Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Scene

So what do we do out here in the provinces when we put down the bow saw, clean the catch, and take off our waders? Actually, amidst the cedars, mountains and some spotted owls, the upper left edge of the nation is a thriving cultural milieu.

Haling originally from the Empire State, I am regularly reminded by colleagues “we don’t care how they do it in New York.” Yet, Seattle is prone to the occasional comparison with the Big Apple. Allegedly Seattle’s theatre scene is only second to New York’s (for some reason I suspect other burbs might make that same assertion.) Without question, however, Seattle’s theatre sphere is outstanding. A glance at the Seattle Performs website lists 168 local theatre companies. The big stages in town are the Moore Theatre, the Intiman, the Fifth Avenue, ACT (A Contemporary Theatre), the Paramount, the Seattle Rep (Seattle Repertory Theatre), and the Seattle Children’s Theatre. Unfortunately, however, NACAC begins at the end of our summer, when the arts are taking a well deserved rest.

So what’s playing during the NACAC Conference?

A Contemporary Theatre (immediately next to the Convention Center)
Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Allison Narver

One minute you’re madly in love, as only a couple of kids can be. The next minute, you’re – well, dead. Cross the River of Forgetting on a one-way cruise to the Underworld in this fantastic and original retelling of a classic Greek myth. With its express elevator to Hades, a chorus of snarky talking stones, and the Lord of the Underworld holding court from the seat of his red tricycle, Eurydice is as achingly vivid as your best dreams – and just as surreal. From the author of The Clean House, a huge hit in our 2007 season.

Show times Tuesday, September 23 through Thursday, September 25 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday (Sept 26 & 27) 8 p.m.

The Intiman Theatre (201 Mercer Street; close to EMP; 1.99 miles from the Convention Center – take the Monorail :)
All the King’s Men by Adrian Hall
In the presidential election year, Intiman completes its five-year American Cycle with Adrian Hall’s towering adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s fictionalized portrait of Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long, which the New York Times calls the “definitive novel about American politics.” Warren ’s novel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is a masterfully written, vital look at the temptations and complexities of power. This bold adaptation teems with life on stage, featuring a cast of 16 actors plus musicians.

Performances begin on September 26; show times Friday and Saturday at 8 pm.

The Paramount Theatre (911 Pine Street; 0.59 miles from the Convention Center)
Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Weber
Directed by Harold Prince
Traces the tragic love story of a beautiful opera singer and a young composer shamed by his physical appearance into a shadowy existence beneath the majestic Paris Opera House. Adapted from Gaston Leroux's classic novel of mystery and suspense, this award-winning musical has woven its magical spell over standing room audiences in more than 100 cities worldwide and is now the longest-running show in Broadway history.

Show times Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday 8 p.m.; Saturday 2 and 8 p.m.

The Moore Theatre; 1932 Second Avenue (0.83 miles from the Convention Center)
Thursday, September 25 @ 8 pm.
Lila Downs

Special Guest: LeRoy Bell

To bring her vision and songs to fruition, along with her seven-man band and producers Cohen, Aneiro Tano and Brian Lynch, Downs plays guitar and percussion. The band utilizes traditional instruments including accordion, harp and clarinet. The trumpet, trombone and tuba appear in several arrangements, bringing the sound somewhere between Mexico and New Orleans. In keeping with the spirit of connection, all writing, recording and performing is very collaborative: "Whoever plays with us becomes family."

Friday, September 26 @ 8 p.m.

Special Guest: The Cave Singers
There’s always been intrigue and adventure at the heart of CALEXICO. Ever since they were a largely instrumental duo experimenting with their unique collection of instruments and soundtrack sensibilities, Joey Burns and John Convertino have constantly imbued their music with an unparalleled sense of drama, calling upon the myths and iconography of the American West and its Spanish speaking neighbor Mexico, equal parts Sergio Leone, Larry McMurtry, Carlos Fuentes and Cormac McCarthy. Naming themselves after a town near the California/Mexico border in honor of this cultural mélange, they’ve spent the eighteen years since they met in Los Angeles mapping out musical territory that had otherwise been neglected or at the very least considered the preserve of historians. Now, with CARRIED TO DUST, they have defined that sound, calling upon almost two decades of exploration and an ensemble of musicians that must surely be the envy of bands throughout the world.

Seattle Repertory Theatre (155 Mercer Street; close to EMP and 1.94 miles from the Cnvtn Ctr) The Night Watcher by Charlayne Woodard
Directed by Daniel Sullivan
September 25 – October 26, 2008 (something is up with their website; couldn’t find the show times)

Playwright and actress Charlayne Woodard (Pretty Fire, Purgatorio) and director Dan Sullivan return to Seattle Rep with Woodard’s new, inspiring one-woman show. Aunt, godmother and friend to countless kids, Woodard beautifully weaves together stories of the ordinary and extraordinary ways she’s mentored the children in her life.

