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copious love suggests

Copious Love Suggests: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

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“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Rogue Theatrics
At TPS Studio 4
Through: November 3th
TICKETS: $17 – $20

by Chelsea Madsen

There are few shows closer to my heart than A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was the first play by Shakespeare that I read, understood immediately, and fell in love with. It’s the show I have acted in most frequently throughout the years, the very last show that Lacy and I both acted in together, and the very first that we directed side by side. In my eyes, it is the most perfect script in the history of the world. It is effortlessly hilarious, easy to understand even if you aren’t familiar with the Bard, touching and captivating, regardless of how it is produced. You don’t have to try very hard to get swept up in the magic of it all. Rouge Theatrics’ darker more gothic re-imagination is different than most of the versions I have seen of this show but it still captured my heart just the same. Blending ghouls with the faeries and highlighting the dramatic where others have focused on the comedic worked with surprising ease. I always get excited when theatre companies decide to think outside the box with the classics, and this show does just that. It honors the script and the characters beautifully, and throws in an original pinch of darkness. For me, this only adds to the mystique.

Before the show, we hear wind rustling through trees over the speakers, bringing us into the moment. Without much effort, since we came in from the blustery cold, the audience is instructed to take our minds deep into the woods. Somewhere close, a supernatural storm is brewing. The set exemplifies this without being too much. It illustrates the otherworldly forest and the mortal ground equally and lets the characters do the rest. If you know nothing about Midsummer, it is a show entirely about relationships, the endless plight of male versus female, and the fight for understanding in the opposite sex. Even the King and Queen of Faerie land, with all their magic, have domestic quarrels.

I have to admit that I am a little biased, but I was supremely impressed by the cast of this show. Each actor was spot on in their role. There were some obvious technical issues throughout the first two scenes as lights changed erratically and the actors were left with no lights at one point, but not one line was dropped and the energy of the actors shone bright even in total darkness. The Lovers, as mortal and human as ever, are impossible not to relate to. They bring the audience right back to high school, loving with teenage urgency and fighting with uneasy angst, emotion always boiling right below the surface. The choice to cast a woman as Lysander was inspired; especially with the election right around the corner and Referendum 74 on the ballot. It gave their marriage at the end much more meaning. Elaine Huber brings a quick wit and gentle tenderness to her character, making it impossible to question why Hermia would so quickly run away to Athens in order to be married. Helena, played by Amberlee Williams, is a tortured, complicated girl with the emotional maturity of a 14 year old. Amberlee plays her like a fiddle, never annoying, and extremely eloquent. When you give her a chance, and listen, Helena actually understands more about relationships than she leads on, honestly knowing exactly what she is doing. The portrayal of Puck by Kyle James Traver is twisted and erotic. I enjoyed seeing this different side to a beloved character, he hisses and groans, raspy and intense, like he is telling the audience a well-kept secret. I loved it at first; we are hanging on every word, Puck is such a dramatic gossip after all! Although I am confused about the decision for him to constantly use this stage whisper. It was great when we could hear him, occasionally coming through in a raised cackle, then drops again and we strain to hear anything at all. I understand the intention but it was somewhat distracting, especially while interacting with the rest of the faeries.

Oh! The faeries, or should I say ghouls? They are feral but enticing, as if they combined zombies with forest spirits. As they emerge from the trees, the troupe makes guttural, ravaging noises, inhuman and hungry, it was very intriguing. I only wish they used those noises more frequently through the show. When they come together and unite, the effect is wonderfully unsettling. I would be remiss to not mention the Mechanicals, the players within the play, the comic relief, who perform the funniest end to a play ever written. Every single time I see Pyramus and Thisbe, I laugh just as hard as I did the very first time. Patrick Svensson portrays the great balancing act of Peter Quince with consistency, appearing both (appropriately) anxious and stable, at the same time. Kieran Adcock-Starr plays a pitch perfect Bottom the Weaver, sincere and genuine with just the right amount of “modesty,” his comedic timing is something to be observed. Several times throughout the show you think he will absolutely steal the scene, as Bottom would do, but instead his energy only boosts everyone on stage to perform at his level. This comedic camaraderie, is something I adore seeing on stage, and such a testament to the great direction of Jennifer Nöel Klouse.

