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JULY 10 – AUGUST 17, 2019
Previews: July 10 & 11 at 7:30 PM
Opening Night: July 12 at 8:00 PM
Pay What You Can: July 17 at 7:30 PM
Wed/Thu: 7:30 PM
Fri/Sat: 8:00 PM
Sat Mat: 2:00 PM
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Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s uplifting and powerful musical makes it’s Seattle premiere at Taproot this summer. It won the 2016 Outer Critics Circle awards for Best Musical and Best Score, in addition to the Drama Desk award for Outstanding Music. It was nominated for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Lead Actress in a Musical and Best Orchestrations at the 2016 Tony Awards.
“Bright Star is a new, exciting work where the story and the music are equally compelling and beautiful!” said director Karen Lund, whose directing credits at Taproot include Always… Patsy Cline, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Sweet Land, Persuasion and Godspell. “The writing team has a shrewd and prolific understanding of what makes good music and what makes for good storytelling. They are both masters and I’m looking forward to living in their world.”
The cast includes Gloria Lee Alcalá (Mamches Productions’ Disenchanted) as Lucy Grant, Rheanna Atendido (5th Avenue’s Mamma Mia) as Edna, Jeff Church (ArtsWest’s Sweeney Todd) as Daddy Cane/Dr. Norquist, Connie Corrick (ArtsWest’s Jane Eyre) as Mama Murphy, Eric Dobson (5th Avenue’s Rock of Ages) as Max, Eric Polani Jensen (Village Theatre’s Into the Woods) as Mayor Josiah Dobbs, MJ Jurgensen (Village Theatre’s Matilda) as Florence, Edd Key (Taproot’s Godspell) as Daddy Murphy, Brian Lange (5th Avenue/ACT’s Urinetown) as Daryl, Brian Pucheu (Taproot’s Miss Bennet) as Jimmy Ray Dobbs, Mike Spee (Taproot’s Godspell) as Billy Cane, Miranda Antoinette Troutt (Annex Theatre’s Silhouette) as Margo Crawford, Brenna Wagner (Village Theatre’s The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes) as Alice Murphy and Nick Watson (Taproot’s Baskerville) as Stanford.
The band includes Michael Nutting or Michael Matlock (Piano/Conductor), Anthony Pooley (Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo), Quinn Knobbe (Bass) and Andrew Pang (Fiddle). Cast members Rheanna Atendido, Eric Dobson, MJ Jurgensen, Edd Key and Mike Spee will also play instruments throughout the show.
The production team includes R.J. Tancioco, co-music director; Katy Tabb, choreographer; Michael Nutting, co-music director; Nanette Acosta, costume design; Andrew Duff, lighting design; Mark Lund, scenic and sound design; Anne L. Hitt, stage manager; Zeapoe Matalda, dramaturg and Leah Fishbaugh, dialect coach.
You’re a longtime friend of Taproot Theatre, what makes this theatre special for you?
The people, first and foremost. Taproot is not just a theatre, not just an employer, but a caring organization that is of the highest integrity. It is always an honor and a privilege to work for Taproot. Their concern for their community and their audience, as well as their commitment to artistic growth, is never-ending. And I know they are always giving 200% to guarantee fairness, equality and well-being for their employees and co-workers.
What’s your favorite show that you’ve been a part of with Taproot Theatre? Why?
This is a tough one. Every show has had its special meaning for me, including the Sanders family series which were some of the many that allowed me to work with my wonderful wife, Theresa Holmes. But when I think back over the last 28 years, The Rainmaker always pops out at me. It was one of the first non-musicals I ever worked on; I got to simply be an actor. And I got to be onstage with three of Taproot’s heart-core: Scott Nolte and Karen and Mark Lund. What a blast it was!
What do you like best about Bright Star?
The music is, of course, a lot of fun. I once again get to bring along my banjo for a very challenging ride. And the tunes just continue to grow on you once you’ve heard them. It’s an active story that jumps between the 1920s and 1940s, two periods that have always fascinated me. It’s filled with emotionally light and dark times that powerfully draw you into the characters’ lives.
You also teach in Taproot’s Acting Studio, what do you enjoy about working with the kids each summer?
Music education was my primary field of study. Performance came later. So, I still do a great deal of teaching, through my public school residencies, at my teaching studio in North Seattle and, of course, at TTC’s Acting Studio. I really look forward to the latter because the kids are so eager, motivated and brimming with potential. And the Acting Studio, as with all of Taproot’s endeavors, always puts the needs and feelings of the students before everything else. The kids are truly cared for as they explore their gifts.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, theatrical or otherwise?
If you’re about to break-up (laugh inappropriately) on-stage, just breathe out, exhale. It works in real life as well!
What’s the best surprise you ever got?
The wonderful way my life has unfolded and continues to do so.
IF YOU KNEW MY STORY:
Favorite Rehearsal Snack: Chocolate-covered almonds
Favorite Song: Yikes! Impossible to answer… Probably one I’ve written – you always love your own kids the most!
Favorite Karaoke Song: I’d always give Sting’s “Fields of Gold” a shot.
Favorite Musical: Probably The Fantasticks, one of the first shows I worked on, way back in the day.
