Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Few Minutes With Don Darryl Rivera

A couple of weeks ago, we sat down for a video interview with Don Darryl Rivera, Puppet Coach for Goodnight Moon and Roger the rat-boy in I Was a Rat!

We started things off, of course, with an introduction:

At this point, embarrassingly, my camera battery died, as I had been unable to find its power cord that morning. But, the ever-resourceful Don Darryl reached into his backpack and pulled out a digital camcorder, and we were back in business.

And then we were foiled by technology again, as the saved video proved to be unreadable. The sound, however, remained, and so I've cobbled together a quick podcast of our interview. You can listen via the player below, or download the MP3 here.

Many thanks to Don Darryl Rivera for the interview and the technology assist.

Goodnight Moon runs in SCT's Eve Alvord Theatre through June 7th, 2009.

I Was a Rat! opens May 1st, 2009 in SCT's Charlotte Martin Theatre, and runs through June 7th, 2009.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fun facts from the Props team working on "I Was a Rat!"

Our Props department does an amazing job, and a big part of that is their attention to detail. They do a lot of studying for each show to come up with the best design for the properties you will see. Prop Shop Manager Edie Whitsett routinely shares the interesting tidbits of information she comes up with while researching each production.

For example, in
I Was a Rat! you'll get to meet the Philosopher Royal, and below are some of Edie's notes on how each facet of the character is reflected in the prop design.

The Philosopher Royal is a devotee of several branches of knowledge, study and weirdness. Among his interests are:

Phrenology - the science of knowing a person by his or her bumps and fissures on the head. NOTE the poster of a head on his wall.

Palmistry - the science of knowing a person (or predicting their future) by his or her lines and creases on the hand. Also using the shape of the hand and digits. NOTE the model hand on his table and poster on the wall.

Alchemy – the science of transmutation (changing) of common metals into gold. Also, the search for or creation of a "panacea," a remedy believed to cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely. NOTE various bottles and equipment on his table.

Ancient Egypt - NOTE the "hand painted" papyrus and God's eye protection amulet.

Acupunture - a technique of inserting and manipulating fine filiform (threadlike) needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain, or for therapeutic purposes. In China, the practice of acupuncture can be traced as far back as the Stone Age, with the Bian shi, or sharpened stones. Stone acupuncture needles dating back to 3000 B.C. have been found by archeologists in Inner Mongolia. Recent examinations of Ötzi, a 5,000-year-old mummy found in the Alps, have identified over 50 tattoos on his body, some of which are located on acupuncture points. NOTE the posters under the table.

Also note, a tiny Muslim prayer rug is on his sometimes points towards Mecca.

Join us to see what other interesting characters, and their props, you will meet.

I Was a Rat! opens May 1st and runs through June 7th in SCT's Charlotte Martin Theatre.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Family review: "Goodnight Moon"

Another review from Kathryn L. (you may remember her "A Tale of Two Cities" review), ably assisted by sister Rachel and brother Jared.

I am a fourteen-year-old girl, and I am her twelve-year-old sister. We have known Goodnight Moon since we were little girls. We’ve always liked it, the colors, the little details, the rhyming of the words. We have a brother who is six. Goodnight Moon has been read to all of us since we were little, and we have a copy of that and Runaway Bunny handy at all times on the bookshelf in our house.

Auston James, Matt Wolfe, Sharva Maynard and Jayne Muirhead. Photo by Chris Bennion.

When we went to the Seattle Children’s Theatre’s play version of the book, we were all excited to see how the much-loved children’s book would be transformed into a full play. The set delighted me and my sister who spent the last five minutes before the play started discussing the set and playing find the piece.

“Look! There’s the curtain rod.”

“It even has the arrow at the tip!”

“I know. Hey! The bears-”

“In their chairs? I know!”

“And the picture of the Runaway Bunny!”

“And the mitten and kitten!”

“And the night table and the brush!”