All in all, this show is pretty stellar and I highly suggest it; if you can afford it. That is one drawback that I do have to mention, the tickets prices are a bit steep for TPS Room 4. The average price is $20 with the student/TPS discount at $17. To be honest it was a little more than advertised on the Facebook event, which said $15-$20 day of the show. Good thing we brought extra cash or we wouldn’t have been able to attend! For more info you can visit

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Copious Love Suggests: “Wdeunfrol Wdors”

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“Wdeunfrol Wdors (Language Art)”
8 Vignettes by Shel Silverstein & David Ives
Directed by Maureen Hawkins
At Stone Soup Theatre
Through November 11th
TICKETS: $14 – $25, $18 for seniors.
Thursdays after preview: Pay-What-You-Will

by John Paul Sharp

I was invited to come see “Wdeunfrol Wdors” by the artistic director of Stone Soup for their opening weekend. Just to put out any potential biases I may have: I have worked with Stone Soup briefly this year, helping them to promote this play as well as their upcoming annual holiday show, “Christmas in Whales.”  Stone Soup Theater puts out adult shows like the one I watched last night, but they also produce many youth-oriented shows through their educational division, which I will be part of in the late Spring, music directing “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Everyone I have met at Stone Soup seems to be extremely passionate about theater and dedicated to their craft. But how are their shows? After all, passion and dedication only go so far as the work produced.

When you first step into the black box theater at Stone Soup, you may be taken aback at the small size of the space. Well, that is, if you’ve never stepped into a black box theater before. I’ve stepped into, acted and directed in black box theaters before, so I wasn’t surprised. What did surprise me, ever so pleasantly, was the creative use of the space throughout the show. “Wdeunfrol Wdors,” or Wonderful Words, features 8 one-act plays by the famous Shel Silverstein and David Ives. That being said, there were six major transitions during the play to go from one act to the next. The transitions were flawless and we barely had much waiting time. They made use of the boards at the top to hang tires, signs, and bags of laundry!  Each act had its own specific look and feel and the ensemble cast were focused and efficient during set changes.

Perhaps, more importantly, the actors for the show were pretty phenomenal. James Lyle and Sarah Rose Nottingham impressed me right away with their ability to speak in an entirely new language, during the first one-act play, “The Universal Language” by Ives. As an actor myself, I knew how difficult it must have been for the both of them to memorize lines not even in regular English syntax! The play on words for this first act was really quite funny, but I think the humor is mostly intellectual and so if you’re not hip to some language arts references, you may not get everything being said. However, most of the content is understandable by every-day folks.

Rebecca Parker O’Neil was an absolute riot in the many roles she played. I definitely think I got the majority of my laughs from her.  She was very watchable throughout the evening, but I have to say my favorite act she was in was “One Tennis Shoe” by Silverstein. I don’t want to give it away, but this act is about a couple having dinner and discussing the way people can change as they grow into their older years. She was freakin’ hilarious. “One Tennis Show” was easily my favorite act in the show.  I laughed so hard through it!

Jaryl Draper was, in my opinion, the easiest to watch because of his total conviction. Perhaps the best act he played in was “The Lifeboat is Sinking” by Silverstein. The emotional roller coaster he endured as his wife, played by Erin Ison, gave him countless scenarios in which he had to make a decision. I’ve seen Draper perform in other shows around town, namely Shakespeare in the Park and he is always a top-notch actor. You know how you see some actors in shows and you can see them drop in and out of character? I’ve never seen Draper do that and to me, that is what makes a great actor; someone who never leaves their character at any point, no matter how difficult!

