I didn't follow my own advice, but luckily we didn't suffer too much. As we approached the West Seattle Bridge exit from I-5 I saw the long line of cars heading to Quest Field. I groaned. I had forgotten to check the Seattle Seahawks football schedule. It's gotten easier now that the Seattle SuperSonics have left town, but still when heading to downtown Seattle, it is always best to look over the sports and entertainment calendars.
Peg and I were headed to West Seattle to pick up a friend, and then going to the Seattle Center for dinner and a play. The exit off I-5 splits into three exits with the football fans streaming into the center one, I took the left one for the bridge.
Peg and I arrived at our friend's house and then the three of us hit the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which took us to the Seattle Center with only a few anoying no right turn notices until we could connect with three right turns to lead us to the street where I could drop off Peg and Al, while I parked the car.
Parking the car meant circling several blocks before finding a parking garage ($10.00) and then walking slightly uphill to the center. By the time I found Al and Peg in the Food Court, they were eating and by the time I returned with my fish and chips they were done. We had arrived fairly early and so I had ordered from Steamer's. I knew it would take longer for my food, and it did, but the fish wasn't over-cooked. It was nice and brown and crispy on the outside. I ordered the three-piece cod plate with an additional piece of salmon. I shared bits with Peg and Al. There are enough restaurants under one roof to accommodate most people. I could have simply grabbed a couple slices of pizza, but was in the mood for some good fish. I got it.
Inside the Food Court there was a musical group playing samba-type South American music. Diners had a chance to enjoy a nice miniature holiday cityscape of buildings in the snow and King Street Station in the background. The Food Court at Seattle Center always has some sort of entertainment for all ages going on.
After lunch we strolled over to the Seattle Children's Theatre for the Book-It Repertory Theatre production of Red Ranger Came Calling. Be sure to read Peg's review of the play. We got our tickets, waited a few minutes and then were let in to take our seats. The nicely tiered stadium seats are bench-type. You sit where you can. We took our seats: front row center. My favorite seats.
I saw some people whom I knew years ago, but was unable to get close to them and bend their ear. Obviously, they didn't recognize me. I wonder how that could be? Perhaps, I have a better memory. It was nice seeing other people from Tacoma in the Seattle audience.
A few feet in front of us was the stage, the footlights . . . and a ladder, which was horizontal and leaning against the stage. We discussed its usage. I guessed (correctly) that it would be used in the production. It was used first as a series of train windows and then as a ferry railing.
Jerick Hoffer plays the part of "Red" who has been sent to live during December at Christmas time on a dreary island (Vashon) in a dreary corner of the United States (Washington). He's a sulky, young child who is outraged and is usually in the middle of a rant about something. My favorite bit was "Red" riding his apple-crate scooter across the floor directly in front of our feet from one side of the stage to the other. A piece of the crate falls off by accident. A dangerous nail sticks out, so it can't be left where people might walk on it, so Jerick as "Red" walks back onto the aisle picks it up and flings it off stage as a child in the middle of a snit fit might do. Perfect. Dead on. In character. I dropped my head in recognition and laughter. I've done it myself . . . and the last time wasn't that long ago.
Jerick, who just graduated from Cornish and is over six foot tall, plays the bad mood, nine year-old child expertly. When he gives someone the evil eye, you know he means it and thinks it will do them harm. The character of "Red" loves radio hero Buck Tweed's Red Ranger and when the child "Red" sees the Red Ranger "star hopper" bicycle for sale in a store on Vashon he knows he wants it . . . needs it . . . has to have it.
The play has a great cast, great tunes, and lots of great dancing. The original story is by Berkeley Breathed of Bloom County fame. Peg and I had seen an earlier production from Book-It in 2003 or 2004, but this version blows the older production out of the water. Director Myra Platt wrote the lyrics and Edd Key, who played the head elf, was the co-composer and musical director of the production. The two of them turned the play into a musical. Red Ranger Came Calling now rivals my favorite production from the Seattle Children's Theatre of A Year with Frog and Toad, which played off-broadway.
Although there were many fine performances in the show (especially the four "old people" from the island), I thought it was nice to see Wesley Rice as the narrator. He did a very nice, homey introduction and close. Adam Westerman who played the part of Red in a production on Vashon Island itself, did a great job as one of the toys. He dances really well and sang his heart out. He could have a nice future on stage or in motion pictures. Sophia Mitri-Schloss was captivating as Pinocchio. She was charming and is already well on her way in show-biz.
Sometimes Peg and I like fine dining and other times, good food served quickly will do. At the Food Court she likes to have a bockwurst. She had it with sauerkraut this fine winter day and enjoyed it. After the play we dropped Al off in West Seattle and scooted off to I-5 trying to beat the happy crowds leaving Quest Field after a homegame Seahawks win. If I had been home I would have watched it on TV, which would have been nice. However, seeing a great play wins over a sports competition on television every time.
I would love to see Red Ranger Came Calling again . . . and again. This is the kind of theater that most theaters can only dream about producing. The set was simple, but the story, the music, the lyrics, the actors, the choreography, and the direction all came together to deliver . . . well . . . magic.
I expected to see a fun play. I've never seen anything at Book-It or SCT that I didn't enjoy, but Red Ranger far exceeded my expectations. My old friends from Tacoma stayed after the play for a "talk-back" as Al, Peg, and I did. Bob's wife Mary Elizabeth said it all when she mentioned that they were going to tell everyone to come and see this play. Peg and I will do that as well. The was an example of great entertainment on a Sunday afternoon in a dreary corner of the world near the dreary island of Vashon that Peg and I look out on every day we're home.