Saturday, February 29, 2020

SHE LOVES ME Village Theatre Everett, WA 2/29/2020

She Loves Me

Village Theatre Everett

Everett Performing Arts Center
Everett, WA

The cast of She Loves Me
She Loves Me production photo.
© 2020 Tracy Martin
Property of Village Theatre.

I've had the privilege of reviewing all of the main stage shows at the Village Theatre Everett now for a year. In that time I've come to expect a certain level of excellence regardless of which show is on stage at the time. From throwbacks to more modern productions to fan favorites, all of the shows at the Village Theatre have been presented with a high level of excellence across the board.

Over opening weekend (this review has been delayed due to illness - not a good time to be sick in the Seattle area) I got the chance to see the newest production, "She Loves Me". Directed by long time Taproot Theatre alum Karen Lund, the show is based on the films - the Jimmy Stewart classic, "The Shop Around The Corner" and the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan update, "You've Got Mail".

The show was presented in such a way that it immediately harkened back to the late 30's - in this case in Europe. From the wonderful wardrobe design to the creative staging (I loved how the shop opened up much like a book would), the audience was transported back to a different world, not only from a business point of view (employees waiting to work with each customer as they came into the shop), but from a personal one as well.

Main characters Georg (played by Eric Ankrim) and Amalia (played by Allison Standley) both work at Maraczek's Parfumerie. They have an instant dislike for one another on the job. However, both have been secretly writing to a "friend" over the months, developing a pen pal/more than a pen pal relationship. What they don't know is that they've been writing to each other. The plot is set and the show unfolds from there.

The show is full of musical numbers, choreographed dance numbers, and a fair bit of humor. Director Lund kept the show light throughout; this was not a heavy dramatic production.

The cast, which also included Rafael Molina, Mark Emerson, Taryn Darr, Randy Scholz, Eric Polani Jensen, Tony Lawson, Matthew Posner, and the ensemble actors, was up to the task at hand all night long. Their acting, singing, and dancing chops were put to good use and the show never took a dip in talent during either act I or II.

"She Loves Me" was a great entertainment escape for two plus hours and, in light of the current situation in Seattle, much needed by many in attendance. Do yourself a favor and check out an upcoming performance. It's just what the doctor ordered!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com

Special Thanks: Ann - thank you so much for the opportunity and the opportunities over the last year! I'm looking forward to future productions!

"She Loves Me" plays through March 22, 2020 at the Everett Performing Arts Center. Purchase tickets here:  TICKETS!  

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

HALAU O KEIKIALI'I "Hula Through Time" Event Review! 2/22/2020


Northshore Performing Arts Center
Bothell, WA
February 22, 2020

Kumu Hula (master teacher) Kawika Keikiali’i Alfiche brought his company to the Northshore Performing Arts Center on Saturday evening to a near capacity crowd. Noted as “Hula Through Time” the show was divided into two different acts - the first broken down into five distinct historical pieces depicting the dances of the ancestors of Hawaii - Hula Kahiko. The second act featured the more familiar modern dance - Hula ‘Auana.

The dancing in the first act was not only entertaining but very educational. Introductory information was spoken over the PA before each piece to give the audience a better sense of what the ancient ways were about. I found this to be incredibly useful as it helped shape what I was about to see beforehand. Education and knowledge is always a good thing in my book and the first act really delivered in this area.

The offerings during the first act were tributes to the history of Hawaii before the monarchy was overthrown. It's rather sad that this narrative is something we are still dealing with in 2020 in different parts of the world.

The dancers were both men and women as well as three children. Their movements, routines, and costumes were all professional in every aspect. There was a sense of ceremony, respect, and reverence during all of the numbers during the first act.

After a brief intermission, the second act started with a more updated look and feel. There were many songs performed by either one, two, three, or four people while the dancers kept the hula through time theme going. Kumu Hula Kawika also spoke much more openly during the second act, using his sense of humor to set up each piece wonderfully. The air in the venue definitely became lighter and more upbeat during the second act.

At one point, Kumu Hula Kawika invited audience members up on stage to dance while his dancers were literally in the aisles of the venue dancing. A good dozen audience members got up there and danced quite well. A few looked like they either were local students themselves or possibly teachers.

The loud applause at the end of the show warranted an encore. One more song was presented and then the entire group exited to the lobby to meet the patrons after the show.

