Even as the economy tanked in 2008, it seemed to hold true locally, that there really was no business like show business, with certain theaters drawing record numbers, increasing their run times and surviving.
Seattle continued to hold its own as a hot spot for some of Broadway’s best. But on the flip side, The 5th Avenue Theatre was where “Shrek The Musical” played an exclusive world premiere in 2008 before it opened on Broadway.
Here in Snohomish County, Village Theatre, which produces shows at the Everett Performing Arts Center and in Issaquah, announced in October that it would increase the run length of its main-stage productions up to four weeks per show from three weeks per show because Village leaders realized the theater had its best year ever in ticket sales.
Also this year, historic Everett Theatre was close to having a final curtain call as it faced a financial crisis. But now the theater is realizing a brilliant encore thanks to its new partnership with the Northwest Savoyards musical theater troupe, which will perform all its future shows at historic Everett.
Historic Everett is also planning on more modern music concerts, following the success of last year’s Blue Scholars hip-hop concert. The theater is also finalizing a partnership with the Everett Symphony Orchestra, which may one day call historic Everett Theater its home.
One theater did bite the dust because of economics and that was Edge of the World Theatre in Edmonds. But two local entrepreneurs pooled their resources and a new theater called The Phoenix is planned to open in Edge’s place come January.
The business of show biz appeared to shine in 2008. And some of last year’s shows were just golden. Here’s a list of my five favorites:
“Shrek”: Speaking of the big green misanthrope, “Shrek” was a story that focused on freaks but also had a freakishly fantastic score of ballads, R&B and a sexy soul number (lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire, and music by Tony-nominated Jeanine Tesori). The lyrics were infused with puns, sarcasm and irony. The show was monstrously clever with a happy ending well-suited for the lexicon of timeless fairy tales.
“Spring Awakening”: Kudos to the Paramount Theatre for showing this daring rock-musical phenom (some people walked out) that brutally bore teens’ fantasies and fears, including teen suicide, sexual predators and boy-on-boy love. The music was wildly terrific, giving Duncan Sheik a well-deserved Grammy in 2008 for best musical show album.
“The Music Man”: The tale of con man Harold Hill who tries to hoodwink the gullible folks of River City is just what Northwest Savoyards does best: classic musical theater. This community theater production hit perfection with the leading lady’s dazzling voice, a darling set of kid actors and a charming leading man. For me, “Music Man” equaled Entertainment, with a capital “E” and that rhymes with “G” and that stands for “Great.”
“The King and I”: This Village Theatre production was exotic, stunning and sizzling, a love story and a clash of cultures. We don’t have room to go so forth and so on, but suffice it to say, this classic musical was lovely from beginning to end.
“Beauty and the Beast”: The audience members who sacrificed a summer evening and came indoors to McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon were rewarded with Lyric Light Opera of the Northwest’s production of “Beauty and the Beast.” The show was like a picnic for the eyes. It delighted and dazzled and was as scrumptious to see, from the costumes to the sets, as it was to hear, as lush as a July sunset.
Reporter Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424 or email@example.com.