Friday, June 14, 2019

WICKED Event Review Paramount Theatre Seattle, WA 6/13/19


Paramount Theatre
Seattle, WA

(show runs through 7/7/19)

(Mariand Torres as Elphaba in WICKED. Photo by Joan Marcus)


I first saw, “WICKED” in 2015 at the Paramount Theatre. Eclectic Arts existed back then but I was not covering any arts based work at the time. It’s funny how time changes one’s perception of a show.

At the time I thought, “WICKED” was very well done but it didn’t really resonate with me. Last night, on its triumphant return, “WICKED” was the spectacle that has kept it going strong on Broadway for fifteen years.

(Mariand Torres & Erin Mackey in WICKED. Photo by Joan Marcus)

The story of Glinda, Elphaba, and the Wizard of Oz has thrilled audiences since its debut. The crowd last night in the Paramount in Seattle was a large mix of young and old, couples and families, many of whom had seen the show before.

“WICKED” hits on themes of belonging (or not in Elphaba’s case), truth, physical appearances, family dynamics, and many others. It was intriguing seeing as the show unfolded just how many universal themes are ingrained within, “WICKED”s story lines.

(Erin Mackey & Mariand Torres in WICKED. Photo by Joan Marcus)

Mariand Torres as Elphaba and Erin Mackey as Glinda were as good as they come. From their acting, comedic timing, singing, and stage presence, they told the story with such ease that from the very opening number, the audience was firmly planted in their world.

Of course the state of the art visual effects and stage design also helped transport the audience. From the dragon up top to the many stage props to the lighting design that accented every mood perfectly, “WICKED” was a visual feast for the eyes. The ending of ACT I was just jaw droppingly good.

The backstory is well laid out if not a little rushed at times. There are a lot of dots to connect especially by the end of the show so it makes sense. All in all, “WICKED” was just a joy to behold. During the curtain call, I have never heard such a loud roar of approval for a cast. It was almost rock concert like during an encore. That’s how much the audience loved it!

(Erin Mackey as Glinda in WICKED. Photo by Joan Marcus)

This touring version is here in Seattle through July 7th. They are also holding a $25 in person lottery for orchestra level tickets for those that feel lucky (look for details online).

“WICKED” backs up its reputation as one of the best musicals out there. Do not miss it!

(Jason Graae as The Wizard in WICKED. Photo by Justin Barnes)

Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on YT

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

The show runs through Sunday July 7th, 2019! Buy tickets here:  TICKETS!



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

Thursday, June 13, 2019

SEASON ENCORE Pacific Northwest Ballet Event Review 6/9/19 Seattle, WA

Season Encore

Pacific Northwest Ballet

McCaw Hall
Seattle, WA


It's an interesting phenomenon when you are a "regular" at an event. Season ticket holders for sporting events, subscribers for arts events, and so on. The excitement of a new season and the inevitable ending of the season as well, the roller coaster of emotions for those truly invested in the event can only be experienced by being there night after night.

For the Pacific Northwest Ballet company, Sunday evening's "Season Encore", was even more emotional I'm sure. Not only were they celebrating the retirement of two of their principal dancers, but also one of their three ballet masters, lighting designer, costume shop manager, and others that have spent decades making PNB what it is today.

This was my first season reviewing events for the PNB (minus the first event in September). It's been a wonderful journey of discovery, massive education, and belonging. Yes, belonging. When I first started reviewing performances in November, I wasn't sure if this was "right" for me. I'm happy to say that here in June - it is.

The program started off with, "Themes and Variations" - which was the last production for the company this season. The Balanchine number was performed as well as on opening night - if not a bit looser than previously.

Artistic director Peter Boal came out and said a few words about those retiring before continuing the program.

"The Piano Dance" was next - celebrating the choreography of ballet master Paul Gibson. Lesley Rausch and Joshua Grant were excellent in this piece. The choreography absolutely stood out and their execution was mesmerizing.

"Rassemblement" was next with Rachel Foster and Jerome Tisserand. Rachel's first performance of the evening, she received a standing ovation after the performance.

"Bacchus" from its world PNB premiere in March was a welcome return performance. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece, even moreso than the first time. Divided into seven parts, this production piece was stellar.

"After The Rain" pas de deux wrapped up the first portion of the night with one of the most beautiful performances I've seen at the PNB. Rachel Foster and Seth Orza conveyed such emotion; I was completely caught up in their performance. I don't know if I would have said the same thing back in November. I feel I've come a way (not a long way but a way) since then and my emotional reaction to this piece confirmed it.

After the intermission we were treated to two more performances. "Silent Ghost" which I saw in November at my first PNB performance was as thought provoking as I remembered it. This was Rachel Foster's last dance performance of the evening.

And the last performance was, "Prodigal Son", by request of Jonathan Porretta, who was also retiring from the company. A chance to come home one more time perhaps, Mr. Porretta danced like you would at an encore - with grace, humility, emotion, and a dash of fun.

The evening concluded with ovation after ovation for both Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta. More and more company members came out to the stage to congratulate them and the audience roared in approval to send them off with an ovation to last a lifetime.

The PNB dancers have in many cases grown up together. They may have started taking classes when they were in their teens, been accepted as a professional division student, then either were offered an apprenticeship or a contract with the company. All the professionals behind the scenes have been their tutors, teachers, and guides for the same amount of years. And remember - these folks don't work 9-5 hours so they have really become friends and family over the many years. So, to say goodbye to two of their members is emotionally exhausting for all involved. The feeling of happiness for the dancers that are retiring but also the feeling of emptiness, of missing their co workers that have become like family must be a hard pill to swallow. But, we all know life and the PNB will carry on - but it's an emotional time.

