Only the Names Are Boring
The Sorcerer's Apprentice and The Show, Reviewed by Children
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Seattle Children's Theatre
Through Jan 27.
The story of the play The Sorcerer's Apprentice is about a kid named Charles who runs away from his evil neighbors and comes to a magical forest where the trees, plants, and animals start talking to him. He is freaked out by the talking plants, animals, and trees. He finds a garden and takes some vegetables, but doesn't know that they belong to a sorcerer. He hides when the sorcerer comes to get the weeds out of her garden. He sees her use magic to get her hoe and her seed bag. She notices that some of her vegetables are missing. Then she asks the plants who took her vegetables. The plants tell her about Charles and where he is hiding.
When Charles and the sorcerer meet, he asks to become her apprentice. She says "no" but later she says "yes," but gives him only three chances to do a good job. If he messes up, he can't be her apprentice.
I won't tell the rest of the story because it might ruin it for you, but in the end the lessons Charles learns are that you have to follow directions and "listen and learn." He also learns that you can't believe just anything that just anybody tells you.
The magic in The Sorcerer's Apprentice looks realistic. The sets are pretty cool; they have six different places that the play takes place in. I liked the vines in the background when they are down in the evil guy's place. There are 13 characters and nine actors and some of the actors play more than one part. (I didn't realize this until I read the program.) The actors work hard.
The people who play the music are pretty good. They play five different instruments—the bass, the drums, the flute, the saxophone, and the piano. I thought The Sorcerer's Apprentice was okay and I would suggest going to see it if you are into magic and fantasy. EBENEZER DRAKE-MUDEDE, AGE 10
Troy Miszklevitz at Washington Ensemble Theatre
Through Jan 7.
Ninety-nine percent of any compelling story is motivation, so listen: Leroy wants Juliana to love him, but he also has to appease Vinnie, a butterfly-knife-wielding gangster with an expensive-shoe fetish. Frank, a hobo, wants to go fishing with Leroy, so he'll help get the shoes by harassing a pair out of the audience. Chip Challenger, "The Face of America," needs someone to take over his late-night talk show by midnight, or else a Byzantine contract will bind him to another 10 years of showbiz fakery. Izzy wants to write a hit song, and he also wants to perform daredevil stunts with a Coupe de Ville for the as-yet-unwritten song's music video, which is currently filming. The car belongs to Bruno, who wants a mosaic of Philip Seymour Hoffman on the floor of his beauty salon. All of this is being told to us by Nature Man, an ecoterrorist—"Dirt, mud, and earth are my three favorite things"—trying to black out New York City in his battle against technology and, specifically, wires. I can't say if these motivations would be convincing if the seven characters were played by seven different actors, but that's irrelevant: The Show is a one-man performance, and holy shit is it ever compelling.
Troy Miszklevitz acts each of the above seven roles, plus two near-silent supporting parts, with uncontainable energy. Each character has its own complete vocabulary of body language, dialogue tics, and comic timing. As Frank, Miszklevitz appears racked by polio and his voice has the nasal whine of a junkie, but Vinnie stands post-straight, projecting a force field of menace three feet around him and speaking in a Goodfella mumble. What's more, the characters continually interact, and Miszklevitz threatens, flirts, condescends, wheedles, charms, cajoles, and annoys himself with more realism than some community theaters' entire casts could muster.
Of course, there's more to a one-man show than (... cough) one man. Undoubtedly much of The Show's cracktacular bravado is due to director/co-creator Rhonda J. Soikowski. Zeke Keeble's music direction hones each character to a few well-chosen notes, and Jason Gorgen's lighting suggests a television studio and campfire scene on an otherwise blank stage. I went into the theater full of trepidation; The Show is, after all, billed as "a one-man musical comedy" that's "appropriate for all ages," but what I could not even begin to be prepared for was a one-man show that could've been produced—and I mean this in only the very best, the RAWK-inest, sense—by Jerry frickin' Bruckheimer. PAUL BOBBY CONSTANT, AGE 30