Neo-vaudeville delights at Moisture Festival’s opening night By Misha Berson Seattle Times theater critic March 12, 2010 at 1:26 PM
A review of opening night of the Moisture Festival — “a kind of budget TeatroZinzanni” — 28 shows featuring more than 100 neo-vaudeville acts at various times and venues through April 4. Performers included Bellini Brothers; clown Godfrey Daniels; aerialist Poppy Daze; juggler Aileen Wilkie and more. If you missed the Olympics this year, not to worry. Seattle has the Olympics of Ooh and Ahh, the Celebration of Silly, now on the boards. The Moisture Festival, an exuberant potpourri of variety and burlesque, is now in its seventh year and as raffishly welcoming as ever. A largely volunteer-run bash that brings together choice comedy and skill acts from the busy local “variété” scene, and from as far away as Europe and Asia, this is a sort of budget Teatro ZinZanni — the same kind of laugh-aloud fun, with cheaper tickets and no fancy dinner. On Thursday’s opening night variety program, the first of more than 100 live and film events planned at several venues, the ACT Theatre crowd of adults and kids lapped up the jests, showmanship and feats of derring-do. Between chortles it was a time to ponder: What makes someone strive to juggle upside-down? Or keep six plates spinning on sticks? Or dangle from a ship’s anchor in a mermaid suit? Is it the same zealous dedication that makes an Olympic curler spend years training to slide stones down a sheet of ice? Perhaps, but with more verve and wacky pizazz. In Thursday’s show, the purple-suited Bellini Brothers took inspired idiocy to new heights as one tried to keep china plates whirring on sticks mounted on a table, while his Jerry Lewis-esque “twin” taunted, cringed and mugged from the sidelines. (Trust me, it was hilarious.) And a red nose goes to anyone who can tell me why Seattle-based Godfrey Daniels is so captivating. His alter-ego is a pinheaded, impassive, plastic-headed clown, who tosses a balloon around and casts slow-burn glares at the patrons. That’s basically the whole act, and it’s as absurdist as anything Samuel Beckett ever penned. Comedy and circus routines (accompanied by the jazzy Zebra Kings band) dominated, but there was also a (chaste) hint of neo-burlesque in the sexy, supple routine of aerialist Poppy Daze (a member of the late, beloved Circus Contraption), transforming from mermaid to bikini girl before us. And for sheer prowess, there was Wang Hong, a worldclass antipodist (foot balancer) who makes twirling large paper parasols with her tootsies look blissfully simple.
The funky, adroit spirit of neo-vaudeville that the Moisture Fest perpetuates was best exemplified by two masterful juggler-comedians, who learned their trade busking on the streets. Aileen Wilkie used her Scottish heritage (her bowling pins are covered in tartan), and deft manipulation of kindly audience volunteers, to whip her unicycle bit into a comic froth. And Frank Olivier, a regular on the Moisture Fest roster, still cracks you up with tricks and aw-shucks quips he coined on the San Francisco waterfront some 20 years ago. In the grand tradition, he’s both a marvelous clown — and a juggler par excellence. Plenty of liberating fun at burlesque 'Libertease' A variety-filled night at the Moisture Festival's "Libertease" burlesque show By: Michael Upchurch Originally published Saturday, March 13, 2010 at 8:46 AM You know something's up when the theater lobby is awash in lingerie — and a chair in the shape of a large, leopard-spotted high-heeled shoe is sitting at center stage. Yes, the burlesque component of the ever-expanding Moisture Festival is back. And it will continue, with a changing lineup, through April 3 (all shows at ACT). Friday night's early show had a few bumpy moments along with the grinds, especially when a faulty microphone kept giving the emcee trouble. But it also had a lot of laughs, a lot of cheek (of every kind) and some genuinely magical moments. Duo Rose, a male/female aerial team in from Chicago, were true dazzlers. As they entwined and extended theirbodies in midair in ever more intricate patterns, they seemed to become a single eight-limbed creature. How can an arched foot bear the weight of a whole body without any signs of effort? I don't know — but these two managed it. (Note: they're only in two more shows, tonight — March 13 — at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Catch them while you can.) The seven dark-eyed sirens of Seattle's own Aerialistas offered perfection of another kind, combining drop-dead attitude with ceiling-to-floor drops on the ropes. Emcee Kevin Joyce, once his mic difficulties were sorted out, was one of the evening's wild cards, feigning wide-eyed innocence at all the female flesh surrounding him ("Super duper!") even as his own costume changes grew more and more revealing. He had a great sidekick in Blanche de Bris ("It means 'white trash' in French") who kept wanting to perform and kept being denied the opportunity. When she finally got her chance, her love song to her little rubber duckie got a wild response. Evening openers the Moist-ettes were joined by another talented singer, Caela Bailey, who seemed to be channeling Sally Bowles as she belted out "Let's Misbehave" with aerial antics going on all around her. More vulgar highlights included Pidgeon von Tramp, engaging in some most unusual activity with her washing machine, and Evilyn & Belle, taking things even further with a matching silver-lamé toilets routine. The Bellini Twins were in burlesque mode (they also do vaudeville). After they stripped down to one enormous shared pair of underpants, they kept finding unusual objects at crotch level — and delivered the how-did-they-do-that moment of the show. But it was Lily Verlaine who lived up to her billing as "a living breathing work of art." Her sly wit and exquisite timing made her languid routine a thing of beauty. Her Marlene Dietrich-worthy costume heightened the effect (even as it came off). And her unusual choice of song — the Doors' "End of the Night," nicely sung by Jim McIver — made you forget altogether that it was still early in the evening.