Saturday, September 27 @ 7 p.m.
Whose Live Anyway
Join cast members of the hit TV show Whose Line is it Anyway with Seattle’s Ryan Stiles (Whose Line Is It Anyway, Drew Carey and Two and a Half Men) plus Greg Proops, Chip Esten (ER, The Office) and Jeff Davis (Whose Line) for a night of unforgettable improv comedy and song that will leave you laughing days later. Bring your suggestions for the show and you might be asked to join the cast on stage.

The Fifth Avenue will be on break; the next season beginning in October (people in Seattle kill to take time off in August and September, btw.) And, while we’re all about education, I imagined you really weren’t interested in the Children’s Theatre schedule.

A place definitely worth alone seeing, event if you don’t have time for a performance, is breath taking Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony (200 University Street; 0.48 miles from the Convention Center). Overlooking the neighboring the central Seattle Art Museum, Benaroya occupies an entire city block and houses two performance halls. Entering the atrium your attention is riveted to two massive chandeliers by the internationally revered local glass artist Dale Chihuly. The building reflects Northwest elegance and understatement with ample wood, handsome plaster work, and alabaster light fixtures:

“The hall's traditional shape, defined by massive wood and plaster surfaces, is faceted and coffered to provide excellent acoustics and diffuse sound effectively. The wood paneling on the walls is subdivided into smaller panels, each one a different size so that each one resonates with a different frequency of sound. The arrangement of how those panels are put together, the subdivisions of those panels and the fasteners of those subdivisions are all expressed in the way the wood paneling is detailed. The result is that the physics of the acoustical design becomes an important part of the architectural design. Free public tours are held Tuesdays and Fridays at noon and 1 p.m.

During NACAC the Symphony will be performing
“Symphony of A Thousand"
Mahler: Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major

  • Gerard Schwarz, conductor

  • Lauren Flanigan, soprano

  • Jane Eaglen, soprano

  • Jane Giering-De Haan, soprano

  • Nancy Maultsby, alto

  • Jane Gilbert, alto

  • Vinson Cole, tenor

  • Clayton Brainerd, bass-baritone

  • Harold Wilson, bass

  • Northwest Boychoir

  • Seattle Pro Musica Seattle

Symphony Chorale "Symphony of A Thousand" is a work of epic proportions, calling for an enormous orchestra, large chorus and a host of soloists — aptly earning its nickname, "Symphony of A Thousand." Performances Thursday, September 25 at 7:30 and Saturday, September 26 at 2 p.m. (sorry, the Season actually starts in October; again note that the summer ends at the end of September in Seattle).

While at Benaroya you should check out SAM downtown (the Seattle Art Museum). Actually it has three locations: the uber branch;, the Seattle Asian Art Museum in its Art Deco building in Volunteer Park, and the new acclaimed Olympic Sculpture Park).

Besides exhibits the museum hosts evening events (SAM After Hours)

The Devil's Playground (1976). Arthur Dignam, Nick Tate. Digital projection, color, 107 min.
7:30–9:30 p.m., Wednesday, September 24, Plestcheeff Auditorium

We proudly present two films by writer-director Fred Schepisi, a pioneer of the 1970s Australian New Wave, who queen film critic Pauline Kael called "a great filmmaker with his own softly rhythmed style." In The Devil's Playground, Schepisi focuses (with a humorous empathy) on a school of monks and seminary students trying to discipline their minds to ignore their fleshly needs and emotional yearnings.

The second film in this series, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith takes place on Thursday, September 25, 7:30–10 p.m.

Creatively Speaking: The Artist's Point of View

Lari Pittman

Friday, September 26, 2008; 7–8 p.m., Plestcheeff Auditorium
The paintings of Los Angeles–based artist Lari Pittman are richly layered works that are inspired by advertising, folk art and decorative traditions. Hear the artist talk about his meticulously rendered artworks that explore difference and desire.

Of course, you are out of luck again as the incredible Impressionist Exhibit, which has been up since June 19 ends on September 21. Please don’t shoot the messenger. There are, of course, the permanent collections….However, at SAAM the following special exhibits will be up:

Inspired Simplicity: Contemporary Art from Korea at the SAAM Tateuchi Galleries
This exhibition showcases the work of three contemporary Korean artists who are new to SAM's permanent collection and illustrates their ties to that country's past. Each of these artists is continuing and re-interpreting an aesthetic developed during the Choson period (1392–1910), a time when Korea embraced Neo-Confucianism. Followers of Neo-Confucianism sought to cultivate self-control and humility. White was a supremely important color, signifying integrity, innocence and purity. A variety of whites, often set in beautiful contrast with cobalt blue, are displayed on porcelain works from the 17th to the 19th century.

