Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The legend returns to the Northwest! SMOKEY ROBINSON Performs At The TULALIP AMPHITHEATRE July 12, 2019!

William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr. is a legendary singer-songwriter, record producer, record executive and co-founder of Motown Records.

Robinson and his group, the Miracles met Berry Gordy after a failed audition for singer Jackie Wilson’s managers. Gordy was impressed with Robinson's vocals and ambitious songwriting. With his help they released, "Got a Job.” It was the beginning of a successful collaboration and the beginnings of Motown. 

In recent years, Robinson released the standards album, Timeless Love, Time Flies When You're Having Fun, Now And Then and Smokey & Friends. He is releasing his first ever solo Christmas album, Christmas Everyday in November 2017 as an Amazon exclusive.

Robinson has been Inducted into the Kennedy Center, awarded an individual star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a second star with The Miracles. He was awarded a medal at the National Medal of Arts, A Heritage Award at the Soul Train Music Awards and a BET Lifetime Achievement Award. Howard University conferred on Robinson the degree of Doctor of Music as did the Berklee College of Music.

See the legend in July!  Tickets can be purchased at or service charge free at the Tulalip Box Office. 

About Tulalip Resort Casino

Award-winning Tulalip Resort Casino is the most distinctive gaming, dining, meeting, entertainment and shopping destination in Washington State. The AAA Four-Diamond resort’s world-class amenities have ensured its place on the Condé Nast Traveler Gold and Traveler Top 100 Resorts lists. The property includes 192,000 square feet of gaming excitement; a luxury hotel featuring 370 guest rooms and suites; 30,000 square feet of premier meeting, convention and wedding space; the full-service T Spa; and eight dining venues. It also showcases the intimate Canoes Cabaret and a 3,000-seat amphitheater. Nearby, find the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve, Cabela’s and 130 designer names at the Seattle Premium Outlets. The Resort Casino is conveniently located between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. just off Interstate-5 at exit 200. It is an enterprise of the Tulalip Tribes. For reservations, please call 866.716.7162 or visit us at 

SHERLOCK HOLMES and The Case of The JERSEY LILY Edmonds Driftwood Players 6/23/19

Sherlock Holmes
and the case of the 
Jersey Lily

Edmonds Driftwood Players
The Wade James Theater
Edmonds, WA

(Jay Vilhauer, Jenifer Gillis Rifenbery, Jacob Livingston, Joe Wack, and Scott C. Brown   Photo: Dale Sutton)


As the month of June comes to a close, so does the main subscription season at the Edmonds Driftwood Players. While I didn't cover the entire season (I came on board in December), I got a chance to see and review a handful of the shows.

With community theatre, and I've stated this before, you're going to get some hits and some misses at times. With the amount of theatre I've reviewed in the last year or so, I've become more in tune with what to expect at any given theatre, good and not so good. I do my best to not compare one show/theatre with another as that's not fair or good practice.

With this production of, "Sherlock Holmes and the case of the Jersey Lily", I found myself a bit disappointed. I'll tell you why.

The acting for this show was strong across the board. With previous shows here, there's been a wide variety of talent on the stage. And I get it. Every one starts somewhere. Some have loads of credentials to their name while others only have a few. It's a mixed bag.

But with this show, there were no weak links so to speak. All eight actors really had a grasp of the material and made the most of it. Jay Vilhauer as Sherlock Holmes, Joe Wack as Dr. Watson, Jenifer Gillis Rifenbery as Lillie Langtry, Jacob Livingston as Oscar Wilde, Robert Quick as Abdul Kareem, Sarita Benson as Mrs. Tory, Gabriel Ponce as John Smythe, and Scott C. Brown as Moriarty rounded out the exceptional cast.

(Jacob Livingston, Jenifer Gillis Rifenbery, Jay Vilhauer, and Joe Wack. Photo: Dale Sutton)

The disappointment for me came in the story. Local playwright Katie Forgette penned this play and respectfully all I can say is it didn't resonate with me. I was ready for wit, mystery, surprise, you know - typical of a Sherlock Holmes mystery. But, I found very little. The lines fell flat (aside from one loud audience member that laughed at almost anything) and the show just seemed to drag on and on. Even when other productions take a different approach (such as a lighter, funnier approach) with Sherlock Holmes, I still found the performances worked well with the dialogue. Not so here. If the material matched the talent on stage, this would have been one of the best plays of the year in my mind.

I understand the labor of love quality of community theatre. There is so much sacrifice put into these productions (both on and off the stage) that I commend all of those involved. No one is doing it for the money, that's for sure. But the litmus test for me for any event Eclectic Arts covers is always - would I see it again. In this case, I'd politely decline.

So, at the end of the season, I left the Wade James Theater on an uneven note. Perhaps you saw the production and loved it. Who knows? The show runs through the end of the month with performances on Friday's, Saturday's, and Sunday's. Go check it out and let me know how your thoughts differ from mine. Thank you!