Overall, the ensemble acting was some of the best I’ve seen in a long time and I suspect that’s partly due to the great direction of Maureen Hawkins as well as the actors themselves. In the case of this show, the acting was phenomenal simply because of the sheer difficulty each act provided. For example, in the act “Words, Words, Words” by Ives, Lyle, O’Neil and Zachariah Robinson all spoke in three different European accents. Robinson’s Irish accent was, by far, the most convincing.

I don’t have much criticism for this show. Even the cookies sold at the refreshment stand were so good, they were definitely worth the $2 cost!  My partner Lector bought three of them!  I do think a can of soda could go for one dollar instead of two, but hey, it’s all for local, independent theater, right?

I encourage you to go see this show if you’re into great acting, language arts, or Silverstein and Ives. Regular admission is a little pricey, but definitely worth the money if you’ve got it.  If you don’t, there are lots of options for seeing the show at a discounted price.  In fact, every Thursday until the end of the run are Pay-What-You-Will!  So come on down and see the show.  It’s running until November 11th!

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Copious Love Suggests: “Pullman Porter Blues”

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“The Rep can sing the Blues”
by Lacy Sarco

Pullman Porter Blues by Cheryl L. West playing at Seattle Rep through October 28

First of all, I love that The Rep is opening its 50th anniversary season with a new original play by a Seattle playwright. Nurturing original and local works means the world to me and I couldn’t be happier that a brand new show is gracing one of the largest stages in the city. Second of all, Pullman Porter Blues was a completely immersive theatre experience that transported me onto the Panama Limited line and took me on their amazing journey. From the set, to the music and the characters I was totally enthralled from beginning to end. I was surprised to be filled with a rush of emotion at the very beginning as the “steel curtain” was drawn up to reveal a full train car and the three generations of porters began to sing a heart wrenching railroad blues while they worked in a synchronized, almost militant fashion. It was so beautifully done that I just wanted to cry. The set was gorgeous, the blues were penetrating, and the actors worked so well together. I thought maybe it was just because I had been waiting so long to see this show that it was just emotion born from excitement, but that same rush of emotion hit me again at the end as they reprised in front of the steel curtain. But my tears came flowing out shortly thereafter as the lights came up for curtain call and the porters had real tears in their eyes. It is hard not to be moved, whether audience or cast, when the story is one of fathers working their lives away so that the next generation won’t have too. The most poignant line for me was “sometimes a man has to work hard for a freedom that he ain’t never see”.

The way West contrasted the African American porters with the Caucasian characters in the show was brilliant. It was evident that the porters fought hard and worked even harder to make a good life for their families. Each generation of porters hoped more for their sons and each generation was more educated and determined to have a better life for their sons. While the Caucasian characters just accepted the lives they were given. For instance as the grandfather, Monroe, and father, Sylvester, saved every penny to send the son, Cephus, to medical school, the Caucasian conductor, Tex, squandered his money and couldn’t send his children to school even though he was paid three times as much. It seemed that he was ashamed to be jealous of the porters but I think he had every reason to be. Also, the white woman, Lutie, was a severely uneducated bum and made fun of Cephus for being so well spoken and well mannered. While Lutie was train hopping, the porters were making an honest earning and living on the trains. Though the porters were looked down upon by the people they served I was rooting for them all along because it was apparent to me that they were far better people than Tex and Lutie could ever hope to be and to me that was a true story of triumph in the face of adversity.

I was also very intrigued with the use of multimedia on stage. This was a play with blues music but in no way a musical. Each character had a very real reason to sing the blues and the songs came so naturally. The use of choreography never seemed forced because it was either them dancing or moving to get their work done in a methodical way. The blues singer, Sister Juba, and her band helped in that respect. Playing live music and giving the actors a reason to dance and sing as well. Sister Juba was amazing! A big black woman who crooned the blues in a longing and determined way, spoke her mind to anyone who would listen, and smoked real cigarettes on stage! I’m not even a smoker but I am a big advocate of smoking on stage I think it is a sensory experience that is hard to fake with stage cigarettes and it can really transport an audience into a scene because they can see, hear and smell that characters smoke. Seeing an actress smoking on stage at The Rep was a big highlight for me.

