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Outstanding Live Experience and NOT Virtual Reality - Review by cat c | Intiman Theatre-Playhouse Seattle Center

Intiman Theatre-Playhouse Seattle Center

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Outstanding Live Experience and NOT Virtual Reality 5/22/2007

Seattle is very fortunate to have three major theaters that have achieved national prominence (the others being Seattle Rep and ACT). In a world where increasingly everything is "virtual" but not very real, it is indeed refreshing to have the "real thing"--live theater--of this calibre. Intiman was awarded with the Regional Theater Tony Award in June of this year, and it was richly deserved. Many, many fine productions have been staged here, including the world premieres of "The Light in the Piazza" and "The Kentucky Cycle" (which won the Pulitzer Prize 15 years ago; its author Robert Shenkhan now lives in Seattke). Among the fine plays staged here include "Homebody/Kabul" by Tony Kushner (this was not long after 9/11, "Nickel and Dimed," "Dying Gaul," "How I Learned How to Drive," and Ionesco's "The Chairs." The artistic director Barlett Sher is a rising star in the American theater and has already received two nominations for Best Director, for his Broadway stagings of "Light in the Piazza" and the revival last season of the Clifford Odets' classic of "Awake and Sing"--all the while being artistic director of Intiman! He has put together a mixture of classics ("Glass Menagerie," Hellman's "Little Foxes," Shakespeare, commedia dell'arte, Chekhov's "Three Sisters," etc.), recent Broadway imports, as well as new works. Currently the Intiman is devoting much of its programming to "an American Cycle." Most of the plays are staged in a steeply pitched arc leading from a hemispherical proscenium. The main floor and mezzanine have high ceilings and an airy openness that are somewhat atypical (compared to Seattle Rep or ACT, for instance), more Lincoln Center than one would expect. A nice courtyard fronts the theater and in the summer box meals can be ordered in advance. There are usually several special events associated with each the run of each play. For instance, I saw here Adam Guettel, the composer (he graced the front cover of NY Times Magazine during the two-month run of "Piazza"), Speight Jenkins (Seattle Opera), and Victoria Clark (who went on to bring the role to Broadway and won a Tony for Best Actress, as predicted in The Stranger two years before the actual Broadway run) in a round-table discussion. Here's to hoping he'll stay here for a long while. His compatriot Daniel Sullivan, long-time artistic director of Seattle Rep, went on to become a major Broadway director with a Tony for "Proof" and last season's staging of "Three Days of Rain" with Julia Roberts. For those with a serious interest in theater-- literature in general--Intiman has become a wonderful cultural mainstay in Seattle. And for those under $25, the $10 tickets are an outstanding bargain. There are very few movie flicks out there, in my opinion, that warrant paying the same $10 for a comparable experience. But after all, theater is theater, one the oldest forms of the performing arts, deeply embedded in the collective cultural experience of humanity. more
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