This Week in Performance: Week of July 11, 2014

Le Frenchword Crosses Le Street

Le Frenchword’s Ben Burris, Carter Rodriguez and Sachie Mikawa; courtesy of Le Frenchword

With temperatures already reaching the upper 80’s in early July, we have every indication that the proverbial dog days of Summer will be a lengthy period this year. There won’t be a shortage of entertainment options, however, and this weekend proves it.

MUSIC

The lush pop stylings of Prom Queen, who just finished production on her DVD/album and is looking to release it in the near future, is being teamed up with Lady Krishna’s Peppermint Lounge‘s romantic punk rock at Chop Suey’s Dragon Lounge this coming Wednesday. A cool intimate setting to check out these swoon-worthy bands.

COMEDY

Le Frenchword returns for another brief run of Fancy Mud at Theater Off Jackson. This weekend only, and this seems to be the last opportunity to catch this particular show for a long time coming, so if you’ve been putting it off, the time is now.

Over in the U-District, Jet City Improv is premiering Wise Guys, a show based on the mafia film genre. They wan that the show is not fit the really offended, which makes sense given the material…the milieu isn’t exactly known for its PC sensibilities. Caveat emptor.

Of course, Pocket Theater’s roving residency — which is coming to an end soon — continues in Ballard, where Interrobang!?’s ominous sounding The Experiment is taking place this Sunday. Not much is known about this experiment, save that the troupe is adding a member from an outside company, and it might alter the chemistry of the team for ill or gain.

THEATER

It’s theater-in-the-park time in Seattle, and this weekend brings us the official annual kickoff to the season in the 2014 Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival, which takes place in Volunteer Park over Saturday and Sunday. Among the shows on offer:

14/48 Projects expands to include Teatro Minestrone, a program of kid-friendly, adult-wise outdoor theater, to its roster of recurring productions. The conceit (a traveling troupe of international actors forced into performing under adverse effects) is simply an excuse to gather a bunch of local hams together; last year brought a fractured take on Pinocchio, this year brings Around the World in 8 Stories, spreading the madcap approach of classic stories to include takes from Russia, Japan, England, India and other international cultures.

Wooden O, one of Seattle’s myriad outdoor Shakespeare companies, returns this year with productions of Two Gentlemen of Verona and Julius Caesar. Of these, it’s the latter that raises interest as it is billed as an all female Caesar…it boasts a stellar cast, though one hopes the cast is able to interpret those roles as women, instead of merely being women playing a bunch of men.

Greenstage returns for its 26th season of Shakespeare in the park with four productions taking place all over Seattle: Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Othello — which 1) features Johnny Patchamatla’s second take on the main character after a celebrated turn at Balagan in the recent past, and 2) means that the company has now produced every work in the Shakespeare canon. The company is also introducing Backyard Bard, a program which features stripped-down, 45-minute chamber versions of Billy Shakes’ All’s Well That Ends Well and The Comedy of Errors. Plenty of options here, if you’re unable to catch them at Volunteer Park.

Moving away from the festival, Freehold Theater’s Engaged Theater tour has wrapped its park run and now heads to the UW’s Penthouse Theater with The Flower of England’s Face an adaptation by local actor/writer Reginald Jackson of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, pt. 2. The play is akin to Empire Strikes Back in that it sets up a bunch of character arcs that are paid off in the fireworks that follow in Henry V, so much so that the titular character doesn’t really do much outside of chastise his son to mature and take some responsibility. The production also features a great cast — nearly a given in Seattle — plus music from members of Kultur Shock, Beth and the Boom Boom Band and Pollens.

Next, something a little outside the territory that TWIP usually covers: the Blood Ensemble‘s Barn Show, which takes place at a genuine turn-of-the-century barn in Marysville. The company thrives at site specific, experimental theater, creating work that is both easily accessible and sensory pushing. Their productions over the past couple of years — Blood/Sailing a collaboration with local doomcore band Smooth Sailing, and Nevermore a rumination on Edgar Allen Poe and his fiction — while imperfect, stick out for their offering something more than expected. Barn Show concerns itself with a mysterious birth that took place over a century ago and how that affects the present during a barn party held at the same location. With shuttle service provided on Fridays, the production is worth the effort to find.

Finally, Taproot Theater gives us the week’s sole musical entry, Jane Eyre: The Musical. The appeal is clear for those who are into it: Charlotte Brönte’s revolutionary-for-its-time coming-of-age story, set to music, a roadmap is hardly necessary.

DANCE

We enjoy watching new artists find their footing, especially in the world of Dance. This stage is where motifs are first developed and voices are discovered, which is why we’re kind of curious about the prospect of Melody Nelson which takes place on Saturday at Capitol Hill’s Velocity Dance Center. Spearheaded by a core group of young dancers, the piece promises to mesh anime, Spinoza, role-playing video games and Serge Gainsbourgh with a narrative about heroes saving the universe. Even if they fail to bring any of those things to life, there’s bound to be something glorious in the attempt.

OTHER

Allow us to introduce you to Jennifer Jasper, a local comedienne, actress, director, improv artist and playwright who is both a dear friend of the Star’s adv responsible for both of this week’s Other entry. Of all the things she does, playwriting is the discipline she has picked up most recently. Etymology, a ten minute play she originally wrote for last Winter’s 14/48, has been selected to compete in a national contest being held by Samuel French, which would mean international exposure as well as recognition for one of our region’s most treasured artists. Financial help is needed, however, and this Monday there will be a fundraiser to help Ms. Jasper take the play to New York. We wish her the best of luck.

First though, we’ll remind you of Family Affair, Jasper’s monthly cabaret at the Rendezvous’ Jewel Box Theater, the proceeds of which go to local artists in need of help. This month well feature the work of K Brian Neel, Paul Mullin and Tracy Leigh, among others.

NEXT WEEK

Wayne Rawley returns to Theater Schmeater for meta-textual shenanigans, while The Redwood Plan performs its last show at Barboza.