Monday, February 25, 2019

SEATTLE OPERA The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs Opening Night Review: 2/23/19

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

McCaw Hall
Seattle, WA

John Moore (Steve Jobs) with members of the Seattle Opera Chorus. Philip Newton photo.


The question I was asked the most when I said I was attending the opening night of, "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs" by the Seattle Opera was "how are they making that into an opera?" Heck even for me I was wondering the same thing to a degree. I saw the film about Steve Jobs a few years back but outside of that, I didn't know or remember much about the man.

Kudos to the Seattle Opera marketing department as they have been (as they always do) promoting this show on a daily basis, building up to the opening night on Saturday. I read and watched what they shared on social media and it helped fill in the picture of what I was going to see and hear at the production.

With this being a new opera making its west coast premiere, the crowd was more diverse than normal. Well, I say normal like I've been going to the opera for years - more like it was more diverse than the last opera I attended in January. There were more folks that looked tech oriented (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc) in attendance as well as more traditional opera attendees.

John Moore (Steve Jobs) and Emily Fons (Laurene Powell Jobs). Philip Newton photo

The show was approximately 1 hour and 37 minutes with no intermission. So, arrive early and claim your seat before the show starts. No late seating allowed.

The set design stood out from the start of the show. Obviously wanting to make it scream high tech based on the opera subject matter, the large objects on stage that looked somewhat like a blank smart phone were utilized to great effect to show different projections, and were moved around to really change the scenes effectively.

The soundscape was distinctly noticeable and very well done. There has been some chatter due to the mic'd up opera singers but it didn't bother me at all. And, from an audio engineers perspective, it makes total sense (I dabbled as an audio engineer many years ago).

The story of Steve Jobs is a complicated one. He was clearly a visionary that was also lost in his own world, caught up in the drive to bring his visions to life, at the cost of all of those around him. From his daughter that he initially disowned and wanted nothing to do with to his married family life that he did little to support (other than financially), his story has as many lows as it does highs. 

  John Moore (Steve Jobs) with members of the Seattle Opera Chorus.  Jacob Lucas photo.

And of course the main objects he'll be credited for, besides the original Apple desktops computers, will be the iMac, iPod, and perhaps most of all, the iPhone. The theme throughout the production was one of Steve Jobs' life where he isolated himself from basically everyone at one time or another and the parallel to the iPhone - something that brings people together but also isolates them from the present day reality.

The cast was strong throughout the performance. John Moore was particularly compelling as Steve Jobs. He rarely if ever had a scene where he wasn't present in it. Emily Fons was wonderful as Laurene Powell Jobs. Her voice and acting portrayed a wife that was frustrated, supportive, and strong. Adam Lau as Kobun Chino Otogawa - who Steve Jobs learned from on his Buddhist spiritual journey, provided the polite comedy and bass that added another aspect to the show that was much needed. Madison Leonard sang her heart out as Chrisann Brennan and was a delight to watch and hear.

Overall, if you have never been to the Seattle Opera, and you consider yourself a tech-y or tech oriented, and you like the arts, this show is a great opera introduction for you. However, if you are looking for a traditional opera piece and you are also looking to begin your opera journey, this show may hit the mark in some ways but miss it in others.

Adam Lau (Kōbun Chino Otogawa). Philip Newton photo.

The show recently won a Grammy award this year and the buzz around it is definitely growing with each city it is staged in. From concept to production, the team behind the show must be proud of all their hard work over the last few years to bring this show to life.

So, just as you finish this review - what are you reading this on? Smart phone? Tablet? Laptop? Desktop? An Apple product, perhaps?

You're already in Steve Jobs' world. Go see "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs" and decide for yourself whether his visions have brought people together or increased societal isolation.

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

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

THE (R)EVOLUTION OF STEVE JOBS continues through March 9th, 2019.
Buy tickets here:  TICKETS

Seattle Opera presents The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.  Philip Newton photo.

It Could Be Any One Of Us - THE PHOENIX THEATRE Event Review 2/22/19

It Could Be Any One of Us


Alan Ayckbourn

The Phoenix Theater
Edmonds, WA

Sydney Kaser, Susan Connors, Curt Simmons and James Lynch. (Eric Lewis)


I had the opportunity to catch a performance of, "It Could Be Any One of Us" at the Phoenix Theatre in Edmonds. The snow event forced the cancellation of a few performances (including mine) so I was glad to be able to see the show before it closed.