The show was extremely well done. It was entertaining, educational, and fun. A great combination. It was also wonderful seeing so many people of color come out to support the show. A satisfying evening for all involved.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on YT
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com

Thank you: John at the NPAF and Kumu Hula Kawika - thank you for the opportunity!


Friday, February 21, 2020



Written by The Actor’s Gang Ensemble and Tim Robbins

Directed by Tim Robbins

The Moore Theatre
Seattle, WA
February 20, 2020

(Phone Photo - Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts)

The Moore Theatre was the venue of choice for the Seattle debut of “The Actors’ Gang - The New Colossus” last evening. The play features twelve refugees, twelve languages, twelve eras, and one border.

Clearly this is a timely theme with the current administration but it is much bigger in scope than that. It is a theme centered around generations of immigrants, indigenous people, refugees, and similar.

As directed by Tim Robbins, the play was direct, honest, questioning, and pointed. The actors on stage were portraying family members of their own, telling each of their unique stories of their journeys to America in a group setting.

As an ensemble, the play was very much a movement piece. Portraying the chaos, danger, and uncertainty with physical movement on stage, carrying one suitcase of belongings, attempting to find a new home in a foreign land.

Images were displayed on the screen behind the stage depicting various scenarios of the stark reality of immigration, voluntary and forced.

The 90-minute play made one think of their own roots, their own stories. For nearly everyone in the audience who did not identify as indiginous, this meant digging into their own family histories to understand the foundational aspect of just how people from all over the world make up these United States.

The show included a talkback portion with director Tim Robbins and the entire cast. Many in attendance spoke about their backgrounds - first as indigenous people, then as refugees, then as forced immigrants, then as first generation, second generation, and finally third generation immigrants. The stories were moving and really showed the scope of the patrons in the audience. From Afghanistan to Finland to the Ukraine to El Salvador, there was representation from many different countries.

The talkback really hit home the point of the play. Without it, I think an opportunity would have been missed.

Overall, the play was engaging, a bit abstract at times, but it made for a thoughtful dialogue about immigration, the policies of the current day, and what the future may (or may not) hold.

“The Actors’ Gang - The New Colossus” runs through Saturday 2/22/20. Tickets can be purchased here:  TICKETS!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

TIME FOR THREE with the Seattle Symphony Benaroya Hall Seattle, WA 2/18/2020


Seattle Symphony

Benaroya Hall
Seattle WA

I always enjoy attending performances at Benaroya Hall. While the city of Seattle itself leaves much to be desired currently, the gem of the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall remains a constant of excellence that I continue to enjoy.

Last night the popular trio Time For Three performed with the Seattle Symphony, as conducted by Associate Conductor Lee Mills.

The group arrived in town on Monday and performed at a local SoFar Seattle show that same evening. The group can go from a small intimate setting like that to a grand setting like Benaroya Hall without blinking an eye.

Charles Yang (violin and lead vocals), Nick Kendall (violin and vocals), and Ranaan Meyer (double bass and vocals) waited in the wings as the Seattle Symphony performed an intro piece by George Gershwin. Immediately after the three talented musicians walked out to a loud applause and their portion of the concert began. They were also accompanied by kit drummer Matthew Scarano.

Performing several pieces by Chris Brubeck entitled, “Travels in Time for Three”, the trio brought an undeniable positive energy to the stage. For some in attendance, they were waiting for the crossover music that the group is arguably best known for. But the first act of the program was incredibly well done.

After the intermission, the trio launched into their best known cover song, Ben E. King’s, “Stand By Me”, as the Seattle Symphony looked on. Loud applause accompanied the first line of the song as the audience recognized the tune. Charles Yang is not only an incredible violinist but he is clearly a fantastic vocalist as well. The harmonies from Nick Kendall and Ranaan Meyer throughout the second act were also spot on. In the next song, a beautiful original written for the group, “Vertigo” displayed the vocal chops of all three musicians. This song was a highlight of the program for me.

The next song was introduced as a song dedicated to the founder of an organization called Musicians On Call. The founder and his wife were in attendance and were recognized from the stage. The group said that they have been playing music in hospitals, both in the lobby and in patient rooms, for the organization. One of the songs they play often at these visits is Leonard Cohen’s, “Hallelujah”, which they performed for the audience at Benaroya Hall.

The main program ended with an extended medley of Time For Three songs called, “Songs Of Joy”. This was a long musical exercise that ran the emotional gamut from, well, joy to cinematic grandeur. Once the last note echoed through the hall, the audience rose to their feet and gave everyone on the stage a well-deserved standing ovation.

