Wednesday, January 30, 2019


Broadway Princess Party

Susan Egan, Courtney Reed, Anneliese Van Der Pol

With Benjamin Rauhala

Northshore Performing Arts Center
Bothell, WA


I helped build the Northshore Performing Arts Center. Not literally but I performed at a fundraiser back in 2000 where the proceeds were going toward the future Northshore Performing Arts Center.

It was great to be able to attend my first show there this past Saturday to review the Broadway Princess Party. Susan Egan (Belle from "Beauty and The Beast" on Broadway), Courtney Reed (Jasmine from "Aladdin" on Broadway), and Anneliese Van Der Pol (Belle from "Beauty and The Beast" on Broadway) were the featured vocalists with music director Benjamin Rauhala.

The center was filled with fans many dressed up as their favorite princess (mainly Disney) who were just aching for this event to come to the greater Seattle area. It was very similar to growing up with a particular band and finally getting to see them live.

The show was divided into two sets with a brief intermission. Benjamin was the MC during the night as he accompanied the songs on piano for the vocalists.

The set was divided equally as some songs were performed solo, some were all three, and a mixture of voices on certain tunes.

They pulled from the vast Disney catalog - both films and Broadway musicals aplenty. There were some fans in the audience that oohed and ahhed when a certain song was played, particularly if it was something of a deep cut. There were many tears in the audience as favorite songs were performed as well.

Each vocalist, not surprisingly, sounded fantastic. Susan Egan stood out to me as she had such a timeless voice. Courtney Reed sounded like what I imagine a princess to sound like from a Disney film or production. Anneliese Van Der Pol was new to the princess posse but you couldn't tell at all. She had just flown in from filming her television show to perform at the concert. When all three sang in harmony - wow - that was something to hear!

The tone was very lighthearted with jokes and banter inbetween the songs. Much of it rehearsed like in a play but it went over well with the audience.

Local singers Frederick Hagreen and Sarah Nicole Russell also performed during the show to much applause, as well as joining for the show closing song, "When You Wish Upon A Star".

Overall the show was a fun event for fans of all ages. There was plenty of merchandise to buy as well as a very affordable meet and greet opportunity (compared to others I've seen at shows).

Join the Party when it comes to your town!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: John for the credentials and Greg for the communication - thank you so much for the opportunity!

Photos and Videos were encouraged at the show:

"A Whole New World"

"Beauty and The Beast" Medley

"Let It Go"

ARSENIC & OLD LACE Event Review! Taproot Theatre 1/25/19

Arsenic & Old Lace


Joseph Kesselring

Taproot Theatre
Seattle, WA

Kim Morris, Richard Nguyen Sloniker and Pam Nolte in Arsenic and Old Laceat Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.


The 2019 Jewell Mainstage Season at the Taproot Theatre opened up with a perennial favorite, "Arsenic & Old Lace" by Joseph Kesselring. Directed by Marianne Savell the show is a whimsical take on the family unit (a recurring theme throughout this season's shows), with plenty of comedy to add to the zaniness.

Every family has at least one member (maybe several) that march to the beat of their own drum. With the family of Brewsters - sisters Abby (Kim Morris) and Martha (Pam Nolte) live together in their old home in Brooklyn, NY. Teddy lives there as well (Stephen Grenley) who believes he is the president of the United States Theodore Roosevelt.

Kim Morris, Stephen Grenley and David Drummond in Arsenic and Old Lace at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

Mortimer Brewster (Richard Nguyen Sloniker) and is fiancée' Elaine Harper (Elizabeth Keck) enter the picture and things begin to unravel within the family. Others would call them skeletons in the closet - or by the window sill - in this case.

The other Brewster, Jonathan, who has been living elsewhere in the world (with a dubious past), is basically ostracized from his family. Without giving too much of the plot away, other than Mortimer, the other Brewster's all have criminal pasts and presents.

