Nothing ‘Misérable’ about Village Theatre’s latest spectacle

November 12, 2013

“Les Misérables” shines in Village Theatre, though the production’s eager whimsy whisks away some wonder.

The opening baritone notes of the French chain gang song “Look Down” sets an unshakable tone of dejection and resilience, the two largest themes of the prestigious production. Following protagonist Jean Valjean’s release from an unjust imprisonment, “Les Misérables” tells a story of love, sin, passion and redemption through decades of French industrialization and revolution.

By Tracy Martin/Village Theatre Kate Jaeger, as Madame Thénardier, and Nick DeSantis, as Monsieur, perform with the ensemble cast in the song ‘Master of the House’ in Village Theatre’s production of ‘Les Misérables.’

By Tracy Martin/Village Theatre
Kate Jaeger, as Madame Thénardier, and Nick DeSantis, as Monsieur, perform with the ensemble cast in the song ‘Master of the House’ in Village Theatre’s production of ‘Les Misérables.’

With such a large male cast, the show’s strength rests on the sheer skill of the singers. What makes it great is the level of emotion that the players, particularly Greg Stone, as Jean Valjean, and Eric Polani Jensen, as the pursuing policeman Javert, are able to give to the audience. They deliver the age’s restlessness and confusion in the face of social and personal change.

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‘Xanadu’ will hurt your funnybone

September 17, 2013

Musical pokes fun at Olivia Newton-John, the 1980s and itself

I’ve chuckled at some funny moments in Village Theatre productions. Even some of their dramas have brought a tear to my eye.

But never have I laughed so hard that I cried as I did when watching the latest musical, “Xanadu.”

By Mark Kitaoka/Property Village Theatre The cast of Village Theatre’s musical ‘Xanadu’ sings the title song.

By Mark Kitaoka/Property Village Theatre
The cast of Village Theatre’s musical ‘Xanadu’ sings the title song.

Never having seen the movie of the same name staring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly, I think made for a more enjoyable experience. I never knew what to expect next while knowing only the basics — the musical is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to a cheesy ‘80’s movie about a Greek muse who intends to inspire, only to fall in love with a down-on-his-luck artist who wants to create a roller disco.

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‘Xanadu’ rolls in to Village Theatre

September 10, 2013

Village Theatre will roll “Xanadu” into town beginning Sept. 12 in the first co-production with the Arizona Theatre Co.

Based loosely on the 1980’s, Olivia Newton John-led flop, “Xanadu” was rewritten for the stage as a musical in 2007. It follows the story of the muse Clio descending from Mount Olympus to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, only to fall into a forbidden love.

By mike Hipple Jessica Skerritt stars as Kira and Dane Stokinger is Sonny Malone in Village Theatre’s production of ‘Xanadu.’

By mike Hipple
Jessica Skerritt stars as Kira and Dane Stokinger is Sonny Malone in Village Theatre’s production of ‘Xanadu.’

The plan to stage a co-production between the Village Theatre and the Arizona Theatre Co. has been ongoing. Director David Ira Goldstein came up from Arizona to begin what will be a six-month run of the musical that will travel through four cities.

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Village Theatre Originals is working on ‘Watt?!?’

August 13, 2013

‘Daily Show’ scribe pens new musical of political satire

Matt Shimkus (in cowboy hat), as Joseph Coors, and ensemble members, as his company employees, perform the song ‘Envision’ from the Village Theatre original musical, ‘Watt?!?’ at First Stage. By Sam Freeman/Village Theatre

Matt Shimkus (in cowboy hat), as Joseph Coors, and ensemble members, as his company employees, perform the song ‘Envision’ from the Village Theatre original musical, ‘Watt?!?’ at First Stage. By Sam Freeman/Village Theatre

Irreverence is bliss.

That is apparent in “Watt?!?”, Village Theatre’s newest original musical from the brain of an established comedy mastermind. Based on the life of James Watt, President Ronald Reagan’s infamous Secretary of the Interior who took an extreme line against conservation and environmentalism, the referential production flies through his life like a rock n’ roll whirlwind. Satire and absurdity are on the agenda as Village Theatre’s talented actors display Watt’s most notable quotes and actions in song.

David Javerbaum, the Emmy award-winning former head writer of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and co-author of “America (The Book),” said using Watt as a protagonist just came to him out of the blue one day.

“I can’t say for any reason why,” Javerbaum said in a private, in-person interview. “I just started thinking very quickly that he would make a very good hero for a show.”

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KIDSTAGE presents ‘Legally Blonde’

July 23, 2013

From July 27 to Aug. 4, Village Theatre’s KIDSTAGE SummerStock program will perform “Legally Blonde: The Musical” at the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays. There will be an additional 2 p.m. show Aug. 3. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $18 for youths and seniors.

