Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hot New Shows in Federal Way

Centerstage Theatre’s Fall Shows

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Sept. 10, 20154
from left: Roger Curtis, Dale Bowers, Alicia Mendez and David Bestock from the 2010 production of Sleeping Beauty. Courtesy Centerstage Theatre.

Not enough people south of the King-Pierce County line know about Centerstage in Federal Way. I could not count the times over the past 13 years I’ve been writing theater reviews that I’ve recommended a play at Centerstage only to discover the person I’m talking to has never heard of the place. I tell you, folks, you’re missing something grand.
Centerstage, located in the Knudson Family Theatre at Dash Point Park, is a professional theater on a level with ACT and Seattle Rep and comparable to Harlequin in Olympia, but what makes it stand out is its decidedly British flavor. Managing Artistic Director Alan Bryce worked for years as an actor, director and playwright in London’s West End, which is England’s version of Broadway.
Most uniquely and enjoyably, he has brought to Puget Sound the delightful winter holiday tradition of the panto or pantomime, which has nothing whatsoever to do with white-faced, speechless mimes. The British panto is an outrageous, tongue-in-cheek form of musical comedy. The stories are always based on popular children’s stories such as Jack and the Beanstalk or Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. They’re narrated by a fairy godmother and feature ugly-as-homemade sin witches or ugly stepsisters who are always played by men in drag, and the jokes are aimed at children and adults alike — loved by the children for their outlandishness and loved by adults for risqué use of double entendre and sly sexual innuendo.
They are audience-participation shows with candy thrown to the children and with hard-rocking pop music with comical lyrics added to hit songs of the day.
This year’s panto is Sleeping Beauty, scheduled for Nov.28 to Dec. 20. It’s back by popular demand, having played at Centerstage five years ago. In that performance there was a giant puppet and a slew of popular songs with twisted lyrics, such as the every popular “For Once in My Life,” “Another Brick in the Wall,” “Don’t Stop Believing” and the theme song from “Ghostbusters.” Plus there was word play like the following exchange: “I have a strange foreboding.” “Well, I have a strange foreboding as well.” “That’s eight forebodings.” Then they both say, “That doesn’t bode well.” That’s just a small taste of the insanity you can expect from this fractured Sleeping Beauty, directed by Vince Brady, who has directed several pantos before. Has directed shows for Greenstage and Seattle Musical Theatre and played King Lear for Greenstage.  “Sleeping Beauty herself is played by Sarah Mather. Sarah is the youngest leading lady we have ever had at Centerstage (17) but we believe we have a star in the making,” Bryce says.
Also coming for a two-night production Sept. 12-13 is Albert Einstein: The Practical Bohemian starring Ed Metzger from the Los Angeles and Off Broadway productions.
And then for one performance only Sept. 27, Centerstage brings back David Duvall's Purple Phoenix Orchestra featuring Meg McLynn as Judy Garland in I Could Go on Singing: The Judy Garland Songbook. McLynn, who sang the National Anthem for the Seahawks game against the Denver Broncos, is well-known to Centerstage audiences from her performances in Girls' Night, It's only Rock and Soul, and Pinocchio the panto. On Nov. 7-8 Centerstage will bring in Randy Noojin from New York with his multi-media one-man show Hard Travellin’ With Woody, portraying the legendary Woody Guthrie.
Squeezed in before Woody will be the murder mystery fundraiser The Object, “about a trailer trash family who are not-so-prominent members of the local Spiritualist church,” Bryce explains. It is scheduled for Oct. 23 at the Twin Lakes Country Club in Federal Way.
Centerstage at the Knutzen Family Theatre 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way,

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