Review: The Rivals @ Seattle Shakespeare Company

Review: The Rivals @ Seattle Shakespeare Company – 1/18/20
~Dagmar

Calder Jameson Shilling and Jocelyn Maher in The Rivals – photo by John Ulman

“Am I not a lover; ay, and a romantic one too?” entreats Captain Jack Absolute, one of the protagonists in The Rivals. Quick answer: Yes.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s first play premiered in 1775’s London. While it’s had numerous productions and adaptations, including an episode of TV show Maverick (weird!), this year it gets an updated yet faithful treatment from Seattle Shakespeare Company.

Themes go a bit like this: There’s mistaken identity. There are threats from an angry dad. There’s young love wanting to elope. There’s Mrs. Malaprop, who cannot get her words straight. And there’s a ludicrous duel. Put it all together, not necessarily in that order, and it is damn good fun.

The Rivals stands out as a play with excellent younger and older parts. While Julie Briskman’s Mrs. Malaprop and an entirely unrecognizable Bradford Farwell’s Sir Anthony Absolute aren’t really old, for the time period I suppose the parts were considered past it. But those parts are a couple of the most wonderful ones you can find. Briskman is lovable, and, although Farwell is hissingly reptilian, he’s not really a villain. They’re both totally appealing.

Additional handsome cast members, including the lovers of The Rivals are equally humorous and moving: Avery Clark as Captain Jack Absolute (I caught him as John Seward last year in ACT‘s Dracula-cool stuff); Jocelyn Maher as Julie Melville (she was also great in last year’s Seattle Shakespeare Company’s production of She Stoops to Conquer) particularly stood out. Big praise for Calder Jameson Shilling’s Faulkand. He had an almost cartoony twitchiness. Sophia Franzella’s Lucy was clever and adorable.

The production avails itself of all the seventeenth century foppery one could ask for. And I ask for a lot. Perhaps I am never more disappointed in a play of this time frame when an attempt is made to dress it up completely in contemporary attire. There’s no danger of that in these costumes. Fabulous attire abounds in the beautiful dresses and dandy jackets, pants and even male hosiery. The wigs are sublime. The female characters of Lydia Languish and Julia Melville wear pink and blue, respectively, with huge cotton candy wigs, while the perfectly over the top Sir Anthony Absolute has a pink nose and even a bandage on his right foot. Probably for the gout, a much-lamented condition in the time period’s literature.

The many scene changes utilized placards to mark locations. In the play’s text, the jumping back and forth can be a bit exhausting. Here it’s funny. For outdoor scenes the designer created cute jigsaw like bushes. I also liked the hearts built around the stage, giving a gingerbread house framework. The 1980s get a lot of love in Seattle Shakespeare’s The Rivals. Look out for early Madonna and Michael Jackson references and a nod to Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus.” As the audience filed out after the show the house played Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill,” a fitting choice for a play focusing on love and placement: I was feeling part of the scenery/I walked right out of the machinery/My heart going boom, boom, boom. . .

Spoiler alert: wait for Mrs. Malaprop to get the last word. Whether you agree with her or not, in her assessment, I think, she selects the word she really means.

The Rivals runs through February 2nd, 2020.

Show Review: Kacey Musgraves w/ Soccer Mommy @ the Paramount

Kacey Musgraves w/ Soccer Mommy @ the Paramount – 2/9/19
Show Review by Lisa Hagen Glynn
Memory Lane Series, part 80

It’s easy to understand why Kacey Musgraves won four Grammys. In a sold-out show at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, Musgraves stepped onto the stage and belted out “Born in a hurry/always late/haven’t been early since ‘88” to abundant applause.

As a country artist, Nashville-based Musgraves is unconventional. Her lyrics skirt the usual tropes and add themes of female sexuality, drug use, and LGBTQ inclusivity. She appeals to both the traditional country market and liberal cities like Seattle. This universality was evident as she introduced “Merry-Go-Round”: “Even though it was inspired by where I’m from, it’s probably about where you’re from, too.” The audience sang the final chorus while she played acoustic guitar.