Photos by Jean Johnson/Village Theatre Above, Enacting the song ‘Chip on My Shoulder’ from the Village Theatre KIDSTAGE production of ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’ are (from left) Kaija Stern (Margot), Emma Watanabe (Serena), Olivia Marcus (Pilar), Tatum Ludlam (Elle) and Nat Zang (Emmett). At right, Elle shares a moment with her Chihuahua, Bruiser (Marley).

Photo by Jean Johnson/Village Theatre
Enacting the song ‘Chip on My Shoulder’ from the Village Theatre KIDSTAGE production of ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’ are (from left) Kaija Stern (Margot), Emma Watanabe (Serena), Olivia Marcus (Pilar), Tatum Ludlam (Elle) and Nat Zang (Emmett).

The theatre’s KIDSTAGE SummerStock program allows kids ages 8 to 18 the opportunity to work onstage and backstage in productions under the guidance of industry professionals. Each musical is professionally directed and designed, and features a live orchestra, beautiful sets, costumes, lighting and sound.

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Cool off indoors with hot KIDSTAGE ‘Kiss Me Kate’

July 9, 2013

Now that Independence Day has rolled past and summer has officially kicked off, outdoor activities abound as the weather becomes more accommodating.

However, Village Theatre has something for those who enjoy a nicely air-conditioned event, indoors, free from the sun’s hot glare. The KIDSTAGE summer independent production series presents “Kiss Me Kate,” a fresh take on the Cole Porter classic musical.

By Jean Johnson/Village Theatre Shannon McEldowney (Lois/Bianca), Chandler Gerdes (Hortensio), Jake Nicholson (Bill/Lucentio), and Nick McCarthy (Gremio) perform the song ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ in the Village Theatre KIDSTAGE production of ‘Kiss Me Kate.’

By Jean Johnson/Village Theatre
Shannon McEldowney (Lois/Bianca), Chandler Gerdes (Hortensio), Jake Nicholson (Bill/Lucentio), and Nick McCarthy (Gremio) perform the song ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ in the Village Theatre KIDSTAGE production of ‘Kiss Me Kate.’

Director Tucker Goodman said the production should appeal to a wide audience.

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‘Chicago’

May 7, 2013

Village Theatre hopes to slay with killer musical,

Taryn Darr stars as Roxie Hart in Village Theatre’s musical production of ‘Chicago.’ By Mike Hipple

Taryn Darr stars as Roxie Hart in Village Theatre’s musical production of ‘Chicago.’
By Mike Hipple

How do you turn a story about murder in the 1920s into something sexy, modern and entertaining? That’s the question Village Theatre does not  have any trouble answering as the musical “Chicago” opens May 9.

After six weeks of production design and only four or five weeks of rehearsal time, the John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse musical will play through June 29 and then move out for an Everett run from July 5 through July 28. The traditionally dazzling show follows a murderer-turned-celebrity in prohibition-era Chicago with a satirical, darkly comedic eye.

When asked why Village Theatre decided to put on “Chicago,” Director Steve Tomkins had an easy answer.

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Village Theatre original ‘Trails’ debuts

March 12, 2013

When Village Theatre announces a new season, tucked in among the productions is usually something original that will have audiences eager to be the first to experience.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of other recent original musicals with their roots in Issaquah, such as “Next to Normal” and “Million Dollar Quartet,” comes “Trails,” opening March 14.

By Mike Hipple/Village Theatre Joshua Carter (left), in the role of Seth, and Dane Stokinger as Mike, appear in the Village Theatre production of ‘Trails.’

By Mike Hipple/Village Theatre
Joshua Carter (left), in the role of Seth, and Dane Stokinger as Mike, appear in the Village Theatre production of ‘Trails.’

“Trails” debuted with its first reading during Village Theatre’s 2011 season’s Festival of New Musicals.

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Young actor readies for encore in ‘The Music Man’

February 5, 2013

Josh Feinsilber rehearses at The 5th Avenue Theatre as Winthrop Paroo in 'The Music Man.' By Jeff Carpenter/The 5th Avenue Theatre

Josh Feinsilber rehearses at The 5th Avenue Theatre as Winthrop Paroo in ‘The Music Man.’ By Jeff Carpenter/The 5th Avenue Theatre

River City, Iowa — a Main Street, U.S.A., hamlet created as the setting for Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” — is almost home for performer Josh Feinsilber.

The fledgling actor and Pacific Cascade Middle School sixth-grader portrayed shy Winthrop Paroo in a July 2012 youth production at Village Theatre and is poised to return to stage in the role as The 5th Avenue Theatre rolls out “The Music Man” on Feb. 7.

Josh, 12, is eager to slip into the role again after a turn in Village Theatre’s “Fiddler on the Roof” — a record-setting smash for the Issaquah playhouse.

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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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