Monday, December 31, 2018

TWIST OF THE MAGI Event Review! Edmonds, WA 12/21/18



Debra Rich-Gettleman

Directed by Shileah Corey

Phoenix Theatre
Edmonds, WA

(Kylara Pankow, James Lynch - Photo Credit: James Sipes)


As we wind down 2018, I had the pleasure of venturing into Edmonds a few days before the holidays to review the Phoenix Theatre’s, “Twist of the Magi”. The show was such a hit last season that they brought it back this year. After it’s run this year it was announced the show was the highest seller in the theatre’s history! I know the weekend I attended all of the shows were sold out. It would not surprise me in the least if they bring it back in 2019 for a third run.

Having never been to the Phoenix Theatre before, I found it easily. It is on the second story of a strip mall of shops in the Firdale Village area. The theatre holds around 100 guests and is quite spacious inside considering from the outside you can’t really determine how big it is.

“Twist of the Magi” is a twist on “Gift of the Magi” the popular short story written by O. Henry. It is a show within a show revolving around a young couple that are secretly trying to buy each other Christmas gifts.

Set in 1946 as a radio show broadcast, the show is ripe with comedic turns from nearly all of the actors on stage. There are commercial breaks where the Twisted Sisters threesome (Looloo, Yoni, and Delivery Boy) sing songs in harmony that brought much laughter.

Larry Albert as Rex Radison/Chamberlain narrated the story with veteran timing. Not surprising considering his extensive work as an actor and radio actor. Kylara Pankow as Lauren/Della was captivating throughout the show. She most definitely stood out to this reviewer. Susan Connors as Denise/Mrs. Mandelbread reprised the same role from last year. Her veteran experience also showed as she tackled the characters with ease. The entire cast was a joy to watch.

The slapstick type humor in parts of the show worked really well. If you’ve ever listened to a radio show (comedy or not), “Twist of the Magi” brought you back to that era.

Overall, a very enjoyable production that clearly was a hit with all theatre goers. The bar has been set. I’m looking forward to covering more shows at the Phoenix Theatre!

Happy Holidays,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

EA on FB

Special Thanks:  Amy for the credentials.  I sincerely appreciate it!

The next production is "It Could Be Any One Of Us" by Alan Ayckbourn.  Feb 1 - Feb 24.

(Susan Connors - Photo Credit: James Sipes)

(Joyel Richardson, Darian Conn, Mia Perritt Photo Credit: James Sipes)

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Disney Presents: THE LION KING Event Review 12/14/18

Disney Presents:


Paramount Theatre
Seattle, WA

(show runs through Sunday 1/6/19)

(Photo Credit:  Brinkhoff-Mogenburg)


My own venture into the musical theatre world started with two shows - "Phantom Of The Opera" and "The Lion King". I think both shows may have been first time theatre introductions for many other fans as well. Their popularity remains as high as ever today in 2018.

Here we are several years later and the U.S. Touring production of Disney's "The Lion King" returns to Seattle for an extended engagement during the holiday season.

The visuals are what almost everyone talks about after seeing a performance of, "The Lion King". The creativity in how they brought the 1994 2D animated Disney film to life on stage is incredibly inspiring for youth and adults alike.

The rich story of Mufasa as king of the pride lands, his curious and impulsive son Simba, the ever-treacherous brother/uncle Scar, and a strong cast of characters like Rafiki, Zazu, Nala, Timon and Pumbaa translates to the stage in a clear and distinctive manner.

The well-known songs from the film are incorporated into the musical as well to great effect.

Rafiki (Mpume Sikakane) started the journey in song as a vast array of animals walked to and onto the stage. "The Lion King" does its best to immerse the audience into their world as soon as possible. Percussionists on either side of the stage add to the atmosphere as well. For first time goers, the "oohs and ahhs" as the cast of animals took to the stage was a reminder for everyone else just how remarkably creative the costumes designs are, even if you've seen the show before.

Mufasa (Gerald Ramsey) was stoic and proud as the storyline unfolded with Young Simba, Young Nala, and Zazu (Greg Jackson). Scar (Spencer Plachy) was decadently twisted, hoping to gain his way to his brother's throne - which he does - until Simba returns to reclaim what is rightfully his throne.

