Flaccosus nervosus

You've got to wonder if there isn't some hyperspecialized kind of flu ravaging the back offices of the Puget Sound area's theaters: a plague that strikes only marketeers and flacks. The Seattle Rep's Alan Harrison was new kid on the block when he replaced Roxie Moffet last August. In the last six months, so many heads have rolled (or, to mix that metaphor, taken a walk) that he's the old-timer in town. Among the departed are the 5th Avenue's Beth Brooks (now a producer at One Reel), Intiman's Liz Smith (in early January), the Empty Space's Karen Reed (as of February 1), ACT's Teri Mumme (publicist Noreen O'Brien's gone too), and Kendall Wilson of Tacoma Actors Guild. The Paramount never had a marketing director per se, so the grim reaper struck down public relations director Vivian Phillips-Scott instead. Is no one safe? Where will it end?

But take heart; there is life after work. Longtime Intiman PR director Gary Tucker is back on the job—at ACT.

An ideal director

Speaking of Alan Harrison, his fine promotional hand's being applied transgenerically this month in a mailing received by Seattle Opera subscribers. On his personal letterhead, stage director Stephen Wadsworth invites all who've enjoyed his productions of Gluck's Orph饼/I>, Wagner's Lohengrin, and Handel's Xerxes to come see his staging of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband at the Rep—and score a $5 discount on their ducats as well.

The smart money says Opera subscribers should take Wadsworth up on his offer: His first mounting of Husband (a comedy about adultery in high political circles, coincidentally) in 1995 was one of the Berkeley Rep's biggest hits ever. And Art Town is hearing rumors that if the show proves equally successful here, Rep director Sharon Ott might just ask Wadsworth to mount a brand-new production of No묠Coward's luxuriantly amoral comedy-romance Design for Living just for us.

Trouble for Ticketmaster?

And speaking of tickets—is it possible that someone has come along big and strong enough to challenge Ticketmaster's near monopoly in the business? Late last year, Pace Entertainment, the outfit that presents the Paramount's Broadway musical series, gobbled up the shares in 11 big national entertainment venues owned by Sony and Blockbuster for $90 million, only to be gobbled up in turn (for $245 million!) by SFX, Dallas' $2 billion broadcasting empire.

What Art Town knows about mergers, takeovers, and IPOs would fit comfortably in a fairy's thimble, but with 38 venues totaling 500,000 seats in its control, why would SFX Entertainment let Ticketmaster suck up $3-plus on every transaction for events in its halls? "Paul Allen got rid of Ticketmaster because it wasn't making money," says a veteran of the booking biz. "If they can't make money as a monopoly, how they gonna do with competition?"

Waiting in the lobby

With six months to go before the opening of Benaroya Hall, wouldn't you think the Seattle Symphony would be getting antsy to see the artwork that's going to dominate its lobby? So far, nobody's glimpsed so much as a pencil sketch of what New York artist Robert Rauschenberg plans to provide in fulfillment of his million-dollar commission from contemporary-art mavens Virginia and Bagley Wright. At this point all that's known is that the artist is thinking in terms of a suite of nine painted 5- by 12-foot metal panels, but that could change too when Rauschenberg comes to inspect the site—in mid-March, the Symphony hopes, though he's made dates before only to postpone. The metal at least is welcome information. Rauschenberg's favorite medium, silk-screened chiffon, would stand up about two years in the Benaroya's light-flooded lobby, and some staffers were afraid the artist would insist the Symphony install blinds to protect his dainty creations.

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