Good theater choices and some bad theater news

Schmee tackles Cassandra

Theater Schmeater has picked up the Cassandra family trilogy by playwright Denis Johnson. The Northwest premiere of the first play in the trilogy, "Hellhound on My Trail," opened last week and continues through April 16.

Johnson's plays explore the "dysfunctional and dysphoric inhabitants of the American West" according to Theater Schmeater spokesperson Lauri Watkins, and the current play's characters include "a sexual-misconduct investigator who misconducts herself sexually; a renegade Jehovah's Witness who supports his splinter Jehovian group by dealing drugs; Mark Cassandra, who finds himself waking up in a hotel room with a lot of questionable objects; two Agriculture employees probing the surreality of bureaucracy in a hotel coffee shop full of Germans, and the Cassandra kid, Marigold, currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for sexual misconduct."

As playwright-in-residence at the Campo Santo Theater Company at San Francisco's Intersection for the Arts, Johnson wrote the trilogy "Hellhound on My Trail," "Shoppers Carried by Escalators into the Flames" and "Soul of a Whore."

Theater Schmeater artistic director Rob West is directing the current production, which plays Thursdays through Saturdays at Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave. Tickets may be purchased in advance through Ticket Window at their three locations at the Broadway Market, among other locations.

The next play in the trilogy is scheduled for later this year.

UMO lands on the Hill

UMO Ensemble, Vashon Island's response to Cirque du Soleil, gets to let their hair down in "Rapunzel, A Radical Aerial Re-Telling" by Maria Glanz.

Using tissu acrobatics (a form of aerial work involving long streams of fabric), UMO members Esther Edelman and David Godsey tackle the classic fairy tale with a few extra somersaults thrown in. Guest performer Amy Rider and cellist Josh Neumann supplement the cast. The original music and narration is by John Osebold, of the local art band sensation "Awesome!"

Elizabeth Kolb directed the show, which features dance choreography by Laura Curry and aerial choreography by Edelman.

"Rapunzel, A Radical Aerial Re-Telling" opens April 1 at Velocity Dance Studio Main Stage, 915 E. Pine St. 2nd Floor, and will play through April 24 Fridays through Saturdays. Tickets are $10 to $14 for normal performances. The April 3 and 10 performances will be sold as pay-as-you-can at the door. Advance tickets are available through or by calling 463-2128.

ReAct's props stolen /

The local theater company with the world's worst luck was hit with another theft last week.

Digital projection equipment and other company items were stolen some time last week from ReAct Theatre's dressing room at Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave. The company discovered the theft when they returned to their dressing room on March 17.

ReAct's current production "The Shape of Things" is playing at Hugo House. It is thought that the dressing room was broken into during one of the theater's "dark" days after the weekend performances.

"This is devastating!" said Lorna Chin, a ReAct board member. The total value of the equipment taken was $150,000 according to a statement from ReAct. Because the company rents out their digital equipment to other theaters, the material loss is compounded by the loss of rental income.

It's not the first time ReAct's been hit. In 2003, the company had been robbed during the run of "The Hasty Heart" at the Bathhouse Theatre. That robbery cost the company approximately $3,000 worth of period props and costumes, as well as photographic equipment and concessions supplies. Plus the porcelain piggy bank they used for fundraising in the lobby.

Last December, artistic director David Hsieh talked about why the company had not replaced the pig, even though it was one of their best fundraising tools.

"The item our company secretly misses having the most is our large white porcelain piggy bank," said Hsieh, one of the founders of ReAct. "In the summer of 2003, the one we had used for over a decade was accidentally broken." That pig was replaced but the Greenlake burglars "smashed and looted Pig No. 2. We've not had the heart yet to replace it ourselves with a third."

According to the company, all stolen items from the Hugo House break-in should be easily identifiable, as the thief did not take certain components (plugs and remotes) belonging to the equipment.

To allow the run of "The Shape of Things" to continue, Hugo House has lent their projection equipment to ReAct. The cast also pooled together to replace other lost items so the show can be performed.

ReAct normally donates its production proceeds to other humanitarian and arts charities, and works to provide opportunities for artists of color.

ReAct hopes that somebody will come forward and help them recover the equipment lost from this latest theft. The case is being handled through Seattle Police Department's East Precinct and anyone with any knowledge of the theft should contact the East Precinct about case No. 05-112905.

"The Shape of Things" will continue at Hugo House through March 26, with performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings as well as Saturday afternoons.

Rosemary Jones writes about arts and entertainment for the Capitol Hill Times. She can be reached c/o editor@capitol[[In-content Ad]]