before each performance, slipped into period costumes and English accents to charm audience members.

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Liberty High School drama program earns award nominations

May 18, 2011

Liberty High School performers prepare for a scene from 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood.' By Mary Eck

NEW — 8 a.m. May 18, 2011

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” — a stage production based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished murder mystery — garnered Liberty High School performers a half dozen nominations in the annual 5th Avenue Awards Honoring High School Musical Theater.

The high school’s company, called the Patriot Players, earned nods for Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Costume Design, Outstanding Program Design and Outstanding Performance by a Chorus. Tucker Goodman and Paige Fabre also received acting nominations in the statewide competition.

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Rejoice for Village Theatre’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ reboot

May 17, 2011

The tale, so familiar to believers and nonbelievers alike, is upended as soon as “Jesus Christ Superstar” opens.

Michael K. Lee (center) performs as Jesus alongside the apostles in Village Theatre’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

The apostles scale a chain-link fence and enter a fascist alternate reality steeped in modern dress and slang.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” is more Lady Gaga’s “Judas” than Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” in Village Theatre’s just-opened production. The monumental rock opera runs through July 3 and closes the theater’s 2010-11 season.

In the Issaquah playhouse’s rendition, the greatest story ever told trades robes and sandals for bandanas and drainpipe jeans, and from performance to performance, trades actors in the lead roles.

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Meet the original superstar

May 3, 2011

Village Theatre re-imagines ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

“Jesus Christ Superstar” at Village Theatre is a reboot — New Testament 2.0 for theater audiences raised since the original run debuted on Broadway 40 years ago.

Michael K. Lee (left) as Jesus and Aaron Finley as Judas plan to alternate roles from show to show in Village Theatre’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

The latest outing at the Issaquah playhouse trades the ancient setting for a gritty alternate reality similar to modern times, sheds the robes and sandals, and re-imagines the apostles as hipsters in horn-rimmed glasses and scarves. The storyline about Jesus Christ’s last days and crucifixion, however, remains familiar.

The esteemed musical — billed as a rock opera since the initial album came out in the early ’70s — closes the Village Theatre season. “Jesus Christ Superstar” opens May 11.

Michael K. Lee, a Los Angeles-based actor, and local actor Aaron Finley star as the title character and Judas. Lee and Finley plan to alternate the roles from show to show — a rarity for the biblical musical. So, a theatergoer catching a Saturday matinee and a Saturday night performance could see the actors switch in the same day.

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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.

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‘Million Dollar Quartet’ tours to Seattle

March 29, 2011

“Million Dollar Quartet” — the Tony Award-winning musical about a famous jam session — reaches Seattle next spring after originating at Village Theatre in Issaquah and achieving success on Broadway.

The national tour of the musical is scheduled for a run at the Paramount Theatre from May 15-20, 2012. Find ticket information at the Seattle Theatre Group website,

“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.

The rockabilly musical debuted at Village Theatre in September 2007 and then on Broadway in April 2010. Actor Levi Kreis originated the Lewis role in Issaquah and continues to perform in the Broadway production.

“Million Dollar Quartet” garnered multiple Tony nods and a statuette for Kreis.

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ tickets on sale

March 29, 2011

Village Theatre is preparing a rock opera of biblical proportions to conclude the ongoing season: “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

The downtown Issaquah theater presents the blockbuster show about the last weeks of Jesus’ life from May 11 to July 3.

Purchase tickets at the theater website, Or call the box office at 392-2202. Tickets can also be purchased at the box office, 303 Front St. N., from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.

Tickets range from $20 to $60. Students and military members can pick up half-price tickets 30 minutes prior to curtain for any available seat. The theater also offers group discounts for parties of 10 people or more.

Issaquah native Brian Yorkey — a Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winner for the musical “Next to Normal” — is set to direct “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

The show opened on Broadway in October 1971 to controversy, because some religious groups considered some elements as blasphemous. The original run ended in June 1973 after 711 performances.

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.

‘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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