Artfully Edmonds: ‘The Players’ announce festival winners as a busy week begins

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Actor Cynthia King (foreground) plays “Bush,” a woman who has given her daughter up for adoption; behind her is daughter “Melissa,” played by Lillian Afful-Straton. Their paths cross is an unusual synchronistic moment in Cayenne Douglass’ “The Spare Change of Strange Angels”. The production won “Audience Favorite” in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th performances of the “8th Annual Festival of Shorts”. All on-stage photos were taken by Dale Sutton of Edmonds’ Magic Photography.

This past weekend nearly 600 audience members (593 to be exact!) voted in Edmonds Driftwood Players (The Players) 8th Annual Festival of Shorts, co-produced by Diane Jamieson and Joanne Branch.

Artfully Edmonds had the privilege of participating this year as a festival adjudicator, along with Scott Randall (Red Curtain Foundation for the Arts) and Elena Hartwell (author of the Eddie Shoes Mystery series).

The festival was fun and fast-paced, and its organizational challenges – formidable. Imagine! Eight plays, eight directors, eight sets of casts, each play is set to 15 minutes on stage. Quick set change and then on to the next one-act play.

Growing from 89 entries the festival’s inaugural year, organizers received 419 entries this year. This trend is expected to continue, prompting Jamieson — in her opening remarks at Sunday’s matinee — to call for volunteer readers for next year’s festival. Arrangements for the 9th Annual Festival of Shorts will begin in January.

The entries for this year’s festival came from playwrights across three continents, six countries and 40 states.

In reflecting on the success of the Festival of Shorts, Jamieson told My Edmonds News, “The response from audiences this year was so positive. I had many patrons actually thank me for putting on this festival. [Quite a few] patrons said this was their first Shorts and [that they] would definitely be back next year. Many returning patrons commented that this one was the best!”

According to Jamieson, the festival provides many opportunities for one to get involved in theater:  This year’s festival included two producers, two stage managers, and eight directors. The directors cast 17 actors and the need for a running crew of six members.

“Plus the reception at the end of the festival provided a chance for the actors and patrons to mingle and share ideas about their favorite plays. Shorts really gets people talking and thinking, and after all, that is the mission of TIPs,” she added. (TIPS is an acronym for Theatre of Intriguing Possibilities. TIPs productions are smaller works that are original, more challenging, or edgy.)

Although Jamieson observed that in past years the winners of the “Audience Favorite” has been unanimous across all performances; this year the play, Did You Find Everything Okay? by Nicole L. V. Mullis and directed by Andrew Ryder, resonated with the Friday night audience, before Spare Change of Strange Angels by Cayenne Douglass, directed by Brian Toews, won over Saturday and Sunday audiences.

Asked how she felt about the success of the festival, she responded, “I am just doing what I love.”

Gallery photos by Dale Sutton of Magic Photography, Edmonds.

Synopses of Audience Favorites:

Did You Find Everything Okay? confirms all notions that consumer loyalty cards are the work of the devil. In playwright Mullis’ one-act, unassuming “Mark” (Scott Mullet) realizes at the check-out stand that he has left his “loyalty card” at home and must pay full price for – of all things – toilet paper. Merciless, the “Cashier,” played so well by Sydney Kaser, puts the blocks on any idea that Mark might find compassion and/or empathy in the realm of toilet paper procurement.

As Mark searches frantically through his wallet for his loyalty card, the situation unravels, as things will – and security is called. While “taking a stand” on the check-out counter, Mark is pulled down and hauled away, defiant as he sings civil rights songs. The “Cashier” skips off stage blithely unaware of the havoc her strict adherence to the rules have caused, obviously proud of the power she possesses.

Synchronicity is the theme of The Spare Change of Strange Angels. Two women, of sequential generations, encounter each other on a park bench. The meeting is, in no way, likely. Yet, the women happen upon two sides of the same coin in a poignant scene as the older woman recounts her despair and anguish over losing a daughter to a state-mandated adoption. In refrain, the younger woman recounts being adopted, and admits the older woman’s revelation allows her to empathize with what her birth-mother must have endured emotionally in the moments before giving her child up.

