Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Juice Joint Was Jumpin!

The year is 1927. Anybody who’s anybody in Bellingham was invited to Rosie Marie’s celebration at The Juice Joint following the untimely passing of her husband Louie.

Rosie hired P.I. Pinkerton to investigate Louie’s death.

…which was a good thing since during the party, somebody murdered Notorious Nick Nemetz!

P.I. was on the case right away, announcing that ALL in attendance were suspects!

The Juice Joint became an official crime scene and guests were cleared out into the alley before being escorted into the Investigative Bureau.

While at the bureau, P.I. received a number of exhibits of evidence that helped him put together his conclusion.

Guests teamed up to try to solve the murder of Notorious Nick and cast their ballots before heading back to the Juice Joint…

…where it was revealed that Police Chief Cameron Rottier had committed the crime!

The Solution: The note found in Southside Sal’s pocket was initialed “CR,” which could have been Cy Ramsey. Exhibit C revealed that the police chief’s full name is Cameron Rottier, making him another “CR.” Additionally, Cy was never on Nick’s payroll list while Chief Cameron was, eliminating Cy from suspicion.

Cy Ramsey and Bernie Booze were questioned about the murder weapon, and it appears the gun was confiscated in the police raid on his warehouses the previous week, making them in the possession of the police department and only available to Chief Cameron!

Awards were given for Dressed to Kill - Hal Hollywood

Drama Queen - Gino Gin

and Mrs. Moneybags - Betty Brushoff

With the murderer found, the guests all could rest easy in Bellingham once again…or could they?

Special thanks to…

Akilah Williams, (Rosie Marie) is a Bellingham native and has recently returned from an 8 year stint in NYC. Since returning last November, she has kept busy, appearing on numerous stages in the region. Recent experience includes: Bellingham Theatre Guild’s Musical Birthday Bash Revue, The Miser (Stone Town Theatre Works at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center), Rapunzel (Second Story Repertory, Redmond), as a cabaret host at The Star Club, and as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing (as part of Shakespeare Northwest’s Skagit River Shakespeare Festival.) NY credits include:  Once On This Island (Brooklyn Community Players), Follow Me Down (Aporia Theatre), Sophisticated Lady: Songs from a Broad (solo cabaret), Stonewall Sensation (Season 4 Winner), All’s Well That Ends Well (Hudson Shakespeare), Little Tales: Africa (Manhattan Children’s Theatre). Regional and other credits: Yeast Nation (World Premiere by Tony award winners, Greg Kotis & Mark Hollman; Perseverance Theatre), The Who’s Tommy (Perseverance), Requiem: Pro Torpeo Animus, Hydraulics Phat Like Mean, Hair, Side by Side by Sondheim. Akilah graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Musical Theatre.  

Christopher Cariker (P.I. Pinkerton) is an Actor/Poet/Filmmaker new to Bellingham after living in New York for 7 years. As an actor in theatre Christopher has performed in Prince Trevor, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Killer Joe, Match, and the “Bobby” award winning The Island of Doctor Moreau. On TV he’s been seen in Law and Order, Life on Mars as well as the films Salt and Silent Scream. As a Fight Director Christopher has choreographed for The Island of Doctor Moreau, Suckers, The Taint of Inequality, Killer Joe, Hamlet, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Christopher is also a co-founder of Laughing Swingset Films, and owner of Hanging Hammer Productions Media.

The Juice Joint Band
Julianne Thoma (piano)
Tennyson Morin (Bass)
Mark Wade (Drums)
Boundary Bay Brewing Co.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Props Wizard

By Cindi Pree

Most of us know that a lot of work goes into every production in live theatre.  In addition to actors, directors, musicians, there is all the action backstage.  Here at MBT, much of that backstage work is accomplished by volunteers.  They build and haul sets, find or create props, and do laundry.  Most do it just for the fun, and some out of their sheer love of the craft.

Happily for MBT, we have volunteers who are so in love with their craft, they go way over the top!  As an example, MBT volunteer extraordinaire David Witmer is Chair of our Volunteer Production Support crew.  He coordinates lots of volunteer activities that are at the heart of our ability to produce our Rep series.  And, in his ‘spare’ time, he takes his personal love of creating props to levels most of the audience never even notices, even if they are close enough to see.

David often creates period-appropriate covers for magazines, such as this Southern Hair used in Steel Magnolias, Summer Rep 2013.  No, this is not simply a photo of a magazine from the day!  This is David’s own creation.

The brochure David created for Bill Buckley’s auto dealership (Becky’s New Car, Summer Rep 2014) is a perfect example of his over-the-top specificity.  He could have easily used ‘filler text’ and no one would have noticed, but this is filled with actual, believable marketing-speak.