“And the bowl full of mush!”

We had a lot of fun, and afterwards, my brother said “The set was just like the book, but full of surprises!” He said he couldn’t wait to see it again with his school (an outing he is still patiently waiting for), and the next night during dinner while we were still in the kitchen eating, he even left to act out scenes from the play for us.

The acting and the colorful singing had my mom wanting to accuire [sic] a cd of the songs sung in the play, and my brother saying: “It wasn’t just a play, it was a musi-cool!”

"Goodnight Moon" runs through June 7th in SCT's Eve Alvord Theatre.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Have you heard about our new season?

Last week, we announced our 2009-2010 Mainstage Season. It is currently available only for renewing subscriptions, with new subscriptions available in mid-May and single tickets on sale in late summer. But, we're so excited, we're telling everybody!

Mysterious Gifts: Theatre of Iran
September 25 – October 11, 2009
Part dance, part performance art, all compelling—Iranian performer Yaser Khaseb will mesmerize you with his storytelling. He invites us into his culture and we see how universal the human experience truly is; take this opportunity to connect our stories.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
October 16 – November 29, 2009
What do you get when a precocious mouse and a kind boy spend an afternoon together? Cookie crumbs, spilled milk, and a whole lot of fantastic physical comedy that will have you rolling in the aisles.

Peter Pan
November 13, 2009 – January 10, 2010
One of the greatest American musicals for any age—join Peter, Wendy, and all the characters we know and love as we fly away to where dreams are born.

Perô - coproduction with Speeltheater Holland
January 15 – February 14, 2010
A sweet, funny story with brilliant music and innovative puppetry that will make this day at the theatre a cherished memory. Winner of multiple awards, and called “the most delightful 60 minutes in town” by the London Times.

In the Northern Lands: Norse Myths
February 12 – March 14, 2010
With breathtaking, theatrical grandeur, these epic stories of compassion, loyalty, and bravery take us on a grand adventure that teaches us about who we are and who we should aspire to be.

Getting Near to Baby
March 12 – April 18, 2010
When Little Sister and Willa Jo have to spend a summer with an aunt who gets along better with her garden gnomes than little girls, they all struggle, laugh, and learn about the ups and downs of the independent spirit.

The Brementown Musicians
April 9 – May 16, 2010
From the artistic team that brought us Peter and the Wolf, this timeless fable of animals past their prime gets a fresh, and funny, twist. The band of big-hearted musical misfits uses their special gifts to save music itself.

Production credits and in-depth play descriptions available at

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Winner of the "Tomás and the Library Lady" Story Contest

Congratulations to the winner of our Tomás and the Library Lady story contest, sponsored by the SCT Drama School - Timothy, a 6th grader, and his story Library Adventure.

To read Timothy's winning entry, click here.

Congratulations, Timothy!

Monday, April 13, 2009

An artist and parent reviews "Goodnight Moon"

In addition to our fabulous SCT Review Crew, we sometimes invite members of the community to write reviews of our productions. In the last year, we've had guest reviewers from Hugo House, 826 Seattle and TeenTix. This past weekend, we invited local solo performer/writer/actor/educator Maria Glanz and her son Finn (age 4 and 3/4) to see "Goodnight Moon" and share their experience with us.

Opening Night: We walk into the Eve Alvord Theatre at SCT, and after climbing the steps and choosing a bench, we turn – and our smiles stretch all the way up to our eyes as we look at the Great Green Room come to full-size life in Jennifer Lupton’s wonderful set. Finn’s first words, as always, are:

“What’s that?”

And we look at the giant windows, with stars shining through, and the picture of the Cow Jumping Over the Moon, and Finn says:

“There’s Kittens! And a Little House… and the Bowl Full of Mush!” I notice the title, Goodnight Moon, tucked cleverly on a big tall book spine on stage left, right behind the piano. Before the play even begins we are falling into another world, something that always seems to occur effortlessly at SCT. Even when I know how much long, hard work goes into these wonderful productions – it always looks effortless, easy, magical.

