Friday
May 27 2005

Volume 33
Issue 21

IN THE SGN

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Bits & Bytes  
by Milton W. Hamlin - SGN A&E Writer

It’s another great week for Emerald City entertainment fans. Thumper’s celebrates its 20th anniversary, Katharine Hepburn “visits” the Seattle Rep, the Seattle International Film Festival is in full swing, Pacific Northwest Ballet readies Silver Lining for a June 2 opening, ACT offers the final weekend of Bach At Leipzig—what a great time for “Bits & Bytes.”

SIFF HOSTS 24 GLBT FILMS

The Seattle International Film Festival is in full swing with screenings at four theaters. SIFF calls this year the 31st anniversary but the Festival is really only 30 years old—the founders were superstitious and skipped the 13th year, and the Festival continues the charade despite press pleas to correct it. (It would be easy to have called last year the “2004 Festival” and tagged this 2005 season as the “30th Anniversary.” When Bits&Bytes rules the world, such things will be changed….)

SIFF truly believes that “Bigger Is Better” and this year’s line up of more than 230 feature length films proves that philosophy. While Gay and Lesbian film fans have always been important to SIFF, this year’s inclusion of 24 titles with major Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual content will cause much celebration in Seattle’s GLBT community.

(The “24 films” are only those that the Festival officially term “Gay/Lesbian.” Some major films—like the Glenn Close-headlining Heights—hinge on Gay or Lesbian plotlines but distributors shun the GLBT tag to avoid “typing” a film. The Festival’s closing night feature, Last Days, Gus Van Sant’s film “inspired” by the death of Seattle’s Kurt Cobain, certainly will have homoerotic overtones—the award winning openly Gay director is unlikely to overlook the Gay or Bisexual rumors about the tortured Northwest-born rock star.) CLIP & SAVE:

GLBT film fans should be sure to check out:

• A Year Without Love, screening June 9, 11. This North American premiere of an award-winning film from Argentina takes an “audacious” look at an HIV-positive protagonist who cruises the leather bars and S&M scene of Buenos Aires without disclosing his HIV status.

• Cote d’Azur, screening June 11, 12. A French comedy about a lust and marriage and a couple with a Gay son. Some sequences are in song.

• Dreamship Surprise: Period 1, plays June 11, 12. This German box office smash spoofs sci-fi titles like Star Wars and Star Trek. Possible subtitle: Nelly Queens In Space.

• Heights, June 9, 10. Glenn Close is a legendary New York actress/director whose daughter is only weeks away from marrying the perfect man. But, everyone has secrets and graphic nude photos in his past come to the surface. A stunning, haunting film that is one of Bits&Bytes’ favorites of the Festival. Opens in late June for a commercial run.

• Inlaws & Outlaws, May 30, 31. A filmed-in-Seattle documentary looks at unconventional couples—“Gay and straight”—in Seattle and the Northwest.

• The Journey, May 30, June 1. Lesbian love between young girls in rural India. An award winner at the Chicago Film Festival.

• The Last Day, May 29, 31. A North American premiere from France concerns a teenage couple who both find the boy’s male best friend far too attractive. “A dreamlike portrait of a dysfunctional family where everyone has a secret.”

• Mysterious Skin, June 2, 4. Sexual abuse of boys is the topic of Gregg Araki’s latest film. When the two abused men meet as adults, one is a hustler and the other is convinced he was abducted by aliens. An award winner at the Bergen Film Festival.

• Producing Adults, June 7, 9. A comic drama co-production from Finland and Sweden. Lesbian doctor at a fertility clinic helps a woman who wants a child.

• Rice Rhapsody, May 31, June 3. From Hong Kong comes this comedy about a family with two Gay sons and a third one who may be “that way.” The traditional Chinese family asks a “doe-eyed French foreign exchange student” to serve the Chinese version of tea and sympathy.

• That Man: Peter Berlin, June 5, 7. A documentary about “the Garbo” of male porn stars. “A tragicomic glimpse of a true original.”

• Three Dancing Slaves, June 1, 3. This French film explores “what it means to be a man.” The male stars are billed as incredibly beautiful.

• Three Of Hearts, June 1, 3. A documentary about three people—Sam, Steven and Samantha and “three person partnership” in an unconventional relationship.

• Tropical Malady, June 3, 6. Homoerotic overtones of Thai legends contrast with contemporary life in this feature, a co-production from Thailand and France.