Is it Hot in Here? Moisture Festival's Libertease Burlesque Show By Cameron in Arts & Events April 2, 2010
Burlesque has captivated audiences since the mid 19th century for reasons beyond the obvious… Yes, we all love boobies, but there’s a story in the strip, a spell in the shimmy and a secret in the sparkle of a rhinestone. Before the ACT and the Triple Door were selling-out shows and the popularity of Seattle’s burgeoning burlesque scene demanded not one, but two schools to teach Seattleites how to bump and grind, burlesque was a social revolt. It was the antithetical response to the aristocratic pretention and cultural elitism of the Victorian Age; when Queen Victoria wanna-bes were bustling up in black veils and layered clothing, the entertainers for the working class were stripping down, and flipping society the proverbial “bird”. Today, burlesque is widely embraced by mainstream audiences. Though many performers maintain that the art still carries on the torch of revolution because it celebrates the shapes and curves of the fuller female body in a Hollywood-worshipping, skinny-obsessed society, we agree. And while in some acts, the sequined costumes don’t stay on for long; burlesque also celebrates our favorite: fashion, in all its audacious, flamboyant fabulousness. The newest place in Seattle to enjoy a showcase of burlesque performers is the Moisture Festival, a 501c3 organization. The three-week long celebration of all the whimsical weirdness, the eerily enchanting charm of turn of century-style tent circus extravaganza, including variete acts, vaudeville, acrobats and jugglers, has added a five-day burlesque program to their repertoire. We sat next to the fierce Iva Handfull, and we “oohh-ed and ahh-ed” in synchronicity at belly dancing bombshell, Fuschia FoXXX, who shuffles, gyrates, convulses and thrusts her hips and chest in rhythmic perfection, Inga Ingénue’s technical yet ethereal tribute to Sally Rand, Manuella Horn, the 6’2 Austrian dominatrix who yodels in perfect melody to “Highway to Hell”, dodged a few flying rubber chickens, and we almost pissed ourselves (we think that’s why they call it the Moisture Festival?) watching Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey perform a gypsy-style psychic reading about two centimeters away from qualifying as sexual assault. Wanna spoiler? The act “finishes off” with the Evil Hate Monkey’s glitter ejaculation sensation. To reiterate: we love boobs. But as a fashion writer, we’re most captivated by the glamorous, mystifying and unlimited world of burlesque costuming, and its integral role in the performance itself. The slightest strip and shimmy is intricately related to the clothing and/or prop; what ends up on the floor is just as much a part of the act as what is not. In the armoire of a burlesquer, there’s an unexplored and mysterious phenomenon of
eclectic hairpieces, recycled fabrics, DIY props and seamstress tricks, and we saw it all backstage with Fuchsia FoXXX and Inga Ingénue. “In the art of tease, everything you take off has to seem really important and have impact and emphasis. Tease is impacted by fashion because, well, like a rhinestone glove—no one necessarily cares about a glove, but the audience will “oooh” when it sparkles and slaps against the floor,” says Inga. Wearing a self-sewn nude chiffon panel skirt and brassiere embellished with rhinestones, we discovered that not only are these women professional performers, they’re competent seamstresses, expert embellishers and champions of craftiness. “Everyone in burlesque is really self-made; it’s all about being crafty and self-reliant, ” says the "Little Blond Bomb." And Fuchsia adds, “Yeah, and rhinestoning that glove yourself can take up to five seasons of “Sex and the City!”. While there are several well-known costumers to the burlesque community: Jamie Von Stratton and Danial Hellman to name a few, most performers spend a lifetime collecting their various pieces to mix and match, add and edit. Fuchsia, featuring coin-fringed pink wraps on her hips and a beaded brassiere with an impressive antiqued metal necklace sewn on as boning in sheer Xenia the Warrior Princess brilliance offered a different perspective on how costumes impact her art. “In belly dancing, you never really touch your body like you do in burlesque, and stuff doesn’t come off, but I present them like in burlesque dancing, like with skimpier, sheer clothing, my hair and makeup and in my mood," says Fuchsia. Inga thoughtfully adds that “Belly dancing encourages you to keep your upper body still and strong and isolate your movements to make the costume move specifically.” So when these girls shop - we mean collect - they’d probably be in different aisles. Fuchsia looks for things that are going to shine under the lights, but look more old-world, metal jewelry, and oh yeah, PINK. Inga, both a classically trained technical dancer and a traditional bump and grind burlesquer, looks for ruffles, fringe, feathers and lingerieish pieces. But there’s no doubt, belly dancing and burlesque aren’t totally unrelated to one another. A lot of the movements in bump and grind burlesque are developed from, as Inga wittingly paraphrases, “white lady basterdized dance interpretations” of belly dancing. Even burlesque performers sometimes borrow the basic architecture of the bedlah belly dance garb (the bra, belt and panel skirt), though usually stripping down to the pasties and thong. Pasties and thongs—the really fun part! Even Uncle Sam influences burlesque costumes. Much like 100 years ago, Seattle laws require in alcohol serving establishments that thongs must be an inch width up the booty crack, and that pasties must be a certain width to ensure no nipple peepage. But even if uptight Seattle regulations changed, burlesquers probably wouldn’t. Pasties are a beloved component of the burlesque tradition, and for many burlesque performers, the tradition of tease is not one to tamper with.
Bad Lit - The Journal of Underground Film Badlit.com 2010 Moisture Festival: Dirty Martini And The New Burlesque By Mike Everleth March 27, 2010 March 29 7:30 p.m. SIFF Cinema 321 Mercer Street Seattle, WA 98109 Moisture Festival Hosted by: Moisture Festival The Moisture Festival, Seattle’s springtime celebration of burlesque, veritè and comedy, teams up with the Seattle International Festival to bring audiences the vivacious new documentary Dirty Martini and the New Burlesque, directed by Gary Beeber. Not only will director Beeber be in attendance, but so will the star of the film: Dirty Martini herself, who will put on a live burlesque show for the audience! The fabulous Miss Martini is one of the lead figures heading up the New Burlesque scene that has been teasing and titillating New York City with its fusion of performance art, political satire and sex-positive feminism. Beeber takes viewers directly into this exciting new subculture and gets up close and personal with several performers in addition to the titular Martini, such as Julie Atlas Muz, World-Famous *BOB*, Bambi the Mermaid, Tigger!, Scotty the Blue Bunny, and many more. In addition to Dirty Martini, SIFF is screening two other films in conjunction with Moisture Festival. On March 30 at 7:30 p.m. there’s I’m No Dummy, dir. Bryan W. Simon, a documentary about the world of ventriloquism; and on March 31 at 7:30 p.m., there will be a screening of Tim Burton’s classic comedy Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.
Hang out with variety and burlesque acts at the Moisture Festival By Michael Upchurch Seattle Times arts writer Published on March 12th, 2009 – 12:30pm
The Moisture Festival, featuring variety and burlesque acts, takes place through April 5 at various locations around Seattle. The Moisture Festival March 12-15 at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle; March 19-April 5 at Hale’s Palladium at Hale’s Brewery, 4301 Leary Way N.W., Seattle; and March 20-25 at SIFF Cinema, 321 Mercer St., Seattle Center. Tickets range from $7.50 to $25, depending on show and venue. Tickets through Brown Paper Tickets, 800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com; full schedule at www.moisturefestival. org. Aerialista Practice ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES The Aerialistas, a troupe of female Cathy Sutherland, aka “Lillian Dish,” top, and and Carri aerial performers, practice at Circus Andersen, aka “Viola Sugarlump,” of the troupe the Aerialistas, Contraption in Fremont for the rehearse. upcoming Moisture Festival. Theater review | “You got up this morning,” says sandwich-maker Rob Williams to his volunteer from the audience, “and you pretty much thought you knew where this day was headed.” The volunteer acknowledges as much, and then concedes how wrong she was. Perhaps you’re thinking: “Sandwich-making — that’s hardly a vaudeville-worthy activity.” Yes, but what if you do it with your feet, as the jaunty, motor-mouthed Williams does? He’s just one of the surprises in the sixth annual Moisture Festival. The festival, which alternates family-friendly shows with racier burlesque programs, is longer than ever (“because we’re out of our minds,” co-host Ron W. Bailey says cheerfully) and has expanded from its usual Fremont venue, Hale’s Palladium at Hale’s Brewery. You can see it through Sunday at ACT Theatre, or go to SIFF Cinema next weekend, where a series of circus/burlesque-inspired films will be preceded by live entertainment. Shows at Hale’s continue through April 5. On opening night, extravagantlyvv costumed performers greeted the audience at the door and feather boas and other “moisture” keepsakes were on sale in the lobby. In the theater, the G-rated offerings included music, comedy and juggling. Best of all was the aerial work: acrobat Sally Pepper of Circus Contraption, working solo, and the Velone Sisters, delivering captivating midair displays of balance, grace and strength.