When the props list for Last of the Red Hot Lovers (Summer Rep 2014) called for packages of cigarettes, David created these very authentic replicas, right down to that blue seal on the top.

Occasionally, it’s more about adding a bit of whimsy.  Check out the faces on the currency created for Summer Rep 2013.

Staff asked him why he puts so much detail and attention into his props, especially when the audience might not notice.  David replied, “It’s great fun, and I really enjoy knowing I make staff and actors laugh.”  He does indeed, and such moments of laughter are always welcome amid the chaos that is theatre.  Next time you watch a Rep performance, especially in the Walton Theatre, take a close look at those props and join us in celebrating our very own Props Wizard!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

3 Redneck Tenors Returns With An All-New Show!

By Kristin Costanza

Back by popular demand, the 3 Redneck Tenors have fine-tuned their stage show, giving focus to their exquisite vocal talents all the while telling a humorous and endearing tale of their rise to fame.

3 Redneck Tenors is composed of three classically trained singers—founder Matt Lord, Blake Davidson, and Jonathan FrugĂ©—who, prior to their current collaboration, have worked with such companies as the San Francisco Opera, Dallas Opera, and the Juilliard Opera Center, and have performed at Carnegie Hall and the New York Metropolitan Opera. They have sung for audiences all over the world, yet they have never experienced more success than from a show that originated as a school fundraiser.

That’s right—founder Matt Lord thought donning a mullet wig and denim coveralls while singing opera would be an amusing way to showcase his talent to a non-classical crowd. He was apparently right, as 3 Redneck Tenors took off beyond anyone’s expectations. Word of mouth spread to other venues and Lord’s fun parody became a national touring act. While the show and two of the three Rednecks have evolved since that first performance, the energy and charm that allowed for the show to grow and improve have been there from the beginning. Clearly, Lord doesn’t take his undeniable singing talent overly seriously and sees the advantage of leaving room for humor.

The name 3 Redneck Tenors is a play on something Lord is critical of in his genre, explaining, “The reason I’m not a big fan of the tenor thing is it’s three vocal types singing together at the same time in unison, and I find it extremely uninteresting.” In this particular trifecta of “tenors,” Lord is a tenor while the other singers are a high tenor and a baritone. A bass vocalist has also been a part of previous shows. This mix allows for a rich and layered sound. And while he is a fan of the original 3 Tenors— Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti—he pokes fun at the “tenor-mania” that seemed to ensue following the success of the original three. Despite this, Lord took advantage of the craze when forming the group who perform in From Rags to Rednecks, acknowledging that “the act initially sold on the name.” These days, the 3 Redneck Tenors have no problem landing opportunities to provide audiences with solid entertainment. 

Their infectious combination of humor and studied singing talent helped the Tenors to further grow their audience when they performed well on the popular television competition show America’s Got Talent in 2007, and when they became a monthly performer at the Luxor in Las Vegas in 2008. They currently are artists-in-residence at the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri, where they perform From Rags to Rednecks up to six times each week.

This is the same show that will be performed on the MBT Main Stage on February 21,2015. From Rags to Rednecks—The True Fictional Story of the Redneck Tenors involves new songs, new medleys, and lots of new laughs and has been a critical success in its previews and residency. As its title implies, the show will take audiences from the group’s start as young singers without representation on to the fame they’re currently experiencing. We’ll see the Rednecks as youth, jailbirds, and finally as world class performers. Where previous 3 Redneck Tenors shows involved a fairly even mix of storytelling and singing, Rags packs in song after song, relying more on visual gags than outward jokes to illicit giggles from the audience. We’ll hear gospel, country, classical, pop, and Broadway, all delivered with power and a unique spin only the Rednecks can pull off. “We don’t parody the singing,” affirms Lord.

Another update to the show is that the content is entirely family friendly, a refreshing change of pace from the oft-adult spin of other stage show parodies. Lord and his collaborators sought broad appeal when mounting Rags, taking huge stock in the benefits of clean humor and paying attention to critical reviews that suggested they didn’t need to rely on “cheap” laughs. One key voice in influencing their content update was Jimmy Osmond (yes, of the Osmonds), who is the current Head of Operations at the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre. Said FrugĂ©, “[Osmond] was not only astounded by the singing quality, but the quality of the humor and the fact it was still funny and we were so willing to change what we needed to change to make this show work for us [and] our audience…”

Lord beams, “We’re so proud of [the show] because it is doing what we set out to do, which is provide something different while making our audience happy.” Get happy with the 3 Redneck Tenors on the Main Stage this season!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

20 Fun Facts and Highlights of the 2014-15 Season in no particular order

By Kristin Costanza

1. It takes four different puppets to grow a bloodthirsty baby plant into a man-eating giant that devours actors on the Main Stage in the Rep production of Little Shop of Horrors.