Richard Nguyen Sloniker and David Drummond in Arsenic and Old Lace at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

"Arsenic & Old Lace" really layers on the comedy to a boiling point that is down right hysterical. I found myself laughing as a few of the characters reminded me of members of my own family (in a legal way of course).

Kim Morris and Pam Nolte show their veteran acting skills as both were perfectly cast in their respective roles. Richard Nguyen Sloniker was the centerpiece of the ensemble. His comedic timing and delivery could not have been better. 

  David Drummond, Kim Morris and Pam Nolte in Arsenic and Old Lace at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

David Drummond as Jonathan also shined as a veteran of the stage. His presence and facial expressions only added to his portrayal of the no good Jonathan Brewster.

The entire cast, some of whom I recognized from other Taproot Theatre productions, were stellar as expected. 

Richard Nguyen Sloniker and Kim Morris in Arsenic and Old Lace at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

I must mention the stage design with its impressive staircase and multi-levels really stood out. I noticed it right away and was most impressed.

Taproot Theatre is off to a grand start for the 2019 season with "Arsenic & Old Lace". Elderberry wine anyone?

Until next time - see you at the theatre!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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

"Arsenic & Old Lace" runs through March 2nd!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Verdi's IL TRAVOTORE Opening Night Review! McCaw Hall Seattle, WA 1/12/19



McCaw Hall
Seattle, WA

(Seattle Opera Presents Il Travotore - Photo Credit:  Philip Newton)


Every now and then I get the opportunity to expand Eclectic Arts coverage. Having never been to an opera performance, ever, I jumped at the opportunity to cover Verdi's IL TROVATORE last week.

Well, jumped may be a bit of an exaggeration. For many of you the opera world is both unfamiliar and possibly a bit intimidating. The little we know is from television and film where an opera is the location for a particular scene, etc. With that limited knowledge comes stereotypes and assumptions. Since this was my first opera performance ever, I am writing this review from that vantage point; for the common person or new opera attendee. 

  (Seattle Opera Presents Il Travotore - Photo Credit:  Jacob Lewis)

I am in no way an opera enthusiast (not yet at least), intellectual, or expert. I'm sure there are dozens of local media outlets that can dissect and interpret any opera performance better than I. For that reason, I am not going to dig through the opera performance itself as that would be foolish. But, I am going to write about my overall experience at McCaw Hall Saturday night.


(Elena Gabouri (Azucena) - Photo Credit:  Philip Newton)

I arrived early to ensure parking (besides using the $20 garage) and was pleasantly surprised with street parking a mere block and a half away. I followed a well-dressed group across Mercer Street and unsurprisingly found we were all headed to the same location - McCaw Hall.

I picked up my tickets at the will call office and went upstairs to pass the time before the doors officially opened for seating.

(Nerys Jones (Inez) and Angela Meade (Leonora) - Photo Credit: Jacob Lucas)

As I looked over the entrance below, I noticed the variety of people attending the show. Yes, there were more formal than casual dressed attendees which I expected. But I did spot the occasional pair of nicer blue jeans, a pair of tennis shoes (usually paired with a suit or more formal attire - the "in" thing with many broadcasters these days), etc. Having just attended a pair of ballet performances, I would say this crowd was not as casual as what I spotted at the ballet but, as it was stated in a program, don't let your attire (or lack thereof) keep you from coming to a performance. Wear what is your best - which may not be the best of the person next to you. Know what I mean?

I can say that the tuxes and lavish gown couples were actually fun to people watch for. They looked like something out of a film or magazine ad - and actually made me feel like I was at "the opera" for lack of a better description.

I also noticed plenty of phrases such as "excuse me", "pardon me", "thank you", and the like - also a nice welcome at the opera. Being a seasoned media outlet of concerts in the area, being around people with actual manners is a pleasure. I'm not knocking my concert brethren, but it's just a different crowd. Let's leave it at that, shall we?