Time For Three returned to launch into one encore - their version of Guns N’ Roses megahit, “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. The crowd once again roared in approval and stood on their feet for several minutes.

And then it was over.

Time For Three were as advertised. A fun, energetic, and extremely talented group of musicians that worked even better with the Seattle Symphony. A beautiful night of music on a Tuesday evening.

Thank you for reading,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com

P.S. One thing to mention - it looked like the trio would be signing autographs and meeting fans after the show in the lobby. I saw a sign and a table with three chairs ready. This should have been said from the stage by the group or over the PA. Just a small suggestion. Cheers!

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE Edmonds Driftwood Players 2/16/2020


Adapted by Jon Jory
Directed by Elizabeth Hershly

Wade James Theatre
Edmonds Driftwood Players
February 16, 2020

(Cast Photo.  Photo by Dale Sutton of Magic Photo)

The newest production from the Edmonds Driftwood Players is a longstanding favorite, “Pride and Prejudice”. The famed Jane Austen story has been adapted numerous times both for the stage and screen.

The production on Sunday afternoon left me frustrated. Let me explain why.

I’ve been covering arts related events for a few years now. I still consider myself new compared to those that have decades of experience behind their reviews. What I’ve come to find at any given theatre is that a certain standard can be expected from most companies. Even if I didn’t care for a particular show, I can still admire and respect what was presented on the stage. I also know before going in that a certain bar will be met in terms of excellence.

My frustration comes from companies where they have been inconsistent with the quality of the shows they put on. It reminds me of working with a student that has great potential (they all do) but consistently comes up short of that potential. I see it, others see it, but the inconsistency is frustrating (but understood).

The acting in, “Pride and Prejudice” was good. No issues there. I recognized some of the cast from previous Edmonds Driftwood Players productions as well as from the Phoenix Theatre. In particular Karin Terry was excellent in her leading role as Elizabeth Bennet. Her four sisters were also cast well (Hanna Destiny Lynn as Jane, Rachael Schlimmer as Mary, Laura McFarlane as Lydia, and Miki Murray as Kitty). Mr. Bennet played by Mark Gladding was also a solid actor as was Annie St John as Mrs. Bennet. Her real life husband Asa Sholdez was great in, “Ladies Man” at the Phoenix Theatre and wore many hats (in some cases literally) in this show. Again, no issues with the cast at all.

Since I am not a Jane Austen connoisseur, perhaps it’s the material. I have seen another production of her material that was a joy to watch, though. I actually saw it three different times. So, it’s probably not the material. I feel I do not know enough (yet) about how the directing and other production aspects affect any given theatre show. All I know is that I really, really wanted to like this play and I didn’t.

The first act fell flat for me. I was expecting a bit more wit and humor throughout but there was scarcely any. The fact that the audience was pin drop quiet for the majority of the scenes echoes my sentiment. The second act was a bit better but not as much as I had hoped for. I wanted to care about the characters, about the eventual romance between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I wanted to grab on with both hands and really dig deep into this play. But, I found myself grasping at empty air.

As always, I don’t like writing reviews that are overly harsh and critical. They serve no purpose in my mind. Being someone that has been on a stage before, I do know what it takes to get up there and put yourself out there for all to see. So, please keep in mind that just because the show didn’t resonate with me doesn’t mean it won’t resonate with you.

As my plus one and I were exiting the theatre (she shared my observations about the show), I overheard a few people talking to themselves about how much they enjoyed the performance. So, who knows? If you’re already a Jane Austen fan then you’ve either already seen a performance or you plan on attending one soon. If you are like me and you don’t have the lengthy background experience with Jane Austen material, I’m curious to see what you’ll think of the show.

Thank you for reading,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com

Thanks:  Amy for the opportunity.  I appreciate it!

"Pride and Prejudice" runs through Sunday March 1st.  Purchase tickets here:  TICKETS!

Friday, February 14, 2020

DEVON BALDWIN Light Me Up Tour 2/11/2020


The Funhouse
Seattle, WA

(All photos by Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts (c) 2020)


Every now and then I'll check out an up and coming artist that I know next to nothing about. I will go in as a blank slate for the most part and see how they come across on stage, how they sound, their online presence, etc.