The musical follows the animated hit closely - with a few updated touches in the dialogue where appropriate. The laughter from the audience, especially the children, told you all you needed to know - the cast, story, direction, set design, costumes, and every other aspect was hitting the mark all night.

"The Lion King" really stands out as its own unique musical. I can't think of any other that pulls off such a difficult source material to the stage as well as "The Lion King" does. Again, as mentioned earlier, the visuals throughout the production will make you smile, gasp, and feel like you are in their world. A trait any good theatre production does.

The show is immensely popular and once you see it (or see it again), you'll know why. There is nothing to pick at, nothing to suggest, there are no weak links in any aspect of "The Lion King". You will enjoy it on some level - hopefully a high one.

Bring your family, your friends, children that have never been to a musical - "The Lion King" will make them want to see more musicals especially if they're as epic as "The Lion King".

The perfect musical at the perfect time of year - cheers everyone!

Happiest of Holidays,
Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on IG

Special Thanks: Julie for the credentials - as always thank you so much for the opportunity! I appreciate it! See you next year!

The show runs through Sunday January 6th, 2019!  

STG: Buy Tickets Here! 


Mark Sugiyama reviews, photographs, and interviews for his media outlet - Eclectic Arts. 

(Photo Credit:  Joan Marcus)

 (Photo Credit:  Matthew Murphy)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Holiday Pops with the SEATTLE SYMPHONY! Event Review! 12/8/18

Holiday Pops

Seattle Symphony 

Conducted by: Stuart Chafetz
Featuring Tony DeSare and Capathia Jenkins
w/the UW Chorale and The Beaconettes

Benaroya Hall
Seattle, WA


I've seen more holiday performances this season than in any other years. From the wonderful play, "Miss Bennet- Christmas At Pemberley" at the Taproot Theatre to Northwest favorite, "The Nutcracker" by the Pacific Northwest Ballet company to the yearly tradition of the Trans Siberian Orchestra at the Tacoma Dome to the delightful "A Charlie Brown Christmas" also at the Taproot Theatre. Whew! What was next on the holiday media agenda?

Holiday Pops!

The Seattle Symphony has been doing this for years during the holidays. This was my first time experiencing the show and I was definitely looking forward to it.

Benaroya Hall was dressed up as one would expect - tasteful holiday decorations throughout. Much of the audience was dressed in holiday colors (both formal and informal attire).

The program was roughly two hours in length. The Seattle Symphony as conducted by Stuart Chafetz started the evening with, "We Need a Little Christmas". Featured vocalists Tony DeSare (vocals and piano) and Capathia Jenkins (vocals) returned to Seattle having performed here three years prior. "It's the Most Wonderful time of the Year" was next and put the crowd, myself included, in the holiday spirit. Tony's voice is a mix of yesteryear jazz with a bit of a modern influence. It fit perfectly throughout the night for the tunes he performed. Capathia Jenkins has a powerful voice - and it didn't surprise me to learn she has done a lot of musicals as her voice reminded me of something I'd hear on Broadway.

Songs such as, "All I Want for Christmas is You", "I'll Be Home for Christmas", and a timely twist on the in-the-news classic, "Baby, it's Cold Outside" were performed with precision and pride.

Before the intermission, local favorites The Beaconettes joined the festivities. They performed holiday classics with local topics and lyrics. "Marijuana" and "Good Bye Viaduct" give you an idea of the fun these ladies had with the traditional classics. I loved them but not everyone in the audience seemed pleased. There's always a Grinch at every show, unfortunately.

Act I ended with a rousing rendition of, "Christmas In The Rain" sung to the melody of "Singing In The Rain".

After the intermission, the holiday favorites continued. "O Come, All Ye Faithful", "The First Noel", "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", and a few others.

Tony performed an original song and showcased his talents by doing "Jingle Bells" 20 different ways (look it up on his YouTube channel - it's awesome).

The main set ended with Capathia Jenkins bringing down the house with a rendition of, "O Holy Night!" She was absolutely stellar on this song. What a way to end the show!

One encore later and the lights came up to officially end the performance.

