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Vol. 13, No. 48 Week of November 30, 2008
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

AK-WA Connection 2008: Things to do in Seattle: Dramatic arts

The Emerald City offers visitors a potpourri of live entertainment, including some of the nation’s finest theatrical experiences

Rose Ragsdale

For Alaska-Washington Connection

If you ever find yourself with a free evening or two in Seattle, keep in mind that the city is a veritable “mecca” in the Pacific Northwest for cultural and dramatic arts.

Or perhaps, your company plans to convene its next meeting in Seattle, and is looking for an inspirational venue to highlight the gathering.

The Emerald City has a wealth of museums, theaters and other attractions to entertain leisure and business travelers in style. Whether big attractions such as Seattle Theatre Group’s Paramount Theatre, 5th Avenue Theatre or Museum of Flight; medium-size venues such as the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Repertory Theatre or The Village Theatre, or cozy settings like Seattle Theatre Group’s Moore Theatre, Experience Music Project, Bellevue Arts Museum, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Intiman Theatre, and Seattle’s Children’s Theatre, Seattle has something for everyone.

Other notable attractions include the Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo and Pacific Science Center.

Here’s a summary of some of the best that Seattle has to offer in live entertainment:

Seattle Repertory Theatre, one of the largest and most renowned regional theatres in the country, produces a mix of classic comedies, recent Broadway hits and cutting-edge new dramas in two theatre spaces. Since its founding in 1963, actors like Lawrence Fishburne, Lily Tomlin, Samuel L. Jackson, Meryl Streep, Richard Gere, Richard Chamberlain, Jessica Tandy, Christopher Walken and many more have “walked the boards at the Rep.” Winner of the 1990 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre has premiered plays by August Wilson, Neil Simon, John Patrick Shanley, Wendy Wasserstein, Sarah Ruhl and many others, and some of the world’s top directors, designers and artisans bring its shows to life. Its 2008-2009 productions include “The Three Musketeers” by Ken Ludwig, “You Can’t Take It With You” by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, “The Night Watcher” by Charlayne Woodard and “Breaking Hearts and Taking Names” by Kevin Kling and Simone Perrin.

Intiman Theatre, one of the nation’s top theaters, is defined by a boldest vision in the production of classics and new plays. Winner of 2006 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, the Intiman’s work is characterized by exceptional acting, rigorous storytelling and luminous designs. The theatre is known for its talented cadre of artists who have made their homes in Seattle as well as nationally recognized artists who perform the Intiman’s productions. Founded in 1972 by Margaret Booker, who named her company after a small theatre in Stockholm founded by Swedish playwright August Strindberg, the Intiman means “intimate” in Swedish. From its beautiful performance space to the layers of programs and events that have made the theatre a gathering place for its audiences, the experience of the Intiman is unique, intimate and exhilarating. This season’s Recent productions include “The Year of Magical Thinking,” a play by Joan Didion based on her memoir, “Crime and Punishment,” adapted by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus from the book by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and “A Thousand Clowns,” by Herb Gardner.

5th Avenue Theatre, a magnificent historic attraction, first opened its doors in 1926. In the early days, people eagerly lined up for first-class vaudeville shows, featuring top entertainers. The theatre later transformed itself into a popular movie palace. The “5th” fell on hard times in the late 1970s, but fortunately, was saved from a wrecking ball by a visionary group of businesses and community leaders. Following a spectacular $2.6-million renovation, the theatre re-opened in 1980, more beautiful than ever. At the opening, actress Helen Hayes declared the ornate theater “a national treasure.” Today, 5th Avenue Theatre produces a high-quality program of some 150 musical revivals, premieres of bound-for-Broadway shows, and touring Broadway musicals. The “5th” is the largest theatre employer in the Puget Sound region, annually employing up to 600 actors, musicians, directors, choreographers, designers, technicians, stage hands, box office staff, and administrators. During each performance, 30 to 50 people are working behind the scenes.

Pacific Northwest Ballet, one of the largest and most highly regarded ballet companies in the United States, was founded in 1972. In July 2005, Peter Boal became artistic director, succeeding Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, who served as co-artistic directors since 1977. The company of 51 dancers presents more than 100 performances each year of full-length and mixed repertory ballets at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall and on tour. The Pacific Northwest Ballet has toured to Europe, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada and throughout the United States, with celebrated appearances at Jacob’s Pillow and in New York City and Washington D.C. Under Boal’s direction, the company has continued to expand and diversify its repertory to include works by Ulysses Dove, Susan Marshall, Mark Morris, Victor Quijada, Twyla Tharp, Christopher Wheeldon and others. The Pacific Northwest Ballet will perform its cherished Stowell/Sendak “Nutcracker” Nov. 28–Dec. 30, celebrating its 25th Anniversary and 1,000th performance. The company’s season also includes Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s classical ballet, “ Swan Lake,” April 9-19, 2009. The production is choreographed by Kent Stowell (after Petipa/Ivanov) with staging by Francia Russell.

The Seattle Opera, founded in 1963, is a leading American opera company. It presents the classics of the European repertoire as well as new works of American opera. Seattle Opera performs five operas per year. The company is scheduled to perform Wagner’s “The Ring” in January.

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