From Musicals to Backcountry Bayou – Live Performance is Back!

Steep Canyon Rangers

For months, the stage lights have been dark, the green rooms have been empty, and box offices have stood silent as performing arts venues were closed during the pandemic. Actors, singers, musicians, dancers, magicians and performers of all kinds got creative and offered virtual plays and performances, but they were all simply passing the time until they could be with a live audience again. Come fall we can all rejoice in the return to in-person performances throughout the South Sound. From musicals to backcountry bayou, live performance is back!

In Olympia, the Harlequin will be performing three plays in repertory this fall— Tenderly, the Rosemary Clooney Musical based on the life of Rosemary Clooney, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, and Until the Flood by Pulitzer Prize Finalist Dael Orlandersmith. At the Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Boogie from the Bayou, a New Orleans zydeco musical performance is scheduled for late October.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Tacoma’s offerings include Steep Canyon Rangers, a Grammy Award-winning bluegrass sextet, and the play Tribes, which won the 2012 New York Drama Critics Circle Award presented by Tacoma Arts Live. At the grand dame of Tacoma’s theatre scene, the Tacoma Little Theatre, you can find two classics: Terms of Endearment and Clue: On Stage. In Tacoma’s West End they are warming up their vocal cords and stretching out their hipscs-inspired production called All Shook Up, a modern rock ’n roll take on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Just to the north, the Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center will be presenting a wide array of acts including performances by Irish balladeers The High Kings, Grammy-winning guitarist and singer Robert Cray, country music singer Josh Gracin, and classic rock cover band The Hit Men.

Robert Cray

Circle the weekend of November 5 and 6 to make sure you get a seat to enjoy the feeling of shared laughter. Tacoma Arts Live will be presenting the ever-popular David Sedaris, known best for his appearances on the radio show This American Life. American comedy legend Yakov Smirnoff will make a rare appearance at the Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center.

Before you know it, Christmas songs will be playing in every store, so take a moment to check out the holiday offerings planned for the South Sound which include A Christmas Carol (Harlequin), The Wizard of Oz (Tacoma Little Theatre), and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s Wild and Swingin’ Holiday Party (Tacoma Arts Live).

So no matter what your preference, there is plenty to pick from this fall from the South Sound’s performing arts venues. See you at the theatre!

For Additional Information and Tickets
harlequinproductions.org
washingtoncenter.org
tacomaartslive.org
tacomalittletheatre.com
tmp.org
fwpaec.org

HILLARY RYAN

Tacoma Little Theatre Receives Award

Fans of community theatre have cause for celebration– the Tacoma Little Theatre has been honored with the Diamond Crown Organizational Award by the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT)!

The AACT Diamond Crown Organizational Award recognizes longevity and vitality of AACT member theatres that have expanded programming and/or facilities in the past ten years and have the administrative leadership to remain vital to their communities for the next ten years. Recipients must have been in continuous operation for seventy-five years.

Tacoma Little Theatre (TLT) was founded in 1918 as the Tacoma Little Theatre and Drama League, and at 103 years is among the oldest community theatres currently operating in the United States. TLT’s vision is to offer a destination for the diverse community of Tacoma and Puget Sound by offering a well-rounded season of mainstage productions, staged readings, murder mysteries, special events, and a year-around education program serving both adults and children. TLT increases community awareness through special ticket programs and embracing other non-profit and service organizations, such as United Way. With the support of the community and local funders, TLT was able to complete a full remodel of its auditorium and lobby spaces, beginning in June of 2020. This was the first major upgrade since the 1950s, and came as a result of listening and responding to patron feedback.

After a break in response to the Covid pandemic, the theatre is looking forward to welcoming back patrons in the fall of 2021! Stay tuned for updates on future Tacoma Little Theatre productions.

A Centennial Celebration for Tacoma Little Theatre

Back in October 1918 a group of Tacoma residents gathered to form the local chapter of the Drama League of America. Its purpose was to study and promote theater and build community in the burgeoning city. The same year, the Port of Tacoma, Tacoma Kiwanis and the Tacoma News Tribune were established. So the civic-focused theater group was clearly part of something special that was transforming the town.

As the oldest community theater west of the Mississippi, Tacoma Little Theatre has been part of the lives of many local families over several generations. Throughout its history, the theater has been the starting ground for many local performers, including the magician Ray Gamble and the rock band Alice in Chains.

Recently the theater has received national and regional acclaim. In 2016 its production of Second Samuel by Pamela Parker was recognized by the American Association of Community Theatre as one of two outstanding productions in Washington state. And this year, TLT has been awarded the AMOCAT award for achievements by an arts organization.

Looking forward, TLT’s managing director Chris Serface notes some big changes are coming. “We are currently one-third of the way through our theater improvement plan, which includes new seats, new carpet and updated lighting and sound equipment. Most recently, we purchased an adjacent building, which has given the theater much-needed rehearsal and storage space as well as room to build sets.”

In addition, the theater’s lobby, which was state-of-the-art in the 1950s, will be the focus of an upcoming capital campaign to expand and update the space as well as renovate the restrooms.

“Tacoma Little Theatre exists because of our community,” says Serface. “We want everyone to feel welcome here. With continual support we hope to be sharing theater and creating community connections for decades to come.”

Join the celebration of this beloved, locally focused theater by seeing a show or two this season. Make plans to attend the 100th anniversary celebration in February 2019. The evening event will feature dinner along with songs and performances from the 1920s and ’30s. Tacoma’s oldest theater is a treasured gem. It reminds us of the power of arts to transform and unite us all.

HILLARY RYAN

For Additional Information
Tacoma Little Theatre
tacomalittletheatre.com

South Sound Fall Theater Lineup

Performance offerings in the South Sound this fall include a huge variety of acts. There’s theater, dance, comedy, music and even some acrobats and a one-of-a-kind clown to keep you on your toes. Come out and support your local arts organizations and enjoy the shows.

For a night at the theater, September will see the opening curtain for two beloved comedic classics. Tacoma Little Theatre will present Obie award winner The Foreigner, which the troupe first presented in 2002 to great acclaim. Neil Simon’s autobiographical tale Brighton Beach Memoirs, at Lakewood Playhouse, will have us laughing as we watch the young writer dream of baseball and girls while dealing with his family in Brooklyn.

This fall’s musical performances kick off with none other than the renowned singer-songwriters Stephen Stills (from Crosby, Stills and Nash) and Judy Collins at the Washington Center on Oct. 2. These two folk icons met 50 years ago, but this is the first time they have toured together. Don’t miss it. Also at the Washington Center in October will be multiple Grammy winner Keb’ Mo’. His reputation as a modern master of American roots music speaks for itself.

In the mood for something spooky around Halloween? Check out BodyVox, a dance theater experience that draws on cinema, folklore and our collective nightmares to bring All Hallows’ Eve to life. For a more traditional tale of spells, cast your sights on the bewitching love story Bell, Book and Candle. It debuted on Broadway in 1950, and this year is at Tacoma Little Theatre.

Out in left field are some performers in a class of their own. Bringing flips and tricks to the stage are the Chinese Warriors of Peking at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts and the New Chinese Acrobats at the Federal Way Performing Arts Center.

Finally, the Washington Center presents the one and only Puddles Pity Party, also known as the “sad clown with a golden voice.” His YouTube cover of Lorde’s Royals went viral and he became an overnight sensation. This show is packed with a suitcase full of smoosh-ups and accompanied by plentiful hugs.
There is something for everyone on local stages this fall.

HILLARY RYAN

washingtoncenter.org
lakewoodplayhouse.org
broadwaycenter.org
tacomalittletheatre.com
fwpaec.org