Browsing All Posts filed under »Personal Reflections«

Into the Woods (Studio East)

March 1, 2013

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The Witch (Sean Ben-Zvi) appeals to Rapunzel (Gwyneth Casey). Studio East 2013.
Studio East fearlessly kicked off February with its triumphal production of Steven Sondheim’s challenging musical “Into the Woods”. Two casts take on the complex task of performing the limited run. “Into the Woods” tells the story of a childless Baker and his wife on a quest to remove a curse preventing them from having children. In their effort to lift the curse, they come across an assortment of fairy tale characters ranging from Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (and the beanstalk), a pair of Princes and others. Act 1 deals with each of the characters seeking their ‘happily ever after”, while Act II reveals the rarely seen consequences which follow their “happily ever after”.

The play begins with spotlights on three scenes: Cinderella wishing that she could go to the Festival with her step-sisters; Jack and his mother lamenting the condition of their cow Milky-White, wishing that their cow would give them milk and a Baker and his wife melancholy over their inability to have a child. What is most interesting is not so much what each wishes for, but what each is willing to do in pursuit of achieving their wishes and the final state of each after their wishes has come true.

Into the Woods” is a challenging production to execute successfully from the rapid scene changes and detailed sets, the assortment of characters, costumes and Sondheim’s sophisticated musical score and marvelously rich lyrics which are often required to be recited with varied meter, pitch and beat. Not an easy task for an adult professional production, but Studio East attempts and succeeds with young adults and children.

Late September Dogs (Hard Rock Cafe)

October 4, 2012

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Last Friday night, I did something which I have not done in a long, long time. I drove into downtown Seattle and paid for overpriced parking just to see a live band play. Which band could drag me twenty miles into town and motivate me to fight the traffic and parking nightmare which is downtown Seattle? The band which inspired me was Late September Dogs (LSD) and they were headlining at the Hard Rock Cafe. I became aware of the band several months ago and have been listening to their music as part of my playlist ever since. Here was a chance to see for myself what kind of live show they put on.

From their website (http://www.lateseptemberdogs.com/), I discovered that the band was formally created 1996 in Torino, Italy. Eventually they answered the call of LA and moved to the States, only to flee to the more band friendly Seattle area. Check out their website for the colorful details. Band members have come and gone over the years, but Late September Dogs have continued rocking it out for over a decade held together by the dynamic brother and sister tandem of Lyzz and Dann Tyson, the heart and soul core of LSD.

Godspell (Studio East)

August 14, 2012

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On Friday, August 10th Studio East followed up its smash summer musical, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” with an opening night sellout of “Godspell” over at the Studio East Mainstage Theater in Kirkland. Boasting a cast of over twenty children and teens, Studio East joyfully takes on one of Stephen Schwartz and Broadways’ most successfully but challenging musicals and succeeds in conveying the heart of the show to an engaged and delighted audience. Clearly Studio East does not shy away from controversial, sensitive or demanding productions.

Before attending the performance, I was familiar with Victor Garber’s performance in “Godspell” the movie but was unsure of what to expect from a live production performed by a cast with an average age of twelve. Studio East surprised me right out of the gate, by the provocative decision to cast a young lady (Jordan Williams) in the role of Jesus. Did I mention that they were not afraid to be controversial? I wisely determined to withhold judgment and give the performance a chance, as by the time the curtain closed, I found myself curiously moved by the production. I will speak to this later in the review.

Thoroughly Modern Millie (Studio East)

July 31, 2012

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After attending Thoroughly Modern Millie performed by Studio East at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center, I am reminded that one of the things that I love most about theater is when a performance can not only entertain you but also inspire you and make you reflect upon it and life. The danger of being a critic or reviewing works of art, is that over time we can become cynical or hyper-critical. We lose the spirit and heart of the show and begin to see only the technical implementation. This would be akin to evaluating poetry solely on rhyme and form over the author's ability to inspire us to see and feel their emotion. I read some reviews and I wonder if the reviewer was driven to find something to criticize, just so that they could feel like they were objective and doing their job. The problem is that all art is subjective, it is filtered through the observer. Therefore, our impressions speak more about us at times, than the actual subject of our review.

Studio East Training for the Performing Arts was founded in 1992 with the vision of creating a place where children and teens can learn about the theatrical arts. Their mission is simply, "Studio East creates opportunities for young people to discover and explore the performing arts." They believe that through that pursuit, children will learn the discipline, dedication and teamwork to be successful not only on the stage, but off the stage. They are correct. The beauty is that in learning this for themselves, they expose audiences to this idea as well. We catch glimpses of it and although we may not always be able to consciously recognize or articulate it, we are moved and for a time we are changed by it. This was my first time attending a performance by Studio East, so I took my seat without much expectation. I must say that I was delightfully surprised.

Hidden in Dreams by Davis Bunn (Book Review)

July 30, 2012

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Shared prophetic dreams, mysterious assailants, corporate intrigue, conspiracies and the threat of global financial collapse conspire to push Dr. Elena Burroughs, the world’s foremost expert on dream analysis, to the forefront as the drama unfolds while the world watches. Burroughs’ situation is further complicated by being forced by circumstance to work closely with her most ardent critic, Jacob Rawlings whom previously had publically chastened her for her faith in a vicious debate which resulted in loss of professional prestige.

In Hidden in Dreams, Davis Bunn explores not only the nature and mystery of dreams and their impact upon the dreamer but also touches upon the role of faith and belief in our modern science culture which is becoming increasingly hostile to the notion of anything which is not purely secular. It also deals with the complex and deeply human reaction to betrayal, how we learn to cultivate trust in others, especially those whom have betrayed us historically or with whom we have philosophically little in common with and how many people opt for the safety of believing only that which they know they can quantifiably prove scientifically.

If We Are the Sum of the Roles We Play in Life; Who Are We When We Are Not Playing a Role?

April 23, 2012

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How does one define their identity and their worth? Is it the roles that they play during this life, their level of activity, whether or not they are in charge or serving in some capacity? What does it say about a person who is very comfortable when placed in charge of something or similarly at ease when serving behind the scenes BUT is clearly ill-at-ease when asked to just be part of something without being asked to be in charge of it or even serving in any capacity?

In a meeting over lunch, I was challenged by the observation of a friend who pointed out that he's noticed that behavior in me. This began my meditation and mental wrestling with why I am like that and what that says about my personal assessment of my own value and worth. If all of life’s a stage, what does that say about us when we don't have an active role to play during a scene? Do we transpose this evaluation framework on other people; assessing their value based on what they do or what they might be able to do for us?

If you have ever wrestled with something similar, I encourage you to read on and hopefully share your experience(s) with me.

April 12, 2012

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Originally posted on Scripta Manent:
I met a friend earlier in the week just to talk and catch up.  I tend to spend a lot of quiet time by myself, so when I get the opportunity to speak to an actual human being, I have a tendency to monopolize the conversation.  I don’t set out…