Ever wish you could be a fly on the wall at your favorite venues? Would you like to know what the people who choose the shows can’t wait to see themselves? So would we! That’s why, in addition to the usual question—“What’s onstage this fall?”—we asked South Sound theater staff, “What are you personally excited about this season?” And while they—and we!—encourage you to partake in all the exciting productions this year, we are letting you in on a few picks from our insiders, flies on the wall if you will.
The 2012-13 season at the WASHINGTON CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS in Olympia is packed with diversity of origin and style, featuring jazz ballet from Montreal, touring musicals from Broadway, lectures from National Geographic, imperial acrobats from China, and opera from the Met on the big screen. Interim Executive Director Kevin Boyer shared his own “staff picks” list, which includes preferences as wide-ranging as the personalities. Several staffers mentioned the touring shows for STOMP!, ROCK OF AGES and BROADWAY’S NEXT HIT MUSICAL, while others chose LES BALLETS JAZZ and SPECTRUM DANCE THEATER.
As for Boyer’s own picks? After some soul-searching to narrow down the choices, he proclaimed: “Our must-see fall show is THE MYSTICAL ARTS OF TIBET.” For a full week in October, the multiphonic singers of Tibet’s Drepung Loseling Monastery invite the public, free of charge, to watch them create a vibrant sand mandala, a graphic, symbolic pattern made of colored sand. After a performance of sacred music and dance, the group will celebrate their time in the community with a procession to Percival Landing to place the sands from the mandala in the sea as an offering of peace.
Lacey Leffler, marketing director at the BROADWAY CENTER in Tacoma, shared her must-sees for the season: In October, DALA, the Canadian singer/songwriter duo brings their award-winning pop tunes and “infectiously appealing” charm to the South Sound. Also in October, the touring company of the Pulitzer- and nine-time Tony-award-winning A CHORUS LINE takes you backstage, through the grit and grind and needful optimism of Broadway auditions. Leffler also recommends VIDEO GAMES LIVE WITH TACOMA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA in November. Relive those catchy tunes from your favorite video games from childhood (or yesterday) with a fantastic light- and video-filled production.
John Munn of LAKEWOOD PLAYHOUSE has a lot to be excited about this season. “It’s my first season as managing artistic director, 30 years from my first appearance as an actor here,” he said. He’s looking forward to two directors making their Lakewood debut in both of the fall main-stage shows and the remounting of an often-requested audience favorite.
In Lakewood’s traditional fall mystery slot, SHERLOCK’S LAST CASE, by Charles Marowitz, brings some unexpected characters to the Holmesian world and packs a first-act twist to surprise even the well-seasoned Holmes fan. For Halloween, a special performance of the fifth annual HALLOWEEN RADIO SHOW comes to the stage, where live sound effects accompany the actors in a spooky radio play that harkens back to the Golden Age of Radio. Finally, with Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT, you’ll enjoy the tale of mischief, friendship and love-in-disguise in a mummer- style period production with plenty of audience participation.
At TACOMA LITTLE THEATRE, the main-stage shows are a study in contrasts. September opens with SYLVIA, a romantic comedy about a man, his wife, and “the other woman”—a stray dog, played by a lap-cuddling, face-licking, territory-protecting woman. In October, the mood darkens with NIGHT WATCH, a psychological thriller of the Hitchcock school, then buoys beautifully for the holidays with MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET. But ask Production Manager Brie Yost what she’s most looking forward to and she’ll tell you, “This season is really exciting because we are bringing back the second-stage series.” Beginning after the New Year, keep your eyes open for THE LARAMIE PROJECT, a compelling docudrama about the real-life tragedy of Matthew Shepard, and THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE, ABRIDGED, in which three actors impossibly, hilariously stage 37 plays in two hours.
As lovers of and advocates for theater and the arts, the staff, board members and volunteers at our South Sound theaters want the audience to feel a sense of community. Any fly on the wall could attest that the audience—that’s you—is the entire reason for selecting the acts and events each season. Make your own “picks list,” and set a date to see something new and surprising. And if you ever feel overwhelmed by the choices? Ask your friends for their suggestion—a great night at the theater is all about a fresh perspective.
EMILIE ROMMEL SHIMKUS