News Column

3 Ways to Get a Fun Theater Fix

June 28, 2013

YellowBrix

June 28--There's a lull just before the Fourth of July when theater companies know they can't compete with fireworks and barbecues, and hold off on show openings until mid-July (when they return in force).

But if you're craving a semi-theatrical experience before the floodgates open again, here are some suggestions for theater fare projected on screens large and small:

"The Audience"

I was fortunate on a recent trip to London to see Helen Mirren's splendid stage performance as Queen Elizabeth II in "The Audience."

The next best thing for Mirren fans would be to catch a SIFF Cinema screening of the production, filmed in performance for the National Theatre Live series.

Written by Peter Morgan (who also penned the screenplay for "The Queen," which also starred Mirren), "The Audience" imagines the British monarch's weekly meetings with the politically and personally diverse prime ministers who have served during her reign -- from a war-weary Winston Churchill to a snippy Margaret Thatcher to the current prime minister, David Cameron.

Morgan's portrait of his queen is unwaveringly flattering. If she's half as sage, witty and thoughtful as in Mirren's sympathetic portrait of the lady, she'd be good company for a t te-...-t te.

Friday-Thursday at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle; $15-$20 (206-324-9996 or www.siff.net).

"ANNIE: It's the Hard-Knock Life, From Script to Stage"

The junior thespians and younger musical theater fans in your orbit may well enjoy this behind-the-scenes PBS documentary about one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time. "Annie" has played more than 2,800 performances in several engagements on the Great White Way, including the revival now at Broadway's Palace Theatre.

However, the PBS doc is not another filmed version of the musical inspired by the "Little Orphan Annie" comic strip. It is, rather, an informative and entertaining peek backstage, from casting sessions for the current revival through to opening night. It's also something of an infomercial for the show, not surprisingly.

There are interviews with the cute child actors playing Annie and her orphanage pals, chats with the show's designers and a look back at "Annie's" history with original director-lyricist (and former Issaquah resident) Martin Charnin.

10 p.m. Friday, KCTS.

"Grease"

Another Broadway hit that just won't quit is this homage to 1950s high school 'tude, cliques and romance. And you can see the film version for the price of a $3 beverage next week, in the "Movie Mondays" series at The Triple Door nightclub (formerly a cinema, the Embassy Theatre).

The energetically campy 1978 flick is based on the megahit 1971 stage musical. But thanks in good part to a cast led by the young, hot John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John and Stockard Channing, and some infernally catchy added tunes ("You're The One I Want," "Sandy"), the film was a smashing success on its own -- and even spun off an (inferior) sequel, "Grease 2."

Don't be surprised if there's a lot of singing along during the screening. It's a "Grease" tradition.

8 p.m. (doors open at 4 p.m.) Monday, The Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle; $3 with beverage (206-838-4333 or www.thetripledoor.net).

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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