Friday, December 10, 2021

JAKE SHIMABUKURO Christmas In Hawaii Live Concert Review December 8, 2021 Eclectic Arts

Jake Shimbukuro
Christmas In Hawaii

Edmonds Center for the Arts
Edmonds, WA

Wednesday December 8, 2021

(All Photos - (c) Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts)

It was a welcome return to the greater Seattle area (Edmonds to be specific) for Jake Shimabukuro and his amazing group of musicians. Billed as “Christmas In Hawaii”, the show was a well rounded mix of old favorites, new songs from the recently released, “Jake & Friends”, as well as holiday classics.

The sold out show was abuzz with anticipation as this was Jake’s return to the area since 2019 AKA pre-pandemic times. Jake, like many other artists, went virtual during 2020 as a way to stay connected with his fanbase. Of course a virtual show doesn’t compare to an in-person concert experience.

The evening started off with a solid set from Thunderstorm Artis. A popular contestant from the television show, “The Voice”, and a native of Hawaii, Thunderstorm sang original and cover songs in his short but sweet set. His angelic voice really worked well in the venue and his set went over really well with the fans.

As soon as Thunderstorm’s set finished, Jake, along with Jackson Waldhoff (bass) and Taku Hirano (percussion), walked on stage and immediately went into a trio of songs (see the set-list photo - thank you to Brett for providing one after the show). The band sounded fantastic. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating - Jake’s live concerts are always better when he has other musicians to play off of. He’s learned to perform as a mix of full band, partial band, and solo and I hope this never changes. I’ve seen him in the past by himself, with a bassist (Nolan), and as a trio (with Dave and Nolan) - and, again, the concerts are more enjoyable in my opinion with other musicians joining in on the fun.

Thunderstorm Artis joined the band for a few songs which was another nice touch by adding vocals (Dave had sung during past shows). Thunderstorm’s voice really worked well with the music - not to mention his acoustic guitar playing.

Jake, of course, was the center of attention but he never hogged the spotlight. If you’ve ever met him, you know just how down to earth and humble he is as a musician and as a human being. He always shares the stage with the other musicians. But, perhaps it was the pandemic “break” or the fact that this was my first concert back as media since the pandemic but Jake sounded nearly flawless. His playing was effortless and he always brings endless joy and energy to his performances.

With a set of around twenty songs, and a brief venue intermission, the show was extremely satisfying. Every fan got a little something to make them happy. And, let’s face it, for many of us - just being back at a live concert was awesome enough. But being back at a sold out Jake Shimabukuro concert? Well, that was absolutely incredible.

Thank you so much to Jake, Jackson, Taku, Thunderstorm, Brett, and Nichole for a perfect experience.

Happy holidays,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts here:  Social Media Links Here

(All Photos - (c) Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts)

(All Photos - (c) Mark Sugiyama for Eclectic Arts)

Monday, December 6, 2021


George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

Pacific Northwest Ballet
McCaw Hall
Seattle, WA

Review: 12/4/21 7:30pm Performance

For many in the Pacific Northwest, the holidays mean an annual visit to McCaw Hall for the spectacle that is “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker”. There is no denying that upon entering the venue - seeing the gigantic Christmas tree, the festive holiday decor all throughout McCaw Hall, and many patrons dressed up in their holiday best - it is easy to get in the spirit of the season.

I tend to people watch to get a vibe on the audience for any given event at McCaw Hall. This year there was much more of a welcome anticipation of being back in-person after the Covid-19 induced absence that was 2020. Not just for myself (which was very true), but for the majority of the patrons that attended.

As I entered through the Covid-19 protocols outside, there was much laughter, giggles, eyes wide open by the children, and just a good buzz around the hall. This continued as more and more patrons came in. Attendees of all ages, more dressed up this year than previously, from a diverse demographic filtered in as the curtain call drew near.

This year’s performance followed the format that is Balanchine. Yes, a few things were altered/changed costume wise (to keep with the times) but the majority of the performance was still the same.

One striking difference of course were the masks on all of the younger performers (and one adult looking performer, too). Just another reminder of the trying times we’re living in.