Everything worked. The Seattle Symphony, the UW chorale, the featured performers of Tony and Capathia, the song selection - even old Saint Nick (who I believe was played by another Nick - as in Watson) made a few appearances as well as did either Rudolph or a different reindeer (I'm not sure which - sorry).

The Holidays Pops with the Seattle Symphony was a perfect holiday treat in December!

Happy Holidays!
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

THE WIZARDS OF WINTER - Event Review! Clearwater Casino Resort 12/6/18

The Wizards of Winter

Clearwater Casino Resort
Suquamish, WA


The Wizards of Winter have been playing their brand of holiday music since 2009. Having released three albums, every holiday season the band has expanded their tours to hit more and more cities.

On Thursday, the band played the Clearwater Casino Resort. This meant hopping the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston to cover the show. A sunny but cold December day in the Northwest, the weather set things up nicely for the show that evening.

The touring band consists of twelve members - musicians, vocalists, and narration. Yes, the name sounds as familiar as the set up. The Wizards of Winter have been compared to the Trans Siberian Orchestra since their inception. The current line up boasts two former TSO members in John O'Reilly (drums) and Tony Gaynor (narration/vocals). Guy LeMonnier is also a former TSO member but sat out this year's tour (much to our disappointment).

The band is dressed up in formal attire and a holiday story is told in conjunction with the music just like TSO as well.

The room was sideways (I've covered other shows where the stage was at the far end of the room making for a seemingly smaller stage but better overall sightlines for the audience) which caught me off guard. Those in the B section were directly in front of the stage. A and C sections, depending on the row and seat, had angled views of the stage.

The band played a set that was 90 minutes give or take. Instrumentals and songs from their albums made up the setlist. "Queen Of The Winter Night" was one TSO cover that appeared as well.

The band members have talent. Fred Gorhau and Chris Green on guitars definitely stood out to me. They were equally good on guitar all night long. It was great to see John again on an acoustic kit (instead of the electronic drums TSO requires them to play) and Greg Smith was rock steady on the bass. Ellie Krasner smiled the entire show I think. Her violin playing complimented the music extremely well.

I enjoyed the vocals of new to the band singer Karl Scully. Vinny Jiovino brought the rock and sang his heart out all night as well.

It's been quite some time since I'd heard Tony's narrative voice. I started going to TSO shows back in 2003 (and have continued to do so since). It was great hearing him again and it reminded me of the earlier years of TSO.

Rebecca Graae, Shawna Marie, and of course founders Sharon Kelly and Scott Kelly rounded out the band.

Some of the songs worked for me, some of them not so much. I remember the first time I saw TSO I had the same reaction so take that comment with a grain of salt. I've since grown to like most TSO songs (not all, though).

There were times when bum notes were hit (especially keyboard which I couldn't figure out considering the talent in the band - I asked others after the show and they heard the same thing so it wasn't just me). Vocally the same issue cropped up. A flat note here and there. Perhaps the in-ears weren't functioning properly which would absolutely affect the vocalists. None of this was a major concern - only minor things.

Overall the show was enjoyable. It was nice hearing a holiday rock opera without all the flash. TSO has been overdoing it for years in my opinion (again, I've been going every year since 2003). I think if The Wizards of Winter continue to grow, then they'll be able to add a bit more flash to their show which would be the perfect medium between what they're doing now and what TSO has been trucking around for years.

I would love to see the band connect with the various performance art centers in our area for next year's tour. Traveling to Suquamish or Shelton or Longview isn't ideal for anyone in the Seattle, Everett, or Tacoma area. Edmonds has a beautiful performance center (hint, hint) as does Kirkland and others. If they book a show in Seattle, the Neptune Theatre would be a good choice (holds 800).

The band has shows lined up the rest of the month. Check them out if they're near your town!

Happy Holidays,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Maria and Debbie for the credentials - thank you for the opportunity! I sincerely appreciate it!

Woo Woo Boys DOYLE Event Review! Seattle, WA 12/4/18


El Corazon
Seattle, WA


Doyle rolled into town on Tuesday night to abominate what was left of El Corazon from the last time they destroyed the club back in March of 2018.