And with that - it's also an emotional time for the audience, especially those that have seen Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta dance year after year. It's like when a star athlete retires. It's hard to believe you won't see them again on the field. Same with the stage at McCaw Hall. One last performance, please.

"Season Encore" was a great evening for me. I felt that it book ended a journey of coverage for this season. While I'm only at the tip of the iceberg, the performances Sunday evening reconfirmed that I am forever lost in love with the world of ballet.

Thank you very much for the experiences and memories. I hope to see everyone next season at the PNB!

All the best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on IG
EA on YT

Special Thanks: Gary for the credentials - thank you very much for the opportunity!


The Showbox Was A Messy Place - TACOCAT Album Release Review! 6/8/19



Beverly Crusher

Showbox at The Market
Seattle, WA

(All Photos by Mark Sugiyama - Eclectic Arts - 2019)


The last time I covered a show at the Showbox at the Market I thought that was going to be the beginning of renewing my concert coverage for Eclectic Arts. However, life interfered and I was sidelined for a few months before making my return to the pit until this past Saturday night.

There are many bands around town that I have heard their name or someone told me I should check them out; Tacocat is one such band. They've been around over a decade now (with the same lineup) and I hadn't seen them live yet. Add in two other local bands and I was stoked for Saturday night!

Beverly Crusher (the name is from the Star Trek series for you nerds out there) took the stage at 9pm and, well, crushed it. The powerful trio was high energy all through their 45-minute set. Part punk, rock, and indie, Beverly Crusher set things up nicely for the night.

There was a lag between bands (one member of Nightrain was running late from her earlier gig at the Book It Rep) but the reunited Nightrain stormed the stage for 45-minutes as well. Switching instruments based on any given song, the band kept the frenzy alive that Beverly Crusher started. Choo Choo Mofos indeed!

And then it was time for Tacocat.

The sold out concert was an album release show for their new album on Sub Pop, "This Mess Is A Place". Emily, Bree, Lelah, and Eric took to the stage and did what they do best - play punk inspired tunes with a message.

Gloriously decked out in sequins and glitter, Emily was the focal point of the band. As the vocalist, she danced throughout the set as she sang the tunes full of matter of factness and frivolity at the same time.

Balloons were bounced around in the air as the fans danced and crowd surfed (well at least one fan did that I saw).  They played tunes from their new album of course like, "New World" and blended in songs from their other releases including, "I Love Seattle" and "I Hate The Weekend".

The band was just plain fun! And it's great to know that there are all sorts of talented bands here in Seattle.

The hour-long set was accented by an encore of course before the lights came up and music streamed over the PA signaling the show was over.

The band has worked their way up the ladder and it showed Saturday night. I wasn't there for the house shows from the old days (wish I had been now) but I can picture Tacocat going nuts in sweat filled basements and clubs. Selling out the Showbox is no mean feat - I've seen many a touring act not sell it out so kudos to the band and the fans for showing up! Save The Showbox!

Tacocat made a fan out of me. When they're in your town, check them out and I'm willing to bet they'll do the same for you.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on YT

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



Beverly Crusher

Monday, June 3, 2019

CIRQUE GOES BROADWAY Seattle Symphony Benaroya Hall Seattle, WA 6/1/19


Seattle Symphony

Benaroya Hall

Seattle, WA


The Seattle Symphony teamed up with Troupe Vertigo to perform a broadway “pops” concert that was highly unique.

Led by conductor Jack Everly (who was outstanding btw), the concert consisted of classic Broadway songs performed by the Seattle Symphony. Many songs featured one of the three vocalists - Christine DiCicco, Ben Crawford, and Ron Remke - all of whom have stellar Broadway backgrounds.

What made this concert unique was Troupe Vertigo. Performing circus acts from juggling to hula hoops to aerial feats that had to be seen to be believed, Troupe Vertigo became the focal point any time they were on the stage.

Troupe Vertigo

The Seattle Symphony sounded as wonderful as ever. And, conductor Jack Everly showed that he’s conducted a time or three over the decades. His conducting was spot on all evening.

The beautiful voices from Christine, Ben, and Ron were worthy of their own show at Benaroya.

My only suggestion in the future is to separate the vocal numbers from the Troupe Vertigo numbers (which they did most of the time - but not all). When both singer and circus performer were on stage, the singers got overshadowed easily which I found off putting. You couldn’t help but look at the circus performers. A minor tweak to separate out the two talent pools and this already amazing show would be perfect.

Troupe Vertigo

Cirque Goes Broadway was a great event for newcomers and seasoned symphony veterans!

Until next time,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on YT

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

THEMES& VARIATIONS Pacific Northwest Ballet 5/31/19 Seattle, WA

Themes & Variations

Pacific Northwest Ballet

McCaw Hall
Seattle, WA

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Elizabeth Murphy and Jerome Tisserand in Price Suddarth’s Signature, which PNB is presenting as part of THEMES & VARIATIONS, May 31 – June 9, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.


“Themes & Variations” is the season closing production for the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Consisting of four unique reps from the likes of George Balanchine, Jose’ Limon, and Price Suddarth, opening night on Friday was definitely an event I was looking forward to.

“Signature” started things off. Choreographed by the PNB’s own Price Suddarth, “Signature” was stark at times as the piece unfolded. I found the choreography a bit stiff (for lack of a better term). There were four last minute casting subs which may have affected the performance as the dancers looked good but not necessarily great.

Next up was the upbeat “Tarantella”. Angelica Generosa and Kyle Davis were nothing but a joy to watch perform this Balanchine piece. Full of technique and personality, the duo regained the audience’s attention. If only it were a longer piece as I loved it!