Chinese Art: A Seattle Perspective at the SAAM Foster Galleries
This exhibit is an opportunity to see a fresh installation of SAM’s renowned collection of Chinese art at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. The collection was started by Dr. Richard Fuller, the founding director of the Seattle Art Museum, and his family in the early 1900s. It contains representative works from each dynastic period, and it is particularly strong in jades, ceramics and sculpture. Subsequent directors and curators of Chinese art have expanded the collection into areas such as painting, calligraphy, bronzes and, most recently, contemporary Chinese art. Thus, this exhibit of 167 pieces is not only a survey of the arts of China but also a chronicle of Seattle’s shifting interest in Chinese art.

Discovering Buddhist Art—Seeking the Sublime

Asian Art from SAM's Permanent Collection at the SAAM Tateuchi Galleries
The exhibition Discovering Buddhist Art—Seeking the Sublime features approximately 90 pieces of sculpture, painting, ritual implements and textiles from India, China, Tibet, Korea, Thailand and Japan. They illustrate the spectacular development of Buddhist arts and trace the influence of indigenous artistic styles and materials over 2,200 years. Intended for a wide audience, Discovering Buddhist Art is more than an introduction. It has been designed to evoke new views and stimulate appreciation for the art and material culture of one of the world's most widespread religions.

At the Olympic Sculpture Park (2901 Western Avenue, 1.39 miles from the Convention Center and a short walk from the Pike Place Market)

Dennis Oppenheim's installation Safety Cones (2007)
Composed of five gargantuan orange traffic cones that mimic the typical markers found on city streets. The installation overlays a new sense of scale on the park, not only making visitors feel diminutive in size but correcting some of the optical tricks that park architects Weiss/Manfredi designed into the space.

Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley (2033 6th Avenue in tres hip Belltown; 0.53 miles from the Convention Center).

Ed Reed and the Peck Allmond Quartet, Tuesday and Wednesday, September 23-24

The Pacific Jazz Institute at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley presents vocalist Ed Reed for two nights. Band members are Randy Porter (piano), Peck Allmond (saxes and trumpet), Scott Steed (bass) and Todd Strait (drums). Set times Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 pm. Doors open at 6pm on Tuesday and 5:30pm on Wednesday. In the Down Beat Critics’ Poll, published in the magazine’s August issue, Ed Reed placed in the “Rising Star Male Vocals” category, behind Giacamo Gates, Jamie Cullum, Theo Bleckmann, & (tied with) John Pizzarelli. This is his first appearance in the poll (a year & a half after the release of his first CD)

Maceo Parker
September 25-28, 2008

KPLU 88.5 FM and the Pacific Jazz Institute at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley present saxophonist Maceo Parker for four nights. Band members are TBA. Set times Thursday through Sunday at 7:30pm. Doors open at 5:30pm.

While James Brown is generally credited with redefining and re-energizing R&B and soul music in the 1960s, turning that revolutionary vision into a reality would not have been possible without the help of his creative collaborator, stage foil and right-hand man, saxophonist Maceo Parker. Like no other sax player before him, Parker stretched the potential of his instrument to unprecedented limits, exhibiting an uncanny ability to alternate the saxophone from a melodic instrument to a percussive one, and then back again, in the span of just a couple of beats, often less.

BTW, the above mentioned KPLU is the outstanding National Public Radio jazz station housed at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma (let the record note I just promoted the Lutes.)

The Pacific Northwest Ballet (301 Mercer Street, close to EMP, 2 miles from the Convention Center)

All Tharp
American dance icon Twyla Tharp has permanently expanded the horizons of contemporary dance with her fusion of meticulous classical rigor and elements from jazz, modern dance and pop culture. Her movement vocabulary—characterized by high energy, humor and an unpredictable physical daring—is imbued with dynamic inventiveness and a singular musical intelligence. As a thrilling start to the season, PNB has commissioned two original works for an All Tharp program that also welcomes the return of her delicious ballroom homage to Ol' Blue Eyes.

Nine Sinatra Songs
Music: Songs sung by Frank Sinatra
Choreography: Twyla Tharp

New Tharp *
Music: Johannes Brahms
Choreography: Twyla Tharp

New Tharp *
Music: Vladimir Martynov
Choreography: Twyla Tharp

*World Premiere!

Performances Thursday and Friday, September 25-26 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 27 at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m.

Unfortunately, the Seattle Opera will be on hiatus during NACAC. Presently they are performing Aida. Next August they are performing the entire Ring (Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen/The Ring of the Nibelung). Guess you’ll have to return to see it! August is our best weather month anyway and since everyone takes vacation the traffic is also bearable.

Michael K. McKeon
Dean of Admissions
Seattle University