They both come to the realization of the obvious, but it is simply too hard for each to bear as a telling birthmark is revealed and “the discovery” is made. Sorrowfully, denial takes center stage as the gravity of synchronicity hits its mark and the lights dim.

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Judge’s Selections

With heaps of credit to each of the eight selected playwrights, Scott, Elena and I chose these three one-acts for award in the category, “Judge’s Selections”:

First Place: Good Ol’ Mom and Dad by Eric Bischoff, Seattle, in which a suicidal woman digs up her parents and surprisingly comes to terms with who she truly is.

Second Place: Comfort Zones by Mark Rigney, Evansville, IN, a play that challenges the choices of a man who must pit his desire for a pick-up truck against ethical standards posed by an AI cyborg.

Third Place: Spare Change of Strange Angels by Cayenne Douglass, New York, NY unfolds an accidental encounter of two women from different generations, and opposite walks of life who come to realize they share a common thread.

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Actor Kiela Mellott, who managed two roles in Driftwood Players’ “8th Annual Festival of Shorts” has won the My Edmonds News “Tony” for her performance in Philip W. Hall’s “The Nurse” — a Shakespearean one-act rendition of Romeo and Juliet, in which The Nurse is thrown over by Romeo and her reaction to the rebuff. Photo courtesy of Ms. Mellott.

The Tony

Although the three festival judges were advised that their selections were to be based on each play’s structure, with consideration as to how each playwright handled the introduction, arc, reveal and conclusion — as well as adherence to the festival theme (Unintended Consequences)  — it was very difficult to not be swayed by the incredible professional-quality abilities of each actor.

With superb acting, impeccable timing and perfect diction the eight plays literally came to life thanks to the casts. And we mean “Life,” with all of its frustrations, joys, sorrows, triumphs and stunning revelations.

The festival included one Shakespeare “short” based on The Bard’s work – The Nurse. Philip W. Hall, whose work, Life On the Mississippi recently premiered on Broadway, wrote the play.

Not until seeing The Nurse has Artfully Edmonds seen Shakespeare performed so outrageously. Indeed. “Outrageously!”

Joe Goins directed Hall’s play quite admirably. Oh! to have been at the rehearsals for this one.

Admittedly, it was hilarious to observe Sydney Kaser play The Cashier in Did You Find Everything Okay? Her brilliant portrayal of a Miss Sunshine earned countless guffaws – from her gaily skipped entrance onto the boards, to her eccentric trounce off stage.

And notably, Cynthia King’s heart-wrenching monologue as “Bush” in The Spare Change of Strange Angels spoke volumes to the audience on the sorrows of the human spirit, as hankies were pulled out and tear-streaked faces were dabbed and Lillian Afful-Straton (playing the adopted daughter) leaves the stage both dejected and confused. Both performances were powerful.

Nonetheless, Kiela Mellott’s performance as “Angelica”/The Nurse in Hall’s work, earned its mark as the over-the-top performance. According to Wikipedia: “The Nurse” is a major character in William Shakespeare’s classic drama Romeo and Juliet. She is the personal servant, guardian (and former wet nurse) of Juliet, and has been since Juliet was born. She is therefore Juliet’s foremost confidante.”

In Hall’s adaptation, “Angelica”/The Nurse is betrayed in love by Count Paris (the man betrothed to Juliet) and is somehow thrown breathlessly through time and the fabric of space into the office of a present day psychiatrist, “Doctor” (David Alan Morrison).

“Katy bar the door!” The Sunday matinee audience watched incredulously as Mellott handled the torchy role of “Angelica”. One could hear patrons across the expanse of the theatre react in panting awe and embarrassment; gasping after every burst of laughter, their hands over their mouths as Mellott delivered, in shaded Shakespearean verse, the hottest bodice ripper dialogue ever performed at the Wade James Theatre.

We will never, ever think of Romeo and Juliet as a “proper” love story again, thanks to Mellott’s handling of Hall’s script.

Mellott’s performance put Meg Ryan’s restaurant scene in When Harry Met Sally in the back seat. She more than flounced onto the stage, she more than gasped breathlessly, she more than struck the air with her leggy-ness from the confines of the psychiatrist’s couch – not to mention the toss and tussle of her wild red mane.

