Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

April 5, 2011 at 12:12pm


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It struck me the other day how fortunate we are to live in an area with so many live entertainment options. In one week, I saw a dynamite performance by the klezmer punk combo Vagabond Opera at Traditions Cafe, a charming production at Olympia Family Theater, and a solid set by Kristin Key at Tacoma Comedy Club, all for less than 50 bucks. It's like living in a bustling metropolis, except easier to park. I attended a birthday party for a theater friend in Tacoma and looked around at a room full of talented techies and actors, any of whom could hold their own in larger markets. I've seen years' worth of theater in L.A., Chicago, and New York, and I'm convinced we compare with the best.

This is important to me, because I've also tried to do quality theater in Oklahoma. I helped found a not-for-profit but creatively ambitious troupe in a college town of 30,000 people, and while the company still produces plays, it struggles to attract an audience in the dozens. When I describe my life here to my valiant Okie theater friends, it probably sounds as if I'm belittling them. Far from it--I know what they go through--but the difference is night and day.

I teach a couple of online theater classes for a small community college in northwest Kansas, and they have nothing. NOTHING! It's been tricky finding a single show in that whole quarter of the state each semester for my students to see and review. I've had to accept papers about RSC productions on Netflix.

If you're a theater fan who's never lived in the Midwest, you have no idea how amazing it is here. Why, just in Oly, there are two for-profit theater companies within blocks of each other, plus a beautiful touring-show venue with a black box for Olympia Family Theater and other troupes to play in. The Midnight Sun is a few blocks away. TAO's doing a show in the Eagles Ballroom this month. There's excellent theater in the park plus puppet theater and storytelling and vaudeville and burlesque and literary readings and college and high school shows...and that's just Olympia! I'm still working my way into the Tacoma theater scene. It almost seems too big to get a handle on. We have three theater critics at the Volcano, and it's still all we can do to keep up. Notice I haven't even mentioned the music and dance scenes, which are thriving.

It's a blessing, Gentle Reader. Don't let a single week go by without taking advantage of it.

Filed under: Arts, Community, Olympia, Tacoma, Theater,
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News and entertainment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s most awesome weekly newspapers - The Ranger, Northwest Airlifter and Weekly Volcano.

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