Artfully Edmonds: ‘Enchanted April’ and garden shows herald a lovely spring

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Character actress Cindy Giese French breaks the applause-o-meter during opening night of Driftwood Players’ production “Enchanted April,” which plays through March 5

The Driftwood Players production, Enchanted April by Matthew Barber (now playing at Wade James Theatre), has enjoyed many adaptations since first being published as a novel by Elizabeth von Arnim.

The storyline centers on four women – mismatched strangers – who escape their London lives hoping for a “geographic cure” to what ails each of them. After finding each other through placement of an ad, the foursome leave behind dreary post WWI London and their equally bleak lives for the carefree, sunny slopes of the Italian Riviera, where they mull over their respective situations at an exquisite Italian castle owned by a natty bachelor and managed by a domineering kitchen diva.

It took Barber’s adaptation of Enchanted April three years to make its way from the Hartford Stage Company to Broadway. In 2003, Barber’s Enchanted April was a Tony Award nominee in the category “Best Play”; awarded “Best Play” by the Drama League; and won the John Gassner Award for “Outstanding New American Play.”

The original story wound its way more circuitously toward success: From von Arnim’s 1922 novel into a 1925 stage adaptation, to a 1935 film, followed by a 1992 movie starring Joan Plowright and Miranda Richardson. The 1992 Hollywood update (and Barber’s 2000 revision) seems to be gaining favor with audiences if IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes scoring is any indication.

Writing the 1922 novel while in the throes of an incompatible marriage, von Arnim made the most of her eight main characters – from the tragic and distant Lady Caroline Bramble to the colorful, memorably eccentric Mrs. Graves.

All roads lead to the Wade James Theatre, 950 Main St.

Ultimately, Enchanted April made its way to the Wade James Theatre, and has flourished under the direction of director Paul Fouhy, who also makes the most of the storyline in flawless casting for The Players’ production.

In choosing Alissa Cattabriga as Lady Caroline, Fouhy made the most of Cattabriga’s theatrical talents gained from her roles with the Tacoma Little Theatre, 14/48 Projects, Theatre Machine, and her studies with Freehold Theatre in Seattle. As Lady Caroline, Cattabriga gracefully glides across the stage in Parisian-inspired haute couture, making suffering in condescending silence downright gorgeous. Cattabriga is aloof and chilly, but all the same downright witty in her cruelty. These are hardly charming attributes; but all understandable as the audience comes to understand that she is a victim of deep heartbreak and a series of ill-fated choices in love.

In handing Beaven Walters her Driftwood debut for the part of Rose Arnott, Barber introduces Edmonds’ audiences to a skilled actress who has played many roles in the Northwest, including parts with Kitsap Forest Theatre, Seattle Musical Theatre and much more. Walters says in her program tribute that she is “delighted to bring this play to life.” And indeed she did just that as she developed her character from the stand-offish wife of an English barrister to a warm and sociable companion to “Lotty Wilton,” played by Molly Hall.

Hall is thoroughly delightful to watch on stage. Charged with the opening lines and setting the bleak series of situations that demand escape, Hall brings her character to life. Lotty is obtuse, yet effusive – in the most charming manner. She wouldn’t recognize an insult if it had her name engraved on it. You’ll love her for her insistence and cheery manipulations. Molly Hall is the magic of the production.

Laura Couch
If there’s a castle to keep – you’ll want a character like “Costanza” in the mix. She’s bossy and insubordinate, a character who knowingly nods to the audience ala Greek Chorus, which only encourages the guffaws at the expense of the plight of the other characters. Much to the delight of Edmonds-area theatre patrons, Fouhy chose to bring Laura Crouch back to the Wade James boards for this role after her success in Steel Magnolias a few seasons ago.

“Enchanted April” by Matthew Barber; directed by Paul Fouhy, plays at the Wade James Theatre through Sunday, March 5.

