THE GRIMALDIS

Posted: May 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

Jack_and_Lo_mic

“The Grimaldis” is an ambitious “ghostly musical” now playing at Hale’s Palladium, the performance space found in the lower level of Hale’s Brewery in Fremont that is best known for hosting the highly popular “Moisture Festival.”

Produced and Written by Dane Ballard, who specializes in popular forms of performance art from decades and centuries past, (forms such as burlesque, cabaret, vaudeville, variety shows, and circus), “The Grimaldis” is exactly that: a meta-theatrical journey into the history of spectacle.

There are magicians, trapeze artists, ballerinas, gypsy dancers, actors, singers, and performers of all stripes and persuasions who liven up the the non-traditional warehouse space that is Hale’s Palladium.

Directed by Kerry Christiansen, who served as Artistic Director for the Little Red Studio for three years, and who has directed and choreographed in a number of local theaters over the years, including Theater Schmeater, Centerstage, Annex, Seattle Shakes, and Wooden O., the show is a definite crowd pleaser for people of all ages, and comes complete with some amuse-bouches; that’s a fancy French term for appetizers.

The stage is set for an auction of the Grimaldi Family Estate, where the “bidding will begin promptly at 9am tomorrow.” As the Grimaldis were a family of performers with a long, rich history, there are a number of items belonging to them on which audience members may “bid,” items such as: magician’s cabinets, circus costumes, ornate lamps, musical instruments, and other objects that a family of performers might acquire over the years.

As the show progresses, a plot develops eventually, one in which the last survivor of the Grimaldi family, Walter Sutter, (played by Dustin Guy Jackson), comes to realize his family’s legacy and his own birthright as a performer. Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that Walter comes to embrace his family history and his own love of performance.

There were many wonderful performances given by the large cast of fourteen performers, but some of the highlights include: the aerialists, Annabelle and Ariel Grimaldi (played respectively by Hannah Birch and Katherine Grant-Suttie); the magician, Lazarus Grimaldi (played by Marcus Wolland); the ballerina, Babette Grimaldi (played by Rachel Brow); and, of course, the singing patriarch and matriarch of the family, Jack and Lois Grimaldi (played by Brian Pucheu and Lara Fox). They were joined by a number of other cast members who also gave entertaining performances.

There were two things in particular that I really liked about this show: 1) it’s experimental nature, and 2) the sense of heartfelt authenticity from all the cast and crew. As for the first of these, I appreciated the writer’s and director’s willingness to use the entire space, to engage the audience in the performance by having us interact with the characters, as well as the use of video and other technology in the stagecraft. And in terms of the second aspect, the authenticity, I really felt like all the actors and actresses were enjoying themselves and that the director and producer were excited about staging the show.

Granted, there were a few hiccups on preview night with some of the technical aspects of the show, especially with the lights, which probably need a better design, but overall, it was a fun night of theatre. The show is a little bit like a low-budget Teatro Zinzanni production, but with a lot more authenticity and heart and a lot less taxing on your wallet.

Oh, and did I mention the live band that plays throughout?! It is composed of Ben Dobyns, Steve Steele, Jason Hershey, Rosalynn DeRoos, and Brian Platino. They do a great job!

In short, kudos to the entire cast, crew, and band on a fun and entertaining show! Definitely worth seeing, whether you’re 1 or 101!

“The Grimaldis” plays through May 25 at Hale’s Palladium, 4301 Leary Way NW in Fremont. For tickets and info, visit http://www.TheGrimaldisAreDead.com or call Brown Paper Tickets at 800-838-3006.

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