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Sleuth to Seuss

A look at theater in Tacoma for 2010-2011

SAY WHAT!?!: It's a preview of the upcoming theater season, which includes The Color Purple at Broadway Center in November. Photo courtesy of Scott Suchman

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Grit City's upcoming theater season is cram-packed with interesting shows, so with no further - (See what I did there?)

Tacoma Little Theatre opens the year Aug. 27 with Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth, an ingenious two-hand thriller in which an aging mystery writer and an ambitious Casanova match murderous wits.  Tacoma playwright Rosalind Bell's That Ain't That Kosher makes its world debut at TLT Sept. 30.  The very gifted Lee Blessing wrote Eleemosynary, an all-female show about a mother and daughter reconnecting to address a family crisis, opening Oct. 22.  On TLT's Second Stage, Count Dracula and Abraham Von Helsing square off as never before in The Transylvanian Clockworks (Oct. 28), co-produced by The Outfit Theatre Project.  The sun'll come out tomorrow, but Annie'll have to wait till Nov. 26. Frost/Nixon, about the interview that finally shamed a president, works great as a movie but even better as a play (Jan. 14). Feydeau's classic farce A Flea in Her Ear opens Mar. 4, followed by The Who's hard-rockin' Tommy Apr. 29.  The Second Stage finishes TLT's season with the riveting math thriller (!) Proof on June 9.

Speaking of The Outfit Theater Project, they're still locking their upcoming season but promise another installment of improv sitcom Joe's Diner.  Nomadic troupe Gold from Straw offers Almost, Maine, described by playwright John Cariani as "a midwinter night's dream."

Local scribe C. P. Stancich resurrects the Genius of 221b Baker Street for Lakewood Playhouse in Sherlock Holmes and the Doom of Devilsmore, opening Sept. 24.  Those insufferable Herdman children run riot over The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Nov. 26); and a single actor plays identical twins in Jean Anouilh's gemlike 1947 satire, Ring Round the Moon (Jan. 14). Lakewood Playhouse and the Broadway Center of Tacoma will co-produce My Name Is Asher Lev (Feb. 19), about an artistic Hasid growing up in 1950s New York.  Amy Tan's beloved novel The Joy Luck Club brings its company of spirited Chinese-American women to the stage Apr. 22. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street restocks a shady meat pie business in a "city on fire," beginning June 3.  Lakewood will also squeeze in Halloween performances of A Radio Gala and Tales of Edgar Allan Poe.

We tend not to review Broadway Center shows because they only run a night or two, but don't interpret that as a dis of what goes on there.  Concert show Sweet Dreams belts the music of Patsy Cline, Sept. 8. Cirque Mechanics, the creators of 2005's Birdhouse Factory, debut Boom Town Oct. 1.  Alice Walker and Her Majesty Queen Oprah present The Color Purple musical Nov. 12.  Seven Guitars is the fifth play in August Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle (Nov. 14), followed by Part VI, the powerful Fences, Feb. 6.  Imago Theatre's wordless spectacle ZooZoo is a steal at $19 (Feb. 27), and the Fiddler on the Roof draws his bow Apr. 26.

Girl of size, Tracy Turnblad, angles to get on a Baltimore dance show in Marc Shaiman's musical Hairspray, based on a screenplay by John Waters.  That highly entertaining piece of work opens Tacoma Musical Playhouse's main stage season Sept. 24. Irving Berlin's White Christmas evokes sleigh bells in the snow beginning Nov. 26, followed by jazz-era 2006 favorite The Drowsy Chaperone on Jan. 21. Don't be fooled by an underwhelming movie: Fellini homage Nine won Tony awards for Best Musical and Best Revival (Mar. 25). It's nice to have Hello, Dolly! back May 6, and Cats will inspire new memories July 8. There's also a full season of children's musical theatre: A Year with Frog and Toad (Oct. 23), Seussical (Feb. 26), and the classroom comedy Miss Nelson Is Missing! (June 4).

Weekly Volcano theater critics Joe Izenman and Joann Varnell have their lucky hands full.

Theater season

Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 North I St., Tacoma, 253.272.2281
Lakewood Playhouse, 5729, Lakewood Towne Center Blvd. SW., Lakewood, 253.588.0042
Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, 253.591.5890
Tacoma Musical Playhouse, 7116 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.565.6867

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