Usually in the Fall Arts Guide, I highlight upcoming shows from Capital Playhouse, Harlequin Productions or the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. Rest assured, these worthy organizations will be promoted below. But this year, the Oly troupe of note turns out to be Olympia Family Theater, a company with budgets far less generous than you'd expect given outstanding results. Its spring production of Goodnight Moon, for example, is the best thing I've seen so far this year.
OFT's first show is an adaptation of P.D. Eastman's 1961 primer, a book I didn't remember till a Google search brought up the cover. Oh, yeah! - preschool memories slammed into my head. Playwright Steven Dietz, best known for AIDS drama Lonely Planet, seems an odd choice to co-write the musical adaptation, but it's been performed widely since its Seattle Children's Theatre debut nine years ago. Director Jen Ryle has a well-trained sense of the cuddly. Go Dog Go opens Oct. 12.
I have inside information on The Wind in the Willows, a brand new adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's English pastoral, opening Nov. 30. The playwright, Andy Gordon, is a friend of mine, so I had the privilege of performing in several public draft readings. I already know the script is charming as all-get-out, the characters are richly translated, Bruce Whitney's songs are obnoxiously catchy, and your kids are going to love it. Heck, you will, too. Director Jenny Greenlee has a deft touch. My expectations are unfairly high.
These shows will be followed by spring productions of James and the Giant Peach (Feb. 1), The Somewhat True Tail of Robin Hood (March 29) and Cinder Edna (May 24).
Meanwhile, the Fall Arts Guide hits the streets as my own show, Sherlock's Last Case, debuts at Lakewood Playhouse. Steve Tarry plays the great detective and John Munn the estimable Dr. Watson in a witty mystery thriller. Capital Playhouse resurrects the crickets for Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, and Tacoma Musical Playhouse finishes September with what we hope will be a sexy-ass production of Chicago.
In October, Harlequin Productions presents the deliciously devious Richard III, while Tacoma Little Theatre offers the old-school murder mystery Night Watch. November brings Pug Bujeaud's take on Night Must Fall at Olympia Little Theatre, a lively Twelfth Night at Lakewood Playhouse, and a raft of Christmas shows all over the South Sound - which, thanks to Tacoma Musical Playhouse, means I'll finally get to see The Sound of Music.
As for big ticket touring productions, highlights at the Washington Center include Stomp and the jazz quartet Manhattan Transfer, plus Verdi's Aida and Rock of Ages in January. Tacoma's Broadway Center for the Performing Arts boasts the Capitol Steps, Cosi Fan Tutte and A Chorus Line.
Break a leg, everybody! (Relax, Chorus Line, I was speaking metaphorically.)