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloists Angelica Generosa and Kyle Davis in Tarantella, choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust, which PNB is presenting as part of THEMES & VARIATIONS, May 31 – June 9, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.

“The Moor’s Pavane” was next. Choreography by Jose’ Limon with music by Henry Purcell, this piece is based on variations of Othello. The costumes really added another layer of artistry to the piece as the four dancers told the story. Joshua Grant, Steven Loch, Lindsi Dec, and Elizabeth Murphy really gave a dramatic performance as the somber melodies were played by the PNB Orchestra.

(L-R) Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers Lindsi Dec, Steven Loch, Joshua Grant, and Elizabeth Murphy in José Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane, which PNB is presenting as part of THEMES & VARIATIONS, May 31 – June 9, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.

Lastly, “Themes & Variations” closed out the show. Music by Tchaikovsky and choreography by Balanchine, Lesley Rausch and Jerome Tisserand led this piece through all of its difficult technical dance steps. With both dancers battling against physical pain (back) and illness (fever), Rausch and Tisserand stepped up to the plate and delivered like the senior principal dancers that they are. This number was the most satisfying to watch as it was the perfect marriage of music and choreography. It made perfect sense to close out the show with this signature piece.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Jerome Tisserand and Lesley Rausch with company dancers in Theme and Variations, choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust, which PNB is presenting as part of the mixed rep program THEMES & VARIATIONS, May 31 – June 9, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.

Overall, the diversity of this mixed production was welcome as always. I enjoyed seeing the different types of choreography as well as the chosen music for each piece. The order of the programming made sense as well.

It’s hard to believe that the PNB season is coming to a close. There is the Season Encore performance on June 9th and the Next Step: Outside/In on June 14th. The PNB school performance is on June 15th. Then, it’s the long wait until the end of September for the new PNB season to start.

Check out “Themes & Variations” this week as well as the other events next week. The memories will help tide you over until September.

Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on YT

Special Thanks: Gary for the credentials - thank you very much for the opportunity!

Themes & Variations continues through June 9th, 2019. Buy tickets here:  TICKETS!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

WOMEN IN JEOPARDY Event Review! Phoenix Theatre Edmonds, WA 5/25/19

Women In Jeopardy


Wendy Macleod

The Phoenix Theater
Edmonds, WA


The Phoenix Theatre wrapped up their current season with the comedy, “Women In Jeopardy” by Wendy Macleod.

The room was nearly full on Saturday night for the show in Edmonds, WA. The plot revolves around two women who think their girlfriend’s new boyfriend is a serial killer. You can imagine the possibilities with this premise.

The cast features Susan Connors as Mary, Melanie Calderwood as Jo, BriAnne Green as Liz, Marijke Boers as Amanda, James Lynch as Trenner, and Bruce Erickson as Jackson/Sgt. Kirk Spoonsullar, as directed by Rick Wright.

From left, Melanie Calderwood is Jo, Bruce Erickson plays Jackson, BriAnne Green is Liz and Susan Connors plays Mary. (Rick Wright)

The chemistry between longtime regulars Susan Connors and Melanie Calderwood was undeniable. Comedic timing, deadpan humor, and just plenty of laughs abound when they were on the stage. It was a pleasure watching these two veterans work their magic on stage.

BriAnne Green held her own on the stage as did Marijke Boers (their characters were mom and daughter respectively). Marijke Boers also provided the music before the show and at the intermission over the PA.

At other productions I’ve seen at the Phoenix, the supporting cast tends to run a wide range of talent. This time around all of the cast members contributed and were noticeably talented.

This includes another regular James Lynch who had great comedic timing as well as Bruce Erickson. Again, a strong cast made for an even better play.

Act II definitely turned things up a notch and the laughs kept coming. “Women In Jeopardy” will have you laughing all the way to the curtain call. It is a great show for the season to end on. Don’t miss it!

See you at the theatre!
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on YT

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

Monday, May 20, 2019

KIM'S CONVENIENCE Event Review! Taproot Theatre Seattle, WA 5/18/19

Kim's Convenience
Ins Choi

Taproot Theatre
Seattle, WA

Obadiah Freeman, Lia Lee, Annie Yim, James Yi and Parker Kennedy in Kim’s Convenience at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Robert Wade.


When the 2019 Taproot Theatre Season was announced, this show was the one that I was most looking forward to. "Kim's Convenience" is a play that has been turned into a successful CBC television show (going on its fourth season now).

Created by Ins Choi as a vehicle for himself to act in (he played Jung in the original production), the play and television show have garnered a healthy following of fans. This production is the U.S. West Coast Premiere of the play.

The show revolves around a family - Appa (dad) played by James Yi, Umma (mom) played by Annie Yim, their daughter Janet (played by Lia Lee), and son Jung (played by Parker Kennedy). Additionally Rich, Mr. Lee, Mike, and Alex round out the show (all four characters played by Obadiah Freeman) - living in Toronto, Canada. Immigrant parents from Korea that run a convenience store that also live above the store.

James Yi in Kim’s Convenience at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Robert Wade.

This story is, while uniquely Korean in some aspects, universal when it comes to the divide between immigrant parents and their (in this case) Canadian raised children. The cultural differences that spring up, work ethic, sacrifices, and lack of communication are just a few of the very common issues that immigrant families face when raising their children in a different country.

The anchor of the cast was definitely Appa. James Yi is familiar with the role having portrayed Appa in other productions up north in Canadian theatre. He was funny, timely, stern, and full of complexity in his portrayal of Appa. As soon as the show started, and he walked in to open up the store, you felt like you were outside on Greenwood Avenue going into a convenience store. He was the highlight of the cast and I couldn't take my eyes off of him.