The My Edmonds News “Tony” for top festival performance goes to Kiela Mellott for pouring the hot sauce on Shakespeare! English professors and drama teachers – take note! And. . .Philip W. Hall, you are brilliant!

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If one thinks that The Players are resting on their laurels now that the stage has been struck – au contraire! Three Driftwood Players productions are waiting in the wings, including:

Friday, Saturday, Sunday
July 21 and 22 at 8 p.m.
July 22 and 23 at 2 p.m.

Teen Troupe

Honk!

Directed by Dorothy Pierce, with music by Jordyn Meeker

Honk! Is about “Ugly,” who looks quite a bit different from his darling duckling brothers and sisters.

The other animals on the farm are quick to notice and point this out, despite his mother’s protective flapping. Feeling rather foul about himself, the little fowl finds himself on an adventure of self-discovery, all the while unknowingly outwitting a very hungry Cat.

Along the way, Ugly meets a whole flock of unique characters and finds out that being different is not a bad thing to be.

This delightful and award-winning adaptation of one of the world’s most beloved fables is a heartwarming celebration of what makes us special.

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Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Aug. 4 and 5 at 8 p.m.
Aug. 5 and 6 at 2 p.m.

Teen Troupe

Big Fish

Directed by Ruben Van Kempen with music direction by Mark Press

Playbill:

Based on the celebrated novel by Daniel Wallace and the acclaimed film directed by Tim Burton, Big Fish centers on Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman who lives life to its fullest… and then some!

Edward’s incredible, larger-than-life stories thrill everyone around him – most of all, his devoted wife Sandra. But their son Will, about to have a child of his own, is determined to find the truth behind his father’s epic tales.

Overflowing with heart, humor and spectacular stagecraft, Big Fish is an extraordinary new Broadway musical that reminds us why we love going to the theatre – for an experience that’s richer, funnier and bigger than life itself.

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Saturday, Aug. 12
3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Missoula Children’s Theatre

Gulliver’s Travels

Playbill:

Missoula Children’s Theatre and more than 50 local students present an out-of-this-world original sci-fi musical adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels.

With his spaceship wrecked and his trusty computer on the fritz, brave explorer Gulliver finds himself lost in space. While transporting from world to world, Gulliver discovers fighting aliens, foolish Yahoos, robots and more – all who need just as much help from Gulliver as Gulliver needs from them!

Here’s your family’s click-through to The Players box office in convenient calendar format.

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Wednesday, July 12
7 p.m.

Free!

Shakespeare’s Pericles

Lynndale Park
18827 72nd Ave. W.

Shakespeare’s Prince Pericles romances maidens, gets chased from port to port, finds his true love, and then loses her and his infant daughter in the storm-tossed sea. With only the stars and his heart as a guide, Pericles charts one man’s epic lifetime voyage to reunite with the family he thought he had lost forever.

This would be a lively, hold-your-attention play to introduce the young people to Shakespeare’s work.

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A note regarding the Lynndale Park Amphitheater: You are advised to bring blankets and cushions for seating. Seating area for camping chairs is very limited (about 25 max).

The amphitheater has main seating consisting of wood benches on concrete platforms. The Amphitheater was renovated to include environmental improvements, ADA accessibility, a paved path to the seating area and the addition of bleacher seating.

Parking is available at Lynndale Elementary for park concerts and public performances.

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Friday, July 21
8 p.m.

For Better

The Phoenix Theatre
9673 Firdale Ave.

Do any long-distance romances stand a chance for getting to the altar? Karen and Max are about to test their optimism – Come find out how it goes!

Warning Notice: You will be asked to disengage from your long-distance love by turning off that cell phone, and unplugging that iPad before the show begins!

Tickets to see For Better are available at this link.

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East-West International Project.

Edmonds’ Concerts in The Park
The week of July 16 – 20

East-West International Project

City Park, 3rd Avenue South and Pine Street

Sunday, July 16 at 3 p.m.