The band has been touring their asses off in support of "Doyle II - As We Die". U.S. Tour in the winter/spring. Next up was a European tour in the summer. Extended U.S. Tour in the fall/early winter. They’ve been doing stretches of ten plus days of gigs with no days off. The U.S. Tour wraps up in early January 2019.

Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein, Alex "Wolfman" Story, Brandon Strate, and Wade Murff have become the most stable live lineup since the "Abominator" album was released three plus years ago.

The band started with, "Abominator" - intro played off stage while Murff played the drums. One by one they stalked onto the stage and the shit was on for the next hour. 

Songs from both Doyle albums were aired such as "Witchcraft", "We Belong Dead", "Headhunter", "DreamingDeadGirls", and set ender, "Hope Hell Is Warm". When you go see Doyle live you are seeing exactly that - Doyle! With two albums under their belts, they keep things strictly Doyle.

No matter what may be going on with the band on any given day, when they hit the stage it's all out war. They don't do the up and down, ebb and flow thing with their shows. They hit you in the mouth and make a statement. Period.

Doyle has been and continues to do it old school - hit the road hard and tear shit up. Next city. Repeat.

Woo Woo!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

EA on IG

Special Thanks: Tom for the credentials - thank you as always for the opportunity! I sincerely appreciate it!

Props: Richie for being on point as the tour manager. He contacted me first about the video interview time the day of the show. This has never happened to me before. I'm always the one checking on the interview time first. My questions were answered in a timely fashion and he had everything on lock down with military precision the night of the gig. If every tm were like him, my stress level would be minimal to none setting up interview times. Great work and much appreciated!

(Conversation hang out with Doyle and Dr. Solid)

(Okkultist Interview with Beatriz Mariano - guest appearance by Dr. Solid)

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

HOLYGRAM On North American Tour RIGHT NOW!

HOLYGRAM releases debut 'Modern Cults' LP, launches North American tour with VNV Nation!

German post-punk shoegaze outfit HOLYGRAM have released their long-awaited debut LP ‘Modern Cults’. Comprised of eleven tracks, this album is now available on CD and double vinyl, as well as digitally via Cleopatra Records. The band also just kicked off their North American tour with one of the biggest electronic bands on the planet, VNV Nation and Charlottesville, VA artist The Rain Within.

HOLYGRAM cleverly blends new wave and Krautrock with post-punk and shoegaze to achieve headstrong multi-layered bliss. This is a thoroughly contemporary homage to the sound of the ’80s with a resolute look to the future - the result is driving, dark and catchy. Earlier, the band teased the singles 'Signals' and 'A Faction'. Two years have passed since the Cologne-based outfit released their self-titled EP.

Produced by Maurizio Baggio, perhaps best known as producer of The Soft Moon’s 'Deeper' and 'Criminal' albums, they recorded this LP at Cologne’s Amen Studios. HOLYGRAM is Patrick Bl├╝mel (vocals), Sebastian Heer (drums), Marius Lansing (guitars), Pilo Lenger (synthesizers) and Bennett Reimann (bass).

Formed in 2015, the band's approach to making music references the past, while remaining future-oriented. Hard-to-combine elements cleverly come together to become the soundtrack of a city that appears threatening in the twilight.


Dec 04 Denver (CO), The Oriental Theater
Dec 05 Salt Lake City (UT), Metro Music Hall
Dec 07 Seattle (WA), Neptune (SOLD OUT)
Dec 08 Portland (OR), Roseland Theater
Dec 09 Vancouver (BC), Imperial Theatre
Dec 12 San Francisco (CA), Regency Ballroom
Dec 13 Los Angeles (CA), The Wiltern
Dec 14 Tempe (AZ), Marquee
Dec 15 Las Vegas (NV), Backstage Bar


PETER AND THE STARCATCHER Event Review! Edmonds Driftwood Players Edmonds, WA 12/2/18

Peter and the Starcatcher

Edmonds Driftwood Players
The Wade James Theater
Edmonds, WA

Peter and Prentiss - Photo by Dale Sutton of Magic Photo


I was very fortunate to catch an opening night performance of, "Peter and the Starcatcher" at the Edmonds Driftwood Players. Having been an Edmonds resident for over 21 years, one would think I would have been to a production at this theatre by now but Sunday was my first event. Based on what I saw and experienced, it won't be my last.

