2015 South Sound theater preview

By Christian Carvajal on January 7, 2015

If, like so many of us, you're making New Year's resolutions, allow me to suggest an addition to your list. I encourage you to see more in the way of live performance. Often people think of theater as a civic duty, an obligation they owe higher culture. Meanwhile, they fill their DVRs with TV dramas and catch everything showing at the multiplex. I'm here to tell you live theater can be every bit as entertaining, stimulating, thought-provoking and just plain awesome as anything on the silver screen. It offers moments no camera can capture, and a sense of community and immediacy that go beyond simply throwing a few bucks at local theater troupes.

With that in mind, I'm highlighting smaller companies in this spring preview - partly because the larger houses don't need my help, mostly because the best shows are often staged by outfits that dare less familiar, more thoughtful material. Consider, for example, Dukesbay Theater in Tacoma, which put up a lovely production of Tea last fall and now hosts the return of a critically lauded one-man show, My Brother Kissed Mark Zuckerberg (opening Jan. 9). Lakewood Playhouse is one of the region's leading community theaters, and that gives director John Munn the freedom to stage David Mamet's tense (and foul-mouthed) drama Glengarry Glen Ross (Jan. 9). Lakewood offers The Miracle Worker (Feb. 19), directed by Pug Bujeaud, and raucous comedy The 39 Steps (think Hitchcock meets Shakespeare Abridged) starting April 17. It concludes its 76th season with Drood (May 29), a musical that completes Dickens's unfinished novel by allowing each night's audience to choose from dozens of possible culprits and denouements.

Tacoma Little Theatre forges ahead under artistic director Chris Serface, beginning with an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby on Jan. 23. (This marks the anniversary of TLT's stellar production of To Kill a Mockingbird last winter.) Steve Martin's thinky Picasso at the Lapin Agile opens March 13, followed by playwright Ken Ludwig's (Lend Me a Tenor) golf comedy, The Fox on the Fairway (April 17). John Munn visits to close TLT's 96th season in grand style by staging the sexy musical Cabaret (May 22), currently killing in Broadway revival. Ooh, la la! Expect pop-up shows as well from upstarts New Muses Theatre Company and Working Class Theater NW.

Meanwhile, Olympia Little Theatre continues its silver-anniversary season with Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Jan. 16), a drama that reunites six members of a James Dean fan club after 20 years. Mid-February brings a readers-theater production of Angels in America at OLT; it's a landmark, six-hour show to be presented over two weekends. On March 27, the company offers Laughing Stock, a Noises Off-style backstage comedy directed by yours truly. Mama Won't Fly (May 8) is a recent comic script, as is OLT's summer show, 4000 Miles (July 10). Olympia Family Theater, now comfortably housed in its warm space on 4th, presents The Monster Under the Bed (Feb. 6), Washington-based pioneer drama Our Only May Amelia (March 20), and Pinocchio (May 15). Local colleges have been slow about announcing their spring calendars, but I'm looking forward to The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at St. Martin's University (April 11). Let's face it, that guy's always been trouble.