Founded by artistic director and accordion virtuoso Sergei Teleshev, the East-West International Project brings together musicians of different musical backgrounds and traditions for a unique sound.

Featuring Sergei Teleshev on accordion, Sean Peterson on bass and vocalists Galina Kaluzhina and Viktoriya Hewitt.

For more information about this group, go to East-West International Project Facebook Page.

– – –

Leapin’ Louie Cowboy Comedy Show

Hazel Miller Plaza Concerts, 5th Avenue South and Maple Street

Tuesday, July 18 at Noon

David Lichtenstein’s Leapin’ Louie is a western comedy show featuring lots of physical comedy, trick roping, fancy whip cracking, juggling, unicycling and new vaudeville/alternative circus performance.

For more information about this comedy class act, go to www.comedytricks.com/wp/

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Mark Lewis Jazz Quartet

Hazel Miller Plaza Concerts, 5th Ave South and Maple Street

Thursday, July 20 at 5 p.m.

Gig Harbor native Mark Lewis is a well-traveled alto saxophonist and flutist who has created a large body of jazz music over the past four decades. He’s been a part of jazz scenes from Seattle and San Francisco to Rotterdam and Paris. His new album, “The New York Session,” features piano legend George Cables, veteran bassist Essiet Essiet, and drummer Victor Lewis. For more information about Mark and his collaborations, go to marklewismusic.com/

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Edmonds Arts Commission’s summer of free concerts in the park are scheduled for Sunday and Tuesday afternoons, and Thursday evenings.  The series offers something for all ages and musical tastes, from traditional folk music to pop and jazz, Shakespeare, and some clowning around for the kids.

The 2017 Summer Concerts sponsors are Lynnwood Honda, Acura of Lynnwood and The Hazel Miller Foundation.

A complete calendar can be found at www.edmondswa.gov/summer-concerts.html  For information about the Edmonds Arts Commission, visit www.edmondsartscommission.org.

~ ~ ~ ~

Wednesday, July 19
7 p.m.

Crème Tangerine

Cromwell Park
18030 Meridian Ave. N., Shoreline

Crème Tangerine: Beatles Tribute Band, which performs on Argosy Cruises’ annual “Breakfast with the Beatles” event will perform in nearby Shoreline on July 19 as part of the City of Shoreline’s Swingin’ Summer Eve community festival.

~ ~ ~ ~

Write On the Sound (WOTS) announces that on July 20 online registration for this years’ writer’s conference will open.

Thursday, July 20
9:30 a.m.

Online Registration Opens!

Sell Out Alert!

Write On The Sound (WOTS)

To be held: Oct. 6, 7, and 8

Write on the Sound is a program of the City of Edmonds Arts Commission. A premier writer’s conference, the three-day event has a long history of early sell-outs.

If you are an Edmonds-area writer (although attendees come from across the U.S., and Canada, to attend) at the WOTS conference is where you want to be the first weekend in October, to connect with other’s who share a passion for writing.

The official WOTS website, which, on July 20, will contain registration links for this year’s conference is just one click away. Bookmark it!

~ ~ ~ ~

Thursday, July 20
8 p.m.

Free!

Stripes: Movie Screening

Edmonds Theater
415 Main St.

Once again, through the generosity of the Edmonds Theater, a free screening of one of Hollywood’s more popular movies is being offered the community — for free!

Call your friends, maybe grab a bite downtown, and get to the theater in time for Stripes, starring Bill Murray.

Here’s your link to the theater’s Facebook event page.

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Friday, July 21
Runs through July 30

Spring Awakening

Ballyhoo Theatre, performing at

Shorewood High School Black Box Theatre
17300 Fremont Ave. N., Shoreline

Spring Awakening, coming of age stories, is directed by Shileah Corey, and choreographed by Erich Schleck. Michael Corey conducts.

Performances are July 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 7 p.m. with 2 p.m. Sunday matinees on July 23 and 30. Tickets are $7 – $10 and can be purchased at the door.

Please be advised that this production contains strong language and explores mature themes, and may not be appropriate for those under 15. Please read our parent guide before bringing children to this production – it can be found at ballyhootheatre.org 

— 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,

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