A comedy who done it style production, the Jay Jenkins directed show sets the tone right from the start. Mortimer Chalke (played by Curt Simmons) pounds away at his piano as the other cast members are introduced. Jocelyn Polegate (played by Susan Connors), her daughter Amy Polegate (played by Sydney Kaser), Norris Honeywell (played by Tom Cook), Brinton Chalke (played by James Lynch), and Wendy Windwood (Cristina Devrin) round out the cast.

The show is unique in that each performance has a different ending based on the outcome of a scene early in the production. So if you see the show back to back you most likely will see an entirely different ending.

The motives pile up as the show continues on before a murder is committed. As always, I don't like to give away too many plot details - I'd much rather the ticket buyer go in as fresh as possible.

Susan Connors shows yet again just how good she is (I saw her in December in "Twist of the Magi"). Effortless and completely believable as Jocelyn, her performance was noteworthy for sure. I enjoyed every second of it.

Tom Cook took a bit of getting used to for me. His portrayal of Norris Honeywell grew on me as the show continued. By the second act he was in fine form.

Cristina Devrin as Wendy worked from the moment she arrived at the Chalke's family residence. Her physical/non verbal comedy worked very well and her character stood out enough to make the audience believe she was in great peril.

I liked what Curt Simmons brought to the table. I would of liked to have seen a stronger wardrobe design for his character but that's nitpicking.

James Lynch brought humor to his role as well as an accent that reminded me of Frodo in Lord Of the Rings.

Sydney Kaser did the best she could with her character - which was perhaps the smallest of the cast. She had a few spotlight scenes in the second act that showed a lot of promise. I'd like to see her in a more substantial role to really see what she can bring as an actress.

Overall, the show kept my interest and, no, I didn't guess correctly whom the murderer was. Perhaps if you saw the show you were more successful than I.

The house was nearly full Friday evening with a crowd of regulars who knew each other. The Phoenix is a small business and it's great to see people supporting the theatre - especially this show as revenue was lost due to snowmageddon. For a large theatre they can weather that kind of storm (pun intended) but for a smaller theatre, every dollar counts.

The next show up is "Ripcord" from March 29 - April 20th. Come out and support a great local theatre!

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

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

POPPY Am I A Girl? Tour Review - Seattle, WA 2/21/19


Showbox at The Market
Seattle, WA


There are definitely shows where I feel I'm getting old. The audience is made up of fans 25 and younger with a few exceptions of course. Parents are in attendance - normally hanging elsewhere while their child/children are trying to get as close as possible to the rail. It's fun but also a reality reminder that you, sir, are old. Age is just a number - but sometimes it's a big number.

In any event, I was looking forward to checking out the pop sensation Poppy. She has amassed a massive church of followers who worship at her altar every chance they get. The VIP paid fans were already inside at the front of the rail and the line outside the Showbox was longer than usual - as expected as the under age crowd can't hang out in Kern's before the doors open. I spoke to a few fans that had never been to the Showbox or it was only their second or third time. This is all good news in terms of getting fans to support the Showbox as it's fighting to remain in existence.

The house lights dimmed, the screen on stage lit up, and the high-pitched screams started en masse. The three-piece band walked out on to the stage followed by Poppy - and more screams. Strapping on a guitar, Poppy launched into, "Am I A Girl?" from her latest album. The backing band in matching outfits, makeup, and wigs kept the show moving all night - kudos to them. Poppy sang - looked every inch the pop star that she is - and delighted the fans with every thing that she did. She kept the talking to a minimum for the most part as she kept the setlist moving with, "Chic Chick", "Money", "Bleach Blonde Baby", and several other tunes. Her latest video for, "Voicemail" was aired on the screen before launching into a few bars of "Another Brick In The Wall Part 2" by Pink Floyd.

The main set ended with a high energy version of, "Play Destroy" before Poppy encored with "Pop Music", "Metal" (Gary Numan cover), and "X".

The visuals were entertaining throughout the night as well as the backing band on guitar, bass, and drums. Poppy was intriguing to watch and her hardcore fans were in absolute heaven the whole evening. For those more moderate fans the show was good but the music performance from Poppy was still a work in progress. She is singing live on this tour, which is a big step in the right direction. Also, the live band is a must for future tours (compared to the DJ she had previously). I can only see her popularity growing with the whole package that is presented to the fans.