Favorite TV Show: Maybe The Twilight Zone. It expanded our minds in amazing ways.
Favorite Steve Martin Film: Pennies From Heaven
Sometimes good things just happen. That was certainly the case when musician Edie Brickell met famed actor/comedian/banjo-enthusiast Steve Martin at a party. They began to chat about Martin’s banjo music and he offered her a melody for which he’d been struggling to find lyrics. She began to improvise lyrics for it on the spot and Martin was so pleased that, later, he sent her another song to work on.
“It almost became a game,” Brickell recalled in an NPR interview in 2015. “A fun challenge with music. He always had an idea and I would bounce one back. There’s so much emotion and drama in the way that he plays the banjo and in the melodies that he comes up with that I can just picture people and situations, and all I have to do is sing it out.”
The result of their musical game the album Love Has Come For You, which won a 2014 Grammy Award for Best American Roots Song.
“The whole thing was a giant accident that, in our view, turned out to be very rewarding to us.” Steve Martin told the New York Times in 2013, just prior to the album’s release. As they continued to collaborate, they discovered they shared a love of musicals and, finding inspiration from their own album, decided to try their hand at one. Two songs, “Sarah Jane and the Iron Mountain Baby” (and the true story that inspired it) and the titular track “Love Has Come for You,” provided large portions of the story outline of the show. Another two songs, “Sun is Gonna Shine” (Martin and Brickell’s original collaboration from their first meeting) and “When You Get to Asheville,” were adapted directly into the show.
Pictured above: Brenna Wagner, Rheanna Atendido, Mike Spee and Miranda Antoinette Troutt in Bright Star at Taproot Theatre. Photo by John Ulman.
Playing on the Jewell Mainstage September 18 – October 26
Five words were meant to change a young country divided by civil war when abolitionist and Union recruiter Frederick Douglass challenged his president to act on the statement that “all men are created equal.” As these two brilliant Americans wage a battle for the future of the Union, their arguments affect not only their sons but the nation we live in today.
Featuring Lamar Legend (Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s Take Me Out) as Frederick Douglass, Andrew Litzky (Taproot’s The Explorers Club) as George Stearns and Ted Rooney (Gilmore Girls, Boardwalk Empire) as Abraham Lincoln.
Welcome back to Taproot! You were on staff as Taproot’s Production Stage Manager a few years back. Where have you been? What have you been up to?
I got my masters degree in Stage Management! I spent three years at UC Irvine in Southern California and then I worked as a freelance stage manager in Los Angeles for about two years before moving with my family back to Seattle.
How excited are you to be back at Taproot?
It’s so exciting to be back! I was on staff when the fire happened, in 2009. I was the last one to leave the building the night the arsonist hit. So for most of my time here, we were planning the new building. I left right as construction was getting started, so I never got to work in the building we talked about until now. It’s really wonderful to come back and see how beautiful the new building is.
What made you want to come back for this show?
This is truly a dream team of people! The cast is made up of heavy hitters, and the creative team is comprised of some of my favorite people in the industry. I knew that the show would be killer and we’d have the time of our lives doing it. I’m lucky to be with such talented people.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?
Taproot is where I fell in love with Stage Management. I discovered that I was happiest when working on a show and that I really wanted to be a freelance stage manager. I loved working on the Mainstage shows, and mentoring the interns during the summer. Now, I’ve been a freelance Stage Manager for seven years and I’ve created a stage management intensive course called SM Boot Camp to help educate young stage managers.
What does a stage manager do?
There are so many things a stage manager does! One of the main responsibilities is maintaining the artistic integrity of the show. I’m there from 1st rehearsal through closing night. I see every part of the show and make sure everything fits together as it should. The stage manager calls all light, sound, and projection cues, with perfect timing so the exact same thing happens every night. It’s kind of like conducting the technical aspects of the show. Nothing happens without the stage manager’s “Go.” Once the show opens, the stage manager is in charge of making sure that the show people see on Opening, is the same show they see on Closing.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I love getting to oversee every aspect of a show coming together. I get to talk with the director about how they want a scene to land and what’s the impact of it on the characters and the audience. I get to create backstage tracking to get an actor off stage, into a new costume and back onstage all in 30 seconds or less. I work with the actors, technical crew, designers and creators to fulfill a vision. Stage managing is the perfect blend of organizational and artistic skills.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, theatrical or otherwise?
There’s always going to be someone better than you, so stop trying to beat other people. Focus on the things you’re already good at and become excellent at those. I used to stress about not being perfect at every aspect of the job. I stopped beating myself up for not being great at some things and started celebrating and honing the skills that I was already really good at. It gave me permission to celebrate the areas where I was talented instead of always focusing on the places I fell short.
IF YOU KNEW MY STORY:
Favorite Rehearsal Snack: Taro Boba Tea.
Favorite Karaoke Song: I try to avoid karaoke.
Favorite Musical: Deaf West’s production of Spring Awakening.
Favorite TV Show: The Good Place.
Podcast: I’m obsessed with Someone Knows Something, which is a Canadian podcast that covers cold cases. They look into cases 20+ years old and start interviewing people to see what might pop up after so many years later.
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