Lia Lee as daughter Janet, a budding photographer, had the second most stage time of the family characters. Her constant disagreements with Appa were so spot on that they were hard to watch at times. If you’ve ever had a parent want one thing for you while you wanted something else, you'll relate to the scenes between Janet and Appa. Lia Lee did a fine job showcasing the differences between her character and Appa, being the young professional yearning to follow her dreams yet also feeling the responsibility and pressure from her family to follow their wishes. Again, it's something almost every young person goes through at some point in their life, even more so for immigrant families. And it's never easy.

Lia Lee and James Yi in Kim’s Convenience at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Robert Wade.

Umma as portrayed by Annie Yim had a smaller role than I thought the character would. Upon watching some of the television show after seeing the play, I then understood this is normal. I would of loved to have seen more of Annie in the role, as the scenes we did get with her were wonderful.

Estranged son Jung as played by Parker Kennedy was the one character that needed some work. No longer living with the family due to an altercation with Appa when he was a teen, he now has an infant son, a girlfriend that he fights with all the time, and a job he hates. While this set up the conclusion of the play that I won't spoil here, I found myself yearning for more emotion from the character. I didn't feel the pull, that moment when the actor crosses the line in order to take the audience along for an emotional ride - I wanted that so desperately but it never happened.

The four characters portrayed by Obadiah Freeman were fun to watch as each entered the store for different scenes. The scenes with Alex, Janet, and Appa were probably some of the most memorable.

Annie Yim, Lia Lee and James Yi in Kim’s Convenience at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Robert Wade.

Co-directed by David Hsieh and Scott Nolte, "Kim's Convenience" was as advertised - humorous, heartwarming, and truthful. I found myself laughing out loud at certain scenes and deathly quiet during others.

The cast worked well together but I wish the play were actually longer than the eighty or so minutes. There was definitely room to expand upon Appa and Umma's marriage as well as Janet and Umma's relationship.

The staging was wonderful as was the lighting design. I'm always amazed at how much creative variety takes place at the shows at Taproot Theatre.

Obadiah Freeman, James Yi and Lia Lee in Kim’s Convenience at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Robert Wade.

Overall, "Kim's Convenience" was a winner Saturday night. I am extremely happy to see a cast made up of nothing but people of color, created by a playwright of Korean descent.

There is so much back and forth in the theatre community about representation, equity, and, opportunity right now. For all of you out there that constantly write on social media about such issues, standing on your soapbox for all to hear, guess what? Here's your chance to show your actual support for the very issues you spout off about time and time again. Please let me know what your thoughts are on "Kim's Convenience" after you see it for yourself. I'm looking forward to our discussion.

See you at the theatre,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on YT

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

"Kim's Convenience" runs through June 22nd. Buy tickets here:  TICKETS!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

REVIEW: DEAD GIRLS CORP. "Bloody Noses and Hand Grenades"

Dead Girls Corp. 
“Bloody Noses and Hand Grenades” 
Monsterman Records/EMP Label Group 

Upon listening to the new release from Dead Girls Corp., I was immediately drawn to the mix of musical influences. The goth, industrial, and rock mixture is prevalent throughout the release.

Toddy T. (vocals), Bruce Miyaki (bass), Dave Teague (guitars), and Mel Mcfail (drums) round out the four piece. “From The Bottom” is a stand out track. Catchy yet sinister, the song pops out from the speakers. It makes perfect sense as a single from the album.

Many of the songs would fit right in on a soundtrack (think “The Crow” soundtrack from 1994) with a modern touch.

One cover tune – Billy Idol’s, “Flesh For Fantasy” works well with the bands style and sonics. Toddy T.’s vocals in particular have the necessary attitude to do the original justice while still sounding updated.

“Promise Me” shows the diversity in the band. The vocals and approach to the song structure is reminiscent of The Cure with a mix of some of the more modern hard rock bands out there. This song should be the next single.

The production is strong (which makes perfect sense considering Bruce’s background with studio work) and is a welcome surprise to these ears.

There are thirteen tracks on, “Bloody Noses and Hand Grenades”. The band needs to hit the road with someone like Combichrist to get their music heard to an audience that would most likely accept them. Lords of Acid would be another good choice when Praga Khan returns to the U.S.

Worth checking out for sure!

Eclectic Arts

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

SCHOOL OF ROCK THE MUSICAL Opening Night Review! 5/14/19 Seattle, WA


Paramount Theatre
Seattle, WA

May 14, 2019 

(School of Rock Tour - Photo by Evan Zimmerman - Murphy Made)


Musical theatre guru Andrew Lloyd Webber bought the rights to the comedy classic, “School of Rock”, and turned it into a family friendly event for the stage. For the many that loved the film, this was welcome news. For those that weren’t familiar with film, it was an intriguing idea taking a child heavy cast and mixing them with adults and a rock n roll concept.

Tuesday evening at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, opening night, class was in session.

The cast was led by Merritt David Janes as Dewey, a down and out musician, who leaches off his former bandmate Ned and Ned’s wife Patty. With relatively no musical talent and no income, Dewey is close to being kicked out of his friend’s apartment.

Through a call intended for Ned, Dewey sneaks his way into the role of substitute teacher at the prestigious Horace Green, in hopes of getting the cash together to pay back his overdue rent, and possibly get himself into the Battle of the Bands with a new band.

Well, if you’ve seen the movie you know what happens. If you haven’t, then the show itself is very easy to follow.

 (School of Rock Tour.  Photo by Evan Zimmerman Murphy Made.)

