Friday, February 6, 2015

14. Seattle Theater Group: The Moore Theater and Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye

Fourteen down. Forty one to go. 

The beautiful Moore auditorium echoes with historic performances: Ethel
Barrymore, George M. Cohan, Anna Pavlova, Helen Keller, Najinski, the Marx
Brothers and Sarah Bernhardt, just to name a few.

Dame Edna was a lot of fun, but I was very distracted at the show thinking about my love for another Grande Dame, The Moore Theater, and my appreciation for Seattle Theater Group, the organization that keeps her alive and well and working 108 years after her grand opening.

In 1971 Seattle Opera produced
the first ever staged professional
production of the Who's Tommy at the
 Moore, with Bette Midler in the lead female
 roles. The theater was also the first home of the
 Seattle International Film Festival.

The City was very proud of the Moore when it opened in 1907.  "Henceforth Seattle is to be a metropolis in things theatrical, with a metropolitan theater and metropolitan attractions," said the local paper. Reading the Moore's history, I am struck by the succession of leaders, starting with James Moore himself, who developed the Moore and saved it from the wrecking ball over the past 100 years. STG has the stewardship role today, and takes it very seriously. In 2013 they did a facelift that included replacing all 1800 seats and installing a curtain system that can transform the theater into a 400 seat space appropriate for more intimate productions. Check out historylink's excellent essay on the history of the Moore.

Hair made quite an
impression on a kid
from Burien. Glad I saved
one of the posters we put up
all over town.
In addition to the Moore, STG keeps the historic Paramount and Neptune Theaters healthy and vibrant, presenting an average of 500 events a year in the three venues. Like many others, my affection for the Moore is personal. In the late 60's my parents fretted that the place would make me a hippie. You see, in high school I worked for Northwest Releasing, and had the chance to hang out at the first Seattle production of Hair at the Moore. Before that, as a grade school kid, I was in a locally produced musical there about Seattle's early history, Morning Glory Tree. My brother Scott (who is also graciously acting as editor for this blog) played the male lead and I was a kid named "Puget." In the show we all happily survived the Great Seattle Fire and sang a rousing finale about rebuilding from the ashes. Think "Climb Every Mountain."

Oh, and Dame Edna? She was a perfect example of the fun STG brings to town. Barry Humphries has enjoyed an incredible run with Edna since the mid-1950's when she first appeared as a Melbourne housewife. The audience took great delight as she skewered just about everyone, but particularly a small group in the front row who made the mistake of showing up late (for both the opening and after intermission!). All in all, a great evening of fun and special memories.

Thank you, Seattle Theater Group.

At the end of the show, Dame Edna invited the
audience to take pictures and "tweet away."

1 comment:

  1. This is the most fun post - I like hearing about your connection to the Moore.