"Drop everything and go see The Crucible at ACT." - The Stranger
"Brilliant! The best production I’ve seen in months! And, no, that’s not hyperbole, but let me put it in perspective. I love Arthur Miller’s work; I love this play; ACT’s production under the direction of John Langs is wonderful, and timely." - Arts Stage
"When we enter, we see the stage has one lonely ghost light dimly lighting a scattering of wooden chairs and planks, sawhorses and one foreboding metal scaffold. A large black wall stands behind the clutter. The partitions of the opening scene are only indicated by a seemingly hastily drawn chalk outline. The use of chalk will be a crucial ingredient for the dramatic doings soon to unfold." - Drama in the Hood
"Scenic Designer Matthew Smucker has taken a quite sparse and deconstructed view of the stage itself as the walls of the set are repeatedly represented only with chalk outlines drawn by the actors. This lack of set allows for a sense of openness and transparency even in the midst of all the secrets and lies as we constantly see the comings and goings of the actors or even see them just sitting "off-stage" as their fellow actors perform. And that chalk goes on to serve an even more sinister purpose as the actors continue to write the names of the accused witches on the stage and back wall of the theater and with that open and inclusive atmosphere you almost expect them to come into the audience and write some of our names up there too." - Broadway World
"Langs has guided uniformly powerful performances from his stellar cast, who enact the story against an almost bare stage strewn with wooden chairs and an enormous back wall chalkboard where characters write the names of the accused as they are charged (set design by Matthew Smucker). The actors are in modern dress, reinforcing the idea that this is a drama that could, and does, play out across time." - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"The Crucible is as timely today as it was when originally produced in 1953. Political witch hunts continue as do ones on a more grassroots level, on social media, by earnest members of the Right AND the Left. Finger pointing, false accusations and character assassination are just as rampant now as ever before…if not more so in the age of Facebook and Twitter. Fortunately for us, ACT and director John Langs have given The Crucible a (mostly) fresh new staging with a terrific cast of actors and some gorgeous design elements that place this production in vaguely modern dress and set rather deliberately in a theatrical milieu…it’s a dark stage with all the props and furniture stacked up against the bare back wall of the stage, the door to the scene shop deliberately exposed. It’s a scary, gritty, dark design with more than just a hint of corruption, deceit and dystopia in the air. It’s The Crucible meet Orwell’s 1984 meet Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. There’s no whiff of “ye olden Salem days” in this setting…it’s very modern and stark and very Trumpian. The power in this production of The Crucible is due to bold staging by John Langs and some clever bits of stage business including using chalk to define the outlines of each scene setting and the use of cameras, microphones and monitors in the courtroom scenes mimicking actual Congressional hearings.Texture and sound are very important here too with Matthew Smucker’s industrial scenic design, Sharath Patel’s haunting sound work, Deb Trout’s highly textured and color coded costumes and most of all, the dramatic power of Geoff Korf’s lighting design all adding to the sense of dread in the atmosphere." - Seattle Gay Scene
"I want the audience to leave their expectations at the door. It won't be the traditional 1692 world of The Crucible." says ACT artistic director John Langs in Seattle's Stranger. "The current political climate is pushing us closer and closer to the neighbor-versus-neighbor mentality that Arthur Miller so brilliantly captured. The pervasive and profound desire to highlight our differences has consequences that are being felt all over this country and throughout the political spectrum... This is the perfect time to revisit this classic about the power of paranoia and fear."
Performances start Friday, October 13, with the official opening October 19. Tickets available here.
"The Legend of Georgia McBride is the play to see this Pride," writes The Stranger. "Drag can be a powerful escapist experience that allows you to reinvent yourself on stage. To put on your rhinestone armor, and become someone braver and bolder and capable of doing things you never thought you could do."
"'Drag ain’t a hobby. Drag ain’t a night job. Drag is a protest. Drag is a raised fist inside a sequined glove,' Miss Anorexia Nervosa, aka Miss Rexy, says to burgeoning drag queen Casey near the end of ACT’s production of The Legend of Georgia McBride," begins's Seattle Weekly's review. "They are standing in the dressing room of a dive bar in a small town on the Florida Panhandle. Audience members sit surrounding the action, with plastic alligators, flamingos, and a swordfish wrapped in Christmas lights hanging above them. Budweiser and Coors signs buzz with neon electricity next to a sign that reads 'Cleo’s Elvis Live 2*Nite!' Welcome to Cleo’s, the entertainment home of Casey (the dynamic Adam Stadley), an Elvis impersonator-turned-drag queen with expert guidance from the sassy and spectacular Miss Tracy Mills (a vivacious Timothy McCuen Piggee). ACT’s clever, gender-bending production of Matthew Lopez’s play respects the legacy of drag, all appropriately complemented by eccentric scenic and costume design."
The Seattle Times says of the show's creative team "Director David Bennett probably has a Miss Tracy-style, iron-fist-in-velvet-glove voice, and has coaxed funny but flinty performances from the cast. Piggee is perfectly magisterial as Miss Tracy and Standley makes an excellent bug-eyed Casey, undergoing a metamorphosis he finds baffling. Bennett has a long résumé in Seattle theater, from big-budget musicals at the 5th Avenue Theatre to experimental solo shows to tense, blood-soaked fringe shows in basement theaters. Bennett brings his whole toolbox to “McBride,” marrying the jazz-hands cheesiness of musical theater (and, sometimes, drag) with more gut-churning, contemplative moments. Set designer Matthew Smucker also does a nice job, setting the mood with detritus like female mannequins littering some corners of the seating area and neon beer signs suspended around the room. (When I showed my ticket to an usher, she nodded and said: “Your aisle is right beneath the Coors beer sign.”)"
"Director David Bennett keeps the good times rolling with the help of a cluttered, ingeniously simple set by Matthew Smucker," writes Seattle Gay News. "The clutter is easily recognizable as a backstage area, and a couch rises and falls from the middle to sketch in the rundown rental that Casey and Jo live in. And when the lights (by Robert Aguilar) dim around the middle of the stage, you're instantly watching the stage performance in the club."
Talkin' Broadway claims "The in-the-round Allen Theatre space is perfectly utilized by scenic designer Matt Smucker, who must have done his drag club bar research in person to catch the reality of such an establishment to such a degree of accuracy."
"...the show is simply a good, GOOD time! If you find you're not rocking out and hooting and hollering for the girls up there then I question the existence of your pulse. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give ACT's "The Legend of Georgia McBride" a fabulous YAY+. Strap on your heels, get out your feather boa and do not miss this one ... unless you're adverse to fun." Says Broadway World.
Tickets available here. Show closes July 2nd.
Bathsheba Doran's fantastic play, The Mystery of Love and Sex, begins its preview performances this weekend at Seattle's ACT, directed by Allison Narver and starring Ray Abruzzo, Emily Chishholm, Lorenzo Roberts, and Mary Kae Irvin. Tickets are available here, and a taste of the show's first day of rehearsal can be seen in the video below.
City Arts Magazine previews the design for ACT's production of Anne Washburn's Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play:
"Creating the world of Anne Washburn's Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play was a complicated process. The three-act play, now running at ACT Theatre, is set first in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear catastrophe, where a group of survivors gathered around a campfire tries to recreate an episode of The Simpsons. Act two pushes seven years into the future, when these survivors are now performing Simpsons episodes as a touring theatre troupe; act three is set 75 years after that when the episode has taken on much, much greater cultural significance. Mr. Burns director (and ACT incoming artistic director) John Langs worked with scenic designer Matthew Smucker and costume designer Deb Trout (among many other talented designers and technicians) to bring this evolving, post-apocalyptic world to life."