So, let’s get down to it. Any time you take a character that is synonymous with an actor (in this case the fantastic Jack Black) from a film; it’s always going to be difficult to walk the line between homage and parody. When you think of the film, you think of Jack Black. Period. Merritt David Janes had a tall order to live up to. His comedic timing had to be on point last night. It was. His musicality had to be on point. It was. His ability to cross the threshold to make the audience believe he was Dewey had to happen. It did. In other words, he did a grand job portraying the character which was no easy feat.

Lexie Dorsett Sharp as Rosalie, the principal at Horace Green, was stunning musically. Her solo piece in the second act stood out. The film role, played by Joan Cusack, was yet another tough role to take on for anyone. But, Lexie did it in such a way that I actually forgot about Joan Cusack – and that’s saying something.

The young actors who make up the students were as talented as can be. Sami Bray as class leader Summer was perfectly cast in the role. She was smart, sassy, and believable. Camille De La Cruz as the shy but powerhouse vocalist Tomika built up her vocal debut perfectly.

A prerecorded message from Andrew Lloyd Webber before the show started said that the entire young cast was indeed playing their instruments. As a musician myself, it was easy to see that this was true. Of course there’s a band in the orchestra pit for the entire show but when the students of, “School of Rock The Musical” jammed it out (drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, and vocals); everything went up a notch or three.

 (School of Rock Tour.  Photo by Evan Zimmerman Murphy Made)

Singing, playing instruments, dancing, and acting – the young cast was impossible to ignore. A great mix of talent up on that stage Tuesday evening.

The show didn’t deviate too much from the film. If you liked the film, I think you’ll like the musical. I think the musical would also work for those new to, “School of Rock”.

There were many families in attendance and much laughter in the all the right places. By the end of the show, the audience was cheering like they were at a rock concert – for real.

“School of Rock The Musical” is a fun event for the family. There are a few words in it that some parents may take exception to but overall it’s presented as an event that all can attend.

The school is holding court at the Paramount through Sunday. Tickets available here: TICKETS!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on IG
EA on YT


 (School of Rock Tour.  Photo by Evan Zimmerman Murphy Made.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A Crypt Away - CRYPTICON SEATTLE 2019 Report! 5/2/19 - 5/5/19

Crypticon Seattle

Doubletree by Hilton at SeaTac Airport
Seattle, WA
Friday 5/2/19 through Sunday 5/5/19


It’s always the day after syndrome from any amazing event that hits you in the heart later. Be it a concert, convention, sporting event, they’re all eerily similar. You ride the wave so to speak during the event and then you come back down to Earth afterward, feeling a bit blue, missing your friends, the interactions you made with the guests, and just the feeling of belonging. It happens to all of us to varying degrees and I’m no exception.

My name is Mark Sugiyama. I started a freelance media outlet called Eclectic Arts in 2011. Since our humble beginnings Eclectic Arts has expanded into everything arts related (with a few eye brow raising exceptions). Music coverage (reviews, photos, and interviews), musical theatre (reviews and interviews), theatre (reviews and interviews), ballet (reviews and interviews), and opera (only reviews – so far – keep watching this space) just to name a few key areas we support.

I first started reviewing Crypticon Seattle in 2012. So, I was not there from the beginning when the convention was held at the Doubletree originally (and where it is currently staged at) nor the one lone year it was up north in Everett. My memories go back to the Hilton – just up International Blvd – and what fond memories they were.

2012 featured Dee Wallace, Doug Bradley, Ricou Browning, Sonny Landham, Richard Kiel (RIP), and other guests. My first year covering the convention was eye opening and surreal. The fact that I managed to get anything accomplished is a testament to either my determination or my stupidity at the time. But, damn it, this was my first year of being credentialed for Crypticon Seattle and I didn’t care if I had to risk my health to be there. Seven years later and I still believe my decision to risk my health at the time may have been a poor one, especially since I don’t feel like I’ve ever been the same since the accident. There’s obviously a personal story here but I digress.

2013 I happily returned. Tyler Mane, Derek Mears, Fred Williamson, and Lew Temple were some of the guests that year. I’m writing this from memory so forgive me if the guest lists aren’t complete. I remember buying a ticket to see a screening of, “Compound Fracture” the following week at the Varsity in the U-District in Seattle. I had another great time.

2014 I was fortunate to return again as press. Jeffrey Combs, Eric Roberts, C. Thomas Howell, Zach Galligan, Doug Jones, and the Soskas were some of the guests that year. I remember feeling that 2014 rivaled 2012 in terms of the guests, the coverage I did, and the overall satisfaction once the convention was done that year. It was a benchmark convention for Eclectic Arts.

2015 I found myself back again as press. Sid Haig, the Soskas, Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee, William Forsythe, Michael Berryman, and Ted White were some of the guests I remember from that year. To this day “The Devils Rejects” panel was arguably my favorite panel that I’ve ever covered at Crypticon Seattle. Another grand time.

2016 Eclectic Arts was making headway into the concert coverage portion of the outlet (reviews, interviews, and live photos). I was yet again fortunate to be credentialed as press one more time for Crypticon Seattle. Lance Henriksen, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, and Elvira (in costume for photo ops) were some of the guests.

This brings me to this year: 2019. I was happy to be back covering the second convention ever for Eclectic Arts (the first being the now defunct ZomBCon) in an official press capacity. Crypticon Seattle will always hold a special place in my heart as it was five consecutive years of covering the convention. Eclectic Arts has grown exponentially since then. I was looking forward to seeing what had changed, what hadn’t, and what my impressions would be having been away from the convention for two years.