The set was astounding, they managed to build a beautiful, luxury train on stage. Even the frame of the stage was what looked like mahogany wood with gold accents, there were cabinets and shelves that opened and lights for each cabin that would buzz and light up when the passengers needed the porters assistance. The moving pieces of the set flowed so well from scene to scene that I felt like I was walking through the Panama Limited from bar car, to cabin, to suite, to caboose. Along with the amazing set there was also a very clever use of projection. It projected several images through the show, sometimes a map that routed the places the train was moving through, and at times it was railroad tracks or overlaid silhouettes of railroad slaves, but altogether it moved through the scenes in a seamless and non-distracting way and it always enhanced the feel of each scene.

I was truly impressed by Seattle Rep’s production of Cheryl West’s Pullman Porter Blues. The actors were great, the direction was spot on, and the story was touching. I have high hopes for the rest of the 50th anniversary season because this show definitely started it out with a bang! Someday this will be a classic but for now it is an original and exciting show. Everything from the fog rolling off the stage at the beginning, to the blues band playing their music, to the smell of Sister Juba’s cigarette made me fall deeper into the Pullman Porter Blues and I almost did not want to fall out. For that I am truly grateful for the Seattle Rep because being physically affected in a way that I haven’t before by a new play is what live theatre is all about.

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Copious Love Suggests: RENT and The Taming of the Shrew

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Copious Love Suggests: RENT (Onstage tickets for $20!!! I’ll tell you how…) and The Taming of the Shrew (FREE Shakespeare! In the park! No excuses!)

This is totally unfair, I am sorry this information is coming to you so late, by the time you will read this you will only have a couple days left to witness the fabulous performances I am demanding that you see. I have been technologically at a disadvantage and unable to write as frequently as I normally do and I have been waiting to gush about these shows for like, a week.  So bear with me, in the future, as we here at CLP go to see shows, and make suggestions about shows we have enjoyed and want you to see, I intend to tell you the very next day!! Not at the last minute when tickets might be sparse and it might be impossible for you to see it, so please accept my apologies! My intent with these blogs is to spread the word about our fellow company members and friends as they perform about town doing the fabulous things they do (act, sing, dance, read, show off their great art, and generally be silly), we want to spread the word about our fellow independent theatre companies as they put on great shows and hopefully persuade you to go out and support these incredible assets to YOUR artistic community. So without further ado, i’ll shut up and give you my suggestions…

RENT (5th Avenue Theatre, various ticket prices, until Sunday Aug.19th):
RENT (always in capitals because it warrants them) is my all-time favorite musical. I cry, literally throughout, the entire performance. Every. Single. Time.  If you have never been to see this beautiful, tragic, inspiring piece of theatre; I implore you to go! You will not regret it. In short, a bunch of late twenty something artists live, fairly illegally, in a loft building in NYC. They live, love, make art, explore their sexuality, and face the ever present drug culture and ultimately- AIDS. I think this would be my 5th or 6th time seeing the show live and this was by far the best. As I sat, onstage- surrounded by the chorus members, I started to wonder what felt so different. It wasn’t being onstage, it wasn’t the slight differences in vision, no those were minimal and really well done; it was the fact that even though I knew a song was coming up, even though I know every actor could sing that song in his or her sleep, every single actor sang it OUT like they’ve been waiting to sing it their entire life. Like those words had been bubbling up for an eternity and just spilled out. There was passion in lines that I had never heard, ferocity where I’d never seen it. It was real, it was in the moment and it was fresh. A twenty plus year old script and music, fresh? That’s talent people. Go pay your respects. If you are 16-30 years of age, get your ass to the box office at 12noon, bring your ID and snag a seat ONSTAGE for $20!!