For those like me that are new to the Edmonds Driftwood Players, the theatre recently won a Gregory Award for Best Community Theatre. They have been putting on shows for decades and it is a beloved institution, not only in Edmonds, but in the greater Seattle area.

Upon arriving and walking into the lobby, I immediately felt comfortable. The theatre itself is set up nicely. The majority of the rows are designed a good foot higher than the one below it (similar to stadium seating in a movie theater) so sightlines are clear and easy. The stage itself is large with enough depth to create many different set designs and changes during any production.

The theatre was a good three quarters full, maybe more, for the performance. The show, based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, is a prequel to Peter Pan. The cast did a wonderful job enticing the audience into the world of Peter (Oliver Girouard), Molly (Anna Vizzare), and Black Stache (Christopher Puckett).

Slank and Stache - Photo by Dale Sutton of Magic Photo

Drama along with healthy doses of humor abound in, "Peter and the Starcatcher", as well as a few musical numbers. The opening song of Act II had the audience rolling. You'll have to see for yourself why.

The sets worked well depicting two ships (one being Neverland) and there were creative methods to help the audience understand what was happening at any given moment (from water and waves, to cats and birds). Again, I don't like to give too much away in my reviews. I prefer the reader see the production for themselves as fresh as possible.

Mermaids - Photo by Dale Sutton of Magic Photo

Director Adam Othman kept the pacing consistent where the show never felt like it was dragging. Outside the guest next to me (a sleepy gal apparently), the audience was engaged during the whole performance.

The cast ranged from good to great (that's a compliment for those new to Eclectic Arts) - with no weak links in the bunch. They were well rehearsed but in the moment on stage and their energy was clearly evident throughout the show.

Molly and Peter - Photo by Dale Sutton of Magic Photo

Overall I would recommend, "Peter and the Starcatcher" to families and theatre lovers. I would also highly recommend the Edmonds Driftwood Players as a theatre worth seeing performances at. I enjoyed my first time and, again, I plan on seeing more.

See you at the theatre!

Happy Holidays!
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

EA on FB

Special Thanks: Katie for the credentials - thank you so much for the opportunity!

The show runs through December 23rd - don't miss it!

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS Event Review - Taproot Theatre Seattle, WA 11/30/18

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Taproot Theatre
Seattle, WA

Sarah Diener, Maya Burton, Arika Matoba, Coulson Bingham, Julee Felts and Brad Walker in Taproot Theatre’s 2018 production of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.


It's that time of year as we all know. Every theatre it seems is putting on a holiday production to celebrate in December. Last week Eclectic Arts reviewed the fantastic, "Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley". Equally fantastic was the opening night of the Taproot Theatre tradition, "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

If you love the animated show (the first for Charles M. Schulz and company - check out the documentary on the DVD release - it's fascinating) - you'll absolutely love this production as well!

At first I wasn't quite sure how they were going to translate the 30 minute cartoon classic into a play but as soon as the cast came "skating" in for the opening scene, I smiled and then told myself I should of known better - this is the Taproot Theatre after all and they have yet to disappoint me.

Arika Matoba and Ben Wippel in Taproot Theatre’s 2018 production of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

The show is geared for all ages of course - running just around 45 minutes or so. The show opened with a few tunes from Steven Tan (Schroeder) and Julee Felts (Pig Pen) before the production officially began.

The show is fairly close to the cartoon - with even some of the dialogue being word for word which I loved. The creative ways to bring the animated special to life were a joy to watch.

The cast of Coulson Bingham (Snoopy), Maya Burton (Frieda), Sarah Diener (Sally), Arika Matoba (Lucy), Brad Walker (Linus), and Ben Wippel (Charlie Brown) were as funny and engaging as you could hope for.

I particularly enjoyed the voice work from Sarah Diener and Arika Matoba - easily bringing me back to my childhood hearing them as Sally and Lucy respectively. So spot on with their deliveries that I couldn't help but smile.

Arika Matoba and Steven Tran in Taproot Theatre’s 2018 production of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

The whole cast worked so well together that when it was over, you wished there was an act two, heck, or even an act three!