• Unconscious, June 3, 6. Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy produced this “cocktail of sexual complexes” set in Barcelona in 1913 on the eve of a visit by Sigmund Freud. CLIP & SAVE THIS TOO:

Several films with special interest for GLBT film fans have all ready screened—Adam & Steve, The Dying Gaul, The Joy of Life, Ronda Nocturna, Saving Face and Summer Storm. Be sure to grab a SIFF Official Program Guide and clip and save the titles. While some, like the outstanding The Dying Gaul, are all ready booked for a commercial release, others will go direct to video/DVD or disappear completely. GAY/LESBIAN SHORTS

Several of the films on the SIFF GLBT list seem to be short films and do not appear in the Program Guide. Look for Feltch Sanders, Last Full Show and Ping Pong Love as “screened with” titles. Listen for word-of-mouth reviews and last minute

postings. Last year, SIFF produced the special interest flyer for Gay and Lesbian Films half-way through the Festival. Look for it next week, if not sooner, at all SIFF locations. And, of course, watch Bits&Bytes for more details.

BACH AT ACT

ACT Theatre bills its production of Bach At Leipzig as “A Crafty Comedy of Baroque Proportions.” The pun-filled production, which closes Sunday, showcases Seattle’s finest male actors—Laurence Ballard, David Pichette, John Procaccino, R. Hamilton Wright and several others in this gaudy salute to musical intrigue in 1722.

The show has clearly divided the critical community—and most of ACT’s subscribers. Some love it, some hate it. One thing is clear. Amadeus it is not. Ticket details at (206) 292-7676.

THUMPER’S CELEBRATES 20TH

Thumper’s celebrates its 20 anniversary—as Seattle’s premiere Gay and Gay owned restaurant, cabaret and bar—with special events all weekend. A special cabaret revue, 1985 bar prices, special events and a fun weekend of, well, general gaiety, marks the very special event. Check with Thumper’s at (206) 328-3800 for full details.

CHORUS PREFERS BLONDES

The Seattle Men’s Chorus and the 5th Avenue Musical Theatre joined forces earlier this month for a historic production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the fabled Broadway show that launched the five-decade career of Carol Channing. The 1953 film version, featuring iconic performances from Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, rewrote the labored book of the stage hit but kept the show’s best hits—“Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” “Just A Little Girl From Little Rock,” “Bye, Bye Baby.”

The landmark collaboration offered Blondes as a staged concert, a format used by New York’s wildly successful Encores! series and San Francisco’s beloved 42nd Moon Theatre. Inexplicably, the two groups decided not to invite the press for theatrical reviews—a strange decision considering that this was the launch of a new format with future productions a strong possibility.

For The Record: As a first outing, Blondes was a huge success with much of the loyal Seattle Men’s Chorus subscribers. Broadway’s Faith Prince, a Tony Award winner for her Miss Adelaide in Guys And Dolls (a roll she first played at the Seattle Rep in an earlier production) was a solid Lorelei Lee but clearly need more rehearsal time to make Lorelei’s dumb-blonde routines truly memorable.

Lucy Lawless, star of television’s Xena: Warrior Princess, was a total delight as Dorothy, Lorelei’s sensible sidekick. In a Seattle Times review of Friday’s opening night, Lawless’ vocals were called “strained.” Bits&Bytes caught the show at the Sunday evening closing performance, and Lawless was in great voice and turned in a first class performance. She may have gained strength as the weekend run progressed—or Lawless may have just let loose for the final performance. (The Seattle Times attended because the Times—to reflect “journalistic integrity”—pays full dollar for all of its stage, film, symphony, ballet, sports and travel-related tickets. No other paper in town sees the long-standing traditional of press comps as a questionable practice or a source of a potential conflict of interest.)

While there were many flaws in the production, all in all Blondes was a very successful first staging in a potential series. Hopefully, the next event will give the chorus more to do. And while future Seattle Men’s Chorus collaborations would be great fun, the 5th Avenue shouldn’t overlook other teamings—Song of Norway with the Norwegian Men’s Chorus could pack the house with Ballard-based musical theater fans.

GREASE—STILL THE WORD

Grease, the little off-Broadway musical that turned into a big Broadway hit, made another welcome Seattle visit mid-month as a special event in the Broadway in Seattle At The Paramount series. Frankie Avalon, a1950’s pop music icon, headlined the touring company as Teen Angel, the cameo role he played in the John Travolta/Olivia Newton John film version.

