Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spotlight On: Fuddy Meers

Note: This is the first of our summer-long "Spotlight" series, exploring different aspects of the extensive Seattle Public Theater summer youth program.

Every summer, a group of students from Seattle Public Theater’s youth program reach a significant milestone in their lives: high school graduation. With that, they officially “grow up,” and can no longer participate in the youth program. But before we wave them off to work, college, travel or massage school, they come together for their Senior Show.

Picked by and for the senior ensemble, the Senior Show represents the culmination of years of education and growth at SPT. The seniors involved have generally worked together many times, and the close-knit nature of the ensemble offers them – and Education Director Shana Bestock – the chance to create a truly magical show.

For staff at SPT, the Senior Show is a moment that is both proud and sad. We must let them out from under our wing, and send them off into the wide world. All of our students are incredibly talented, and will go on to do great things, but we will miss their presence at the Bathhouse!

This year’s Senior Show is Fuddy Meers. Written by American playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, Fuddy Meers is both hysterically funny and deeply heartbreaking. The story revolves around Claire, an amnesiac who wakes up every morning with a blank slate ala Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates. One morning Claire is abducted and told her husband is trying to kill her. The mayhem which ensues is seen through Claire’s eyes with an ending proving everything is not always what it seems to be.

Director Shana Bestock said the following about working with the graduating seniors: “Rehearsals are the highlight of my day. It's a joy to work on this rich material with such vibrant, intelligent and powerfully connected young artists. I'm also continually blown away with how much of a shorthand we, as an ensemble, have developed. By the time they are seniors, these actors need very little direction from me.”

SPT Marketing Intern Katie Dolan talked to two of our departing seniors about their experiences:

Xandii Barber (Nova) has been at SPT since last October and says she has never found a place with people so nice and accepting. She estimated that at one point she spent about 25 hours a week at SPT during the school year. Xandii’s experience at SPT has included sound, stage managing, props, and assistant stage managing. She summed up her feelings towards SPT saying, “I get here and everything is okay.” Xandii says her time at SPT has prepared her well for college. She will attend Stephens College in Missouri to complete a 3-year stage management program.

Sasha Kool (University Prep) is another high school student who will leave many memories and friends at SPT. “It’s like a family,” she says. I asked Sasha to recall any standout moments in a performance or rehearsal that she will take with her. She started to laugh and explained how she was once playing an elderly woman in the play Enchanted April. Backstage she was hurrying to put more baby powder in her hair to make it gray. Mid-sprinkle she noticed an awful silence onstage—she had missed her entrance. The group she was supposed to enter with was already on stage. She heard them covering for her, querying about where she could have gone. Out of breath she entered from the wrong side justifying her tardiness by complaining about the hill she had to climb and reminding everyone of her advanced age. The audience was laughing and the improvised revision was a success.


The 2010 Senior Show is Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay Abaire, directed by Shana Bestock.

The 2010 Senior Ensemble is Luke Greenway, Audrey Howell, Sasha Kool, Jessa Lowe, Kaitie Marshall, Rachel Warren, and Stage Manager Xandii Barber. The cast of Fuddy Meers also includes SPT alumni Miranda Sieg, a 2009 graduate.

Fuddy Meers opens Friday, July 2nd at 7pm, and plays July 3rd at 7pm, July 4th at 2pm, July 9th at 7pm, and July 10th at 2pm and 7pm. Admission is free, with donations to the scholarship fund gratefully accepted. Tickets are first-come, first-served, beginning 30 minutes before showtime, with festival seating.

Monday, June 21, 2010

From the Managing Director: Looking back at 2009-2010

Another season of professional theater at the Historic Bathhouse Theater is over, and it ended pretty well. This was actually Seattle Public Theater’s tenth year at the Bathhouse. SPT took over the management and became the resident company of the Bathhouse in October of 2000. This is the end of our tenth season. And we’re still here!

We started our fiscal year in July of 2009 with an amazing summer of youth programming, including productions of Hay Fever, Romeo & Juliet Alive Again and Together at Last!, The Jungle Book, A Vampire Story, and lots of others. Every weekend in July and August, there was a free show at the air conditioned Bathhouse. And it’s the same this coming summer.

Our first show of the Mainstage season was Tryst, which was a thriller with a twist ending that the Seattle Times said was “genuinely unsettling” and “good grist for after-show conversations.” Which is exactly what we’re trying to do, especially the last phrase.

The holidays were joyful this year with our annual productions of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and The Santaland Diaries. That was the last year we’re going to produce The Santaland Diaries, at least for a while. We’re going to give it a rest, and move on to other holiday shows, beginning with this coming year’s Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol. But never fear: we’re keeping The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!

The fascinating The Violet Hour was a stylish and thought-provoking piece which called “one of the most surprising, intriguing, and ultimately satisfying new plays I’ve seen in some time.” It was a difficult birth, as the piece has some tricky special effects ( an off-stage machine blowing paper onstage, piles and piles of manuscripts) and set design (a 14th floor windowed loft in 1922 NYC) that was a challenge in the rather tight confines of the Bathhouse Theater, yet our terrific design and production team pulled it off.

Shana Bestock, Seattle Public Theater’s Artistic and Education Director, stepped onto the stage for a difficult role in Dying City. Despite the challenge of performing in a two-person play (a difficult task under any situation) as well as continuing to perform her considerable duties at SPT (we laugh at those people who work mere 40-hour weeks!), the Seattle Time said the performances were “exemplary” and that Shana did “not waste a gesture, a sigh.”

The 13th of Paris was the runaway hit of our season. Joyful, romantic, funny, with a cast of talented actors to die for, it got better with each performance. The Seattle Weekly said “SPT understands the difference between schmaltzy and winsome, and goes for the latter.” It was a lovely little piece, and a great capper to our mainstage season.

And all this happened while we continued our youth education program, sending teaching artists to local elementary schools, holding acting camps during school breaks, and producing high school and middle school shows at the Bathhouse like Lebensraum, 12 Angry Jurors, You Never Can Tell, Around the World in 80 Days, Room Service, and Future Files.

Thanks for your support.

-Keith Dahlgren, Managing Director

Monday, June 7, 2010

The reviews are in!

We've only got four more performances of our hottest show of the season. Get your tickets now before they sell out!

"SPT understands the difference between schmaltzy and winsome, and goes squarely for the latter" - Seattle Weekly

"Director Shana Bestock has pulled together a little gem of a play" - Seattle Gay News

"A charming play ... very fast-paced, amusing and inventive" -

"[An] elegant production ... simply honest and sincere" - Seattle Times reader comment

"A look at love's familiar travails ... a petite soufflé of a play" - The Seattle Times