The audience, from children to seniors and everyone in-between, laughed and had a great time. It helped get me in the holiday spirit and I believe it will for you, too.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" at the Taproot Theatre is another exceptional production. Both shows currently running are worth your time and money. I'm heading back to see "Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley" next week and I'd love to go back to see, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" as well. 

Ben Wippel, Coulson Bingham, Brad Walker, Sarah Diener and Arika Matoba in Taproot Theatre’s 2018 production of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

See you at the theatre!

Happy Holidays!
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Isaiah for the credentials and the reservations - thank you so much for the opportunity!

The show runs through December 27th.  Don't miss it!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley TAPROOT THEATRE Seattle, WA 11/23/18

Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley

Taproot Theatre


Calder Shilling and Shanna Allman in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.


The holiday season is here and for many that means family, shopping, food, and hopefully a holiday show.

The Taproot Theatre is currently performing “Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley” by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon (based on characters by Jane Austen).

The house was full Friday evening as the performance began. Mary Bennet (Shanna Allman) is one of four sisters. The only unwed sister, Mary is a scientific, book loving type that is quick to correct misinformation and is detail oriented to a fault. Her temper at times gets the best of her and she has accepted the fact that most likely she will live out her days alone.

Jane Bingley (Melanie Hampton) and her husband Charles Bingley (Dimitri Woods) are expecting a child. Elizabeth Darcy (Hana Lass) is married to Fitzwilliam Darcy (Brian Pucheu) Lydia Wickham (Kelly Karcher) is also married but, as we find out, is lonely as her husband is gone much of the time.

Brian Pucheu, Hana Lass, Shanna Allman, Melanie Hampton and Dimitri Woods in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

As Christmas approaches the Darcy household is preparing for the holiday - complete with the German tradition of having a decorated tree inside the house. Guest Arthur de Bourgh (Calder Shilling) arrives and finds he has much in common with Miss Bennet. A romance blooms with neither Arthur or Mary willing (or knowing) to confess their feelings for the other without putting pen to paper. Add in Anne de Bourgh (Sarah Ware) for even more complications to the story.

A series of mishaps happen as notes are dropped and read by the wrong party which leads this holiday tale into a world of laughter, emotional longing, and eventual happiness.

Calder Shilling and Kelly Karcher in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

I found “Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley” incredibly engaging. The performances from the entire cast were just stellar. After only ten minutes, I was lost in their world in England and found myself anticipating what was going to happen next.

The comical aspect was a surprise addition as I was unfamiliar with the story. I would say the balance between tones was spot on throughout the production.

Sarah Ware and Calder Shilling in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

The show runs through December 29th. If you’re looking for a holiday show with plenty of heart, performed by a seasoned group of professionals, “Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley” will hit the mark.

Happy Holidays!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Eclectic Arts on Instagram

Special Thanks: Isaiah for the opportunity. Thank you very much!

Shanna Allman and Calder Shilling in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker" - PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET Seattle, WA 11/24/18


George Balanchine’s


Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers and PNB School students in the finale of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. PNB’s production features sets and costumes designed by Ian Falconer and runs November 23 – December 28, 2018. Photo © Angela Sterling.


If you’re like me, the start of the Christmas holiday season starts the moment you leave your Thanksgiving destination, not a moment before. So I found myself starting my holiday season with the Pacific Northwest Ballet presenting George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”. The Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker’ has become a holiday tradition for many in the Northwest. The Kent Stowell and Maurice Sendak version delighted audiences for 32 years. The George Balanchine version debuted in 2015 and is the current production at McCaw Hall.

As I arrived on Saturday afternoon, the lobby of McCaw Hall was filled with decorative displays. A giant tree greets you as you enter the north entrance followed by many a display for photographic opportunities.

Families were dressed in their Sunday best or perhaps that should be holiday best. Children that looked like they stepped out from a holiday film from yesteryear with their parents equally dashing. It is recommended to dress to your comfort level of appropriateness. There are patrons in more casual clothing (jeans for example) and the Pacific Northwest Ballet has always been clear to not let your dress prevent you from attending a performance. So, dress, or lack thereof, is no excuse. Enjoy a performance if you can.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Elizabeth Murphy as the Sugar Plum Fairy, with PNB School students in a scene from George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. PNB’s production features sets and costumes designed by children’s author and illustrator Ian Falconer (Olivia the Pig) and runs November 23 – December 28, 2017. Photo © Angela Sterling.