Devon Baldwin caught my eye when I noticed she was going to play at The Funhouse in Seattle. Now, anyone that's been to the venue knows that it is on the other side of El Corazon - the big stage and the small stage. The venue used to be a standalone club mainstay of punk and alternative bands before closing its doors only to join the El Corazon building a few years back. While I know The Funhouse does book pop and singer songwriter type acts, it's more known for rock, sludge, metal, etc.

Since I have been to El Corazon more times than I can count, I wanted to see if they had booked anything on their side of the building. Yup - a big bill of metal bands. This meant the bleed through to The Funhouse side was going to be inevitable. I already knew this. Whether the folks that booked Devon Baldwin there knew remains to be seen. Let's just say there are other venues in the area that would have been better suited to her style of music.

In any event, Devon Baldwin played a 45-minute set of original music, with at least one cover by Train. Her voice is what stands out most to me. She has a voice that is layered in emotion. There is a smooth tonality to her voice that also makes it easy to listen to her sing multiple songs. She is a songwriter - a big plus in the industry these days. Sure, you can have others write material for you but when you can express yourself through your own songs, that's always a good thing.

She definitely has talent and has the image to match. In some cases, the image may be overshadowing the talent - but that's an easy fix. I would love to see her do more promotional pieces such as acoustic numbers at radio stations, etc. while on tour. Stripping the image away will show listeners just how talented she is as an artist.

I would love to see her return to Seattle albeit at a different venue. Based on her social media, she was hanging out in the Ballard area after her show - exactly where she should play next time. Connor Byrne Pub and The Sunset Tavern come to mind as venues more suited to her music and demographic. Barboza up on Capitol Hill also seems logical, as does the High Dive in Fremont. If an all ages venue was sought after - then The Vera Project would be a good place.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the future brings for Devon Baldwin. She has the talent to go very far in this industry.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Jake Shimabukuro, "TRIO" New Album Review! 2/12/2020


Jake Shimabukuro is a name very well known to those in the ukulele community. He also has a strong following amongst the musician types that can appreciate his prowess on the instrument.

Jake has a new album coming out this Friday February 14th entitled, "Trio". It features Jake along with touring band mates Nolan Vernon and Dave Preston. The entire album was written by all three musicians aside from a few cover tunes.

From the opening track, "When The Masks Come Down", the listener is transported to a world of ambient guitar tracks, pedal effect ukulele, and walking bass lines. The quirky number, "Twelve" which has been aired on tour, show a more whimsical side to the guys.

(Photo Credit:  Jackson Waldhoff)

"Resistance" and "Lament" keep the layered music coming. The atmosphere on many of the tracks is truly refreshing to hear.

The Spanish and/or world music influenced, "Red Crystal" really brings a whole different flavor to the album.

The next two songs have also been aired on tour as of late. "Morning Blue" and "Summer Rain". Beautiful melodies that remind one of a peaceful lullaby.

Pink Floyd's classic tune, "Wish You Were Here" and "Waiarae" are two of the tunes interpreted by Jake, Nolan, and Dave. Each song is a mix of following the original while also making it unique to, "Trio". "Fireflies" is a number written by a friend of Jake's that also manages to jump off the album and into the listener's creative mind and space.

"On The Wing" and "Strong In Broken Places" round out the original songs on the album. Again, beautiful melodies layered with atmospheric guitar work and purposeful bass work, the originals really stand out on the album.

(Photo Credit:  Jackson Waldhoff)

The album closer is, "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac. Featuring Rachel James on vocals, this cover track really gives the listener an idea of what could be coming up down the road - aka an album with vocalists.

"Trio" is an incredibly satisfying release. Jake and Nolan stumbled onto a chemistry that really worked. Once Dave was added in, the chemistry only got stronger. I know there are some purists out there that prefer Jake solo performing by himself. This group of musicians is something special together, though. It's ego-less, playing for the song, timeless music that they are creating. The countless shows over the past few years really lends itself to what they captured here on, "Trio".

The album will be available through digital platforms, streaming, and hard copy vinyl/CD. Purchase a copy and then see them on tour. I can't wait to hear these songs live!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

THE WIND + THE WAVE "The Feelings Club" Seattle, WA 2/10/2020

The Wind + The Wave

Fremont Abbey Arts Center
Seattle, WA

(All photos by Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts (c) 2020)

I decided to do something that I never ever do which is to write my review of an event as soon as I got home. Normally I eat, unwind, and then go to sleep. This evening I ate, blew my nose out a few more times as I've been sick all weekend, and then mulled over in my anxiety ridden brain whether or not I should write this now. Well, here goes.