(Adam Lau (Ferrando) - Photo Credit: Philip Newton)

As I sat down before the performance, the vibe in the hall was very much of an event. It was after all a Saturday evening, the opening night of IL TROVATORE, and you could feel the warm anticipation of the performance.

The screen (for lack of a better term) was down and there was a large bar across the top of the stage where the subtitles would be shown. For the other new fans, think of your TV when it shows subtitles on the bottom or has a sports ticker with information on the bottom of your screen - only this was at the very top of the stage at McCaw Hall. This opera was in Italian so to follow what the performers were singing, the words were in English above the stage.

From my vantage point on the main orchestra floor, the combination of stage viewing and subtitle reading was perfect. However, if you were closer to the front rows, I would imagine it would be difficult to read the translation due to the high angle above. Of course those patrons may already know the story or perhaps even know Italian, so who knows? But if you were half way back on the main orchestra floor, it's a perfect sight line.

(Lester Lynch (Di Luna) - Photo Credit: Philip Newton)

The scene design, lighting, and costumes were worthy of any musical I've covered thus far. I know painstaking hours go into all of the above and it showed. Much like a movie set, the opera set transported the audience into the world of Count Di Luna, Leonora, Manrico, Ferrando, Inez, Azucena, and Ruiz.

I have a music background but in no way do I have one on the level of the opera performers on stage. I only mention this as one of my biggest question marks prior to the performance was how would I be able to handle the two hours plus of operatic singing.

My only exposure to such singing is with symphonic metal bands and/or classically trained singers. I can also add a few of the musical theatre cast members that have opera backgrounds but my exposure is limited to say the least.

(Angela Meade (Leonora) - Photo Credit:  Philip Newton)

Much to my delight the constant operatic singing never bothered me during the performance. If anything - I noticed how grand much of the singing was. In particular Lester Lynch as Count Di Luna and Leah Crocetto as Leonora really stood out to these ears. Powerful, nuanced, evocative, and captivating, both performers took hold of their roles and brought me into their world.

The story as I mentioned earlier I'll leave to the opera experts but for me - the tragedy within the story was indicative of the time when the opera was written (common theme) but also worked with the captivating score.

Again for the new opera fan the show is long: an hour and 15 minutes before an intermission with an additional 67 minutes or so to conclude the performance. Also - there were signs letting folks know that you will not be permitted inside once the performance starts. Unlike a theatre show where you will have to wait until a suitable time to let latecomers in, at the opera you are out of luck. So, be mindful of the bells chiming to alert you to get to your seats or you will miss out.

(Seattle Opera Presents Il Travotore - Photo Credit:  Philip Newton)

Inbetween scenes as the set was changed, it was clearly a January performance in the Northwest as there was plenty of coughing, sniffles, and blowing of noses. To the point that it was making the audience laugh during the first scene change. With each subsequent scene change it became clear that if you need to cough, try to wait (or get it out of your system) during these scene changes so you're not interrupting the actual performance.

Overall my first venture into McCaw Hall for a performance from the Seattle Opera was highly pleasurable. If you're going for the first time, read up on the show beforehand, allow plenty of time the day or night of the performance, and then go in to the hall with an open mind. I think you'll leave as I did - satisfied.

See you at the … opera!
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

EA on YT

Special Thanks: Gabrielle for the credentials - thank you very much for the opportunity!  I'm looking forward to the next production.

IL TROVATORE continues through January 26th, 2019. 


Friday, January 11, 2019

STORM LARGE and The Seattle Symphony! 1/5/19

Love, Lust, and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Seattle Symphony 
Conducted by: Michael Krajewski
Featuring Storm Large

Benaroya Hall
Seattle, WA


For the first show of the year for Eclectic Arts, I found myself back at one of my favorite venues in the city - Benaroya Hall. Storm Large: Love, Lust, and Rock 'n' Roll was in town for three performances.

As conducted by Michael Krajewski, the performance on Saturday night was the perfect kick off to a new year.