Dr. Calamari and his assistant, Acrophelia, after nimbly parodying German expressionistic cinema, performed equally demanding feats — he remaining earthbound while she perched on top of him with the nonchalance of a bird on a twig. A cappella rockers the Bobs dropped by to perform “a nondairy version” of their favorite Cream tune, “White Room.” And Tom Noddy’s “bubble magic” ranged from an erupting Mount St. Helens to a rotating carousel. (“What you see here,” he said, “is the result of over 30 years of playing with bubbles almost every day. My father is so thrilled.”) The most striking acts were Pinky d’Ambrosia, fantastically decked out in an op-art hoopskirt and head-dress as she invested an operatic aria with a passion bordering on psychosis, and Godfrey Daniels, a clown of remarkable proportions with a slow but oddly perilous balloon routine. Most acts will be appearing again at some point between now and April 5. The lineup changes slightly every night, so check the schedule for details. Note: “Family-friendly” doesn’t mean entirely vanilla. Risqué moments on Wednesday included jokes designed to fly over the kids’ heads and a dance number by Du Caniveaux Dancing Bears, whose décolletage was not what it seemed. But this wasn’t raunchy fare. For that, the burlesque shows are the ones to go to — as the names of the performers (Indigo Blue, Ben DeLaCreme, the Von Foxies) suggest. Michael Upchurch: firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
Moisture Festival By: Suzie Rugh Published on March 11, 2009 The annual Moisture Festival, now in its sixth year, has proven to be a tremendously popular series. This is mainly because it promotes the reemerging art of varietè and burlesque with fabulous local and national performers, but the affordable tickets—as low as $7.50 for some shows—sure help. (Other venues should follow suit during our current recession; I’m looking at you Paramount.) Bigger than ever, the fest begins tonight at ACT with a gala where roving performers will be mingling with the crowd in the lobby. The following familyfriendly Grande Varietè show features magic, acrobatics, juggling, clowns, and lots of bubbles. If you’re hoping for something a little saucier and kiddie-free, the Libertease burlesque performances begin Thursday with Evilyn Sin Claire, Indigo Blue, Kevin Joyce of the Seattle Channel’s Big Night Out, and others. After the ACT run (through Sunday), the comedy/varietè show moves to Hale’s Palladium (March 19-April 5). Also note that selected Moisture Festival performers will appear live before screenings at a companion film series (SIFF Cinema, March 20-25), with titles including Gypsy and The Blue Angel.
Moisture Festival returns with added week By Jeff Meisner Published: Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Where in Seattle can you find a magician, a juggler, a clown, a contortionist and a trapeze artist all in one place? If you guessed Fremont, good for you. If you guessed the Moisture Festival and Fremont, thatâ€™s even better.
If acts with names like Avner the Eccentric, Dr. Calamari & Acrophelia, the Flaming Idiots and the Harlequin Hipsters sound like entertainment, then this festival, now in its sixth year, is for you. Even better, it just became a week longer. “We added a week to the festival at the ACT Theatre, so it will be four wees in total,” said one of the Moisture Festival’s producers, Ron Bailey. (No relation to Bailey of circus fame, mind you.) The festival will run from March 11 to April 5 and will feature a smorgasbord of aerialists, cancan girls, comedians, bubble acts and even a series of burlesque shows for after the kids have been put to bed. The comedy/variety acts will be held at Hale’s Brewery on Leary Way NW while the racier events will be held at the ACT Theatre. Also new this year: The Seattle International Film Festival will run a series of films about comedy, variety and burlesque shows, with a Moisture Festival artist opening with a live show before each film. Tickets are $20. Each artist performs his or her routine within a 3- to15-minute time slot while being accompanied by a live show band. “There usually ends up being about 150 performers during the run of the whole thing,” Bailey said. “The majority of the shows are for all ages and families, but we also do a little more cutting-edge stuff at night.” The seeds for the Moisture Festival were sown at the Oregon County Fair in Eugene, Ore. in 1996. Tom Noddy the Bubble Guy (more on him later) invited Bailey to attend a comedy/variety festival in Berlin and the two men came back with dreams of producing a similar show in Seattle. It took a while, but in 2004, Fremont (reputed, but scientifically unverified center of the universe) hosted the first Moisture Festival. “When we were trying to come up with a name, everything we came up with seemed too normal,” Bailey said. “We just thought Moisture Festival was funny. Some people loved that name and some people hated it, which is good, because that meant people were talking about it. Plus, it was somehow fitting for the Northwest.” The first Moisture Festival was only five days long and held in a rented tent in Fremont. Today, the festival is planned and put on by a small staff and hundreds of volunteers. The artists themselves get paid a fraction of what they usually make on the road, which is where most of them spend the vast majority of their time.
In 2004, artists were paid $25 per show. This year, they’ll make $45. With so little payment for their services, why do they bother to come to Seattle? “For those of us who do this for a living, there’s not much opportunity for us to encounter our peers,” said Noddy the Bubble Guy, who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif. “This is really the one time we gather in one place.” Noddy, 59, first brought his bubble act to television in the early 1980s on such programs as “The Tonight Show” and “That’s Incredible!” In essence, Noddy’s act consists of him creating intricate shapes and designs out of ordinary soap bubbles — the kind a parent might buy for their child in a dime store. “Business-wise, I don’t know if there is much to what we do,” he said. “But Seattle got us right away. Most Americans don’t.”
Grab a front rug seat at Moisture Festival By DOREE ARMSTRONG March 12, 2009
It’s these dark days at the end of winter that have people crying out for something fun to do, and the sixth annual Moisture Festival delivers. COMING UP MOISTURE FESTIVAL WHAT: Vaudeville/variety shows WHEN: March 11-April 5 WHERE: ACT Theatre, Hale’s Palladium and Seattle International Film Festival Cinema TICKETS: $7.50-$25, moisturefestival.org
Michelle Bates Sally Pepper is one of several aerialists performing at this year’s Moisture Festival. Most of the performances are family-friendly, but there is a series of late-night burlesque shows for the 21-and-older crowd. The festival’s producer said there is a live band at each performance.
Combining traditional European vaudeville and variety acts such as aerial artists, jugglers, dancers, comedians and can-can girls, the Moisture Festival is a monthlong celebration of physical arts taking place at three different venues: ACT Theatre (700 Union St.), Hale’s Palladium (4301 Leary Way N.W.) and the SIFF Cinema (McCaw Hall, Seattle Center).