And when the performance begins, the magic grows. Finn whispers to me, “I see a Big Red Balloon!” and we watch the balloon follow his friend Bunny across the stage. The script, wonderfully adapted by Chad Henry – who also wrote the marvelous music and lyrics - begins with little Bunny saying “Hello!” to all of his friends, the clocks and socks and mittens, and we feel his joy as we settle into his world.

Matt Wolfe as Bunny. Photo by Chris Bennion.

The cast is perfect. Matt Wolfe shines as the boy Bunny, playing with delight through his adventures. His easy, funny, happy performance gives a strong central core to the show. Auston James, Jayne Muirhead and Sharva Maynard play multiple roles beautifully. Jayne’s Little Mouse was one of Finn’s favorites, and mine too, with her dry sense of humor and perfect timing. And boy - can these four sing and dance! For me, the songs were a highlight of the evening. Music Director Mark Rabe plays the piano (with help from Matt for one funny number) and he’s terrific. The Three Little Bears sitting on Chairs come right down from the wall and tap dance through a fabulous game of musical chairs, thanks to the choreography of Marianne Roberts. And the Cat with a Fiddle, Dog with a Drum, and Dish Who Ran Away with the Spoon make three fun appearances, singing the tale of Clarabelle the Cow and her efforts to jump over the moon. All of the costumes, designed by Cathy Hunt, are fantastic. The Dish in particular is breathtaking – I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I also liked Auston’s very dapper Tooth Fairy, although I don’t think Finn quite understood my delight.

Finn did love the fire when it came to life with eyes opening and rolling. And he was both a tiny bit scared of, and then completely entranced by, the mystery and wonder of exactly what is inside that Little House. I won’t spoil it here by describing it – the wonder is worth the wait. Another favorite moment for both of us was a guest appearance by The Runaway Bunny book, gorgeously rendered, with the story told through another toe-tapping song.

Auston James, Matt Wolfe, Sharva Maynard and Jayne Muirhead. Photo by Chris Bennion.

It’s clear that the cast and crew, led by SCT Artistic Director Linda Hartzell, love what they are doing - and even more, love these books by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. When theatre is made with this kind of love, we in the audience receive such a tremendous gift. I could also feel and see the spirit and gifts of Doug Paasch all through the production; I only wish my Finn could have met this lovely man [longtime SCT Puppet Master Paasch passed away unexpectedly this past fall]. But I’m grateful that he and countless other kids gets to enjoy his puppets, still.

Finn was tired as we were heading home last night, and didn’t much want to talk – so I wasn’t entirely sure how he felt about the show. This morning, I heard him talking to himself in his room, and he was saying:

“We saw a Fire with Eyes. We saw a Big Giant Runaway Bunny Book! Just like Finn’s little Runaway Bunny book!”

And he had both books out – Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny – and he wasn’t reading them (they weren’t even open, actually) – he was holding them up and dancing them in front of his eyes, playing with all the memories held right in his own little hands.

"Goodnight Moon" runs through June 7th in SCT's Eve Alvord Theatre.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The more things change, the more they stay the same

When I sat down with our photographer, the incredibly talented Chris Bennion, to review the photos from dress rehearsal of Goodnight Moon, I was struck by the similarity of one shot to the press shot for our 2007 production. While the entire cast of the previous production have returned, we decided to update the costumes with designs by Cathy Hunt

create animated gif

And, really, what is true of these pictures is true of the show. All the magic of the original production is back, it feels the same as before, while bringing a slightly new look.

Goodnight Moon runs through June 7th in SCT's Eve Alvord Theatre.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Remember the music for the very first time

Tonight was dress tech for Goodnight Moon, SCT's magical, musical adaptation of Margaret Wise Brown's and Clement Hurd's classic book. The production wowwed audiences when it premiered as part of our 2006-07 season (and was, in fact, my then-4-yr-old daughter's first play ever), and the music is just as poppin' this time around.

