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Three Plays in Three Days

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Three Plays in Three Days: Assisted Living - Grey Gardens - Huckleberry Finn
by Peggy Doman

A neighborhood shot on Capitol Hill.

Seattle Hill House B&B on Capitol Hill.Capitol Hill is one of our favorite areas of Seattle to stay in. We like the downtown hotels because we can sometimes leave our car in the garage and get around via taxi. That gives you a certain freedom and quite often can save you time as well. We were in Seattle to see three plays in three days and the theaters we were attending had easy access to parking. When we attend musicals at the Fifth Avenue for example, we try to book a hotel room close by. Parking near the Fifth usually results in a twenty to thirty minute delay just getting out of the garage.

This trip would take us to ACT Theatre, which has quick access parking in virtually the same building. We would be attending a play at the Seattle Center, where we can park nearby without hassle, too. So, we chose to stay at a B&B on Capitol Hill. Seattle Hill House is comfortable, friendly and has excellent food.


Capitol Hill dinner at Panevino on Broadway in Seattle.We checked into the B&B and relaxed by reading. Peg had her mystery and I had mine. Curtain time wasn't until seven-thirty so we were able to take our time. We drove south on Broadway looking at the available restaurants and decided on Panevino, an Italian eatery. The name means bread and wine.

The service was friendly and the menu was promising. Peg ordered a wonderful salad, which we shared. It had sliced beets that were so dark red they appeared black if you were further than two inches away. The greens were excellent and the dressing was olive oil and lemon juice. The salad was topped off with a ton of sliced almonds. We should have each ordered our own and shared a main dish instead of the other way around.


Capitol Hill dinner at Panevino on Broadway in Seattle.Capitol Hill is so friendly. I've also never received bad service at any of the shops for cafes.

Many of the restaurants on Broadway have folding doors that open up an exterior wall right next to the sidewalk. I like this style of eating and have enjoyed similar dining in Hawaii, Tuscany, Spain, and in the Proctor District of North Tacoma. The only problem is that here in Washington, quite often it's a little too cool to be comfortable; however, on this soft Friday evening the weather was perfect.

As we dipped our bread into olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and Peg sipped a glass of Pino Grigio. The wait staff darted around the tables delivering, taking away, and making sure everyone was happy.


Capitol Hill dinner at Panevino on Broadway in Seattle.Italian music was playing through the sound system, while two of the waiters sang along. The CD playing was the Three Tenors, most notably Luciano Pavarotti. Our waiter was Tyson, who wasn’t Italian and didn't sing, but was accommodating and friendly.

We were in no hurry, so we had time to sit and enjoy the moment. Peg looked over the liquor selection behind the bar. I pointed out the Disaronno for her. There were a number of specialty drinks I might have tried if driving downtown hadn't been in the near future for me. I would have had at least one Disaronno Sour.

Beyond the drinks, the food was excellent. Peg had the pappardelle with mushrooms and shrimp in a light cream white wine sauce. I finished her shrimp for her, but most of her pasta was left on the plate. It was excellent, but with no fridge in our room and two more days and plays to go, leftovers were not an option.


Capitol Hill dinner at Panevino on Broadway in Seattle.I on the other had manfully finished all of my pappardelle with wild boar in a red sauce. It was excellent. The first time I had this dish was at a restaurant in Citta'Di San Gimignano in Italy on our trip of a lifetime. The walled city of San Gimignano was something we looked at every evening from our rented Tuscan villa several years ago. My friends and I visited the city and walked up a curving pathway to the door of the restaurant and then down into the dining room. Just the dish brought back memories. The pasta may have been marginally better in Italy, but the boar's sauce on Capitol Hill had bigger chunks of boar. In northern Italy the boar was more for flavoring. Here in Seattle it was for chewing. Excellent.

Actually, I didn't eat everything on my plate by myself; I gave Peg several samples. If we had started a little earlier, had a little more wine, and didn't have to attend a play we probably could have spent the evening at Panevino and finished both dinners. Oh, well. The play gave us an enjoyable finish to the evening.


Kurt Beattie and Marianne Owen shared a kiss in Assisted Living at Seattle's ACT Theatre.The artistic director of ACT Theatre in Seattle is Kurt Beattie. The first time we saw him act was during the 1970s at the Empty Space Theatre. He was performing commedia dell'arte with my cousin Lavinia Whitworth. Commedia dell'arte is a form of theater characterized by masked "types." It began in Italy in the 16th century . . . and it wasn't boaring at all, in fact mostly hilarious.

We were at ACT to see Assisted Living starring Kurt Beattie and also his wife, Marianne Owen. The play is set in the future when the U.S. Medicare healthcare system has completely broken down. The assisted living facility is a converted prison . . . perhaps not that converted. The humor is broad and quite often rings to close to what many of us think may be our future. Another favorite actor in the production was Laura Kenny whom we first saw in A . . . My Name is Alice. She was hilarious as a wronged woman reciting a poem with the chorus “HE DID IT!” The first time we saw her in this production was hilarious again and she played a retired nurse now incontinent. Assisted Living was enjoyable even with the barbs of nagging boomer guilt over ignoring reasonable health advice.