Most shows are family-friendly, but the festival does have a series of late-night burlesque shows for ages 21 and older. The family-friendly shows feature a variety of performers, such as bubble magicians, jugglers, comedians, musicians and others not so easily categorized. “It’s a return of live, variety entertainment that builds on old traditions but is updated for current times,” festival producer Tim Furst said. “There is a mix of 10 different acts and a live band at every show and each show is different, so people can keep coming back and they’ll see something new and different every time. This is their only chance to see some of the world’s best performers in one place.” Furst is no stranger to vaudeville, having been one of the original members of the Flying Karamazov Brothers. He is retired from full-time performing with the group, but occasionally fills in and will perform as Fyodor Karamazov at the Moisture Festival. Fellow former Karamazov performer Sam Williams, known as Smerdyakov Karamazov, also will perform and emcee at the festival. When asked how to explain the Moisture Festival concept to a first-timer, Furst says it’s similar to Teatro Zinzanni -- minus the dinner theater and high prices. Moisture Festival tickets range from $7.50 for children to $25 for adults, making it an affordable indulgence for a family. Children and their parents can sit up front on a rug instead of in chairs, and some acts encourage audience participation. “It’s great for kids just to have the experience of seeing live performance, and to experience a performance surrounded by hundreds of other people experiencing the same thing,” Furst said. “It’s sort of the antidote to television.” The March 21 matinee is a collaboration with the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts, which is providing all of the performers for that show. Terri Sullivan, a former circus arts performer and now a part-time instructor at SANCA, says the school has 600 students of all ages, from age 2 to 60-something. “We wouldn’t turn away anyone who was older, we’d just make sure they didn’t get hurt,” Sullivan said. “But the bulk of our students are in the 7 to 10 age range.” The idea behind the school is to provide a noncompetitive atmosphere in which people can try new things -- and the school doesn’t let finances get in the way. Last year, SANCA provided $35,000 in scholarships to students. “It’s great fun, first of all, and anything that’s physical and fun builds self esteem and just joy,” she said. “Some kids are great at competition, but others are not and they won’t really blossom.” Sullivan says circus arts are perfect for all ages and interests because there’s such a wide range of skills. You can do acrobatics, juggle or be a clown, or walk a tightrope or a rolling globe. The March 21 performance will feature instructors and students from SANCA, including its Youth Performance Company (ages 8 to 18) and the Amazing Circus Wonders (ages 5 to 8). “They are super, super cute and fun,” Sullivan said of the littlest ones. “The kids who are at their shows go, ‘They’re the same age as me. I could do that!’ So that’s very inspiring for them, seeing someone who’s just like them.” email@example.com © 1998-2009 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Wetting Ourselves Over the Moisture Festival at Hales Brewery Published April 1, 2008 Drop your cynicism at the door and get ready for childlike, wide-eyed delight. The Moisture Festival, now in its fifth year, has the same friendly feeling as the Oregon Country Fair. No surprise, since the festival's founders are long-time performers there. Each evening is a true variety show, with an eclectic mix of unpretentious performers who jump onto the stage and let their talent amaze us, rather than relying on lights and set. Cirque-du-fancy-pantsSoleil this is not. In many ways, it's better. We get our popcorn for one dollar and a Hale's Photo: The Aerialistas by Mark Gardiner beer for a mere $4 and settle back to watch the action. It's easy to say there isn't a bad seat in the house, because you never know if an act is going to stay on the elevated stage or if an aerialist’s trapeze is going to swing down in the middle of the aisle for a performance that feels thrilling right over your head. Like traditional variety, the acts are all over the map. Friday's line-up includes comedy, juggling, sound effects, opera, clowning, a capella, and a boogie woogie pianist. Unlike traditional variety, all of the acts are good. The Red Wine Sisters—a pair of goofily clucking, opera-singing comediennes—impress us with their gorgeous, mellow voices. Then, a high school Japanese teacher/juggler making his Moisture Festival debut, wows the audience with "how'd he do that?" tricks using a Diablo and a simple set of juggling balls. The strangest talent of the night is Zip Code man, whose talent is this: you give him your zip code, he tells you where you're from and if there are any good restaurants in the area. It doesn't sound blog-worthy, but we spend most of the act whooping and cheering in amazement. The most jaw-dropping act of the evening is Ricochet, an aerialist duo made up as twisted versions of Pierrot and Pierette. The woman is also a contortionist who, at one point, covers her eyes with her feet by swinging her feet over her head in a backbend. They pop out of a tiny trunk and artfully tell their story, while twisting and dangling off each other on the tissu. The evening is hosted by the hilarious Armitage Shanks of Circus Contraption and Mme Zazou, who couldn't quite keep up with Armitage's quipping. You know you'll enjoy the Moisture Festival when you're willing to be led in a seventh inning stretch with 200 other people all tromping in place like zoo animals while Shanks sings a song about pink elephants. Don't hold back, just let yourself go there. The variety portion of the Moisture Festival runs until April 13th at Hale's Brewery, with different acts and hosts every night.
Entertainment Moisture Festival by Sarah Llyod Published March 30, 2008 On March 27th Seattle’s Moisture Festival kicked off its 5th season, setting the stage for three weeks of Comedy Varieté and Burlesque acts. The Moisture festival, which prides itself on being the 21st century’s longest running Comedy Varieté festival, offers an arrangement of different atmospheres. Morphing from family friendly Sunday matinees to festive, adult geared Friday night performances. The Comedy Varieté portion of the festival takes place in a 250-seat Palladium, built in the warehouse of Hale’s Brewery. The atmosphere in the Palladium is reminiscent of the heyday of Comedy/Varietè, which grew out of the raucous Music Halls of England and France and raged through the late 20th century to the 1940s. Audiences are made to feel at home in the Palladium’s relaxed environment, encouraged to eat, drink some of Hales famous Ales, and share in an “uninhibited night of pleasure.” The “pleasure” being the beauty of an exciting Comedy Varieté show. For those of you with short attention spans you will truly appreciate this type of performance. Each act is given 5 to 12 minutes in which to capture the audience with their, unique or daring skill. Once the show starts get ready for an arsenal of the unusual. You will watch aerialists contort themselves in seemingly impossible positions, clowns with an uncanny wit for the absurd, and a Japanese teacher from San Diego who can juggle a Chinese yoyo unlike anyone you have seen before. Orchestrated by quirky Master of Ceremonies, the constant action is accompanied by a live band providing the underlying pulse that propels the hour and a half show. The varieté show format is legendary for creating a warm camaraderie between the artists and the audience. This is no sit-still-and-wait-for-the-curtain-to-clap show. Audience participation is encouraged, and a must in maintaining the energy of the rotating performances. So, if you are tired of simply being that sedentary observer, it is time you check-out Seattle’s own Moisture Festival.
Comedy Variete Shows at: Hale’s Palladium 4301 Leary Way NW Seattle, WA Burlesque in the Round For those of you ready for the risqué head down to Fifth and Union, and grab a seat for the Burlesque portion of the Moisture Festival. Taking place at the ACT Theatre, the Moisture Festival’s unique brand of “Burlesque in the Round” unfolds inside a magnificently dramatic space once home to the Eagle’s Ballroom. Under the luminous glow of the spot light things heat-up fast with acts like the seductive Miss Indigo Blue, the spunky Chica Boom, and of course the ladies favorite, the one and only Mr. Wade Madsen. These often tongue and cheek performances offer up a fun and light hearted atmosphere that seems to be enjoyed by the audience and performers alike. Historically comedy varieté shows and burlesque acts shared the same stage. However in order to make the shows “more respectable” the union was disbanded, and burlesque became a thing of seedy night clubs. It is not until now, at The Moisture Festival, that these two worlds collide once again. Moral of this story: don’t miss out on your chance to view some of the best entertainment Seattle has to offer at 2008 The Moisture Festival. Burlesque Shows at: ACT Theatre 7th & Union Seattle, WA
Published April 1, 2008 ALSO PLAYING Moisture Festival @ Hale's Palladium. So big, bad-ass, and cool, we can't even begin to express our excitement: the Moisture Festival returns with performance of the Grand Variete show (family friendly, with aerialists and clowns) and the burlesque show (not for the kiddies). It's moved this week to Hale's Palladium in Fremont/ Ballard, and don't forget SIFF is supporting the festival with showings of variety-themed films, featuring Moisture Fest artist performances with each show. (4301 Leary Way NW. Thurs.-Sun., various scheduling. Tix $7-$20.)