Storm Large is a powerhouse vocalist. With a background in rock, punk, and metal, she is an eclectic singer. She has performed with many different symphonies around the world as well as with famed band Pink Martini. Storm is anything but one-dimensional.

The set list ranged from standards like Cole Porter to hits from Elton John, Queen, Olivia Newton John and originals from Storm and her band.

On paper some may think this combination of Storm Large and the Seattle Symphony wouldn't work but they would be wrong. Storm was engaging and very much herself. She pulls no punches and speaks her mind with only a minor filtering throughout the performance. I think I only caught one cuss word.

Her vocal performance was tremendous. She could make any song her own - which she did to comedic effect during, "Hopelessly Devoted To You". There is no denying her talent.

During, "Somebody To Love" Storm asked the audience to turn on their phones to light up Benaroya Hall - something I had never seen done there before. The hall looked wonderful as many in the audience sang along with the Queen staple.

The show, with intermission, ran about two hours' give or take. My only quibble was the overall sound of the vocal mic and the drum kit. I've heard other "pop" singers at Benaroya Hall so I was expecting the same stellar quality. The vocals sounded a bit distant and muddled. This had nothing to do with Storm's performance but the technical aspect. The drum kit was also much too rock oriented and could have been dialed down a bit in the mix, particularly the snare. Again, not the performers issue but a technical one from the soundboard. I wasn't the only one who noticed this as I heard others talk about it during intermission.

Storm talked between every song and her brash humor went over well with most of the audience. There were definitely Pink Martini fans in the audience who were quite vocal in support of Storm. Her message of love during these times was not lost on anyone in the audience. She has overcome many, many obstacles in her own life and was quite open in sharing her trials and tribulations. A recent performance by Jessie J. I covered was similar in terms of the sharing of hardships and the gratefulness for being where each artist is now. I would love to see Storm Large return with perhaps another singer to share the stage with - Jessie J. actually comes to mind. Both are powerhouse vocalists that can sing many different genres.

Overall, the event was fantastic! I'm looking forward to future events to cover at Benaroya Hall in 2019!

Until Next Time,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Friday, January 4, 2019

Show Up, Make Noise, Take Action, and Respect Each Other - THUNDERPUSSY Event Review! Seattle, WA 12/31/18

The Black Tones

Showbox at The Market
Seattle, WA

(All Photos:  Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts)


As 2018 came to a close on Monday night, I found myself celebrating with Seattle's own Thunderpussy, along with Portland's Red Fang, and Seattle's The Black Tones. The "damn the man" show at the Showbox at the Market was sold out in advance (as was last year's 2017 NY Eve "Fire and Ice Soiree" show and the two shows at Neumo's in 2016 on 12/30 and 12/31).

2018 has been an important year for Thunderpussy. They played shows down the west coast toward their destination of SXSW in Texas. Their self-titled debut album, long in the works, was finally released in May of this year. They ventured across the pond again to play shows overseas. They then played headline and support shows all throughout the U.S. of A. and some in Canada to round things out this summer and fall. They ventured down south to PDX to play with Red Fang on one (12/28) of their two homecoming shows and then capped the year with the show on New Year's Eve at the Showbox. This has indeed been the year of the Pussiez!

The show Monday night kicked off with The Black Tones from Seattle. Started by twins Eva and Cedric, the trio stripped off their clothes and blasted through their 30-minute set of rock n roll. Shaina from Bearaxe guested on vocals on one track and family came on stage to end the set on a high note. Full of energy and fun, The Black Tones were a great band to start the festivities off right!

Next up was Red Fang. There were a lot of Red Fang fans in the audience. I overheard many people in line talking about the band before I even got into the venue. Hailing from Portland, OR - Red Fang has been bringing the metal since 2005. I had only heard of the band, knew they were heavy, but hadn't ever heard or seen them play. The four-piece hit the stage and just fucking crushed it. Me being a metal guy, some headbanging music was alright by me for sure. The crowd was enthusiastic - if not a little divided in spots. But, believe me, the band went over well. Red Fang played just over an hour-long set and they didn't let up one second in their set of rip roaring metal.