"The Feelings Club" has a new member. Well, I'm an old member but I was like a ghost member, hiding behind the scenes to many that know me, even those that know me well. I continue to deal with issues of mental health awareness. I used to call it a struggle but for the most part I've kept these issues in check. But, of course, I'm already lying to a certain degree by typing that last sentence.

The past few years it's been up and down and all around. Sure, there are good days, even great days. But there have been some horribly dark days, too numerous to mention. I know what you're asking yourself if you're reading this - what the fuck does this have to do with the show?

The Wind + The Wave = Patty and Dwight. They brought their "The Feelings Club" show to the Fremont Abbey Arts Center tonight, here in Seattle. It was a new concept for U.S. audiences where Patty would talk about, well, everything. Her feelings. What makes her tick (and not tick). They asked folks to put their feelings into the feelings bucket on their website - and some would be read aloud at the show (anonymously as this was a safe space). To say this was going to be an intimate experience was a vast understatement.

I found myself tearing up towards the very end of the show. They played a rearranged version of their cover of Snow Patrol's, "Chasing Cars". I teared up again as I was driving home. It's been a rough few weeks, months, years, but I have acknowledged my feelings before - but only in the privacy of my own space. It's been quite some time since I teared up about anything. That changed tonight.

I'm not going to be callous and say that the stories that were shared by Patty connected with me. Her experiences were uniquely her own. However, the connection for me came within the feeling of anxiety, of over planning, of family issues, and a few other things she mentioned. OH - and they pulled written "feelings" (from the website) from a bucket "the feelings bucket" three different times. The second set of questions/statements - my "feeling" got pulled last before they launched into another song. I half listened to what was being said as I was honestly embarrassed that I wrote what I did. But, isn't that the point of all of this? To feel your feelings?

Dwight mentioned drinking and pot in his reply. Patty mentioned what she was doing right now is what gets her through her anxiety. Again I half listened but did hear enough to feel acknowledged.

After that I started getting lost in my own feelings as the show continued on. And let me tell you they weren't the "best" feelings but they were damn honest feelings for sure.

I can't even really review the show like I would any other event. It almost seems pointless as typing adjective after adjective would somehow be dismissing the whole point of the concert.

What I can say is that if the goal was to have fans (and media) feel their feelings, to show their true selves to one another, well then Goddamn - mission accomplished in spades.

What I can also say is there's a reason, well many, that I respect The Wind + The Wave. But I won't go on about that here.

When Patty and Dwight were done with the show - they said they would be over at the merchandise booth to sign autographs and take photos. I hightailed it out of there. I felt that if I had stayed to talk with both of them (like I did in 2017), I would probably would have broken down right then and there. And that feeling is not something I was ready to put on display in a public place.

I can't be more real than what I've typed. I know in my brain what I'll do. I'll wait until tomorrow, reread all of this, and probably start over with a new review. And no one will ever see this.

But maybe - just maybe - I'll leave it alone and publish it the way it is - raw and emotional.

If you're reading this, then you know what happened.

My name is Mark and I'm a member of "The Feelings Club",
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
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Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com


VIOLENT FEMMES Event Review! Seattle, WA 2/9/2020


Moore Theatre
Seattle, WA

(All photos - Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts (c) 2020)


I've had the riff from the Violent Femmes famous song; "Blister In The Sun" stuck in my head all evening and now all day since their show Sunday night. For those fans in attendance at the Moore Theatre, they were treated to a show that spanned the Violent Femmes catalog for sure.

Decked out in plain black clothes for the most part, the legendary band took to the stage and almost immediately fans rushed to the open "pit" area to get close to the band. Much like the old school punk days, the energy increased when there were fans right in front of the band dancing and singing along.

Gordon, Brian, John, and Blaise ripped into tune after tune during their 90-minute set (approximately). Multi instrumentalists - the cajon, fiddle, acoustic bass, horns, and many other instruments made their way into the set at any given time. The Violent Femmes have inspired and influenced many generations of fans and bands. It was clearly evident in Seattle as there were old time fans that have seen the bands literally dozens of times and younger newer fans that were there for the first time.

Instead of doing the normal save the hits for last (well, they did in some aspects), "Blister In The Sun" got aired early in the set. 