This was my third time seeing this edition of “George Balanchine's The Nutcracker” in as many years. I still have my quibbles about the stiff choreography, the lighting design choices at times (especially the second act), etc. But this year the PNB company dancers really made things worthwhile. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I haven’t seen an in-person PNB performance in two years. Or perhaps it was because I recognized some of the familiar faces on stage Saturday night, somewhat like seeing old friends again. Perhaps most of all it was experiencing the high art that is ballet in a convivial atmosphere during the holidays. In other words, I enjoyed this experience fully.

For those annual return suspects, there has been much talk about which version is better - the current one or the previous PNB version that played for many, many years. My advice? Go see it for yourself and form your own opinion.

“George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” runs through December 28th. Click HERE! to purchase tickets.

Happy Holidays,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here

"INSPECTING CAROL" Performance Review - 12/3/21 7:30pm Show THE PHOENIX THEATRE Eclectic Arts

Inspecting Carol

The Phoenix Theatre
Edmonds, WA

Review: 12/3/21 7:30pm Performance

Back by popular demand (from the initial run in 2019), “Inspecting Carol” returns to The Phoenix Theatre this holiday season. A zany comedy that I personally loved two years ago, I was looking forward to seeing this new interpretation of the show.

With returning cast members and a few new faces, The Phoenix Theatre continues its vigilance by having a reduced capacity audience at each show due to the times we are living in. This means don’t snooze on tickets (it may be too late as of this review). Check out the link at the bottom to purchase any tickets that may be left.

The premise revolves around a down and out theatre company that needs to earn a grant through the National Endowment for The Arts to basically stay open. They stage a version of “A Christmas Carol” and then mayhem ensues.

There were standouts in the cast and definitely scenes that made the audience laugh out loud (myself included). A few changes were made to the narrative to reflect the times (2020) but overall the material was still intact from the first run two years ago.

My overall impression of the performance was that it was solid but it didn’t reach the heights of hilarity that happened in 2019. Perhaps it’s because I had seen it previously so I knew what to expect. Or perhaps it was due to a few changes in the cast and the creatives behind the scenes. In any event, it was still a fun and crazy show that I loved. I only think I enjoyed it a tad bit more the first time around if that makes any sense.

“Inspecting Carol” runs through December 19th. Tickets are limited so don’t wait. Check here for availability:  PURCHASE TICKETS

Happy Holidays,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here

Thursday, December 2, 2021

SILENT NIGHT Film Review December 2, 2021 Eclectic Arts


RLJE Films
Reviewed: 12/2/2021

Rating: 2 / 5

AMC+ and RLJE Films will release SILENT NIGHT in Theaters and streaming exclusively on AMC+ on December 3, 2021.

(RLJE Films and AMC+)

The new film “Silent Night” is a holiday film wrapped up in, well, something else (no spoilers here).

The film starts off like what you might expect. A family gathering for the Christmas holiday in England. The usual family drama that comes with such events is explored. All status quo here.

Then the film takes a decidedly different turn. Again without spoiling things let’s just say the turn made didn’t improve the film much.

When entering certain genres, it is imperative that the creatives go all in, so to speak. No half measures otherwise it comes off as such. Being a long time fan and now a film critic of one of these genres, the film just flat out missed the mark.

Perhaps you'll feel differently after viewing "Silent Night".  

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

ADRIENNE Film Review December 1, 2021 Eclectic Arts


HBO and HBO Max
Reviewed: 12/1/2021

Rating: 5 / 5


The new documentary film “Adrienne” is a compelling tale of love, loss, inspiration, tragedy, and so much more. Directed by Andy Ostroy (husband of Adrienne Shelly) and featuring interviews with friends, cast mates, and family members, “Adrienne” follows the story of Adrienne Shelly’s career. Her unique sensibility and the bullshit she encountered during the formative years of her career.

Her “can do” attitude and incredible talent was on the way up with a little film she wrote, directed, and co-starred in called, “Waitress”. Adrienne never got to see the reaction to the film nor the massive Broadway hit it would inspire of the same name.

What works so well in the film is the sheer scope of what director Andy Ostroy manages to pull from the interviews, the old footage of Adrienne, and the current events that unfold (no spoilers here). One can’t help but be moved by the scope of what happened to Adrienne and the ramifications all these years later.

I wish this film never had been made in the way that it had to be - a tribute - to a talent taken from us far, far too soon.

“Adrienne” is highly recommended.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here