The My Edmonds News “Tony” goes to Cindy Giese French as Mrs. Graves

In casting female roles, one cannot do better than Cindy Giese French, who won the “Tony” nod from My Edmonds News for her role as Berthe in Boeing, Boeing. She was also awarded the prestigious “Broadway World Award” for that same role. Giese French is absolute the best when it comes to character actresses.

Giese French broke the applause-o-meter for her portrayal of Mrs. Graves, the Victorian-styled disciplinarian and literary grand dame whose ill-tempered manner clashes with disastrously amusing results as she misses the mark with each of her female counterparts. If the script calls for acerbic + hilarious, Cindy Giese French can definitely make it happen. We cannot get enough of this talented actress; so Artfully Edmonds will be following Cindy to the Seattle Fringe Fest 2017 to see her in What Would Our Mothers Think?

Jonathan Fowles plays real estate mogul and castle owner, Anthony Wilding. Fowles’ acting credits include the roles of Sebastian in Little Mermaid; Marley in A Christmas Carol, and Chad in All Shook Up, among others. Watch for Fowles in upcoming theatre productions, he deserves more time in the limelight and does admirably well.

Jason Gingold ably plays the weak-character cad of the story, and Lotty’s meandering husband, Mellersh Wilton. We don’t mean that as a slight, or to be insulting. It’s not easy playing the bad guy in as strong a female troupe as this one. Congratulations on a brilliant portrayal of a man who comes to his senses, Jason.

Rounding out a well-rehearsed professional level cast is Nicholas Horiatis, playing Frederick Arnott, opposite Beaven Walters (character Rose Arnott). What a stuffed shirt – every woman’s nightmare for husband material. Or is he? Horiatis gives us the clue as to which it is in his off-stage life with his tribute statement in the evening’s program, “A thousand thanks to (my) family for their unlimited support. (And) thanks, babe, for an enchanted life.” Awwww. . . we really like this guy! Come back to Wade James Theatre soon, Nicholas – very nice job.

In attendance for opening night, arts activist Marni Muir (accompanied by her husband Phill Butler) said of the casting, “Each of the characters on stage are absolutely identical” to the most recent film version; giving her compliments to the director.

Set Design alone warrants return viewings of Enchanted April

The Riviera, sunny landscapes and wisteria climbing its way up sun-kissed castle walls: What images do these descriptors bring to mind? Director Matthew Barber and scenic designer Brian Lechner took our breath away as Act Two transitioned from dreary coal-grey London, making way for a breathtaking setting on the rocky, romantic Mediterranean coastline of northern Italy.

With its Tuscan yellow castle walls, and brilliant pink wisteria clinging to window boxes and trellises; the stark white winding staircase that led up to the guest rooms – the set for Act Two was breathtaking. Congratulations to Lechner.

Rick Wright’s technical team was the creative force that put that vision in place. Over a three-week period, working with volunteers on an “as-available” schedule, Wright pulled pre-built modular pieces out of storage and fit them together as the clock ticked toward curtain time. Slowed down by four full days when the theatre was dark due to electrical problems, the adage “The show must go on!” was surely on his mind. After adding window boxes, painting the castle walls, “planting” the wisteria and other European garden touches, and placing furniture on the piazza – Ta! Da! One of the most successful scene designs we’ve seen is complete. If you only attend Enchanted April to see the set (which is an absurd notion) it’s well worth the price of admission – twice over!

Dinner and A Show

To entertain those thoughts of Italy, Driftwood Players have paired with Girardi’s Osteria for a resplendent dinner-before-the-play or post-matinee-meal on Sundays. Begin (or complete) your own moment on the Mediterranean by taking advantage of Girardi’s Osteria invitation when purchasing your tickets to see Enchanted April.

A Smash Hit!

Tickets for dinner and to see this local smash hit are available online at the Driftwood Players link, or by calling the theatre at 425.774.9600.

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“Thursday Trivia” at A Very Taki Tiki Bar & Grill –>skips<– every 4th Thursday. We will see everyone on Thursday, March 2nd at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 23

Artfully Edmonds would never bother to tell you what is not happening on any given date – until now!