Gordon was in fine form, as his voice really hasn't aged at all. He played his Telecaster the majority of the night while Brian was plunking away on the bass (when he wasn't doing a bass melody or solo). It's interesting how many of the old school punk and/or alternative bands treat the bass with such prominence in their music. I for one certainly enjoyed it.

Since the Moore Theatre is a seated venue, some of the fans on either side of the center section got a little miffed that they had to stand to see over the fans that rushed the pit area. But, it's the Violent Femmes. You shouldn't be sitting in the first place if you ask me.

Overall, a great start to this new tour for the band. It was announced after the show that the band would be signing autographs at the merchandise booth. When I walked out into the lobby the line was already going up the ramp and around the corner. It's great to see some bands still do this, to keep it old school, and meet the fans that have kept them around for decades.

It was easy to see why the Violent Femmes have been going strong since the 80's after witnessing them live Sunday night. Make sure you see them when they hit your town on this tour. You'll be glad you did!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on YT
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com

Thanks: Benton for taking care of everything. I appreciate it!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Disney's "FROZEN" The Hit Broadway Musical! Event Review! 2/8/2020

The Hit Broadway Musical

Paramount Theatre
Seattle, WA
February 8, 2020

Caroline Bowman as Elsa in Frozen North American Tour - photo by Deen van Meer


Heavy anticipation was in the air as the Paramount Theatre patrons awaited the start of Disney’s, “Frozen” The Hit Broadway Musical Saturday evening. As one can imagine there were families galore as the hit movie has become an instant classic for kids both young and old. Many young girls were dressed in their best princess dresses as they checked out the merchandise booths and wondered when the show would start.

The story of Elsa (played by Caroline Bowman) and her sister Anna (played by Caroline Innerbichler) was brought to life in such expert ways the likes of which I have never seen before. The staging and visual effects were state of the art, to say the least. I know many in the audience were wondering to themselves “how did they do that” - Elsa’s instant dress change during the hit, “Let It Go” as a prime example.

The clever use of video screens and scrims really transformed the stage into a winter wonderland that at times felt like you were in the movie. I can’t express enough how stunning the visuals were in this production.

Caroline Innerbichler as Anna and Mason Reeves as Kristoff in Frozen North American Tour photo by Deen van Meer

The cast portrayed the beloved characters astonishingly well. Caroline Innerbichler was practically an animated character come to life. Her nuance and phrasing as she delivered her lines was impeccable. Add in the comedic aspects of her character and her love interest Hans (played by Austin Colby), Ms. Innerbichler really shined in the role.

Not to be outdone Caroline Bowman as Elsa was superb. Her singing was spot on as was her acting. She captured the tortured aspect of Elsa and her uncontrollable powers perfectly. They could not have cast a better actor in the role.

F. Michael Haynie as the ever loveable Olaf was magnificent. He captured the animated quality of the character through his puppet which was not an easy feat to accomplish. He garnered many laughs throughout his appearances and brought the lighter tone to the show.

Kristoff (played by Mason Reeves) and Sven the reindeer (played by Evan Strand) were portrayed accurately and humorously as well. Much like the animals in, “The Lion King” musical, many were wondering how they were going to bring Sven to life. You’ll have to see the show to see just what they did. Let me tell you - it worked.

Caroline Bowman as Elsa Frozen North American Tour photo by Deen van Meer

The air in the Paramount Theatre was one of wonderment and escape all throughout the show. “Frozen” really did take everyone away to a magical place. By the time the show was over, the curtain call was one of the loudest I’ve ever heard for a musical in Seattle. It was well deserved as the show delivered in spades.

“Frozen” was a huge worldwide hit in the theaters and it’s easy to see why, “Frozen” was a hit on Broadway.

The touring version is well worth the time and investment. Don’t let this show go. Instead, make sure you see it while it’s here in Seattle.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB

Thank you: Julie for the opportunity!

Disney’s, “Frozen” is playing through March 1st. You can buy tickets here:  TICKETS!

WONDER OF THE WORLD The Phoenix Theatre 2/7/2020

Wonder of the World


David Lindsay-Abaire

The Phoenix Theatre
Edmonds, WA

Wonder of the World - Susan Connors, Curt Simmons, Melanie Calderwood, Greg Kleciak, Hilary Erlandson, Morgan Peeler, Renee Gilbert. Photo by James Sipes


The first show of the New Year at the Phoenix Theatre brought us, "Wonder of the World". Written by David Lindsay-Abaire (of "Kimberly Akimbo" fame among others) and directed by Eric Lewis, the play tells a fast paced story of a married couple, a suicidal alcoholic, a boat captain, and a couple who work as private investigators.

