Thursday, March 28, 2019

"WE WILL NOT BE SILENT" - Taproot Theatre Event Review Seattle, WA 3/23/19

We Will Not Be Silent
David Meyers

Taproot Theatre
Seattle, WA

Amy Helms and Jonathan Stutzman in We Will Not Be Silent at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.


The majority of theatre Eclectic Arts has reviewed over the last nine months has either been comedy or has had a dose of comedy mixed within the production. "We Will Not Be Silent" was definitely a serious drama based on the real life story of a very courageous young woman named Sophie Scholl.

Set in a prison cell in Germany, circa 1943, "We Will Not Be Silent", as directed by Scott Nolte, spent the next ninety minutes going through the final hours of Ms. Scholl (Amy Helms), her brother Hans Scholl (Ben Wippel), and the interrogator Kurt Grunwald (Jonathan Stutzman).

A voice for youth activism, 21-year old Sophie Scholl was part of a group called the White Rose in Germany, a movement that did not agree with the current Nazi state of Germany nor its politics and procedures. Writing and distributing literature about their beliefs, the White Rose was viewed as propaganda by the Nazi's and was one of many targets by the Nazi's to uncover and destroy.

The play spends the majority of the time between Sophie Scholl and her interrogator Kurt Grunwald. Using tactics to break Sophie of her will, the interrogation scenes were coy and subtle at first and then direct and life threatening the second.

There were also scenes with Sophie and her brother Hans, also a member of the White Rose. These were told as the interrogation continued.

By the end of the production, the verdict is in and the show ends. You'll have to attend a performance to see what happens.

Amy Helms and Ben Wippel in We Will Not Be Silent at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

Jonathan Stutzman as Kurt Grunwald stood out during the production. He portrayed his character with believability, ruthlessness, and compassion. Not an easy thing to do considering the circumstances.

Amy Helms as Sophie Scholl was puzzling to me. As the other central character, if not the central character, her portrayal of Sophie left me on the fence about Sophie's convictions. At 21-years old it made sense that Sophie would go back and forth between holding true to herself and giving in to the demands of Kurt so she could be set free. Perhaps I was looking for a more willful character that stood her ground the entire time during the interrogation. Upon further thought, that wouldn't be realistic at all - and the back and forth made more sense after spending some time with the performance.

Ben Wippel played Hans as direct as he could, with a level of empathy and support for his sister Sophie. He also doubled as the guard when Hans wasn't in scenes. I would of liked to have learned more about his characters back-story.

Jonathan Stutzman and Amy Helms in We Will Not Be Silent at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

I have spent the majority of my professional career working with diverse populations of young people in community-based organizations (non profits). From special needs, at risk youth, and foster care just to name a few, I have worked side by side with co-workers that walked during the civil rights movement. That protested outside on the streets of Seattle Community College, the University of Washington, and other local hotspots during the 1960's and beyond.  Issues of equality for people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, and many more have all been front and center in my life's work.

Activism - youth and adult - is something that's not a sideline sport for me. It is something I was immersed in for a number of years based on the type of work I did.

It will always be important for an individual to stand up for what they believe in, to go against the popular opinion, and to question authority.

In Sophie Scholl's case, this young woman risked her life to stand up for what she believed in.

In these times we have seen other figures in the news doing something similar to great controversial effect. Silence is not always golden. Sometimes it takes one person to break that code of silence to reveal a deeper truth about our society, our government, and our way of life.

"We Will Not Be Silent" challenges you to think, examine, and ultimately decide - will you stay silent?

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on YT

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

"We Will Not Be Silent" runs through April 27th. Buy tickets here:  TICKETS!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Pacific Northwest Ballet "DIRECTOR'S CHOICE" - Event Review 3/15/19

Director's Choice

Pacific Northwest Ballet

McCaw Hall
Seattle, WA

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloists Ezra Thomson and Dylan Wald, and corps de ballet dancer Christopher D’Ariano, with guest vocalist Alicia Walter in Robyn Mineko Williams’ The Trees The Trees. PNB is performing The Trees The Trees as part of DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, March 15 – 24, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.