For these aerialists, it's a chance to focus on the needs of others By Richard Seven Seattle Times staff reporter Published March 21, 2008
A collective of Seattle aerialists — calling itself the Aerial Army of Love — will perform its high-flying best Wednesday to Catch the shows • The Wednesday benefit show by Seattle aerialists will be performed at 7:30 p.m., in the Hale’s Palladium, 4301 Leary Way N.W., Seattle. Tickets are $20 ($10 for kids 12 and younger) and will be available at the door or through Brown Paper Tickets (www.brownpapertickets. com). Proceeds will go to benefit Safe Passage (Camino Seguro), (www. safepassage.org) which helps needy children and families working in the Guatemala City landfill. • Another benefit, for Seattle’s B.F. Day School, will be at 3 p.m. Sunday. Performers for that show will include: Professor Humbug’s ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES Lara Paxton, foreground, leads her aerial troupe during practice for an Flea Circus, Godfrey Daniels, Al Simmons, Joyce Rice, Tom Noddy’s AerLift III benefit performance at Seattle’s Moisture Festival. Bubble Magic, Reggie Miles, Bill Robison, Moz Wright and Jonathan Rose. • For information on the Moisture Festival, a three-week celebration of comedy, varietè and burlesque acts, see www.moisturefestival.org. A collective of Seattle aerialists — calling itself the Aerial Army of Love — will perform its high-flying best Wednesday to benefit children whose families subsist off the Guatemala City landfill.v The performance, called AerLift III, part of Seattle’s Moisture Festival, will highlight not just charity, but the vibrancy and diversity within the Seattle aerial community. Lara Paxton, who has taught and performed the craft around town for several years, organized the team of aerial veterans and students from the Circus Contraption, the Aerialistas, the Cabiri, Little Red Studio, the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA), and the Kirkland Dance Center. The act will showcase aerial hoops, silks, rope and various forms of trapeze at the fifth annual Moisture Festival, which is happening through April 13 in Fremont and downtown Seattle. The festival is a celebration of diverse performances, from aerialists to jugglers to comedians. AerLift III is trying to help Safe Passage (Camino Seguro) meet its goal of providing education and counseling for the children, who range in age from 2 to 19 and live in extreme poverty.
Paxton hopes for greater charity — and performing — venues in the future. Performing can be a very narcissistic pursuit,” Paxton says. “As aerialists, we spend a lot of time and energy focused on ourselves: our form, our costumes ... Events like AerLift give us an opportunity to channel some of that effort away from ourselves and towards people who need our energy and resources.” Three of the performers Wednesday are students who Paxton has been teaching for the past year or less. The three women practice in the Fremont space that Theo Chocolate rents cheaply to Circus Contraption, the nonprofit touring circus troupe that Paxton founded a decade ago. As the show nears, she works with them to hone their moves, timing and showmanship they will need to blend into an act on a stationary three-seated perch known as the “triple trapeze.” Why trapeze? They come from differing athletic backgrounds and to aerial work in different ways. Erin Specht, a former gymnast, became curious after watching Cirque du Soleil on television. Lynda Wong became hooked when she saw Paxton and another Seattle performer, Carri Andersen, perform at last year’s Moisture Festival. They all agree it beats the gym and that learning proper technique goes a long way. “I like the athleticism and showmanship of it,” says Kate Hunter, whose background is in soccer and track and field. “I enjoy having a workout with tangible progressions, being able to do something I couldn’t a month ago.” Jo Montgomery, who opened The School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts in 2004 and has taught circus arts to toddlers and seniors, says people new to it are initially surprised by the upper body strength that’s needed, but core strength is the key to supporting technique. After Paxton finished working with them on a recent Saturday, she turned her attention toward the choreography of veteran performers who are part of another of her side troupes, called the Aerialistas. The women worked in pairs, sharing space inside hoops about 3 feet in diameter and hanging 8 feet from the ground. Mind-body pursuit One of them, Thea Railey, was a struggling singer and actress in New York when she was asked to sing at an aerial show. Instead of accepting pay, she did it in return for aerial classes. She got hooked and began learning from Paxton when she moved here in 2005. (Paxton was exposed to the art by Seattle’s Tamara Dover, also known as “Tamara the Trapeze Lady,” who still teaches). “I guess I was a pretty quick learner,” says Railey, an assistant stage manager for the Seattle Opera. “I’m not the most flexible person, but I’m pretty strong for my size. It’s a great way to keep performing and stay in shape. And we all become best friends.” Cathy Sutherland, a veteran dancer who says she’s 50 but looks a decade or two younger, is an aerialist, too. Why does she do it? “I can’t stand going to a gym and I love being up high,” she says. Paxton says support for the art — from cheap rent to more appearances in everything from operas to corporate events — helps refine talent and attract students. It also helps build cohesiveness within Seattle’s aerial community. “Most of us know each other, and we make an effort to stay in touch with what the others are doing,” says Paxton. “One thing about AerLift that’s important to me is providing a sort of yearly ‘Aerial family reunion.’ “ Beverly Sobelman, who operates Versatile Arts and performs as Beverly Rose, learned from Paxton and now teaches aerial classes. She sees it as a mind-body pursuit, like rock climbing, but with grace. Sobelman maintains a listing of all aerial teachers that she knows of in the Seattle area at www.versatilearts. net/resources.”I put the list together to foster cooperation, not competition among instructors,” says Sobelman. “We all do things differently and emphasize different things. And there are plenty of students. I keep waiting for it to cool down but aerial remains super hot.” Richard Seven: 206-464-2241 or firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
Seattle PI â€“ Published March 9, 2007
Giggles will reign at the all-ages Moisture Festival By GENE STOUT P-I POP MUSIC CRITIC Published March 9, 2007
Aerialist Martha Enson describes Moisture Festival as "a classic fringe event." COMING UP MOISTURE FESTIVAL WHAT: Comedy/ variety and burlesque festival WHEN: Thursday through April 1 WHERE: Hale's Palladium (Hale's Brewery), 4301 Leary Way N.W.; and ACT Theatre, 700 Union Ave. TICKETS: $5-$20 for comedy/ variety shows, 800-838-3006, brownpapertickets.com, and $20 for burlesque shows, 206-292-7676 or acttheatre.org. "You take any available space and turn it into a place where magic can happen," she says. At Moisture Festival, audiences can see dozens of comedy, vaudeville and burlesque performers from around the world, as well as right here in Seattle, over three weeks. Among them are Hacki Ginda, the renowned German clown who has performed at Cabaret Sauvage in Paris as well as the Oregon Country Fair; Avner the Eccentric, the indescribable Atlanta-bred entertainer who was once arrested for public buffoonery while street-performing in Paris; and The Swedish Housewife, the "bicoastal bombshell" who teases audiences with neo-classical burlesque, including humor, sight gags, garish costumes and over-the-top props. But Moisture Festival, a revival of old-time vaudeville and burlesque for today's sophisticated audiences, is family friendly, appealing as much to kids as parents. Even fickle, status-conscious teens are drawn to the artful silliness of an event offering non-stop, fastpaced acrobatics, yodeling, juggling, clowning, burlesque and other performing arts. "People are grateful for a festival where the parents aren't dragging their kids in by the ear," says Ron W. Bailey, one of five festival organizers. Now in its fourth year, Moisture Festival opens Thursday and continues through April 1 at Hale's Palladium (at Hale's Ales Brewery in Fremont) and ACT Theatre, location for this year's burlesque shows. The comedy, variety and burlesque festival is still building an audience, but sells out quickly. The festival is expected to attract about 6,000 people this year. "People should know to get their tickets early on and not worry about which show they're going to get because every show is totally different," Enson said. Performing with her husband, Kevin Joyce, as the duo George and Eunice Blunt, Enson and Joyce bring years of experience to the festival. Both are founding members of UMO, a physical-theater ensemble. Joyce has appeared as the colorful, comedic chef and Enson as a "red clown" dish washer and aerialist in Teatro ZinZanni. And both have served as ZinZanni directors in Seattle and San Francisco. Enson also performs at the festival with Bailey's wife, Cathy Sutherland, as the Velone Sisters, a "rope duet" act. Joyce, who is this year's comedic master-of-ceremonies, finds the festival's revival of "old-school American, borscht belt vaudeville" a fascinating phenomenon in "our wacked-out technical age." "There's a live factor, there's an unpredictability to it, there are things happening in front of your face, whether it's fire being juggled or comic acts whose timing requires it all to work just right," Joyce says. "And audiences enjoy the freshness of people creating something that isn't highly produced and canned or
electronic and digital. That's what we're here for, to be alive." According to Bailey, a veteran performer with du Caniveaux (meaning "of the gutter"), Moisture Festival was inspired by performances at the long-running Oregon Country Fair. "There's a big vaudeville community that goes there every year," he says. "It's a rendezvous spot for a lot of street performers in Seattle." Moisture Festival, named for Seattle's rainy season and timed to celebrate the end of winter, made its debut in 2004 in a tent in Fremont. With the help of Mike and Kathleen Hale of Hale's Ales Brewery, the festival later moved to the company's keg warehouse. At the festival, performers are either making people laugh or presenting an unusual skill. "You see the most unique skills that people have spent a lifetime developing, like the bubble guy who blows bubbles, or we had one guy last year who makes sandwiches with his feet and then has an audience member eat the sandwich," Bailey says with a laugh. Moisture Festival is among the biggest events of its kind in the world. If it continues to grow, more venues will be needed. Organizers are delighted to have ACT Theatre this year. "We get a lot of contact from artists who want to come to the festival, so one warehouse in Fremont won't be big enough to accommodate everyone," Bailey says. Moisture Festival begins with an opening night program Thursday at 7:30 p.m. titled "Beware the Ides of March," featuring Ginda, Tom Murphy, Zeroboy, The Peculiars, Hilary Chaplain, Foolz, Flordigan Can Can Girls and other performers. The series of Moisture Festival burlesque shows begins March 23 at 7:30 p.m. with "Libertease" featuring The Swedish Housewife, Mama Lou -- American Strong Woman, Wade Madsen, Inga Ingenue, The Fuchsia Fox, Circus Contraption, Ginda, The Aerialistas and others.