Trivia Thursday fans that warm the Taki Tiki bar stools every Thursday should note that we take a little deserved rest the 4th Thursday of every month, regardless of how many Thursdays there are in any given month.

So! There will be no Thursday Trivia for Thursday, February 23

Let’s convene again and wind up the fun on Thursday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m.

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Perennially funny, The Phoenix Theatre continues its run of “The Last Romance”, starring Michael Gene McFadden, Melanie Calderwood and Susan Connors through Sunday, March 5.

Friday, Feb. 24
8 p.m.

Sell Out Alert!

The Last Romance

The Phoenix Theatre
9673 Firdale Ave.

Sell Out Crowds!

Theatre enthusiasts from miles around are driving in to see Michael McFadden’s reprisal of Raphael “Ralph” Bellini and his tumble into romance with Carol Reynolds (played brilliantly by Melanie Calderwood).

Susan Connors completes the (human) cast of The Last Romance by Joe DiPietro and directed by theatre veteran Eric Lewis. Add to the credits “Miss Sadie” (playing Peaches) who has shown great patience with her human’s stage antics.

The Last Romance is receiving 5-star reviews from Edmonds-area critics, including My Edmonds News.

Please don’t wait until performance night to grab your tickets to The Last Romance. The ticket link to this opening week sell out is right here.

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Edmonds, Lynnwood, and Mountlake Terrace are represented at the NW Flower & Garden Show by 14 exhibitors and one garden design business.

This weekend!

Through Sunday, Feb. 26

NW Flower and Garden Show
Seattle’s King County Convention and Visitors Center

Getting to the show link

With civic programs and community clubs such as Edmonds in Bloom annual Garden Tour and our 2015 Citizen(s) of the year Floretum Garden Club members, the ‘adopt-able’ hanging baskets and curb gardens throughout the city, it’s no wonder that Edmonds would enjoy high profile status at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.

My Edmonds News (represented by Artfully Edmonds) was invited on the preview media tour this week and we have the pleasure of bringing to our readers some highlights of what’s to see this weekend for those heading to the NW Flower and Garden Show:

The theme this year is “Taste of Spring” and the colorful, creative varieties of blossoms and blooms set the stage at each of the 21 grand gardens that we previewed.

The most impressive repeated theme was the number of outdoor fireplaces and full kitchens included in the landscapes. With “Naples-style” pizza gardens; “Lettuce Leaf” gardens,

As luck would have it for this celebrity hound, Ciscoe Morris of KING 5’s “Gardening with Ciscoe” was along for the tour and we couldn’t wait to have our “selfie-with-Ciscoe” moment.

Edmonds was also represented by Dakara Landscape Design, one of the garden creators of “A Victory Garden” which contains historic elements from the Elizabethan period through WWII. Congratulations go out to Natasha Roberts, designer of this breathtaking landscape.

The Edmonds ~ Lynnwood ~ Mountlake Terrace exhibitors (in alphabetical order) with their booth number include:

Mountlake Terrace

Ever Changing Nest (21 VGM)

Edmonds

Bob Rice glass (207)

Ever Bloomin’ Glass Flowers ((1106)

Forest Life Creations ((2163)

Metal Wings Studio (1109)

NW Natural Lighting (720)

Script Sculptures (216)

Usborne Books (2160)

Lynnwood

EdCC Horticulture Department (2510)

Me & Moms Hats (1006)

Monika’s Designs (2157)

Northwest Patio Design (2551)

Postcards by Susan Greenwood (121)

Potteryland (2358)

Need a bargain, or can’t stay long?  

One of the best-kept secrets of the show is the Half Day Ticket. This ticket can be purchased after 3 p.m. (Wednesday-Saturday) and after 2 p.m. (Sunday) for entrance into the show for only $10. You can still see the entire show, just at half the price.

Note: The Half Day Ticket is only available for purchase in person at the ticket window, and can’t be purchase online or at a local retail outlet.

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Here’s what the 2017 garden show has to offer:

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Coming Up in Edmonds

Saturday, Feb. 25
10 a.m.

