Brief Encounters


Seattle Children's Theatre, Seattle Center, 206-441-3322. $12- $26. 7 p.m. Fri.; 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sat.- Sun. Ends Sat., Jan. 11.

Kids will mostly be entranced by the C.S. Lewis classic about four siblings in the fantasy land of Narnia: Storybook set design by Carey Wong brings Lewis' world to life; director Linda Hartzell keeps the adventure flowing; and actors Julie Briskman, Jayne Muirhead, and Jason Collins—as, respectively, the haughty White Witch, her sycophantic henchman, and duplicitous young Edmund—give the proceedings some kick. Adults, however, can expect to roll their eyes more than a few times. The rest of the cast is hit-or-miss, the added songs by Shaun Davey are undistinguished at best (and supported by a canned orchestral recording), and the embarrassing choreography gives Terence Kelley's limp but supposedly magisterial Aslan a dance that has him looking like a drag queen trapped in The Lion King. STEVE WIECKING


Village Theatre's First Stage, 120 Front St. N., Issaquah, 425-392-2202. $16- $20. 8 p.m. Wed.- Sat.; 2 p.m. matinees Sun. Ends Sun., Nov. 17.

Just when you thought that D-Day: The Musical was never going to happen, along comes the next best thing—a song-and-dance extravaganza based on the nonfiction collection Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam. I was hesitant to embrace composer-lyricist Paris Barclay's concept; this is, after all, a musical about boys who write letters in wartime. Now that I've seen it, I'm still not at ease. The show never quite finds a compelling narrative—not surprising, considering the source material—and Barclay (who won two Emmys for directing NYPD Blue) is too eager to embrace rah-rah jingoism. More troublesome, though, is that many of the songs seem kind of pointless, all the while extending the show's length long past its welcome. CHRIS JENSEN


ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 206-292-7676. $10- $20. 7:30 p.m. Thurs.; 8 p.m. Fri.- Sat. Ends Sat., Nov. 16.

Professional clown Shiner—whose Fool Moon, a collaboration with Bill Irwin, won a Tony back in '99—reappears with a work-in-progress collection of mostly new comic pieces. Accompanied by the blissfully satiric musical stylings of songwriter Laurence O'Keefe and the daffy support of fellow actor Debra Wiseman, he has provided a completely engaging morsel of an evening—75 minutes of nonverbal and rousingly funny physical comedy. Some bits, of course, work better than others: An oily magician's attempts to deal with a dead rabbit make for dark fun, while some antiquated happy hobo shtick seems to come from 1905. The night also includes the welcome return of a sketch that incorporates audience members into a would-be movie melodrama; Shiner's mocking disdain for their incomprehension is hysterical. STEVE WIECKING

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