Published March 9, 2007
Published March 6th, 2007
Moisture Festival has hits with ‘Blue Monday’, Burlesque ‘Libertease’ and New Old Time Chautauqua By: E. Joyce Glasgow - SGN A&E Writer Published March 30, 2007
This past week, the Moisture Festival continued, presenting a variety of shows which included Burlesque, The New Old Time Chautauqua and "Blue Monday". "Blue Monday "was hosted by clown extraordinaire, Hacki Ginda (with his son, Moeppi Ginda), from Berlin, who presented a number of his international performer friends for this special evening. Ginda told us that the origin of the term "Blue Monday" went all the way back to Medieval times in Europe, when, in the process of dyeing textiles, Monday was traditionally the day when all the color blue dyeing was done. Monday's performers included a couple of artists from Teatro Zinzanni: amazing juggler Tuan Le, accompanied by tap dancer/percussionist, Michael Clifton and singer/hula-hoopist, Sabina. Baltimore's Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey performed their funny and original, "Kama Sutra" trapeze act in sumptuous and colorful traditional Indian clothing, accompanied by recorded sitar music. Vocal sound artist, Zeroboy, from N.Y.C., took the audience on an aural rollercoaster ride through his wild and edgy imagination. Tamara the Trapeze Lady did her "Dance of the Seventeen Veils" complete with audience countdown. Rod, a suave tap dancer from N.Y.C., brought old time movie musicals to mind with his adept footwork. Hacki Ginda performed his infamous "Heinzie" and "King Kong" routines. The jewel and centerpiece of the evening was a theater piece," Dinner for Fun", Ginda's take off on" Dinner for One", a video of a popular comedy sketch piece that has been shown all over Europe for the last 50 years every New Year's Eve at 7:00 P.M. This is the first time that it has been performed in the United States. This is a charming piece in which a woman, played by European cabaret artist, Chantal, has a formal dinner party with four invisible male guests and her butler, played by Hacki Ginda, who hysterically descends into deeper states of inebriation, compliments of consumption of great amounts of alcohol, as he plays each invisible guest, constantly pouring and toasting the guest of honor. This is a fascinating sketch that probably not too many Americans know about. At the end of the evening Hacki Ginda announced his new idea "Clowns Against War", (or "CAW", with a crow and its call as mascot) and invited the audience to join him in efforts to make people laugh together, before they think of having a war, as a way of resolving differences and hopefully stop people from fighting with each. He said that usually performers are trying to cheer people up after a catastrophe, after they have been
seriously injured, or have lost their families, friends and homes. Why not uplift peoples' spirits and outlook while things are good and turn them towards the path of harmony and peace instead of heading down the road to destruction? Ginda and friends gave the first performance of "Clowns Against War" the following night at The Rendezvous, in downtown Seattle. The Moisture Festival Burlesque show, entitled "Libertease", was presented at the ACT Theater this year for four sold out performances on March 23rd and 24th. The fabulous Zebra Kings provided jazzy and sexy music throughout. Singer Mabo Jones got the evening going with a big blues number. The aerialistas were dazzling in their rhinestone studded turquoise costumes as they performed balletic and skillful acrobatics in pairs on hoops .Dancer/ Choreographer, Wade Madsen, dressed as a cowboy, did an entertaining striptease while lip-syncing to Chaka Kahn's version of the Peggy Lee classic song "Is that All There Is"? American Strong Woman, Mama Lou, tore a three thousand page phone book in half with her bare hands! Circus Contraption titillated with their naughty French Postcards. MC Kevin Joyce, acrobat, Martha Enson, Zeroboy, The Peculiars, and Caela and the Dangerous Flares all added their unique, orviginal bits to the mix. Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey were outrageous in their suggestive strip. Creative, sassy and classic stripteases were done by Ms. Indigo Blue and The Swedish Housewife and Chic A Boom, who, by the way, was also Miss Gay Latina in 2005-2006, performed a funny, slapstick striptease. While it was nice to see the Moisture Festival having the opportunity to use a professional theater space in downtown Seattle, I missed the large open space of "The Liberty" at the Fremont Studios, which was last year's Burlesque venue. The large space and casual folding chairs not only allowed for a bigger , more boisterous audience, but made for a more flamboyant, expansive and adaptable atmosphere, allowing for performers to be larger in their presentations and have more flexibility in using different parts of the space for performances, including aerials. The New Old Time Chautauqua performed a Sunday matinee on Sunday, March 25th, in a benefit for the group's continuing efforts to bring their all volunteer, comedy/variete vaudeville show and other volunteer projects to places where they are needed: "doing more free community service work to help build stronger and healthier communities". In April 2006, the Chautauqua went on their "Jambalaya Vaudeville Tour", presenting free shows for Hurricane Katrina survivors and volunteer relief workers in New Orleans and the coast of Mississippi. They are doing shows in hospitals, schools, libraries, senior centers, juvenile detention centers and jails and have been focusing on bringing live entertainment to people in rural areas. On their 2007 Summer Tour, they hope to travel through Montana and Idaho, partnering with city governments, Native American reservations and community agencies that support at-risk youth, families and children. Their Moisture Festival performance was reminiscent of their shows at the Oregon Country Fair. Some readers may be familiar with these, if you ever have attended the Fair. The troupe was started in 1981 by the juggling "Flying Karamazov Brothers" and friends. Performers last Sunday included Christian Swenson, who outdid himself with his imaginative, improvisational body movement and vocalizations which he calls "Human Jazz". His abstract, non-word storytelling is universally understood and at times reminded me of storytelling performance styles in Java and Bali, Indonesia and at other times, of some otherworldly, goofy "Star Wars", galactic bar characters.