As always, my reports in the past have been all over the place. I try to go through each day of the convention and my recollections but sometimes I jump from day to day. Just know going forward reading this report will be like talking to me in person – a rambling mess at times but hopefully interesting.


As I mentioned earlier, I had never been to Crypticon Seattle while being held at the Doubletree at SeaTac. So, me being me, I left early on Friday to scope out parking, food options, and to allow for traffic. Parking sucks down by the airport. Most likely you’ll be paying to park somewhere or taking your chances and hoofing it from residential areas or businesses that may or may not ticket or tow you. And paying to park for one day is already bad, paying to park for three days is horrendous unless you have excess mad money (I don’t). If you’re staying overnight in the hotel, I can’t speak to the parking costs. I’m assuming the veterans of the scene have their own methods for saving cash for the convention itself just like I do. Of course you can also use public transportation to get down there as well if that suits you.

So I parked off site. I walked to the hotel entry and saw a line of freaks and geeks waiting to check in to the hotel. It’s always a pleasure seeing the freaks outnumber the "normal” folks in any line. I asked a nearby worker where the entry to Crypticon was. He pointed me in the right direction. Passing the coffee shop and the restaurant, I saw the ticketing area. A long line of fans were ready to get things started. I got my wristband (thanks Jasen M.! I appreciate it!), grabbed a program, and then headed into the vendor room.

Large. It felt larger than the Hilton vendor room. Whether it is or not I’m not sure. I did what I’ve always done – wandered around and just got the lay of the land. It was already busier than I remembered for a Friday afternoon. Some of the guests weren’t set up yet, others were getting set up.

I had scheduled an interview with Ms. Dee Wallace ahead of time directly with Dee. This goes back to my first Crypticon in 2012 when I interviewed her in terms of how I scheduled something directly with her. Once she was set up and talking with fans, I waited for a lull and re-introduced myself. I know that Sunday is usually the slowest day at these things. We chatted a bit and decided to do the interview on Sunday (as expected). I had offered to do audio only since the convention rooms are always poorly lit and loud (white noise) instead of a video interview. Dee asked if I had a light to do a video interview. I did but not at home. I would have to travel to get it. She then asked if I had even a little light that would work. At that point I caved and said I did (knowing I would have to drive elsewhere to pick up that light). But hey – it’s Dee Wallace! A little inconvenience is nothing compared to the opportunity to talk with her again. So, all was set for Sunday!

 (My signed photo from Dee Wallace)

I looked at the other guest tables and wandered through the vendor tables as well, knowing I’d be back more than once to look at them again, in more detail. I left the vendor room and couldn’t find the artist room (or the former artist alley). I had to ask someone for help and they pointed me in the right direction. The Northwest room that the artists were in was out of the way and kind of cramped. You had to have a reason to go down to that room otherwise you most likely wouldn’t see it (unlike the other layout at the Hilton where it was in the midst of a lot of foot traffic). I don’t think there’s any way around this based on the room layout that I saw. Maybe making it the closest Northwest room to the ticketing area would increase visibility and the combining the last two rooms for performances, etc.? I don’t know. It’s not a big deal – just a mild observation.

I looked through my program and saw that the panels, photo ops, and films were on the second floor. This is one design area that the Doubletree definitely has it over the old Hilton. How very convenient to take one of three stairwells or elevators up to the second floor right from the main entry to the convention. I walked up stairs and saw signage as well as staff willing to point people in the right direction.

I had only seen one shorts/film segment before and that was when Luchagore was showing their latest film reel. So, I thought this would be a great opportunity to pop into the Evergreen rooms and see what kind of shorts were being shown. A small group of fans were inside and Eric (I think it was Eric) handed everyone a sheet with details of the screenings for the weekend. The shorts block I attended were shorts where the film makers couldn’t be in attendance so they showed their work first at 6pm.

Some were better than others. The Trump one was pretty clever, especially the end when his hair crawled away like an outtake from Carpenter’s “The Thing”. It’s pretty incredible what kind of artists are out there making these films, shorts or not. I really wanted to see more films but decided to wander around downstairs a bit more.

Unlike the party people, I have yet to stay overnight at Crypticon Seattle. I know. Lame, lame. But, other duties called me up north Friday evening. End Day 1.

 (Cryption Seattle)

Saturday - Day 2 would be a long but enjoyable day. I loaded everything in the car, including a change of clothes for the evening, and headed back down 405.

Yet again I parked elsewhere and walked to the hotel. The weather has been so nice this was not an issue at all. If anything it was a great way to wake up before taking on day two of Crypticon Seattle.

The ticketing area was not as crowded as I would have thought for a Saturday. However, there were definitely more people in attendance (as usual) and many more in costume. Saturday is always the day to be seen if you’re going to go in costume, cosplay, etc.

I went back up to the film room and caught the first 40 or so minutes of the film they were showing, “My Soul to Keep”. Light hearted and somewhat 80’s influenced, it was enjoyable for the portion that I saw. I would have liked to have stayed but I wanted to get a seat for the upcoming guest panels.

Saturday was to be guest panel day for me – at least three hours-worth. In succession starting at noon: Dee Wallace, X-Files group, and Barbara Steele with no breaks.

I waited outside the Evergreen rooms with a few other fans as Bone Bat cartoons were in there from 11am to noon. Once fans started leaving the room, I went in and grabbed a seat six rows back or so. This turned out fortuitous as I’ll later explain.

Noon arrived and the Dee Wallace panel began. Moderated by Amie Simon, Dee was her usual entertaining, genuine, self. She covered her early films such as “The Howling”, “E.T.”, “Cujo” “Critters”, “The Frighteners”, the Rob Zombie work she’s been a part of, and her upcoming projects “Critters Attack!” and Rob Zombie’s “Three From Hell”.

