If all the rumors we hear were true, Art Town's job would be easy indeed. Take this week: Theater Street is abuzz with the news that Intiman Theater is taking over the basement performance space in Seattle Center's Center House vacated by the demise of the Group. Not so, says Intiman managing director Laura Penn. "The board of the Group still has some financial obligations to deal with, like their lease with the Center, like debt, like their ownership of the 'brand' in their holiday show Voices of Christmas. So are we assuming their lease at Seattle Center, no; but are we talking to them to see what assistance we can offer them, as neighbors, heartbroken neighbors, yes."
Word's also going 'round that Seattle Opera has had to delay the opening of its new production of Wagner's Ring cycle, scheduled for 2001. Again, not so, says the Opera's Tina Ryker. "This one probably got started because we originally planned to open the first of the four Ring operas as our 'summer show' in 1999. But we're just not going to be ready to do that, so we've done some rescheduling." A show not yet announced will fill the Opera's August 1999 "festival" slot, while the summer of the year 2000 will witness premieres of the first two Ring operas (Das Rheingold and Die Walküre), with the first complete cycle taking place, as always intended, in 2001.
The face is familiar...
For Seattle moviegoers experiencing that "Where have I seen that person before?" watching The Truman Show: The Truman-trivia expert in the bar is none other than Zoaunne Leroy, a mainstay of local professional stages in the 1970s. In the larger role of the control-room director who executes the megalomaniac orders of god/producer Chrystof, welcome back exAnnex Theater scene stealer Paul Giamatti. Giamatti's come a long way in Hollywood from playing "Heckler #2" in 1990's made-for-TV She'll Take Romance: His role in Truman is the kind of career-boosting part actors dream about, complete with instant catchphrase. (Told to "Cue the storm!" he obediently punches a button and sits back muttering laconically, "Thar she blows....")
A jones for Jones
Imagine Michael Jordan agreeing to play some pick-up ball with you and your friends. That's kind of how it was a few weeks ago for local saxophonist Steve Griggs, who got legendary jazz drummer Elvin Jones to spend three days in a local recording studio with him and several other Seattle musicians. Griggs, 38, got the "crazy idea" of approaching the 71-year-old Jones when he played Jazz Alley last month. Purely on the strength of a recommendation from local drum-maker Greg Keplinger, who has known Jones for decades, the drummer (and his business manager/wife Keiko) agreed to come without hearing any of the musicians.
After working through the fees, expenses, and logistics, Jones agreed to return to Seattle after finishing his West Coast tour. At Woodinville's Bear Creek Studio, Jones and the band recorded 14 Griggs originals and a couple of standards, potentially enough for two CDs. "By the third day we were doing tunes in one take," says Griggs. "When the song was over we'd look at each other and Elvin would say: 'Do not disturb.'" Griggs, an MBA whose day gig is managing a group of software programmers at Immunex, is now shopping his tapes around to a number of labels.
Thimble Theaters, Inc.
Local filmmakers Jon Behrens and Steve Creson have a dream: "A series of micro-cinemas, fitting 50 or 60 people into an intimate atmosphere, with an underground feel," says Creson with a sense of relish. "It's going to be a slow process, but it's something we're working on." Meanwhile, after launching film nights at the Baltic Room and Linda's Tavern, they're opening their own Cinema 18 in a storefront at 1412 18th Ave and Union. "It's also my living space, so I'd be paying the overhead anyway," confesses Creson. "That way we can start slowly."
After June screenings of camp classics Rollerball and Deathrace 2000, they plan a July weekend of avant-garde filmmakers now in their sixties and seventies "like Stan Brakhage, Marie Menken, and James Broughton, who lives in Port Townsend. He's in his eighties; I didn't even know he was alive until about three years ago. When we start weekly showings in the fall, we'll put together a collection of film trailers and commercials from the 1970s—Scream, Blacula, Scream! and Carnation Instant Breakfast."
Creson sees the team as continuing the tradition of Dennis Nyback at the Pike Street Cinema, "in the incredible variety of stuff that he showed. At the Baltic Room we show films noir, black-and-white European films, silents, and we'll continue that at Cinema 18 too. I just get a real pleasure out of screening these films. It's easy to do when it's fun."