The energetic and refreshing young group, Nanda, delighted the audience with their unique and funny cross between juggling, dance, acrobatics and faux martial arts. Godfrey Daniels and his red balloon is a classic act and very dreamlike. Avner the Eccentric takes simple actions and uses them to enchant his audience. Frank Olivier thrills by juggling flaming torches while riding a very tall unicycle and the large, Fighting Instruments of Karma Marching Band/ Orchestra supports all the performers with great circus music and really are a fantastic, playful and musically tight group of musicians who have been beautifully performing together for many years. The large audience of adults and many children audibly enjoyed the performance. To learn more about the New Old Time Chautauqua, to volunteer, or to donate to their worthy, life affirming projects visit: www.chautauqua.org. Check out their Community Quilts Project, which since 1992 has donated over 600 quilts to infants inneed. They give quilts to children who are at-risk physically, emotionally, psychologically or who are financially challenged. The quilts are created in workshops on tour and by residents of Victoria House, an assisted living facility in Port Townsend, Washington. The Moisture Festival continues through this weekend, at Hale's Brewery, 4301 Leary Way N.W., in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle and ends with a grand finale, April Fools Marathon performance of numerous acts on Sunday, April 1st at 7:30 P.M. To learn more about the 2007 Moisture Festival or to buy tickets visit: www.moisturefestival.com
Vaudeville and burlesque come alive in Fremontâ€™s Moisture Festival By ATHIMA CHANSANCHAI P-I REPORTER Published March 17, 2006
Eccentric, eclectic, electric: trying to sum up the Moisture Festival is an exercise in futility, the kind of feat only someone trained in seemingly impossible contortions can manage. That wouldn't be most people But most people aren't the stuff that vaudeville is made of, acts like Tamara the Trapeze Lady, Professor Humbug, Stickleback Plasticus, the Flordigan Can Can Girls and Buttrock Suites. The third annual Moisture Festival is a revival of a bygone era, when Pantages vaudeville theaters used to entertain early 20th-century Seattleites and music halls did the same in London. It's flying, swirling, laughing. It's sexy and funny. It's double entendre for the adults, slapstick and physical derring-do for the kids. It's going out with the family on a not-quite-spring-yet in Seattle night to get quick hits of performances you wouldn't be able to see short of street festivals and Bumbershoot, not all in one place, not over three weeks. "It's this notion of odd combinations of acts," said Ron W. Bailey, one of five festival organizers whose wife is an aerialist and whose daughter inherited mom's can can attitude (and dancing skills). Bailey is a veteran performer with Du Caniveaux ("of the gutter" in French, which "sounds so much better in French"). In the tradition of comedie/varietďż˝ (which again, sounds so much better in French than comedy/variety), audiences can see 8 to 10 performances each night, including aerialists flying through the air directly above them. "It's the best 8 to15 minutes of an act, the little sweetest parts," Bailey said. While today's hyper-tech generation is often accused of attention deficit disorder, audiences a century ago also suffered from ADD but they didn't call it that when this kind of format was the norm. Bailey's collaborators, the other organizers -- who include Tim Furst, Sandy Palmer, Maque Da Vis and Simon Neale -- can't think of a better place than a brewery (Hale's in Fremont) to hold a festival featuring short bursts of jugglers, clowns, aerialists, contortionists, scantily clad burlesque dancers and bubble magic. If you don't get buzzed on that, the Pale Ale and other libations on tap will do ya. "The warehouse relaxes people," Bailey said. "Right away, they feel comfortable." Furst, who entertained audiences as one of the Flying Karamazov Brothers, said all the
performers were invited to the festival by those who had seen and admired them in previous venues, whether that meant Europe or the other side of this country or down at the Oregon County Fair, where the idea for the Moisture Festival first germinated. Bailey said the festival's name came from Seattle's rainy rep, but it also weighed on the timing so it would be the first big event out of the gate during the otherwise dry period before the spring boom of street festivals. "People have recovered from the holiday parties and they're ready for something to happen," Furst said. "It's kind of a dead spot, literally and figuratively." The festival has grown from a one-week cabaret-style event under a tent in a Fremont parking lot to a three-week, 25-show extravaganza in the warehouse of a microbrewery nearby. More than 3,000 people bought tickets that first year and just shy of 5,000 attended last year. The shows proved so popular last year, selling out 13 of 19 nights, organizers said, that they decided to expand to another venue for the first time. They've hooked up with the Fremont Studios down the street to host Late Night Burlesque in a 800-seat space. The brewery "Palladium" holds about 250 people, thanks to owner Mike Hale and his wife, Kathleen, clearing out the warehouse and converting their grain room to the festival's green room. The two Sunday matinees will be dedicated benefits for the B.F. Day School and New Old Time Chautauqua, a non-profit based in Seattle and Port Townsend that entertains and educates underserved communities -- particularly small towns in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, nursing homes and prisons. After the Moisture Festival, performers from the group will travel to the Gulf Coast to bring vaudeville to Hurricane Katrina survivors and relief workers. Vaudeville -- the more wholesome (sorta, kinda) predecessor of sideshow freak shows and carnies that circulated to America's entertainment-starved rural masses during the Depression and before that -- became its own outcast with the advent of the picture shows and other media that distanced audiences from live performers. But now it's back, for a limited time. v"It's all happening right before you. This is 100 percent live," said Palmer. "In the Palladium, you're so close to it with your families." "A lot of things advertised as family shows are kids shows," Furst said. "And you're the chauffeur," Palmer added. "But this is really a show for everyone," Furst said.
Step Right Up! See the Greatest Show in the Center of the Universe… and drink lots of beer By Don in Arts & Events on March 30, 2006 Burlesque and vaudeville seem to be thriving here in Seattle, and one of the liveliest displays is at the annual Moisture Festival in Fremont. The third annual carnival of the absurd brings together a motley assortment of scantily clad dancers, trapeze artists, jugglers, contortionists, clowns, rabbis, acrobats, musicians, comedians, and magicians. See the amazing Bubble Guy! Marvel at the Magical Mystical Michael! Whistle at the Flordigan Can Can Girls! We especially appreciate that the festival is being held in Hales Brewery warehouse —this really is the perfect show to watch while consuming vast amounts of beer. And, although the extravaganza has hints of naughtiness for we adults, it really is a family show and kids are welcome. Special for Seattlest Readers: If you download the coupon here you can attend the Thursday, March 30th, 7:30 pm show or the Friday, March 31, 11 pm Late Show for half-price. That’s just $10 for adults and $5 for kids. The show runs Wed.-Sun, until April 9. Check the web site for the full schedule.