Have a great summer,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on YT

Special Thanks: Katie for the credentials - thank you for all the opportunities this season!

"Sherlock Holmes and the case of the Jersey Lily" runs through June 30th. Buy tickets here: TICKETS!

A Place In Everett's Sun - PABLO CRUISE Event Review! Historic Everett Theatre 6/22/19

Pablo Cruise

The Historic Everett Theatre
Everett, WA

(All Photos:  Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts 2019)


Pablo Cruise strolled into Everett this past Saturday to perform to an enthusiastic audience. The band was in fine form as a five-piece act (they were a four piece back in the 70's). With three of the four original members, the fans that packed the Historic Everett Theatre were ready to take a trip down memory lane.

As a musician myself, the band was absolutely on point. Once the sound issues got worked out after the first song, the guys showed just how underrated they are as musicians. Cory Lerios, David Jenkins, Steve Price, Larry Antonino, and Robbie Wyckoff were just a joy to watch and listen to.

I cover a lot of different events with Eclectic Arts and it's always such a pleasure to hear musicians that can actually play. No samples, sequencers, backing tapes, etc. - five musicians with actual talent.

The show started off with a video compilation that basically told the story of Pablo Cruise in five minutes or so. It was the perfect way to get the audience educated on the bands history before starting the show. More artists should consider doing something similar - it helps all involved know who the band is, the members, what they’ve been up to, etc. Great idea, guys!

The band played songs spanning their career. I particularly enjoyed David Jenkins's guitar work. Extremely tasteful with plenty of soul, his playing was a highlight for me.

Did I mention the vocal harmonies? The front four members can all sing lead. When you put that kind of talent together to harmonize, watch out! They sounded glorious all evening. Again, musicians with actual talent!

The band ended their set with the one two punch of their hits, "Love Will Find A Way" and "Whatcha Gonna Do". Some of the fans were dancing in front of the stage after the band invited the fans down a few tunes earlier. The energy immediately changed once this happened. I would suggest inviting the fans down even earlier in the set at future shows.

Pablo Cruise showed they are a group of immensely talented musicians. Whatever preconceived notion you have of the band, throw that out the window. These guys can play and everyone in Everett, WA had a grand time on Saturday night!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on IG

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

The Firepower Returns To The Northwest! JUDAS PRIEST Event Review! Showare Center Kent, WA 6/21/19

Judas Priest

Uriah Heep

Showare Center
Kent, WA

(All Photos:  Mark Sugiyama - Eclectic Arts 2019)


The Priest is back!

Touring on their third go around for the Firepower Tour 2018-2019, Judas Priest did what most bands should do and fans wish they would do - change up the setlist! The majority of bands if they come back to an area more than once might change a few songs in their set but for the most part you're going to hear the same songs as last time.

Not Judas Priest!

The band scrapped the entire main setlist (sans encores) and created a brand new setlist! Much has been posted about this but it begs repeating - this it what the fans want! I first saw Judas Priest in 1982. I've seen them several times since. As much as I dig hearing the popular songs, it gets tedious after awhile. Thankfully Judas Priest busted out songs I never thought I'd hear live on Friday night.

Starting with the ever familiar, "War Pigs" over the PA, the intro music eventually started as the band launched into, "Necromancer" off the "Firepower" album. Decked out in metal voodoo attire, The Metal God stalked the stage as he belted out the vocals as only he can. Scott Travis and Ian Hill laid down the rhythm as Richie and Andy provided the twin guitar attack.

The band shifted into songs from nearly every album in their career. I loved hearing; "(Take These) Chains" live, as it's never been performed until this tour. "Judas Rising" also sounded fantastic as did, "Steeler" from "British Steel". With the disco ball providing the lightshow, "Out In The Cold" was also a welcome addition to the set!

I remember reading some complaints when, "Victim of Changes" wasn't in the 2018 setlist. It made its welcome return this go around. Rob Halford showed that he still has it. When he had to hit those screams throughout the song, they made everyone in Kent, WA raise their fists in the air and yell, "YEAH" as the Metal God screamed for vengeance. The solo showed footage of Glenn Tipton, which was a very nice touch as he's sat out the majority of these shows due to his health condition.

The main setlist was just a joy to behold. If you're a Judas Priest fan, you loved it. If you're a casual fan then you may have been wondering when are they going to play the hits. Well, three of the hits came in the form of the encores. "Hell Bent For Leather" complete with Harley Davidson, "Breaking The Law", and "Living After Midnight" finished off the show.

The band sounded fantastic as always. The visuals were new for this leg of the tour. And the setlist was a dream come true. Again, I wish more bands would take a note from Judas Priest and change up their lists every now and then, especially if they're playing the same area twice during a tour.

The summer solstice in Kent, WA started with a heavy metal bang courtesy of Judas Priest!


Uriah Heep opened the show with an old school hour-long set of classic tunes. They were clearly enjoying being on this arena tour and it showed. "Easy Livin'", indeed!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on YT

Special Thanks: Jen and Chip for the credentials - thank you so very much!

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

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