Abe in Illinois

Charlotte’s Web a hit in Oly, so the Dunk heads north

By Steve Dunkelberger on October 13, 2009

I have to start out this column by writing that I got one of the best note from a theater insider I have received in years, and the note came after I panned the show the writer represented. I liked the note because the writer, who I won't name out of respect, was honest and direct and, frankly, agreed with me and my suggested changes but was overruled by others linked to the production. I totally get that.

The writer knows the role of community theater in the South Sound is not just about selling tickets and developing actors. It's about engaging audiences and building the craft. That last part was denied with the production as it appeared, but could have been reached if more learned brains prevailed. Great theater is turned into bad theater rather quickly if a committee gets involved. Such was, apparently, the case with this show.

Anyway, onto this week in theater.

Well, I was getting all set to make arraignments to see Olympia Family Theater's Charlotte’s Web, only to find that the show was already sold out through the weekend. Clearly the production is solid since it has been packing seats since opening night. Any kudos in this column would only frustrate readers by telling them about a show they aren't likely going to be able to get tickets to see anyway. Since I would never do that to a friend, I won't mention how glowing the comments from my theater friends have been about Charlotte’s Web, or how bummed I am that now I can't see it since I didn't get organized enough to get reviewer seats before the show was sold out.

OFT has joined the ranks of Tacoma Musical Playhouse and Capital Playhouse, who have not been able to find me a seat because the house was already full by the time I called. That is pretty cool. I have to say. I love everything about this theater and am glad to see it thrive. But if you find yourself with a cousin who needs a spare kidney and is willing to deal for tickets, the show runs through the weekend at South Puget Sound Community College's Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Performing Arts.

With Charlotte’s Web out of the question I opted to head north to take my daughter to see Intiman's Abe Lincoln in Illinois. This three-hour tome about the early years of the would-be president's life was marvelous. In fact, it was better than that. It was grippingly real and human and touching and awe inspiring at the same time. Erik Lochtefeld pulled out everything in his performance as the 30-something Abe Lincoln, bringing this larger-than-life god of American history from the face on the penny to a flesh-and-bone man with very real faults and frailties.

This is a show to see even if you have to head to the Emerald City to do so.

[Intiman Theatre, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, through Nov. 15, Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 8 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 2 p.m., $47 adult, $10 youth, 201 Mercer St., Seattle, 206.269.1900]