Corn and mozzarella pancakes with pork belly and scrambled eggs at the Americana Restaurant in Seattle.Friday morning I went to breakfast by myself at the B&B. Owner Leanne Larkin served me at the head of the long table. I was the only one. The two houses that make up the B&B filled up that night, but I had no problem eating alone. I chatted with Leanne and enjoyed my asparagus, salad, salsa, and fried eggs. Peg slept in. After she woke up and showered I joined her at the Americana on Broadway for my second breakfast. We've eaten there several times. The food is always good and the service excellent.

Having eaten only a couple of hours earlier I wasn't too hungry, but as a gentleman I couldn't let Peg dine by herself. I ordered the pork belly, corn and mozzarella pancakes with scrambled eggs. Maple syrup dripped off the pancakes, which I found surprisingly tasty. The fatty pork belly with just a little of the syrup was too good. I should have cut off the fat . . . yeah, right.


A yogurt breakfast offering at the Americana Restaurant in Seattle.Peg ordered the vanilla yogurt with bananas and granola. It was excellent as well. I didn't really touch my scrambled eggs but once Peg sampled them, they didn't stand a chance. They were scrambled with scallions and were perfectly cooked.

Although the exterior walls didn't unfold to let in the beauty of Captiol Hill, a small outdoor eating area was just the other side of the window from our table. We watched as our waitress seated a man and his dog at a wrought-iron table. The German shepherd was friendly and attracted passersby. We saw people stop to admire the dog and talk with the owner. It was nice just to see the interaction.


A Capitol Hill view from inside the Americana Restaurant in Seattle.


A scene from Grey Gardens at ACT Theatre in Seattle.After breakfast I dropped Peg off at the local market where she bought a large sandwich and we returned to our B&B. We saved the sandwich for our dinner. With two breakfasts under my belt, I wasn't looking forward to a big Friday night meal.

That evening we headed back to ACT Theatre for Grey Gardens. The set was fantastic, the acting was fabulous, the direction impeccable, and the results were disappointing. The production was a musical gleaned from a documentary about relatives of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, part of the Bouvier family. It was painful to watch. The jokes didn't get laughs, the music didn't have my toes tapping, and the conclusion was missing a standing ovation. Polite applause is just not enough.


Breakfast at the Seattle Hill House B&B on Capitol Hill.Saturday was everything Friday was not. It was one of the best days I've experienced and I've had lots of really, really good days. Breakfast had lots of friendly people to talk with. Peggy joined us; Peg likes to sleep in, but she picked a great morning to rise early. Two of the guests were on their way to Ramstein in Germany. Peg graduated from high school in nearby Kaiserslaughtern while living on the NATO Air Base. Her father was an Air Force Senior MS with enough hashes on his sleeve to accommodate a ton of corned beef. John, the husband of the couple had been in the Army and had been stationed in Ramstein. He and his wife, Sandy were on their way to Joint Base Lewis/McChord to travel stand-by. They were fun to talk with.

There were three people from Texas and three people from France. What a nice gathering and sharing of memories and suggestions for sightseeing and dining.


A portrait by Nicolai Fechen of his father.After breakfast we drove to the Frye Art Museum, which is fairly close and just off Capitol Hill. The exhibit is an outstanding show of paintings by Nicolai Fechin. Fechin was born in Russia and became an impressionist painter at the time when Paris was the place for the new movement. Fechin later moved to the United States. His portraits are fantastic. We have a sketch/watercolor portrait that is attributed to Fechin. When my friend Al saw it for the first time, he thought it was done in 3-D.

This current exhibit has some landscapes that were brand new to me and I really enjoyed them. Fechin spent much of his life in Taos, New Mexico and then southern California. In New Mexico he captured the look and feel of the indigenous peoples of the southwest. My favorite paintings were those where he captured his wife, and I loved the portrait for his father. I had also not seen his still life paintings and landscapes of the southwest. What an experience to see these exquisite pieces of art.


Christopher Morson from the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at Book-It Repertory in Seattle, Washington - Photo by Alan Alabastro.After viewing the paintings we drove to the Seattle Center for the Book-It Theater production of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Uncensored. There was no late seating and if you had to leave during the performance there was no re-entry until intermission. My stomach was feeling a little queasy and so I opted out. While Peg went into the theatre I stayed in the lobby, where I viewed the production on closed circuit TV. After intermission, I was joined by three other people who didn't make it back in time for the second act.

The reason for the non-re-entry was because the production is done completely in the round, and the actors are continually running up and down the aisles and exiting and re-entering from difference exits. By sitting in the lobby I was able to view one of my favorite actors, Peter Jacobs as he came off stage and prepared to re-enter. He stood by the lobby door listening to the dialog and waiting for his cue. He had his jacket off and held it out so the HVAC system ballooned it out. Acting is hot work and he was probably drying out the sweat. As he waited he shifted his legs back and forth like a sprinter getting ready for a fifty yard dash.

On the TV screen I could see the action on-stage, but not the audience. I saw his soliloquy as the "Duke." It was fall-down laugh-out-loud funny. Peg said at the end people began generously applauding, but when Peter and his fellow flim-flam buddy Russell Hodgkinson were introduced the crowd went wild and everything was a standing ovation from that moment on. The applause was thundering.

Afterwards we chatted briefly with Charlotte Tiencken, the managing director. We are always amazed at the Book-It productions . . . and always ready for the next one.



Capitol Hill dinner at Panevideo on Broadway in Seattle.

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