Cass Harris has decided to leave her husband Kip and see the world via her checklist (think bucket list). Lois Coleman has decided to end her life by floating in a barrel over Niagara Falls. Karla and Glen are investigators hired by Kip to find his soon to be ex-wife. Captain Mike is a man that Cass has a one-night stand with as a part of her checklist.

"Wonder of the World" uses comedy to layer over the drama underneath that people go through every day. From failed marriages to opportunities gone by, the characters are equally funny as they are tragic and real.

Renee Gilbert leads the cast as the million miles an hour Cass. Having seen Renee in a previous Phoenix Theatre production (the awesome, "Ladies Man"), she brought the same comedic timing to the role of Cass but even more so. Her character of Cass was zany but grounded in a twisted sort of truth. She stepped into the role perfectly and was a joy to watch.

Greg Kleciak portrayed Kip as a confused husband that would do almost anything to get his wife back. His "thing" that was an issue in their marriage was used to great laughter effect during certain parts of the production.

Melanie Calderwood really fit the role of Lois. Her well known comedic timing was clearly evident throughout the production. What was an extra plus was the humanity she brought to her character to show the layers underneath the laughs.

Susan Connors as Karla and Curt Simmons as Glen had perfect chemistry as the fumbling private investigators. Having seen both actors in previous productions, it was amazing to see how well they worked together. They should be considered for future pairings for upcoming shows. Extra laughs ensued when Susan improvised the hilarious card mistake during the dating game portion of act two.

Morgan Peeler as Captain Mike was the sane character that the play needed to keep the audience involved in the story. He kept things in reality for the most part which helped balance out the production.

Hilary Erlandson as Barbara, the helicopter pilot, three different waitresses, and Janie was so fun to watch in each of her roles. She had the audience laughing during all of her scenes and it was really a testament to her sense of comedic timing that she pulled off each character so well. A nod to her as well when something as small as entering the stage when her dress got stuck on the wall was improvised to perfection and added that extra bit of comedy.

"Wonder of the World" is the third production of this season at the Phoenix Theatre. The company is without a doubt three for three so far. From the outrageous comedy in, "Ladies Man" (that Eric Lewis also directed) to my absolute favorite show from the holiday season in, "Inspecting Carol", they have continued the streak of quality comedic shows with, "Wonder of the World".

Comedy without all the drama indeed!

See you at the theatre!
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
EA on YT
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com

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

The show runs through Sunday March 1st. Purchase tickets here:  TICKETS!  


Wonder of the World - Renee Gilbert. Photo by James Sipes

Wonder of the World, Melanie Calderwood, Renee Gilbert. Photo by James Sipes.

Friday, February 7, 2020

QUEENSRYCHE with John 5 and Eve To Adam EVENT REVIEW! 2/5/2020


John 5

Eve To Adam

Neptune Theatre
Seattle, WA

 (All Photos:  Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts (c) 2020)


I was extremely happy when it was announced that hometown heroes Queensryche were embarking on a new 2020 tour in support of their fantastic release, "The Verdict". I was all set to cover their show last year at the same venue when health factors put an abrupt stop to that. So, on Wednesday evening I got another opportunity. The boys were back with the amazing John 5 as support and with rockers Eve To Adam opening at the Neptune Theatre.

"Another Rainy Night (Without You)" could aptly explain the amount of rain the Seattle area had been going through this week. Yes, it does rain here but this was like "grab the ark and the animals" amount of rain. Before the doors opened to the venue, I drove past and saw the early arrival fans all huddled underneath the overhang of the theatre, trying to stay out of the pouring rain.

I waited things out and once inside, the lights dimmed at 8pm and the show started with Eve To Adam. The four-piece from NY (but based in Florida) did their damndest to get the crowd going with their brand of hard driving tunes. With a cover mixed into the set and a song dedicated to the veterans (the band has partnered with 2VetsOAM (on a mission) to end veteran suicides and homelessness), the band made the very most of their compact 30-minute set. As a side note, it didn't dawn on me until after their set that I saw guitarist Ronny Gutierrez two years ago when he was touring with Kobra and The Lotus. Small world!