Just before 11:30pm the lights dimmed and Molly, Whitney, Leah, and Ruby walked onto the Showbox stage. Perfectly lit to create mood and ambiance to start the show, Ruby walked to the keyboards, Whitney strapped on the bass, and Leah sat behind the kit. What? If you were buzzed, high, or both, you probably thought you were tripping. Heck - even if you were stone cold sober there was a part of you that was like what's going on? The band started a new song in this configuration - with Molly on lead vocals as always.

They eventually went to their known instruments of choice and the set continued to build as the energy in the Showbox grew with each song. By the time old favorites like, "Fever" and "Speed Queen" were aired; the band was rocking like they always do. "Thunderpussy" pushed the energy over the top as the seconds counted down. The band stopped to acknowledge a Happy New Year! Streamers blew into the audience from the stage, champagne bottles were popped open, and the band celebrated with the audience on the catwalk.

The band eventually finished the song and partied on into 2019!

The band switched instruments again for a few bars with Molly on keyboards, Whitney on drums, Leah on guitar, and Ruby on bass. Songs like "No Heaven", "Gentle Frame", "Torpedo Love", "New Shoes", and "The Cloud" (featuring surprise guest Mary Lambert on vocals) sounded as fun and energetic as ever.

The band encored with guests on the Aretha Franklin classic, "Respect" and finished the night with their own, "Velvet Noose".

Clearly the band and the audience were having a fantastic time! From The Black Tones set where Molly snapped a photo from the pit while Ruby rocked out to the band, to the sheer energy of Red Fangs' set, to one of Seattle's newest favorite bands, the show was just a pure joy to be a part of. If you left the Showbox disappointed, then you should of stayed home.

The band was already all about the live performance as they honed their craft here in Seattle. They have the right balance of random don't give a shit rock n roll band attitude, visual thought and presentation (particularly these last two New Year's Eve gigs have stood out), and good clean (or dirty) fun. While I haven't seen the band as many times as others in Seattle, every time I've seen them I always have a great time. There's something to be said for that. It's awesome to go to a show just knowing that you're going to leave feeling better than when you went in (and you may have been feeling spectacular already).

All of the touring is only strengthening what was already a stellar live band. The naysayers will talk about the bands name, gender, blah blah blah - but those assholes don't get it. Thunderpussy in my opinion has never gone out of their way to shock people. They haven't contrived a look or message to gain attention. They've quite organically been themselves all this time and let the audience come to them. Their live shows are a testament to that fact. If you ever talk to any of the members, they're the most down to earth fun loving people you could ever hope to meet.

They play rock n roll. Heck they should borrow the late Lemmy's line of - "We're Motorhead and we play rock n roll". I can hear it now - "We're Thunderpussy and we play rock n roll".

The band live never disappoints. Am I biased? Maybe. My favorite drummer continues to inspire every time I see her play. (Hi Ruby!). Molly is like no other front person. I said it in 2016 and I'll say it again - she is the future. All those fans that are watching her on stage now, will one day be acknowledging her as an influence as they front their own bands. I first saw Leah when she was pounding the skins for Sundries three years ago and she thumps the low end in Thunderpussy like nobody's business. And the last two shows I've been stage right to watch Whitney play guitar (being a guitarist myself). She plays with attitude and that's something you can't teach. She also knows when not to play - and that's so overlooked. I dug the addition of the talk-box to her rig as well. Great stuff!

Seattle loves Thunderpussy. Many fans around the world now love Thunderpussy. And it's only going to grow and grow.

What else can I say? We're so fortunate to have a band like Thunderpussy as "our own". 2019 - we're ready for you and I'm willing to bet so are Thunderpussy!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Special Thanks: Thunderpussy for the credentials - as always thank you very much for the opportunity! I SO appreciate it!






 Red Fang

The Black Tones