With the weather feeling near spring like on Friday evening, a far cry from the inches of snow we had just a month ago, I was looking forward to catching the opening night of "Director's Choice" from the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Two world premiere pieces as well as a PNB premiere piece, my first recent experience with the PNB of today was a similar program in early November called, "All Premiere", which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I know for some of you skeptics our there that have been supporting Eclectic Arts since the beginning (in 2011), you thought this recent "arts thing" was a phase. Surely Mark will go back to covering bands with a dollop of craft beer, television, and film to keep things interesting. I have to honestly tell you I've been not only enjoying my PNB experiences thus far but also the education and appreciation I'm developing for the art form of ballet has increased tenfold.

There is a timeless beauty about the ballet, regardless if it's a perennial favorite or a contemporary premiere. The work, dedication, and yes - art - that goes into the craft has been eye opening to watch and educate myself about. "Director's Choice" continued the tradition of Eclectic Arts digging deeper into the world of ballet.

The program started with the world premiere of, "Bacchus". Music by Oliver Davis, Choreography by Matthew Neenan, Costume Design by Mark Zappone, Lighting Design by Randall G. Chiarelli, and Conducted by Doug Fullington.  This opening piece was very fluid in it's choreography and music as they intertwined throughout the performance. I found myself looking for the story that was being told, the interpretation of the movement and music. I looked for the portions where the dancers worked in unison, studying their movement and seeing just how their bodies told the story.

The choreography meshed so well with the music (and me being a musician) that the performance was over before it even seemed to begin. Such a piece of tranquility and questioning, it left me ready for more.

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Matthew Neenan’s Bacchus. PNB is performing Bacchus as part of DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, March 15 – 24, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.

"The Trees The Trees" was up next - also a world premiere piece. Music by Kyle Vegter, Choreography by Robyn Mineko Williams, Words by Heather Christie, Scenic and Lighting Design by Randall G. Chiarelli, Costume Design by Branimira Ivanova, with Conducting by Emil de Cou and Vocals by Alicia Walter. This piece intrigued me but also left me knowing I have a lot more to learn about modern ballet and dance.

The distinct vocals of Alicia Walter and the set and lighting design really set the tone for the piece. Again, I found myself mesmerized by the choreography but, unlike "Bacchus", I found it harder to understand the story being presented.

Much like the poetry the piece is based on, there is always room for interpretation. However, I was more puzzled than anything else by the end of "The Trees The Trees". I still enjoyed it but, again, I found myself knowing I have more to learn about interpreting modern ballet.

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Ezra Thomson and principal dancer Noelani Pantastico in Robyn Mineko Williams’ The Trees The Trees. PNB is performingThe Trees The Trees as part of DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, March 15 – 24, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.

After the second intermission, we were treated to the final piece, "In the Countenance of Kings". Music by Sufjan Stevens, orchestrated by Michael P. Atkinson, Choreography by Justin Peck, Staging by Felipe Diaz, Costume Design by Ellen Warren, Lighting Design by Brandon Stirling Baker, and Conducted by Emil du Cou. This PNB premiere was the most intriguing of the three for me (and others I heard after the show was over).

From solo, duo, and multiple ballet dancers, the piece ran the gamut of fun and whimsical to thought provoking and discussion worthy by the end. There were definitely moments where all the pieces worked together so well - music, choreography, lighting, scene, and costumes - I was left in awe. By the end, I felt very satisfied with this piece the most of the evening's performances.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Jerome Tisserand and soloist Elle Macy in Justin Peck’s In the Countenance of Kings. PNB is performing In the Countenance of Kings as part of DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, March 15 – 24, 2019. Photo © Angela Sterling.

It should be stated that the lighting design for each piece of "Director's Choice" makes a significant impact on the story telling aspect of the performances. The more performances I attend, the more I am noticing the subtle nuances of the lighting and what it does for the presentation.

Overall, all three pieces were uniquely their own and also showed that modern ballet concepts are alive and well. There is always the bridge between the classic and the modern (and beyond) where needs must be met to keep the art form growing, expanding, and yet retaining its roots.

"Director's Choice" showed very creative and interesting concepts of ballet. I hope the choreographers and everyone involved continue to push the envelope and seek to express their ideas in new and fantastic ways.

For those of you still on the fence about attending a Pacific Northwest Ballet performance, the fence is no place to sit. Get off it and go grab a seat at McCaw Hall. Your time will be grandly well spent.

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

Special Thanks: Gary for the credentials - thank you very much for the opportunity (and the press room chocolate)!

Director's Choice continues through March 24th, 2019. Buy tickets here: TICKETS!