So, we wanted to share just a little taste of a couple of our favorite tunes, recorded by the original, and returning, cast of Auston James, Sharva Maynard, Jayne Muirhead and Matt Wolfe, and led by Music Director Mark Rabe.

When Bunny needs someone to blame for all the misdeeds in the house, who does he turn to? Mr. Nobody, of course.

Sometimes, we all need a star to show us the way. North Star

Music, and Lyrics by Chad Henry

Goodnight Moon opens this Friday, April 10th, in SCT's Eve Alvord Theatre. Get your tickets now - they're already going fast.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another SCT Review Crew review of "A Tale of Two Cities"

The latest from the SCT Review Crew - "A Tale of Two Cities" reviewed by Aimee W. and Teagan W.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been so moved that we had to sit for a while after the curtain call just to get our bearings. Seattle Children’s Theatre does not disappoint with their production of A Tale of Two Cities - far from it. This is a poignantly moving tale that reminds us that people are often more emotional than rational – are made of both dark and light – vengeance and honor.

Rafael Untalan (background), Chelsey Rives, Connor Toms and Philip Davidson. Photo by Chris Bennion.

This production tells this tale in a powerful, moving way – honoring the Charles Dickens classic. The acting is superb! We were quite impressed with the caliber of acting in this show. There were no weak links – everyone held their own. We were especially impressed with the incredible job done by Jim Gall (understudy) who had his chance to go on in a large role as Monsieur Defarge. He didn’t miss a beat and it felt like the role was his from the beginning. He was fiery and passionate in his portrayal of Monsieur Defarge, a man who is conflicted between the cause and his loyalty to a friend.

Rafael Untalan as Sydney Carton. Photo by Chris Bennion.

The award-winning performance goes to actor Rafael Untalan who played Sydney Carton. His journey from self-centered, troubled defense attorney who makes a drunken promise to the woman he loves - to a sober, selfless man who actually carries through with that promise, was done in such an artful way that we were moved to tears as the final lights went out, signifying his death by guillotine. Another notable performance was by Amy Thone as Madame Defarge. She created a role that was sympathetic and malevolent – complex and myopic. Seattle Children’s Theatre continues to attract top talent. This cast was wonderful!

The set design by Carey Wong was superb. It artfully wove both impoverished and privileged into a rough, angular set that shifted between both worlds with ease and yet always had the sense that things were unsettled and not yet finished.

The costume design by Sarah Nash Gates was lovely, well-researched and added just the right touches of color to a neutral set when needed.

All of these elements from the acting to the lighting wouldn’t be what they are without the insightful direction of Rita Giomi. Ms. Giomi has a keen sense of themes and creates them without being heavy handed. She develops moments of power and angst through sound, lighting and movement. The only distracting direction happened with the scenes on the second level where the actor’s were seated. Sitting in the fifth row, center – we often had the faces of the actors blocked by the railing. We would have preferred that these scenes were done standing rather than sitting.

There is only one week left for this play – this is one you won’t want to miss. Stop reading this and call the box office right now to buy your tickets before it’s too late!!

A Tale of Two Cities closes April 12, 2009.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Peeps of Two Cities

It's time once again for the Seattle Times Peeps Contest, and our very own Asst. Production Stage Manager Sarah Mixson, along with her partner, have submitted this entry, inspired by A Tale of Two Cities.

The background is Scenic Designer Carey Wong's set model for Tale. The details of this, Bernie Peepoff's execution scene in French Revolution style, make all the difference - note the red sashes on the revolutionaries demonstrating in the streets. And, see the Peep that appears to be knitting? An homage to Madame Defarge, who kept a record of the nobility's crimes against the people in her stitches.

Many thanks to Sarah and her partner for their hard word. Check out all of the Peeps on parade here.