2. The Mighty Wurlitzer organ is back and better than ever as it scores 3 silent films from the year MBT opened: 1927!

3. Canadian Brass has contributed more than 600 new works and arrangements to the brass quintet repertoire

4.  It takes over 400 yards of Lycra to create the “Super Trouper” costumes in Mamma Mia - the various worldwide productions saved the Italian mill that supplies the fabric from closing.

5. All four smooth crooners of Under the Streetlamp have portrayed members of the Four Seasons in Jersey Boys.

6. The UK Ukulele Orchestra marks the first time in MBT history that 8 ukulele players perform together at the same time on the Main Stage.

7. The drummers of Kodo built their own performance village on the Japanese artists’s haven Sado Island.

8. The dancers in An Irish Christmas can step approximately 200 times every minute…

9….while the Repertory Dance Theatre performers have mastered moves from over a century of modern dance.

10. Die-hard fans of musical thriller Jekyll & Hyde are called “Jekkies.”

11. Three tours are family affairs: Stringfever is 3 brothers and a cousin, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has 3 generations of Shabalala on stage, and Visions From Cape Breton brings parents Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy on stage with their children for a Celtic family celebration.

12. Speaking of LadysmithBlack Mambazo, they were banned from competing in singing competitions in South Africa in the 1960s because they were deemed too good! Instead, they were allowed only to perform as noncompetitive entertainers.

13. Which production do you suppose uses more wigs: Capitol Steps, Rain or 3 Redneck Tenors? It’s going to be a close contest…

14. Mariachi Divas have been performing weekly at Disneyland for over a decade.

15. Most innuendo in a single show goes to Menopause The Musical — who said mood swings aren't fun?

16. The Blues Hall of Fame tour presents 142 combined years of recording among 3 of the most award-winning blues musicians of our time.

17. The legendary Branford Marsalis is as talented with classical music as he is with jazz, inspiring the phrase, “He’s bringing saxy back.”

18. Ain’t Misbehavin’ comes to Bellingham from the Broadway Center in Tacoma – it’s their first travelling production!

19. The popular game show Name That Tune challenged a contestant’s ability to identify popular songs in only a few notes. Stringfever are game show enthusiasts, bringing back the game during their February 27 performance.

20. What’s a Gantry Bike? We’ll find out when Cirque Mechanics: Pedal Punk rolls into town.

Don’t miss any of this season’s highlights — order your 2014-15 tickets today!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Forks in Roads

By Cindi Pree

Life-altering choices aren't a new theme in the world of theatre, certainly. Like love and human relationships in general, life’s choices are the stuff of great theatre. Big choices are often also part of the business of theatre, too!

In the summer of 2007, MBT took a new fork in the road by adding in-house productions to our usual touring “road-house” shows. The first self-produced Summer Rep series consisted of three rotating plays featuring a combined cast of four actors. Building on the success of several years of Summer Rep, we launched Winter Rep in February 2010 and Main Stage Rep in October 2011. Winter Rep is a single play with multiple performances, while Main Stage Rep represents yet another fork as a much larger, Broadway-style production.

Summer Rep is now an established annual event at MBT. The upcoming 2014-15 season offers three fabulous chances to explore both the drama and the comedy that happens when we reach a point in our lives that leads to taking a new direction. Most of us who have lived well into adulthood either have faced, or see coming at us, that time where we pause to examine the past, dare to question the future, and perhaps choose a different fork in the road than the one we expected to take.

In Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Neil Simon works his expectedly witty magic as Barney Cashman, overweight and overworked, married and middle-aged, attempts to join the sexual revolution before it’s too late. Barney’s three seduction choices add their own humor in the form of a kooky 20-ish actress, a bundle of neuroses with a foul mouth, and a gloomy, depressed housewife married to Barney’s best friend. 

Lanford Wilson’s 1980 Pulitzer Winner Talley’s Folly joins Sally Talley in her journey as she explores her choices: probable spinsterhood or life with a kindred spirit she is sure her family will never approve. Set in 1944 Missouri, these characters find a touching wholeness rare in human relationships.

In the final selection of this summer’s season, we take a devious and delightful romp with Becky Foster as she explores a different fork in the road that is her life. Becky’s New Car, by Steven Deitz, takes a look at the temptation Becky faces to flee her middle-age, middle-management, middling-marriage life.

Whether you have already faced that proverbial fork in your life’s road, wonder how you would react if you did, or you just want a great theatre experience, this stellar selection of plays will amuse, delight, and likely provoke some interesting conversations.

MBT Summer Rep runs July 15 through August 10.