Overall an enjoyable and entertaining evening on Thursday night. I have a feeling the next time Poppy comes to town she'll either be at the Showbox SoDo or maybe even the Moore Theatre - both have higher capacities and somewhat larger stages for even more visual presentation to work with. For an artist like Poppy - the visual aspect is as important as the musical aspect. You'll be hearing more from her in the future!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on YT

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

JOYCE DIDONATO Kicks Off The SONGPLAY Tour In Seattle! Event Review. Benaroya Hall 2/18/19




Benaroya Hall
Seattle, WA


I've had the pleasure of diving into the world of opera in 2019. While I am still in my infancy stages as a reviewer, I have been looking forward to each operatic event with much enthusiasm.

Arguably the greatest mezzo-soprano performing today, Joyce DiDonato kicked off her "Songplay" tour at the prestigious Benaroya Hall in Seattle, WA on Monday evening. "Songplay" is her newest recording - which is a departure from the opera and classical works and a revisiting of Italian art songs as well as new interpretations of jazz classics and tunes from the great American songbook.

Working with Craig Terry (piano and arranger), Joyce DiDonato started her program with "Caro Mio Ben". The first notes of her voice carried throughout the hall like an angel - with the grand piano notes accompanying her as she performed at a level few ever reach.

As the show continued, other world-class musicians were introduced to the stage. Chuck Israels on double bass, Jimmy Madison on percussion, Charlie Porter on trumpet, and Lautaro Greco on bandoneon.

Being a musician myself, it came as no surprise that the musicians playing with Ms. DiDonato were absolutely stellar. Each a heavyweight in their own right, when all of them performed together with Ms. DiDonato, it was simply breathtaking.

The program shifted back and forth between Italian art classics to pieces by Duke Ellington and Leon Walker, to name but a few.

The main set ended with, "With A Song In My Heart" in which Joyce DiDonato and the band exited to a standing ovation.

They returned to perform a one-two song encore starting with a Vivaldi piece. The show came to a final end with a beautiful rendition of, "La Vie en Rose". Another well deserved standing ovation and Ms. DiDonato exited the stage as the band performed a few more bars of the song to end the evening.

The entire performance was a master class in musical excellence. Any musician in the audience would agree. I found myself mesmerized by Joyce's vocal prowess and, at times, hoped to hear the band stop for a few bars so that her solo voice would be front and center.

Having never heard Joyce DiDonato perform live, my first experience was one of awe and admiration. Her reputation as one of the finest vocalists of our time is well deserved. And the musicians that accompanied her last night were just a marvel to watch and listen to.

The "Songplay" series of shows hits six more cities throughout the U.S. (Berkeley, St. Paul, Oberlin, Boston, New York, and Princeton). If you are anywhere near these cities, your mission is clear. Attend one of the events and prepare yourself for the ever so fortunate opportunity to hear Joyce DiDonato perform "Songplay" live. You're welcome.

Until Next Time,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB

SILENT SKY - Edmonds Driftwood Players Show Review 2/17/19

Silent Sky

Edmonds Driftwood Players

The Wade James Theater
Edmonds, WA

The cast of “Silent Sky” is (from left) Ingrid Sanai Buron, Marena Kleinpeter, Dan Ruiz Salvatura, Annie St. John and Elizabeth A. Shipman. (Dale Sutton)


My second experience with the Edmonds Driftwood Players was equally enjoyable as the first. "Silent Sky" by Lauren Gunderson and directed by Eric Bischoff, opened on Valentine's Day.

The play is based on the true story of three female astronomers. Henrietta Leavitt, Annie Cannon, and Williamina Fleming. Henrietta's sister Margaret Leavitt and Peter Shaw (who also works at the observatory) round out the characters of "Silent Sky".

The performances of each of the five actors were stellar. Individually they took the audience on a journey through time, traditions, and societal change as the years rolled by.

Marena Kleinpeter had to lead the charge as the ambitious and intelligent Henrietta but also had to make the audience believe that she was truly too focused on her work as events unfolded with her family back home. The sheer amount of dialogue Marena had to work through was astounding. Being that I am still relatively new to theatre, I have been in awe of the actors at times, particularly when they have page after page of dialogue to present to the audience. Marena handle her role beautifully.