I have fond memories of the Stowell and Sendak version but it had been many years since I had seen it, as well as my friend who accompanied me. I was excited to see what the George Balanchine version offered up to the holiday audience.

Conductor Allan Dameron led the PNB Symphony through Tchaikovsky’s well known score as the production began Act I.

The screens unveiled a video to transport the audience into little Clara’s world of the enchanted. She arrives on stage at her home with her parents, guests, and their children. The sets were lavish and dimensionally appropriate.

Herr Drosselmeir (Ezra Thomson) arrives and the story begins to unfold.

The mice, the soldiers, the Nutcracker and the Mouse King all dance and battle to one victorious outcome. Clara’s imagination/dreams sees the Christmas tree grow so high that the golden angel on top of it can’t be seen. The Nutcracker walks with Clara into a magical forest where he turns into a Prince. They follow a mesmerizing star to a land faraway.

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in a scene from George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. PNB’s production features sets and costumes designed by Ian Falconer and runs November 23 – December 28, 2018. Photo © Angela Sterling.

Act II starts with The Sugar Plum Fairy (Elizabeth Murphy) greeting Clara and the Prince. She has many sights to show them. Dancers from Spain, Arabia, China, Russia, France, and Germany to name a few.

A typically scene stealing performance by the Dewdrop (Sarah Ricard Orza) was a highlight of the second act. The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier (Jerome Tisserand) was the other.

Clara and the Prince leave the exotic world of the Sugar Plum Fairy behind as they lift off in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer.

Overall, I found the performance amazing. The first act went by so quickly that when intermission came, I said to myself, “already?” The sets and the performers were a joy to watch. The young cast were always a large component during the first act. I don’t remember as many young cast members in the second act in the Stowell and Sendak version but I could be wrong.

Of course the ballet in the second act really turns up several notches which is what many come to enjoy. If you’re not well versed in the world of ballet (like myself), I think you’ll find yourself mesmerized by the performances. When done “right”, it’s like watching liquid move. It’s that seamless.

This version had eye popping visuals from Ian Falconer (scenic and costume design) as well as the magnificent lighting design by James F. Ingalls.

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in the snow scene from George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. PNB’s production features sets and costumes designed by Ian Falconer and runs November 23 – December 28, 2018. Photo © Angela Sterling.

If you’re reading this and you’ve never been to a performance of “The Nutcracker” by the Pacific Northwest Ballet, it is absolutely worth seeing at least once. Go in with an open mind and let the talented cast and crew take you away to a magical place you’ll not soon forget.

If you’re a regular “Nutcracker” aficionado who looks forward to the PNB production each holiday season, you will not be disappointed.

We are spoiled here in Seattle to have such an amazing company like the Pacific Northwest Ballet putting on such timeless productions like George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”. Don’t take it for granted. Go see a performance this holiday season!

Happy Holidays,

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Special thanks: Gary for the opportunity. I sincerely appreciate it. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity in 2019.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

No Sleep Until Seattle - MAIAH WYNNE Event Review! 11/13/18

Maiah Wynne

Fremont Abbey Arts Center
Seattle, WA


I've been incredibly fortunate to cover a wide range of artists this year. Musicians, actors, dancers, and brew masters just to name a few categories. I am always grateful for the opportunity to get to know these artists better through interviews, reviews, and photography.

There have been a few artists over the years that have struck a deeper chord than the majority of artists that I cover. Artists such as Vienna Teng, Delain, and most recently AL1CE have kept me up at night after interacting with them in some way. I find myself inspired, which in turn sends my mind spinning in a million different directions.

I can now add Maiah Wynne to this list of wildly inspirational artists.

Maiah performed last night as a part of an ongoing series at the Fremont Abbey Arts called In The Round. Musicians, poets, and painters all work together throughout the event to bring forth a cross platform of artistic expression.

Each of the three musical artists performed a song with a spoken word poetry reading after which the format was then repeated. The musical artists played a total of 5 songs each.

