by Kirby Lindsay, posted 9 May 2014
This May, from the 16th – 25th, ‘The Grimaldis Are Dead, A Musical Ghost Story’ converts Hale’s Palladium into an auction clearinghouse where an otherworldly mix of circus, cabaret, magic and theater entertain, delight and interact with the audience. Performances by the ghosts of the Grimaldis past start promptly at 7:00p, and “this is not something to arrive at late,” warned producer/playwright Dane Ballard.
‘A Non-Traditional Piece’
“I started writing this seven years ago,” Ballard explained, “it is a non-traditional piece.” Ballard began work on ‘The Grimaldis’ while in Seattle, and for this production he has been able to cast performers who inspired some of the characters.
The show shares the stories of generations of the Grimaldi family, performers that have thrilled at opera houses and on the silver screen, with each one showing off their talents as they share their story. “It’s part a variety show, part musical theater,” as Ballard described it. The production has big, Hollywood-type musical numbers, performed by ballerinas, belly dancers, magicians, aerialists, and other specialty act performers cast based on their act, and their ability to act.
While Ballard wrote the show, “each variety act is being prepared by the performers,” he explained. ‘The Grimaldis’ first ran in 2012, for 2 ½ weeks, in San Francisco, but the local cast guarantees that, “each production is going to be completely different.”
The new venue will also influence this production. “The Hale’s space is a lot bigger,” Ballard observed. ‘The Grimaldis’ should fit well into the venue that recently hosted the vaudeville showcase of Moisture Festival (MF), which Ballard has attended and performed in. “The type of people who would love ‘The Grimaldis’ would also be those who love Moisture Festival,” Ballard observed.
“The entire venue is set up as though it were an auction house,” Ballard explained, “The audience isn’t sitting completely separate. The whole room is the stage. We spend almost no time backstage.” The former keg warehouse, suits ‘The Grimaldis’. “It’s a truly unique experience,” Ballard explained about the show, and Hale’s, “it is so unusual and yet so perfect.”
‘First-And-Foremost A Narrative’
‘The Grimaldis Are Dead’ has much in common with MF, and Frank Olivier’s Twisted Cabaret that took place in Hale’s Palladium in March. “There’s a little bit of everything,” Ballard commented, but, “with an actual narrative. I’ve always liked a show better when all the elements were meant to go together, to really lend to the narrative. When someone does a number,” be it music or magic, “it is teaching you about a character. It makes you care more about these characters.”
“It is first-and-foremost a narrative,” Ballard said about ‘The Grimaldis’, “people walk out feeling like they really met these characters.”
With new actors, and new acts, the show will change with this run – and the immersive, interactive nature of the performances mean the show changes from night to night. “We had people who came to four or five performances,” during the San Francisco run, Ballard said.
The interaction between audience and performers includes everyone partaking. “We have a dinner party during the show,” Ballard explained, and the audience joins in there as well. “It is not dinner theater,” he said, nor is this a traditional, full-stop intermission type play. Instead, it is ‘theatre amuse bouche’ with refreshments served as part of the show.
Theater, Music And Ghosts
Directed by Kerry Christianson, the Seattle production of ‘The Grimaldis Are Dead,’ features the talents of Brian Pucheu, Lara Fox, Hannah Birch, Dustin Guy Jackson, Katherine Grant-Suttie, Marcus Paul Wolland, Rachel Brow, Lara Rose Flynn, Taylor Davis-Schupbach, and Donn F. Christianson. Ballard wrote the play but it has original music by John Wood, performed under the direction of Ben Dobyns.
Come enjoy an evening of circus, improve and musical theater, while it is available in our own backyard at Hale’s. Tickets can be purchased ($35-$45) through Brown Paper Tickets, with performances May 16th – May 25th on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7p – and a special matinee performance at 2p on May 24th. Tickets are already selling out, so buy yours today for this creative and unique evening!
- ‘Twisted Cabaret & Pandemonium Vaudeville’ At The Palladium
- by Kirby Lindsay, May 1, 2013
- Moisture Festival: Eleven Years & Counting
- by Kirby Lindsay, March 17, 2014
- Hale’s Provides More Places To Party
- by Kirby Lindsay, April 12, 2013
©2014 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.