It was a theater nerd’s wet dream last night at The Moore Theater as Balagan kicked off their 2013/14 Season with a hell of a free party featuring a bigass line up of Seattle talent, as well as diva appearances from Jinkx Monsoon and Tony Award winning Broadway actress Alice Ripley…not to mention some deliciously surprising announcements about their upcoming season. The entertainment was top notch with numbers from former Balagan actor Jinkx Monsoon, who as alter ego Jerick Hoffer starred in the theater company’s productions of “Spring Awakening” and “Hedwig & The Angry Inch” but other alums of Balagan productions also took to the stage to perform numbers from the theater’s 13/14 slate, including songs from “Les Misérables”, “Carrie: The Musical”, “A Very Merry (Unauthorized) Scientology Pageant”, and “Jerry Springer: The Opera”. Both “Carrie” and “Springer” will be performed at The Moore, in a new partnership with Seattle Theatre Group, the owner/operators of the iconic venue. There were also numbers from the new musicals being developed by Balagan as part of their New Works program, which will workshop in Seattle before hopefully heading to NYC. Executive Director Jake Groshong, new Artisitic Director Louis Hobson, and Co-Producer Katie Tomlinson Diamond, announced the plans for the new project:
…the Balagan New Works Program, which will debut this July with a New Works Summer Series. Workshops include Thankskilling, a musical about a killer turkey from the creators of TRAILS (Saturday, July 6); The Roaring 21st, a Prohibition-era musical created by Balagan artists (Monday, July 15); and Island Song, a musical anthology about five New Yorkers’ twisted love affair… with their city (Monday, August 19). The New Works Program will continue through the 2013-2014 season with New York and Seattle workshops of Pump Up the Volume, a new rock musical based on the cult film classic; and a spring 2014 production of Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, a time-bending, two-person show about a contemporary single working mother and the famed historic Antarctic explorer.
The most surprising parts of the evening were the announcements that the 5th show of Balagan’s season will be the debut of a seldom seen show…“Nirvanov” which will combine elements of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s 1887 play, “Ivanov” with the life of Seattle’s own rock star, Kurt Cobain…and, the news that Alice Ripley will portray Margaret White in “Carrie: The Musical”. The acclaimed Broadway star of “The Who’s Tommy”, “Side Show”, “Sunset Boulevard” and “Next to Normal” wowed the audience at The Moore last night with a set that included songs from “Tommy”, “N2N” and one of “Carrie: The Musical’s” big power ballads. The news that Ripley will return to Seattle for the October 11-26 run of Balagan’s production at The Moore is a sign that the theater company is moving to Big Theater status. It was also announced that two other Broadway vets will join the “Carrie” cast: Kendra Kassebaum, as the gym teacher, Miss Collins, and Keaton Whittaker as Carrie. Both Kassebaum and Whittaker are familiar faces to Seattle stages…between the street cred of the actors and the huge desire of theater nerds to finally witness a staging of such an iconic show, it’s likely that “Carrie: The Musical” could be the hottest ticket in Seattle this coming October. (They only way this show could be any “hotter” was if they had managed to find a role for Jinkx Monsoon in it…) Alice Ripley’s “Next to Normal” co-star Louis Hobson is the new artistic director of Balagan; he will also star as Jean Valjean in the company’s season opener of “Les Miz” which will perform at the Balagan’s soon to be ex home, at Capitol Hill’s Erickson Theatre. Seattle Central Community College, the owners of that theater, are taking back occupancy of the Erickson at the end of the year to utilize the facility for lectures, meetings and classes. Balagan’s new partnership with STG, gives the company further time to find a new permanent space for the rapidly growing organization. Balagan is also extending their very special subscription offer that was initially supposed to be a one night special deal for the audience at last night’s event. If you’re a fan of this company and the upcoming season, it might behoove you to snap up this offer…the two shows at The Moore, “Carrie” and “Springer” are only running for two weeks so it could be hard to grab single tickets for those runs.