This was my first time seeing Maiah perform. Backed by three musicians (percussion, cello, and guitar), Maiah's songs stood out. Switching between acoustic guitar, dulcimer, and ukulele, along with a kick drum, Maiah's ethereal vocals transported the listener to another world, her world. Writing lyrics from personal experience, songs such as, "Mama" and the latest single, "Sleep", transformed the Fremont Abbey Arts room into a very quiet and expressive space.

There is a vulnerability to the music that Maiah presents to her audience that is about as raw as you can get. I've seen and heard dozens of singer songwriters live - two of which were sharing the stage with Maiah Tuesday night. Original music is always a form of self-expression - I would never knock an artist for their music, as it is what they are expressing to the audience. But Maiah's music transcends the mundane. It goes above the "that song sounds good" level. I can hear the potential for her to become a future songstress that others will be imitating. She's that good.

Long time readers of Eclectic Arts (we started in 2011) know I rarely get behind an artist unless I truly, truly, believe in them. Tobias The Owl comes to mind. AL1CE comes to mind as well. Well folks - get on board - Maiah Wynne deserves and demands your attention.

The show Tuesday evening was a great introduction to the musical magic that is Maiah Wynne. I am looking forward to seeing her perform in a more traditional concert format very soon.

Thank you Maiah for introducing me to your inspirational world. I can't wait to see what other sights and sounds you have to show me!

All the best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Special Thanks: Maiah for making this happen - I sincerely appreciate the opportunity!

Video Interview

("Sleep" Live)

(Sienna Dawn- Painter)

The Legendary Ladies of Motown - Mary Wilson and Martha Reeves - Event Review! Seattle, WA 11/10/18

The Legendary Ladies of Motown

Mary Wilson and Martha Reeves

Moore Theatre
Seattle, WA


As we move into the eleventh month of the year, Eclectic Arts continues to review events that are strong representations of our name. Earlier in November, I had the pleasure of reviewing Mr. Smokey Robinson. This past Saturday, two more Motown legends came to town - Ms. Mary Wilson of The Supremes and Martha Reeves of Martha and The Vandellas.

The Moore Theatre filled up, as the show was about to start. Mary Wilson performed first - complete with a wardrobe change mid set. Mary sang songs from throughout her career as well as a few other songs from other artists - such as a medley of the Stones', "Satisfaction and Brown Sugar" and set ender, "Imagine".

But the best part perhaps was when Mary invited fans from the audience to live out their dream as a Supreme on stage. A group of women and a few men got up on stage as Mary sang, "Baby Love", "Stop In The Name Of Love", and "Keep Me Hanging On". The new "supremes" sang and danced through all three songs before Mary invited them to go back to their seats.

Fans were dancing on the sides of the theatre (and probably in the aisles depending on where their seats were). All had a great time as Mary said her goodbyes to the crowd.

After a brief changeover, Ms. Martha Reeves was introduced to the audience. Paying tribute to the loss of Ms. Aretha Franklin as well as Mr. Marvin Gaye, Martha, backed by two of her sisters as the Vandellas, sang a great collection of songs. Of course when songs like, "Nowhere To Run", "Jimmy Mack", and "Heatwave" aired, the audience sang and danced - especially during set-closer "Dancing In The Street".

Martha told stories about Marvin Gaye, recording her first song some 60 years ago, and the many artists that have covered, "Dancing In The Street". When you throw out names like Neil Diamond, Mick Jagger and David Bowie, Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth, and the Grateful Dead, the magnitude of who is on stage singing really starts to sink in.

Both ladies are legends. They are in there 70's (74 and 77 to be exact) and knew how to entertain a crowd.

I think for someone like myself that never saw any Motown acts back in the day, seeing these shows reminds me just how good the music from that era was and still is. It's feel good music - for those that grew up with it and for those that came to appreciate it later. I'm so glad a few of these legends are still performing and I tell you - the next time one of them comes to town, go see them!

All the best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Special Thanks: Emily for making this happen - I sincerely appreciate the opportunity!

P.S. It should be noted that both ladies came out after their sets to meet fans and sign autographs at the merchandise booth. I was pleasantly surprised by this gesture. Many a fan had their night made after meeting one or both legends.