The Taming of the Shrew
(various locales around town, for info,
FREE! Until Aug.18th):
There are a very few amount of things I enjoy more in this life than theatre. Theatre in a park is even better, theatre in a park, on a sunny day with friends and wine? You see where I am going with this, I can tell. So I’ll get down to it, Shakespeare + park+sun+wine+friends+FREE= perfection. Picture this, if you go see Shakespeare in the park for free and have a great time (you will), just by being there soaking up these incredibly well cast and performed shows, you will be supporting a massively important company. GreenStage puts on totally free, professionally produced and performed SHAKESPEARE in the most beautiful parks Seattle has to offer. Did I mention it’s FREE? There is a stipulation around town that this costs money, I’ve heard a couple excuses but you have none! Take a date, take your mom, FOR GOD SAKES TAKE YOUR KIDS!! Okay, maybe not to Henry VII (yet) but definitely to Taming of the Shrew, this show is really worth it. The choreography is flawless and visually engaging, the comedy is played up just right without going over the top and modernized in all the right places. A big shout out to Copious Love alumni, Fox Rain Matthews, who gives a hilarious and memorable performance as the love struck Lucentio; out to win the heart of the intensely sought after Bianca. All in all, after 24 years, GreenStage is only getting better and better. Some tips would be to come early to get a great spot (I can’t emphasize this enough), bring sunscreen, chairs, and water. Also if you feel generous, bring a couple dollars to help keep bringing back these wonderful shows. Enjoy!!

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Copious Love Suggests

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We’re getting down to the wire on our own production schedule for Alice’s Anthem, and I am constantly amazed that everyone we associate with is also as crazy busy. For the next couple of weeks our actors are featured in some other spectacular performances happening around town, and we highly suggest you join us in checking them out!

Bingo Break by John Paul Sharp (Author/Director)

Bingo Break is a short play written and directed by John Paul Sharp for the Writers and Actors Reading and Performing Spring Showcase, “10 Plays in May,” in Seattle, to premiere May 3rd, 2012 at the Seattle Center Theatre Puget Sound 4 Blackbox. Starring Scot Bastian as “Janice,” Ellen Covey as “Jackie,” Josephine DeLellis as “Mary” and Mara Stevë as “Dolly, the Bingo Caller.”

The Full Monty featuring Jillian Callahan (Actor)

Seeing how much their wives enjoy their “Girls’ Night Out,” unemployed steelworkers in Buffalo, New York come up with a bold way to make some quick cash. In the process they find renewed self esteem, the importance of friendship, and the ability to have fun.

As the guys work through their fears, self-consciousness, feelings of worthlessness and anxieties (over everything from being overweight to child custody, bigotry to being gay), they come to discover that not only are they stronger as a group, but that the strength they find in each other gives them the individual courage to face their demons and overcome them.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change featuring Jordan Louie (Violin)

Off-Broadway’s longest running musical, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is a musical comedy about love in suburbia. It has been described as “Seinfeld set to music.” The talented comedic actors play over 40 roles as they explore the various ups and downs of love and different types of relationships. From single life to dating to marriage to the end of relationships, this play explores the whole cycle with humor, emotion, and insight. Perfect for anyone who’s ever experienced the ups and downs of modern romance, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change has inspired at least 57 proposals in its own audience, each of them answered with a “yes.” Come see this inspiring, laugh-out-loud funny musical celebration of relationships.

The House of Bernarda Alba featuring Jen Davies (Actor)

At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Federico Garcia Lorca finished what would be his final masterpiece, The House of Bernarda Alba. Two months later he was killed for his leftist politics.

After the death of her second husband, Bernarda Alba decrees a traditional eight-year mourning period. Tyranically ruling over her five daughters, she will do anything to safeguard her family’s place in the community and daughter’s futures. Jealousy and suppressed sexuality quickly rise to the surface, leading to rebellion and a tragically inevitable ending. Expressing the costs of repressing the freedom of others, 75 years later The House of Bernarda Alba is still a timeless work, particularly in today’s political climate.