Dan Ruiz Salvatura, Elizabeth A. Shipman, Annie St. John, Marena Kleinpeter, and Ingrid Sanai Buron. (Dale Sutton)

Ingrid Sanai Buron (Annie) and Elizabeth Shipman (Williamina) had some of the best chemistry of the cast. Each character was distinct yet very believable. As the years passed in the show, their characters changed as well and, again, it was believable. Both actors were spot on with their performances.

Annie St. John (Margaret) kept the timeline moving as well with her portrayal of Margaret. From having children to holding down the fort at home while Henrietta is working at the observatory, Annie walked the line of supportive sister and nearly matriarchal worry with the greatest of ease.

Dan Ruiz Salvatura (Peter) portrayed his character of Peter as a supervisor and professor in an audience friendly way. It became clear early on that Peter had a romantic interest in Henrietta but he was also too awkward to move forward with his feelings (until later in the play).

Individually there was absolutely no weak link in the cast of "Silent Sky". Collectively it was a bit more hit and miss at times. The chemistry between certain characters/actors was lacking at times during the first act. By the second act the chemistry was building but by the time it had almost hit its stride the show was over. I would have loved to have seen more of a collective chemistry during the first act but that's a minor quibble.

Overall, "Silent Sky" was a beautiful presentation by the Edmonds Driftwood Players. The show runs through 2/24 so see it while you can!

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

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

"Silent Sky" runs through February 24th.  Buy tickets here:  TICKETS!

"THE CLEAN HOUSE" Review - As If Theatre Company 2/16/19

The Clean House 


Sarah Ruhl

As If Theatre Company

Kenmore Community Club
Kenmore, WA

(Devika Bhagwat, Carolynne Wilcox, Terry Boyd, and Cindy Giese French.  Photo:  Rosemary Dai Ross)


I have always enjoyed artistic endeavors that range from amateur to professional and everything inbetween. From the stacks of demo tapes that I still have to reviewing concerts at Century Link Field that holds 60,000 plus fans per event, I am never deterred by the size of a band, company, theatre, etc. nor do I dismiss an event based on longevity, location, or reputation. In other words, if I'm interested in it, I'm there.

As If Theatre Company mounted their first official production of, "The Clean House" by Sarah Ruhl on Friday February 15, 2019. Due to an unexpected snow event that crippled much of Western Washington, the original opening date was pushed back a week to allow the greater Seattle area to get back to what we consider normal around here.

As If Theatre Company is the brainchild of three veterans of the theatre community: Cindy Giese French, Amy Gentry, and Molly Hall. Noticing a lack of theatre options in the north end of Lake Washington between Edmonds and Woodinville, As If Theatre Company chose the Kenmore Community Club to house their first production - pretty much smack dab in the middle of the aforementioned cities.

(Cindy Giese French, Amy Gentry, and Devika Bhagwat.  Photo:  Rosemary Dai Ross)

I attended the Saturday evening performance on 2/16/19. For those loyal readers of Eclectic Arts, they already know that our expansion into musicals, theatre, ballet, and opera is not even a year old compared to the interviews, reviews, and photography of local to international touring bands, as well as the television and film coverage over the years. I was looking forward to the performance for a few reasons. For starters I always like seeing something new and a first show, first performance certainly fits the bill. In addition, I had been cooped up like many others indoors during the snow event so getting out and getting back to reviewing events again was a welcome change.

The very basic premise of "The Clean House" revolves around a married couple Charles (Terry Boyd) and Lane (Cindy Giese French), their housekeeper Matilde (Devika Bhagwat), Lane's sister Virginia (Amy Gentry), and Charles' new love interest Ana (Carolynne Wilcox). Rarely do I go into the plot details in my reviews as I would rather the reader go to a performance to see for themselves what the show is all about.

It was clearly evident that much of the cast of "The Clean House" were veterans of the theatre community. Cindy Giese French portrayed Lane with the rawness and rollercoaster of self-discovery that was undeniably a treasure to witness. The audience felt for her character but also recognized the incredibly uncomfortable situation she was thrust into by her husband.

Amy Gentry delivered her lines with perfect comedic timing. Her character of Virginia hit home with me as I have a family member that shares some of the same cleanliness traits as Virginia (for better or worse). 

