This was a four day adventure that saw us dining out twice, seeing the same musical production twice and visiting with four granddaughters and staying up late several nights in a row. It started with taking granddaughter Daron Ann Doman to dinner at the Adriatic Grill. Peg had the spaghetti squash and prawns. It was beyond excellent. I had the clam linguine, but there was no comparison. For dessert I had the star of the evening a banana split with one scoop of pumpkin ice cream. It had a ribbon of chocolate that ran through it.
Connor waited on us. Last time there we had a newbie server, who told us we couldn't have butter with our focaccia bread. We soon had butter, however. Once Connor seated the three of us, he asked if I wanted my usual order of Shirley Temple with extra cherries. I actually didn't, but since he was so thoughtful, I nodded my head. We soon had a glass of wine for Peg, a coconut Italian soda for Daron, and cherries for me.
We had never been to a preview night at Lakewood Playhouse before, so we wanted to be there by seven when they handed out the tickets. We couldn't linger too long over our food.
I like an aisle seat, so I try to make sure I get one. It's first come, first severed with tickets, but you can't claim a seat until they open the theater door at seven-thirty. Guarding the door was Diane. We chatted with her on both Thursday evening and Saturday evening about the theater and life in general. She was fun to talk with.
By Diane's door were several folding chairs. I opened up three of them: one for Peg, one for me, and one for Daron Ann. I looked away for a second and a young woman sat down in the one I had for Daron. Daron just smiled and sat in another chair a few feet away. When it was time to go into the theater, I folded up the three chairs and put them back by the door. I earned my pay!
On Saturday, while we waited in the same spot, I dropped a ticket and Diane bent down and picked it up. I said, "I could have done that." She responded. "In a skirt and high heels?" I just laughed. Sometimes my knees won't even comply when I'm wearing running shoes. Diane was dressed nicely . . . in a skirt . . . and high heels.
The theater was wide open, so we took the opportunity to choose front row seats adjacent to the new stage addition (shaped like the prow of a ship). We enjoyed the production. We laughed and howled at the pirates and the policemen. We were part of the standing ovation at the end.
Two days later Peg and I picked up three different granddaughters: 8th grader Bella (Daron's younger sister), 7th grader Sophia (Daron's youngest sister), and 6th grader Laci (Daron, Bella, and Sophia's cousin). These three get along well. We took them to lunch. We chose Little Jerry's on 84th and Park. They serve breakfast all day, but they have soup, burgers, and sandwiches, also.
I pointed out all of the Jerry Seinfeld images and collectibles. The kids just looked at me. I asked, "You've heard of Jerry Seinfeld . . . the biggest show on TV in the 90s . . . kinda like The Big Bang Theory is now . . ." Nothing. Never heard of it. Ancient history.
The food went over well, however. Laci had a bacon sandwich and ate both halves and much of the French fries.
Peg was won over by the fruit plate. Kiwi fruit, strawberries, bananas, toast and Smuckers strawberry jam.
I loved the Jerry version of chicken fried steak. Hash browns on the bottom with gravy over them. Two halves of a biscuit. Chicken fried steak on top of the biscuit. Curly bacon on top of the chicken fried steak with two fried eggs on top of that . . . and then covered with more gravy. What's not to like?
Peg and I tried a couple of times to explain the plot and the action of the upcoming operetta. We were rewarded with blank stares. The stares are usually reserved for my jokes and teasing. Oh, well . . . I knew they loved plays and musicals. We hoped for the best.
I was surprised to see Chris Serface all decked out in his Sunday-go-to-meeting suit, which he usually reserves for play introductions at his own theater, Tacoma Little Theatre. Chris was there to introduce the play to the audience and promote season tickets for Lakewood Playhouse. This is what I love about our local theaters, they help each other. It's a small community. The managing director of Lakewood Playhouse is John Munn, but John directed this production of "The Pirates of Penzance" and is playing the part of the Pirate King in the musical. Chris is directing the upcoming production of "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," so Lakewood will probably rely on board members to introduce their own show for each production.
These two theaters plus Tacoma Musical Theatre all work together to provide excellent productions in Tacoma and Pierce County and they don't just stop with these three theaters, but other theatrical production companies as well.
Peg is writing a full review of The Pirates of Penzance, but I just want to mention a few of the people and the moments that appealed to me. I had never heard of the Lakewood Institute Theater (LIT), which teaches acting for all ages. There were several members of the cast who have been involved with LIT. I like to see young people introduced to theater and being encouraged to perform. Two of the youngest members of this production were Karly Dammel and Natalie Hodges (possibly the shortest members of the troop).
On our second viewing of the production Peg and I along with the girls had seats in the main section. I was on the aisle in the next to the last row with our group beside me. There is a partial wall on each side of the seating section. In part of the production I saw the top of a ladder appear less than three feet away from my head and Fune Tautala, the main character Frederic, appeared over it as he climbed the ladder and stepped down on the stairs. Following him was Karly. Fune, just reached down, grabed Karly, and lifted her up and over and then down onto the stairs . . . like she weighed nothing. Karly played a pirate and played it well. In Treasure Island, another pirate production, she played Jim Hawkins. Karly had her head shaved to resemble a man. She did a great job. One of the best scenes in the production has the pirates trying to lay hands on Major General Stanley as he walked about the stage. The pirates are in slow motion and never catch him. He always remains just out of their grasp. Slow motion demands strength, timing, balance, and practice . . . and great choreography.
The big bodies hide Karly, but you can just make out her little black boot on tip-toe to the general's left.
The policemen led by their sergeant are always a hit with audiences. Derek Hall commanded his men as he danced around the stage. Derek has a great voice and is the choir directory at Mount Tahoma High School. During the second act I once again found actors next to me in the dark. Several policemen hid on the stairs. Derek was one of them. I had a chance to enjoy their harmony up close. Another LIT member, Jaxx Chadick did a great job as a pirate and a policeman. He likes singing, dancing and acting. As a policeman, he "popped." When the policemen rocked as they walked he really rocked. He moves well.
An older member of LIT is Tony Lewis Williams. Tony was an outstanding pirate. I knew the slow motion pirate scene was hard work, when I saw Tony on Thursday night from my front row seat. At the end of that scene the sweat on his brow glistened. Acting is hard work. At the end of the show on Saturday night, the policemen and the pirates hurried from backstage all the way to the front door to greet people. They were all sweating.
Tony played the cowardly lion in the LIT production of Wizard of Oz. I would have liked to have seen that . . . I also would have liked to have seen Jaxx Chadwick as Sky Masterson in "Guys and Dolls," and Karly Dammel as Jim Hawkins in "Treasure Island." I saw that Clover Park Rotary has helped with scholarship donations for LIT before. I'm a member of the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8. I'll have to see what else Rotary can do to help.
Theater should always be fun for the actors and production people. To put on a show is hard work, but should end with a feeling of pride . . . and possibly relief. The big payment comes not as a check, but in the faces of the audience. Theater people need to know their efforts touched people . . . made them laugh . . . made them cry . . . or anywhere in-between. John Munn as managing director and the production director of "The Pirates of Penzance" did a great job. It was a team effort and that just makes it better!