Monday, March 11, 2019

ROMEO + JULIET - Event Review! ACT A Contemporary Theatre 3/7/19


ACT - A Contemporary Theatre
Seattle, WA

(Joshua M. Castille and Gabriella O'Fallon  Photo:  Rosemary Dai Ross)


The ACT - A Contemporary Theatre kicked off its newest season with a bang last Thursday evening. William Shakespeare’s beloved classic, “Romeo + Juliet”, as directed by John Langs, had the packed house waiting in anticipation.

Joshua M. Castille as Romeo had already created a huge buzz with his performance in “The Hunchback Of Notre Dame” late last year. The carry over into this new show was definitely evident.

The story has been integrated to incorporate deaf and hearing components. While the challenges were immense, the outcome was sheer brilliance.

(Joshua M. Castille and Gabriella O'Fallon  Photo:  Chris Bennion)

The cast deftly spoke Romeo’s dialogue as Joshua M. Castille signed his lines. Some of the cast signed in return while others acted, through physical interpretation, the storyline of the tragic couple in love.

Gabriella O’Fallon as Juliet had chemistry with Mr. Castille’s Romeo. As the play built up, so did their chemistry as an on stage couple.

Amy Throne as Nurse and Prince showed such seamless professionalism that her parts seemed to just flow out of her. It was nice seeing Reginald Andre’ Jackson as Lord Capulet. I loved him in “Baskerville” this past fall and his presence and command were present throughout this production as well.

(Joshua M. Castille and Gabriella O'Fallon  Photo:  Chris Bennion)

The cast was expertly put together as there were no weak links throughout the production. The stage with its use of chain link fencing to separate and create the environment worked perfectly.

“Romeo + Juliet” hit all the marks. It has set the bar for the ACT - A Contemporary Theatre this season. It will be great fun watching the company attempt to raise the bar with each subsequent production.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on YT

Thank you: Amy and Cati for the opportunity. I sincerely appreciate it.

“Romeo + Juliet” plays through March 31st. Buy tickets here:  TICKETS!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

"I DO! I DO!" Village Theatre Everett Event Review! 3/2/19

I Do! I Do!

A Musical About Marriage

Village Theatre Everett
Everett Performing Arts Center
Everett, WA

Kendra Kassebaum (Agnes) and Peter Saide (Michael). 
I Do! I Do! Production photo.
© 2019 Tracy Martin
Property of Village Theatre.


Eclectic Arts has been forging ahead into the arts world for nearly a year now. The music, film, and television coverage has been a part of Eclectic Arts far longer but it has been a joy to discover the wonderful arts community that exists here in the greater Seattle area. From the Pacific Northwest Ballet to the Seattle Opera, the arts are indeed alive and well in the Northwest.

On Saturday evening I had the pleasure of attending my first Village Theatre performance. Being a Snohomish County resident, I chose to go to the Everett Performing Arts Center for the musical, "I Do! I Do!". Based on "The Fourposter" by Jan De Hartog, the classic musical was directed/choreographed by Michael Arnold with music direction/orchestrations by Bruce Monroe.

Upon entering the performing arts center, I easily picked up my tickets, and was greeted at the entrance to the venue. Once we found our seats inside, we anxiously awaited the performance. The venue it should be noted was a great space for theatre. From what I could see there wasn't a bad seat in the house. 

Peter Saide (Michael) and Kendra Kassebaum (Agnes). 
I Do! I Do! Production photo.
© 2019 Tracy Martin
Property of Village Theatre.

Once the show started, I was swept away to a time gone by. "I Do! I Do!" represents a married couple Agnes and Michael over a fifty-year time span starting in 1898. The ups and downs of married and family life take the audience on a trip through their relatable lives.

Kendra Kassebaum (Agnes) and Peter Saide (Michael) could not have been cast better as the two leads. I felt like I was watching an old black and white classic film at times during the production and that's due to the overwhelming talent on the stage (and behind it of course). Both actors were just, dare I say, flawless in their roles during the entire performance. But, what was most important to me - they had chemistry. For a show that only has two characters in it, if the actors don't display some sort of chemistry, all would be lost. But, that was not the case at all with Kendra and Peter. They were absolutely magnificent as Agnes and Michael. I can't say enough good things about their performances.

The timeline of the show definitely showed how society has changed over the years compared to present day. Some of the dialogue and situations made the crowd gasp as what was considered normal back then is nowhere near normal now. But, this just added to the time in a bottle aspect of the show.