The producers of the non-Equity tour filled the cast with strong young performers. No one had the marquee status of Avalon—Derek Keeling and Tiana Checchia, the leads were both “just right” for their roles of Sandy and Danny—but not one person in the cheering audience seemed to mind. As an added bonus, Avalon gathered the cast on stage after the well-deserved standing ovation, and gave the cheering crowd a four song “encore” bonus of his Top 10 hits, including his best selling “Venus.” Time faded quickly for members of the audience “of a certain age” as memories of yesteryear took over.

Next on the Broadway In Seattle At The Paramount series is the May 31-June 5 visit of Big River, the Tony Award-winning Best Musical that is an adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. The charming, if slight, musical was an unexpected Tony winner, and a national touring company visited Seattle and played the 5th Avenue Theatre many years ago.

The current touring production is the award-winning new staging from the Deaf West Theatre Production Company. A combination of sign language and full vocalization—with the complete score beautifully performed in ASL signing and in traditional musical staging—this Big River is a remarkable, truly moving production. Bits&Bytes saw the production in San Francisco last year, and it remains an all-time musical favorite. The addition of ASL and the double casting of major roles with deaf and traditional actors elevates the classic tale and makes this Big River a “don’t miss” evening.

Tickets are available at 292-ARTS but remember that purchases at the Paramount Theatre box office have no added service fees. Bits&Bytes says check it out.

SUNNY HEADS TO CREPE

Cabaret At The Crepe, one of Seattle’s few cabaret venues, just closed a charming revue, The Ladies With A Song—A Tribute To Those Fabulous Female Vocalists of the ‘40s & ‘50s. Vocalist Laurie Clothier and musical arranger/pianist David Duvall returned to the Crepe de Paris restaurant with a four-weekend spring run. The wonderfully entertaining show drew appreciative audiences, but the show never reached its attendance potential.

While the show is officially over, Clothier and Duvall are willing to revive it for a special audience or a corporate entertainment evening. “Just ask us!” they both chimed in. Well, as the classic song lyric said, “The Song Is Ended, But The Melody Lingers On.” And so it is with The Ladies With A Song.

Clothier, a regular at Crepe de Paris and in chorus roles at the 5th Avenue Musical Theatre across the street, saluted Rosemary Clooney (“better known to all of you as George Clooney’s aunt,” she quipped to the younger members of the audience), Judy Garland (the idealistic youngster and the torch-singing legend), Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Betty Hutton, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Peggy Lee, Doris Day, Eartha Kitt and other legends of their eras. Even Bea Lillie’s “There Are Fairies At The Bottom Of My Garden”—the song that made the young comedian a star with the Gay crowd of the 1920s—made the greatest hit list.

Next on Crepe de Paris’ cabaret schedule is Sunny Sings Sinatra featuring the single-named Sunny who brought her Sunny & Her Seven Blondes to the Crepe several seasons back before taking the show to Reno and other entertainment venues. Sunny is married to producer Greg Thompson who is internationally known for his Las Vegas, Reno and cruise ship revues. All of his shows are created, designed and built in Seattle.

Sunny & Her Seven Blondes was the most elaborate cabaret show Seattle has ever seen. Sunny Sings Sinatra, opening July 1 for a summer run, should be another winner. Call Crepe de Paris at 623-4111 and ask to be added to the Cabaret At The Crepe mailing list. Watch Bits&Bytes for full details.

TEA WITH HEPBURN

Tea At Five, the award winning off-Broadway one-woman show about Katharine Hepburn, continues at the Seattle Rep with performances through Sunday, May 29. Kate Mulgrew, a Rep veteran and a television “legend” recreates her prize-winning performance as Hepburn in two eras of her life—early and late.

The play by Matthew Lombardo captures Hepburn, the Hollywood icon and later Broadway star, in the late 1930s when she was considered box office poison and again in the 1970s when she had become an aging legend. The national tour was scheduled last fall but was postponed until this spring.

Ticket information on Tea At Five at (206) 443-2222. At SGN deadline time, good seats remained for the final performances. Give the box office a quick call—and, yes, tell ‘em Bits&Bytes sent ya.


ENTRE LATIN@S
Hugo Overjero
Spanish & English


NOTE** finding non clickable links? Sorry these columns are not featured in this weeks edition