Call for Volunteers!

Cascadia Art Museum
190 Sunset Ave.

Cascadia Art Museum will be hosting its first volunteer open house on Saturday, Feb. 25. Learn from veteran volunteers opportunities that include; Admission Desk and Museum Store, Gallery Attendant, Docent, Special Events and Education Outreach, then tour the galleries with a veteran Docent. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to get involved with local art history.

Dedicated to the legacy of the Northwest, the museum features paintings, prints, photography and sculpture created exclusively by artists active in the Northwest during the mid-19th through the mid-20th centuries.

For more details about the open house, visit the museum’s official website.

Cascadia Art Museum is located in Edmonds’ at 190 Sunset Avenue #E and is open year-round between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

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We Banjo 3. This Saturday treat your family to a wild Irish music morning matinee at Edmonds Center for the Arts (410 4th Ave. N.) Photo courtesy of IMRO.ie.com

Saturday, Feb. 25
11 a.m. Matinee

Family!

We Banjo 3

Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 4th Ave. N.

Lively! Fun!

We Banjo 3 is coming to Edmonds for a family matinee this Saturday to warm up the crowd for the sold out Irish Rovers show. This wild set of Irish musicians includes two pairs of siblings comprising a 7-time “All-Ireland” fiddle champ, an “All-Ireland” champion of both fiddle and bodhran, plus a passionate lead vocalist.

Let’s give an Edmonds-Kind-Of Welcome to members of “We Banjo 3” members Enda Scahill (tenor banjo, vocals) and Fergal Scahill (fiddle, viola, dobro, percussion, guitar, mandolin, vocals); and brothers Martin Howley (tenor banjo, mandolin, vocals) and David Howley (lead vocals, guitar).

It’s time to get out of the house for some gold-standard traditional Irish and American roots music.

Click! click! your way to general admission tickets and treat your kids to a family fun this Saturday morning.

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DeMiero Jazz Fest — the only one of its kind in the nation — returns for an Edmonds-Kind-Of Welcome the first weekend in March.

 

Friday – Saturday
March 3 – 4

DeMiero Jazz Festival 2017

Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA) with

Day performance locations throughout Edmonds

The DeMiero Jazz Festival, coming to Edmonds next week, is the largest non- competitive jazz choir festival in the country.

Attend the evening concerts

The festival features over 60 music groups from Canada, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Each participating group will sing, participate in star-performer led clinics and workshops, and the full festival will show off its glitter and glam to the community during two evening concerts held at the ECA.

This year’s evening concerts includes True North, a jazz quartet from California; Josh Nelson and the DeMiero Jazz Festival Band; Grammy-winner John Proulx, considered to be on of the finest pianist/vocalist in the country; and much-anticipated Dee Daniels, the festival’s artistic director.

Up your game to VIP status

The VIP option guarantees ‘Party Central’ for jazz musicians and jazz choir enthusiasts. You’ve heard the whispers, “VIP”? It’s true! Do the click! click! to Evening Tickets and select the VIP package – because you’re worth it!

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Gallery North presents its “Small Works Show 2017” beginning on March 1st.

Wednesday, March 1

Exhibit Opens!

Small Works

Gallery North (401 Main St.) announces the opening of its annual invitational show of small-sized artwork.

This highly anticipated exhibit provides an excellent opportunity to see and obtain the artwork of a wide array of artists in a single location.

This year, 75 artists from 11 different states were accepted into the show. Over 200 small paintings, drawings, and mixed media pieces are included.

Professional artist and muralist Andy Eccleshall is this year’s Small Works awards juror.

Awards Ceremony

Artists’ Reception and Awards Ceremony Sunday, March 5, at 1 p.m. Awards will be announced at 2 p.m.

— By Emily Hill

Emily Hill is the author of two novels and a short story collection. Emily is retired from a career in public information and news media relations. If you would like your event listed, or featured, in Artfully Edmonds, Emily invites you to contact her at myedmondsnews@gmail.com.

 

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