Kendra Kassebaum (Agnes). 
I Do! I Do! Production photo.
© 2019 Tracy Martin
Property of Village Theatre.

The sets, with the wardrobe changes, the pull down bed, and the desk, among other things, were smart and seamless. Everything flowed incredibly well during the course of the show.

By the end of the show, after the well-deserved bows were taken, I felt like I had just been initiated into the Village Theatre experience. If all the productions are of this caliber, I now know what I've been missing all these years.

I have a lot of time to make up for lost years of performances but starting with, "I Do! I Do!", I'm off to a wonderful start!

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

Special Thanks: Ann for the credentials - thank you so much for the opportunity! I'm looking forward to the next event!

"I Do!  I Do!" runs through March 24th.  Buy tickets here:  Tickets!

Kendra Kassebaum (Agnes) and Peter Saide (Michael). 
I Do! I Do! Production photo.
© 2019 Mark Kitaoka
Property of Village Theatre.

LORDS OF ACID Pretty In Kink Tour Event Review! Seattle, WA 2/27/19

Lords Of Acid

Showbox SoDo
Seattle, WA


After covering a blistering death metal show the night before, I was looking forward to covering (and seeing) the Lords Of Acid for the very first time.

The Lords have been around since the late 80's and they released their new album last year, "Pretty In Kink" (thus the name of this tour).

Mastermind Praga Khan - along with Marieke Bresseleers (vocals), Sin Quirin (guitar), DieTrich Thrall (bass), and Galen Waling (drums) - showed that they are just as relevant as ever in the acid music world and beyond!

The crowd at the Showbox SoDo was chomping at the bit for the Lords Of Acid set to start. The band was here previously in October 2017 so it has been a year and a half or so since their last Seattle visit.

Starting off with, "Sex Bomb", the energy went from zero to one hundred and there was no looking back. The set was peppered with both new and old songs ranging from "Worship The Lords" to "Voodoo U" to "I Sit On Acid" to "The Crablouse".

The set was high energy, fun; full of sexual references (a staple of the band), and the current band was top notch all the way around - no weak links at all. They sounded superb! Praise The Lords!


The tour has four other artists on it - expertly put together I might add. Gabriel and The Apocalypse, Little Miss Nasty, Genitorturers, and Orgy.

Gabriel and The Apocalypse opened the show. The six-piece gave it every thing they had. High energy throughout their set and their cover of, "Beds Are Burning" is still stuck in my head.

Little Miss Nasty joined the tour in Portland the night before. The modern rock n' roll burlesque troupe is based out of LA (with a show in Vegas as well). They performed two distinct sets during the night. The quartet of dancers were tightly choreographed and rehearsed. The titillation factor may put off some attendees but I've covered enough dance events now to recognize the talent and hard work behind their routines. The naïve would look at them and think they're just TnA but that would be such a disservice to the talent it actually takes to perform like they did. Ever met someone that said they loved to dance then you watch them and you're like, oh wow (in a bad way). There's absolutely nothing wrong with dancing for fun on a Saturday night but professional dancing is a different beast. Professional dancing is a life long commitment of training, rehearsals, classes, and disciplines. Don't let the pasties, thongs, and zero fucks given attitude fool you - Little Miss Nasty are one troupe of talented dancers.

They performed here in December of 2017 at El Corazon (a show I couldn't cover as I was committed to a different show that same night). I would love to see them come back to Seattle for a full show again.

The Genitorturers were another perfect addition to this sex themed bill. Gen and the band have been bringing their brand of industrial, metal, punk music to the underground for decades now. Their show is always visually enticing and sexually explosive. The mix of the music and the stage show was perfect. When you've been doing it as long as they have, you know you're in for a fucking great time. If you weren't entertained by their set, there really isn't any hope for you.

Orgy had their fans in attendance for sure and they did everything they could to get the crowd to a fever pitch just in time to hand them off to the Lords Of Acid to seal the deal. Even with a boot on his foot and a knee brace, singer Jay got off the stage and sang their last song amongst the fans in the audience to really crank things up a notch or three.


Overall, this bill was just a great night of fun! The conservative fan or the sexually repressed would probably have fits at this show but who gives a shit. The rest of us had a fucking blast! Catch the tour as it goes through the majority of March here in the U.S.!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on YT

Special Thanks: Tom for the credentials - as always thank you so much for the opportunity!

Lord Of Acid



Little Miss Nasty

Gabriel and The Apocalypse