Musgraves’ instrumentation and style are predominantly country, but the banjo and pedal steel are infused with pop sections and disco beats. Musgraves joked between tunes, and replaced the chorus of “Golden Hour” with “golden shower” to raucous laughter. There was even a wedding proposal in the front row between fans Taylor and Dylan—which Musgraves noted could have been awkward if the now-fiancée had declined.

The show was visually striking as well. Three colorful lighted fan props stood tall in the background. Musgraves wore a sparkling white shirt with flowing pants, gold platforms, large gold hoops, and long brown hair, and her six-piece band stood behind her in matching grey country suits.

Musgraves played a 20-song set, with highlights that included recent hits “Follow Your Arrow,” “Butterflies,” “Velvet Elvis,” “Space Cowboy,” and “Rainbow,” and the *NSYNC cover “Tearin’ Up My Heart” with the opening artist returning to provide accompaniment and a coordinated dance routine. Musgraves’ “Oh, What a World” tour supports Golden Hour, which won Album of the Year. As an intro to “Velvet Elvis,” Musgraves led a “When I say ‘yee,’ you say ‘haw’” call-and-response that later went hilariously wrong at Coachella in April 2019.

Soccer Mommy, also of Nashville, opened with a 40-minute set that was well-received even if somewhat unfamiliar: “There are 10 of you [fans], but you’re loud,” said singer–guitarist Sophie Allison. The 21-year-old lofi pop-rock artist was joined by guitarist Julian Powell, bassist Graeme Goetz, drummer Ryan Elwell, and keyboardist–guitarist Rodrigo Avendano. Their debut album Clean has already been critically acclaimed, and this tour spot is likely to be career-launching. Allison proclaimed that Musgraves’ latest album was, “amazing…it’s album of the year, literally!”

Photos: The Psychedelic Furs, James & Dear Boy @ Showbox SoDo

The Psychedelic Furs, James & Dear Boy @ Showbox Sodo – 7/30/18
Photos by Alex Crick

The Psychedelic FursRichard Butler

This is a spectacular lineup: British bands The Psychedelic Furs, James, and Los Angeles’ Dear Boy. Including brothers Richard and Tim Butler, The Psychedelic Furs are, perhaps simply put, one of the most exquisite Brit bands ever. Same goes for James. Will Dear Boy follow in their American way? Bless photographer Alex Crick for coming back from this show with these spectacular shots.

Tim Booth of James
The Psychedelic Furs – all photos by Alex Crick
James – all photos by Alex Crick
Dear Boy – all photos by Alex Crick

Show Review & Photos: Neko Case w/Destroyer @ the Paramount

Neko Case w/ Destroyer @ Paramount Theatre – 11/29/2018
Show Review & Photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn
Memory Lane Series, part 78

Neko Case – photo by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Singer–songwriter Neko Case received an (almost-)hometown welcome with a sold-out show at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre on November 29, 2018. The Tacoma native belted out a terrific 22-song set that included most of her latest album, Hell-On, along with several older favorites.

Case was joined onstage by six long-time colleagues from her other bands—which she admitted was “nepotistic as fuck.” Together they kept a guitar tech constantly busy, and rotated through an alt-country assortment of pedal steel, banjo, keys, drums, bass, auxiliary percussion, and vocals.

The group shared some hilarious banter, including an extended discussion of whether Knickers the giant “cow” is real or software-manipulated, a tutorial on bulls versus steers, and an R-rated bit about razor-sharp octopus beaks. For the final encore tune, “This Tornado Loves You,” Case thanked the crowd and invited them to stand and sing along.

Opening was solo singer–guitarist Destroyer, AKA Dan Bejar.

Neko Case – photo by Lisa Hagen Glynn
Destroyer – photo by Lisa Hagen Glynn
Neko Case – all photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Set List:

Pitch or Honey
Last Lion of Albion
Deep Red Bells
Winnie
Maybe Sparrow
Margaret vs. Pauline
Calling Cards
Bad Luck
Curse of the I-5 Corridor
Gumball Blue
Oracle of the Maritimes
Hex
Look for Me (I’ll Be Around)
Halls of Sarah
Dirty Diamond
Hold On, Hold On
Man
——
Hell-On
The Pharaohs
Lorretta
Ragtime
This Tornado Loves You

Maybe Sparrow