Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sparkle Recognition 2015

As I See It . .

Once again, I have accumulated what I believe are unique, artistic achievements for the Season (September 1st, 2014 to August 31st, 2015) and awarded each of them a Sparkle Recognition mention in the list of about 100 shows I personally review in a Season.  But, as you will note, unlike other award lists, I do not pick a “winner,” nor is my list confined to necessarily “5 nominees” in each category.  My list contains as many, or as few, as I deem “special” in some way.

I do not believe you can compare, for instance, one actor’s performance in a play against another actor’s role in a totally different part and play.  Nor do I understand why there has to be only 5 nominees in category.  For example, I pick a person for a uniqueness that they seem to have, both as a performer and in the role they are enacting.  That is not to say that there weren’t a wealth of fine artistic jobs done.  There were.  But these particular individuals moved me in special, unforgettable ways.

Granted, this is my take alone on the shows this season and, I’m sure you will note, doesn’t agree with most award lists of “nominees/winners.”  Also it doesn’t encompass all the fine theatres that exist in the Northwest.  All the theatres I do include have invited me to review their shows.  And, being only one person, I can only review so many in a Season.

And I do not restrict in any way, the people/companies that I review or are included in my Sparkle list.  The list includes schools, professional theatres, semi-professional, community, et. al. and can be as far North as Longview, WA and as far South as OSF in Ashland, OR (and one in Maui).  I am also on the Media list now for the West End theatres in London.  In my opinion a good  performance/production is simply good, no matter its pedigree.  Here is a link to most of the theatres/productions I will be reviewing this season:

Dennis Sparks Reviews – production season - http://goo.gl/RdJfuW
Facebook - https://goo.gl/fyDknv


I unashamedly admit that I am a supporter of the Arts, having over 40 years myself in all aspects of it.  I attend a production expecting it to be good and, if it falls short, in my opinion, I try to be constructive in my criticism.  Also, you will note in my reviews, that I tend not to spend a lot of time describing the plot but, instead, try to give a flavor of the piece.  I, also, try to make comparisons to similar venues or historical, philosophical or personal histories of the times to, hopefully, enlighten the audience to what they may be seeing.

Some of the most unique productions for this period are NWCT’s The Jungle Book for its East Indian choreography (Anita Menon & Sarah Jane Hardy); Artists Rep. for The Liar for its totally unique blending of an old story to modern terms; Bag & Baggage’s, Six Gentlepersons of Verona for the amazing way they blended the Bard with retro music and a small, all-woman cast; CoHo’s The Snowstorm, a insightful blend of classical music and story-telling; defunkt’s In the Forest She Grew Fangs, another unique blending of an old fairy tale with modern-day life; OCT’s Y/P company’s production of Columbinus, a powerful, eye-opening, true rendition on a bare stage with an ensemble cast of the angst of Youth; theatre vertigo’s, Bob:  A Life in Five Acts, a startling birth to death story of a person’s life done with an ensemble cast on an essentially bare stage; Page2Stage’s, The Ministry of Special Cases, a beautiful blending of story-telling narrative with stage dialogue, at Milagro; and Anon It Moves’, Cymbeline, for its visual, artistic splendor of the Bard’s work by its director, Kira Atwood-Youngstrom, at Shaking the Tree.

And a special nod for those artists who have ventured, against the grain, out on their own to do their own thing, such as Katie Watkins with Schizo at Shaking the Tree; Gruesome Playground Injuries, from Tabitha Trosen and Jim Vadala, et. al. at Adventure theatre; and Dmae Roberts and Theatre Diaspora/MediaRites in their staged readings at PCS and Artists Rep. of plays by and featuring Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders.

A personal note regarding programs:  I believe they are a great marketing tool and, although I realize some people turn them back in at the end of a show, many are shared with others.  For those that are passed around to other potential audience members, as well as the person viewing the production, it is important to have some basic information readily available, such as, length of the show; contact information easily visible such as, websites, e-mails, performance address and/or business phone numbers; and characters listed in order of appearance and, if it is a large cast, relationships to various other characters in the show, would be desirable.  If there are to be photos, it would be good to have recent photos to identify various actors.  It is amazing to me how often I have seen one or more of these basic items missing from a program.

My main objective is to encourage the viewer to attend Artistic events and support the Arts.  My blog is now approaching 100,000 hits, which is not too shabby in the three years I have had my blog in existence.  And when theatres/artists put links to my reviews on their sites, it only enhances the readership and, hopefully, your audiences.  In case you’d rather scan the list to find your own company, the theatres (right-hand column) are listed alphabetically. 

So, without any further exposition, may we have the envelope please . . .

Sparkle Recognition 2015