After a very quick changeover, the video screens (made from amplifier cabinets) on stage started up with clips from Godzilla to "A Clockwork Orange" and several classic horror films which signaled John 5 was about to lay waste to the Neptune Theatre. The trio took the stage and we were off!

I have been a fan of John 5's work since I saw him way back in 1995/1996 with the ever amazing kd lang at the old Seattle Opera House (now McCaw Hall). I distinctly remember as kd introduced her band, when she got to John she mentioned his work with Ozzy, which prompted the riff from, "Crazy Train". I have a live recording of this show (don't ask me how) and John 5 was already a gifted guitarist. Fast-forward 25 years later and the man is just jaw droppingly good!

Complete with stage makeup and a standup and take notice wardrobe, John 5 and his band played a set of instrumentals that had the audience pumped from the get go. Visually assaulting and musically all over the map, John 5 showed his profound dexterity and diversity on the instrument.

By the time he ended his set with a covers/influences medley (a trademark of his shows it seems), the crowd was going nuts. The adage always leave them wanting more is appropriate here as that's exactly what John 5 did.

The stage was now set for Queensryche! The opening strains of the instrumental, "Launder the Conscience" from the new album, blared out over the PA, as the audience grew anxious. Then the band hit the stage launching into a fairly deep cut in, "Prophecy" from the reissued EP. Being a touring show, the band had their full stage set up with them, including video screens and a constantly changing light show.

The set list was nicely divided into new material and classic songs. Since the release of, "The Verdict" the band has done everything to play as many new songs as possible, which is much appreciated. The album has been universally praised and rightfully so. The third release with vocalist Todd La Torre, the band is finally showing it's true potential that started back in 2012 when Todd first joined the band.

Classic tunes this time around included, "Operation Mindcrime", "Walk In The Shadows", "Take Hold Of The Flame", "Breaking The Silence", "Silent Lucidity", "Jet City Woman", "Screaming In Digital", and main set ender, "Queen Of The Reich" as well as encores, "Empire" and show closer, "Eyes Of A Stranger".

From the new album we were treated to, "Man The Machine", "Bent", "Dark Reverie", and, "Light Years".

A few pleasant surprises in the form of, "Resistance" from the "Empire" album and deep cut, "No Sanctuary" from "The Warning" were welcome additions to the set list.

If Wednesday night was your first show, you got to hear the well-known songs, new songs, and a few left of center tracks. If you've been to a 'Ryche show before then you got all of the above with some variance which is always nice (and hard to pull off the more times you've seen them live).

I've covered the band four times and have seen them five times with Todd. The fact that his voice is sounding as good as it is after eight years of singing some incredibly challenging material (the understatement of the year) is just amazing. He continues to be the spark that has brought new life and direction back to the band. And I'll say it - he is also waving the flag of being a connection with the fans. Yes, this was a hometown show but I've seen it around the world. Todd fist bumping countless fans during performances, Todd talking to the audience respectfully and taking the high road when possible, Todd autographing an item MID SONG (this happened last night), etc. He continues to be an approachable and humble front man. And it is greatly appreciated and definitely not going unnoticed.

And let's talk about the newest member (I consider him a member at this point) Casey Grillo. Casey's drumming has always impressed me since I saw him in 2017 for the first time with the band. His drumming last night was just dead on. He is comfortable with the material. He never misses the "Scott isms" that many fans want to hear yet he is clearly his own drummer. His custom kit last night actually reminded me of Scott's chains kit from the early years. Both are very different kits but the customization of each is what brought comparisons in my mind. No disrespect to Todd as his drumming on the new album was great but I would love to hear Casey on the next studio album. I think his drumming could really elevate the band that much further if given the chance.

I loved the fact that Parker's tune, "Dark Reverie" is in the set right now. It's one of my favorite songs from the new album and it sounded great live, too! I was waiting for Parker to stand on the riser in the center of the stage (in the front) during his solo but he did his thing from stage right as he usually does.

Ed and Whip are the old veterans of the band and everyone knows this. They continue to work to bring the Queensryche name back to where it belongs - in the world of rock and metal. When I tell people I'm going to see Queensryche nowadays, the reaction is one of either, "I'll see you there" or "damn I wish I was going". Gone are the days of hearing, "is their new album any good" or "I gave up on them a long time ago".

Queensryche are back. They've been back. And now they're conquering the world one tour at a time.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com

Special Thanks: Claire - thank you very much for opportunity! 


John 5

Eve To Adam