  (Cindy Giese French, Devika Bhagwat, Amy Gentry, and Carolynne Wilcox.  Photo:  Rosemary Dai French)

Carolynne Wilcox as Ana almost seemed to not be acting at times - that's how in character she was throughout her performance.

Terry Boyd's character of Charles should be one that the audience hates. But, due to his skillful portrayal, the audience understood what had happened, why it happened, and even became accepting of it on some level.

Devika Bhagwat's character of Matilde had to not only be the bridge amongst the characters and the story but she also had to break down the parallels between her own life and those she now found herself working for as the story unfolded. Not an easy task but one Devika accomplished with ease.

(Devika Bhagwat.  Photo:  Rosemary Dai Ross)

I found myself laughing during the show. I found myself rethinking knee jerk impressions of the characters as the story continued. And at the conclusion as the cast took their bows, I was pleasantly satisfied.

As directed by Clarissa Meisner Smit, "The Clean House" was well worth spending an evening with other local theatre folks. The show will take you up, down, and sideways in the best way possible.

We on the north end of King County (south Snohomish County) are very fortunate that As If Theatre Company has decided to launch their company in our neck of the woods. Based on what I experienced at "The Clean House", we're in for a run of amazing new theatre!

See you at the theatre!
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

EA on YT

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

"The Clean House" runs through March 3rd. Buy your tickets here:  TICKETS!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Pacific Northwest Ballet - "THE SLEEPING BEAUTY" - Event Review! 2/1/19

Pacific Northwest Ballet

The Sleeping Beauty

McCaw Hall
Seattle, WA

Celebrating the birth of the royal Princess Aurora: Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty, February 1 – 10, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.


The Pacific Northwest Ballet unveiled their latest production this month - “The Sleeping Beauty”. With an extensive cast performing the classical ballet show set to Tchaikovsky, McCaw Hall was brimming with excitement before the lights went down on opening night.

Two promotions occured before the show began - Elle Macy and Dylan Wald were promoted to soloist with the company. This was a great way to start the show as there was much applause and good feelings in the hall.

Having pricked her finger on an enchanted spindle, the Princess Aurora (Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Leta Biasucci) falls into a deep sleep in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty, February 1 – 10, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.

Between each act there was a 15 minute intermission to get the dancers and stage ready for the next part of the production.

Prologue (The Christening). The Lilac Fairy (Lindsi Dec) was the centerpiece of this portion of the performance. Such an exquisite start to the show - I was mesmerized by the performances on the stage. This was not a slow build up (like say “The Nutcracker”). No, if you love ballet then you were in the right place and it showed.

Carabosse, The Wicked Fairy (Jonathan Porretta) - flew into the show and added the sense of darkness that only Maleficent can. His portrayal of the classic character was effortless which spoke to his veteran status with the company.

An uninvited guest: Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Jonathan Porretta as the evil fairy Carabosse, with company dancers in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty, February 1 – 10, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.

ACT I (The Curse) featured Princess Aurora (Leslie Rausch) - who received a warm applause from the audience. Her performance with the four dukes was just outstanding. I may not be a ballet purist but I do know talent when I see it and I couldn’t take my eyes off Leslie Rausch’s performance. Such fluidity in her movement she owned the role of Aurora.

ACT II (The Vision and Awakening) continued the story with ballet for days. Again, if you want to see ballet throughout a production, “The Sleeping Beauty” delivered it in spades. Every member on stage contributed to the performance in exciting and beautiful ways.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Lesley Rausch as the Princess Aurora in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty, February 1 – 10, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.

ACT III (The Wedding) concluded the magnificent production with performances both solo and duo that ran the gamut from fun and whimsical to classical beauty of the highest order. Just when you thought you saw your favorite piece, another piece began that was equally as good (if not better). Amazing!

I’ll be honest - I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it through a marathon of classical ballet. I am a newbie to the world of ballet much like many of you reading this right now.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I know there are thousands of patrons out there like me that have only seen a version of “The Nutcracker” through the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Let me tell you - you’re missing out if you don’t go see another production like, “The Sleeping Beauty”. It was breathtaking in every way and I can’t recommend it enough.

Do yourself a favor - go see a performance before it closes this weekend. You’ll be so glad you did!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Eclectic Arts

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

The Sleeping Beauty continues through February 10th, 2019. 

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in the finale of Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty, February 1 – 10, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.