She spoke about her claire audient healing – Conscious Creation. She made mention of how she had just lost her younger brother two weeks prior as well. As she put it, she’s from Kansas and she was taught to always honor her commitments, no matter what. She used the example of when her husband died during the filming of, “The Frighteners” to illustrate her point as well. The room fell silent for a moment or two and then took a turn back into the various topics at hand.

This moment tattooed itself in my mind. Dee being so open about the tragedy in her life (read her book and you’ll understand this lady has earned every fucking thing she has) and the lack of response from the crowd troubled me. I know it’s hard and sometimes very awkward when someone says something where you really feel for them but you just don’t know what to say. Remember this moment – I’ll be coming back to it.

Dee received a loud round of applause as her panel wrapped up. Deservedly so. What an amazing woman and an inspiration to all.

 (Dee Wallace)

The next panel was probably the most widely attended – the X Files panel. William B. Davis, Mitch Pileggi, Nicolas Lea, and Brian Thompson. Moderated by Tony Kay this panel was full of laughter and good times.

Remember what I said about my seat in the sixth row or so? Well, the front three rows were now reserved for the VIP fans who shelled out the big bucks for the weekend. So, those fans that were sitting that close for Dee’s panel had to move. I, not being in the first three rows, didn’t have to move anywhere to the back to find a seat. I got lucky on that one! The rows were later marked with labels so people knew not to sit in them until the panels started. If there were open seats in the VIP section, then you could sit in them after.

Did the panel reveal great insider details? Not really. But the banter between these four gentlemen, particularly Thompson and Pileggi, was priceless. This panel in many ways is a prime example of what happens when a multi guest panel goes right. It can be magic. I’ve never seen more than an episode or two of the X Files (you can start your booing now). But, even I was entertained for the whole hour. For me, when panels are this fun, this is one of the best aspects of Crypticon. The panel is fun, the room isn’t the size of a damn arena, and you can actually hear and usually see what’s going on on the stage without the help of video screens, etc.

The third panel from 2pm – 3pm was the legendary Barbara Steele. Tony Kay again moderated the panel. In his usual fashion, Tony came prepared. He went through many facets of Ms. Steele’s career. She was delightfully intense at times, very funny, and engaging. When she argued with Tony about the Ryan Gosling film she was a part of, I couldn’t stop laughing. What a treasure to be able to hear from this legend in person!

 (Tony Kay and Barbara Steele)

At this point I needed to excuse myself from the panel room so I missed the next few, including the Final Girls panel which I really wanted to see. I met up with a few family members who bought tickets and were late arriving. So, I showed them the lay of the land and then we split up for the rest of the afternoon.

I enjoyed seeing the various costumes on Saturday. A friend of mine and her son were there. I watched as people wanted pictures with him (and vice versa). He was the little Predator walking around. Hi Sony and Ramses!

Due to an opening night commitment I had in Seattle, I departed for McCaw Hall and day two of Crypticon Seattle was over for me.

 (Crypticon Signage Was On Point This Year)

When I awoke on Sunday morning, I’ll be honest, I was beat. The thought of driving back to SeaTac wasn’t that alluring. But, I remembered what I was going to do before the convention and that thought got me going again.

I made a purchase before driving down 405 again to start day three of Crypticon Seattle. You probably guessed it – I walked over to the hotel (look I saved a shit ton of money by parking elsewhere and walking – more to spend at the convention is the way I look at it) and double checked the schedule again.

The VIP Brunch was still going on (no guests yet at their tables) – always a favorite event at the con – so I ventured into the vendor room and wandered around. Eventually the guests started coming to their tables. There were already a lot of fans for a Sunday morning so I took my time and waited until Dee Wallace had a moment to talk to me. We figured out a game plan to do the interview right then and there.

Speaking only for myself, I am always mindful of the guests I interview – at any event, not just Crypticon. I’m a fan myself so I know when a fan comes to a guests table, they come first. They paid their money to have their moment with their favorite celebrities and I get it. A little patience goes a long way I’ve found over the years. Anyway, there was a lag and we did the interview in five or six minutes. Considering the horrible lighting and the white noise in the room, I think the interview came out pretty good. Check it out at the end of this report.

As I mentioned earlier regarding Dee’s panel on Saturday, once our interview ended I thanked her and waited as more fans came to her table. Once there was a break, I said, “I have something for you. You mentioned you lost your brother two weeks ago and I wanted to give my sincere condolences to you”. Dee was looking me straight in the eye. I handed her the card I had picked out Sunday morning and she was genuinely touched. She said, “oh my gosh, how sweet of you! We lost him suddenly, just ….how sweet of you!” She gave me a big hug and then opened the card. With it saying, “Wishing you healing and much love” (two of the concepts she preaches daily) she said it was, “Perfect. Thank you so much”. Another hug and then more fans came over.

I waited and once there was another break I got Dee to sign a photo for me and then take a selfie. She gave me another big hug and I thanked her for her time today.

Why do I mention this? It’s not to say I’m some great thoughtful guy and look at me or any crap like that. It’s to illustrate I’ve been there when people have died in my life. I know how much just a little note, word, or saying can mean during those times. It’s the little things, I tell you. And a lesson I learned (and am still working on) is it’s always better to do something for others when you don’t expect anything in return. Truly. It’s a hard concept to break into practice. But once you do, watch your life change.

I wanted to give her something to acknowledge what she said on Saturday. The guests that we admire and look up to – they’re real people, too. They have ups and downs just like the rest of us. A little courtesy goes a long way. And a thoughtful word or two can make their day, just like it would make any one of ours.

(Dee Wallace with some bald guy)

This leads me to the atmosphere at conventions, but specifically, Crypticon Seattle. The air in the hotel during any of the years I’ve covered has always been one of acceptance, fun, and caring. We’re all there for different reasons but the one thread that holds us all together is our love of horror. Some want to party all night, some want to wear elaborate character costumes, some want to geek out at topic panels, some want to meet their favorite celebrities, on and on. This year, maybe even more so than any other, the atmosphere at Crypticon Seattle was so good natured it made an already fantastic convention even better.

If you’ve never been to Crypticon and you have even a slight interest in the horror genre, it is so worth going for at least a day. You won’t be laughed at, put down, or sneered at. You’ll be welcomed into this wacky world that is Crypticon Seattle. Block out the first weekend in May 2020 so you can partake in the frightful festivities next year.

Okie back to Sunday!

After my interview with Dee, I went upstairs to take in the Twin Peaks panel with Ray Wise and Sheryl Lee and the Modern Monsters panel right after it.

The room was full for the Twin Peaks panel. Moderated by Amie Simon this panel could not have been more fun and entertaining. Ray Wise is a veteran actor. He has such a respectfulness about him that was completely endearing, especially with Sheryl Lee on stage next to him. He always deferred to her to make sure he was not hogging the stage. They seemed to genuinely like each other and it showed. Ray was also very funny and Sheryl was a very poignant lady. I liked that she said a few things that stuck with me. One of which was her answer to what’s coming up next for her. She mentioned she just closed a long chapter in her life and then ended her answer with, “I’m still living in the question”. I love that! A wonderful panel!

The Modern Monsters panel teamed up C.J. Graham, Eugene Clark, Jason Brooks, and David Howard Thornton. Moderated by The Grave Plot Podcast team this panel was interesting, off the cuff, and at one point, hilarious (to the audience - I don’t know about the moderator who was manhandled).

The theme of old school came up a lot during the various guest panels this past weekend. How things were different back in the day such as childhood discipline, participation awards, being a professional on set, respect, etc. Even though the guests on this panel were different, it still worked. Eugene Clark and C.J. Graham did most of the talking but are also veterans of these panels. They know to make sure everyone has their air time, share the air so to speak.

But when one of the two moderators asked about how do you emote when you’re wearing a hockey mask (no facial expression) and no dialogue, C.J. Graham surprised everyone in the audience when he said he would need a volunteer. The moderator crossed the stage to volunteer and C.J. grabbed him by his shirt and just pushed him across the stage and back into his seat. The audience gasped and erupted in applause! Shit it shocked me too! C.J. was only illustrating a point. He made the entire room stand up and take notice of his actions – and he didn’t say one thing in the process. To the moderator that C.J. grabbed – you have bragging rights that you got to “act” out a scene with C.J. Graham so kudos to you! I would have shit myself if he grabbed me like that unexpectedly. Or cried. You handled it well.

 (Krampus VS Predator)

I went back downstairs to take in the vendor room one last time before exiting. I did not see the (Saphira) Velociraptor in person but damn I wish I had. Those video clips from the afternoon were great! Kudos to the Ghouls … for pulling off that surprise on Sunday!

And, like that, it was over. In some ways I felt like I took in a lot at this year’s return to Crypticon as press, in other ways I felt like I missed a good chunk of things. Of course my report isn’t filling in every exacting detail (like when I ventured outside to take in the hearses) but the majority of it is here.

I wanted to see the Shibari demonstration. I saw a bit of Aidra the Juggler. I saw a bit of Harry Manfredini’s panel. The small Cascade room was packed. If there’s a way to have all of the guest panels in the Evergreen rooms next year that would be super. Most were.

 (Anubis Hearse Club)

To the Crypticon Seattle staff that put on the event – my sincere thanks. I know, and have always known, it takes a Herculean effort to put these conventions on every year. It is not lost on me how much work all of you do for an entire year to make this convention happen. For all the late nights, arguments, sacrifices, and other details by the billions – thank you. The convention from an outsider’s perspective rocked every single day!

To the fans – Crypticon Seattle is our little summer horror camp getaway each year (to paraphrase Tony Kay). Thank you for being weird, loving the genre, and for showing your support by coming to the convention. Just like concerts and other events that I cover, if the fans don’t come out, the scene dies. It’s that simple. So, thank you!

To the guests – thank you for taking the time. Yes, we all know it’s a business when you make these appearances but it’s also a grand way to connect with your fans, to keep your name alive, and to honestly make memories for so many people. I know I have tons of memories from Crypticon guest appearances and I stated some of the guests right off the top of my head earlier in this report. The old adage “never meet your heroes” is rarely, if ever, true at Crypticon Seattle. If anything it’s the opposite. “Meet your heroes” if you’re at Crypticon because they will become your heroes - for life.

 (Anubis Hearse Club)

I’ve been writing more in the past twelve months than I have in a long time. I’ve found that when I review shows, concerts, operas, ballets, and the like, I tend to take the higher ground when I can. Could I pick at things? Sure, but what’s the point? Constructive criticism can be helpful but even it has a time and place. I prefer to talk about the good as much as possible. There’s so much negativity in the world right now that every bit of good means a lot.

I hope I did the convention justice with this report. Knowing me I’ll remember something tomorrow and I’ll edit this report again. But for now I stand by it.

Crypticon Seattle 2019 – it was one for the books. Thank you!

Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
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(Eclectic Arts Video Interview with Ms. Dee Wallace)

 (Anubis Hearse Club)

See You All Next Year!