Pubished April 1st, 2005
Have a laugh and a beer at the Moisture Festival By Misha Berson Seattle Times theater critic Theater preview – Published April 1, 2005
"The Moisture Festival" continues tonight through April 10, Hale's Palladium, 4301 Leary Way N.W., Seattle; $5-$20 (800-838-3006, www.moisturefestival.com or www. brownpapertickets.com; also, tickets in person at Hale's Brewery and Fremont Place Books). Something's brewing down on Leary Way in the Fremont District and it ain't just beer. In a converted warehouse at Hale's Ales Brewery a bevy of dancers, acrobats, musicians, clowns, jugglers, aerialists and cancan gals are cutting up and frolicking as part of Seattle's second annual Moisture Festival. No, not moisture as in the beer foam that clings to your upper lip (or mustache) when you hoist a pint. The festival is named for the spring showers that tend to gather this time of year — and boy, do we need them now. Actually, during this two-week comedy-and-variety exposition (which runs through April 10) it's really raining neo-vaudeville acts — more than two dozen, in fact, from such Broadway veterans as clown Avner the Eccentric and unicycling juggler Frank Olivier, to the flouncy Flordigan Can Can Girls and a gymnastic duo called Dr. Calamari and Acrophelia. Last year, a smaller pack of performers gathered for a shorter fest in a big-top tent set up in Fremont. This time around, Hale's Ales owner Mike Hale has invited them in from the cold to perform in the newly baptized Hale's Palladium. "In one of our warehouse spaces we've created a stage, put up some lights and a sound system, and converted it into a short-term theater space that seats 200," Hale explained. "It's a one-time deal for something that seemed like a pretty good cause." The cause? Well, lots of wacky shticksters going at it. "It's very family, very community, very Fremont, and just great to able to have it here," says Hale, who became a big fan of the Moisture Festival when the organizers held a benefit performance at his brewery last year. (The company has raised $18,000 to put on this year's event.) Sandy Palmer, one of the fest's five organizers, is grateful for the new digs. She promises patrons cabaret-style seating, food for sale and (of course) beer on tap, as well as a " chance to preview new acts from the Northwest and other places, before they go perform them around the world." The Moisture festivities kicked off Wednesday evening, but there are still plenty of diversions in store. And all except the weekend late-night offerings are family-friendly, Palmer assures. Tonight, for instance, the chock-full-o'nuts bill includes Frank Olivier, Berlin clown Hacki Ginda, the Flordigan Can Can Girls, the Fremont Philharmonic and the Zebra Kings. Tomorrow night, Seattle's quirky Circus Contraption holds forth at the Palladium. And on Sunday there will be two benefit shows: one at 3 p.m. in support of the New Old Time Chautauqua (with Avner the Eccentric, Sam Williams, Noodlelini and many more).
And the other (at 8 p.m.) for BF Day School Foundation (with Dusty Roads and Her Handsome Cowboy, Magical Mystical Michael and The Peculiärs, etc.) Next week, many of the same performers reappear on different bills (hopefully with different bits), and others join in, too. And how hilarious are they all? How the heck do we know! But if you need a laugh, surely somebody on a variety bill of a dozen artistes can supply some chortles. And if not? You can always belly up to the bar, where the pale and amber ale will be flowing. Misha Berson: email@example.com Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company
Comedy/variete will reign at 2nd Moisture Festival By GIANNI TRUZZI Friday, March 25, 2005 SPECIAL TO THE POST-INTELLIGENCER
Call it vaudeville, cabaret, circus arts, beautiful or bizarre. The gathering of eclectic entertainers that engage in juggling, clowning, music, British pantomime, daredevilry and the marvelously unclassifiable that will converge on Seattle next week is sure to offer something dazzling for every taste. Perhaps it’s only natural that this city has become a hotbed of the resurgent theatrical movement known as comedy/variete. After all, it was here that impresarios John Considine and Alexander Pantages built their vaudevillecircuit empires. While these contemporary players affectionately refer to those bygone days, their roots are more typically in the counterculture of renegade, communitarian visual art and street theater that most will recognize from Fremont’s Solstice Festival and Trolloween. Others will note the similar style found in Seattle’s long-running dinner and spectacle theater, Teatro ZinZanni (not associated with this event). The vibrancy of this scene has encouraged the growth of local groups such as fire-jugglers Cirque de Flambe, the surreal Circus Contraption and the dramatic aerialists of UMO Ensemble, all of whom will be represented at the second annual Moisture Festival, along with acts from elsewhere in the United States and Europe. The model for the festival is the Oregon Country Fair, held each July near Eugene. A free-spirited event since 1969, the fair hosts three stages of vaudeville in addition to its parades, music and craft market. It’s drawn many of these performers for years and fostered a broad community. “We asked ourselves, how do we gather those forces to come together more than once a year?” said festival co-organizer Ron Bailey. He is a member of the troupe Du Cavineaux (French for “The Gutter”), which he and his friends originally formed expressly so they could perform at the fair, because “it’s more fun to be part of then just to go to.” Last year’s launch of the Moisture Festival was a mere four days under a circus tent in
Fremont, with only brisk advance planning, but it encouraged Bailey and his cohorts to do it again. This year, with the sponsorship of Mike Hale offering the rear warehouse of his Ballard brewpub for a performance space, the festival will last 11 days. Bailey hopes that the festival will grow to be more like those in Europe, where variete is a more established form of entertainment. The fall of the wall in Berlin was a spur, when cabaret clubs like The Chameleon re-established themselves in the Rosenstrasse. Bailey and other performers also have found welcoming audiences at Paris’ Crazy Horse, and at London’s Circus Space club, where a variete act can play successfully for several months. The excitement inspired by this festival, a rarity in the United States, has drawn performers as notable and far-flung as Berlin’s cabaret clown Hacki Ginda, Avner the Eccentric from Maine, and Flying Karamazov Brother Tim Furst. Many are performing for free, like Ginda, whose only compensation is a plane ticket. Why has Seattle become a “creative hotbed,” as artist and Fremont Players member Macque daVis described it? It happens in cities with a strong “creative class,” where a university and a knowledge economy are built. “These folks come out of the woodwork,” he said with amazement. “They show up and they look so innocent, but you put them on stage and they burst.”
Camp Moisture Festival revives vaudeville spirit By GIANNI TRUZZI April 4th, 2005 SPECIAL TO THE POST-INTELLIGENCER
When this festival's can-can dancers flurry to the sparkling stage, skirts waving, bloomers wiggling to a chorus of hoots and yelps over the motley orchestra, it's easy to imagine yourself in one of Seattle's bygone box houses. At the turn of the past century, those beer-soaked dens offered sinful amusement, where women of dubious reputation drifted between the footlights and lumbermen's laps. These mildly naughty ladies, however, are your neighbors. The laps they jump into between acts are those of their boyfriends and husbands. The hollers are likely to come from wellscrubbed children, who know their mothers are only playing at being strumpets. To evaluate this high-spirited, community-driven festival, one might as well review a picnic. The goal for audience and performer alike is to have fun, and you gain only as much as you bring. Artistic merit, while welcome, is seldom the point. That said, there is plenty of artistry to delight the eye and tickle the chin. Affectionately emulating vaudeville, each show presents a camp cavalcade of acts in which sublime acrobats might easily be followed by yodeling. The family-friendly performance I witnessed (each performance has a different lineup) offered the thrill of Circus Contraption's aerialist Kari, and tumblers Dr. Calamari and Acrophelia, who turn acrobatics into a rich expressionist fantasy.
Hacki Ginda, a cabaret clown from Berlin, is a key attraction with his deadpan buffoonery. He commands laughs with small gestures and manages the seemingly impossible act of juggling balls with his face. Musical acts offer some respite from the exotica of mimes, mummers and daredevils, as Dusty Rodz and Her Handsome Cowboy provided, with a taste of the Grand Old Opry in their jokes and twang. The joy of this lowbrow ecstasy might spark some wistfulness over the loss of such elemental staples of popular theater. Most of the greatest entertainers of the past century, from Buster Keaton to Bob Hope, honed their skills in vaudeville. Next to the homespun transitions by the festival's kilted master of ceremonies, the slick polish of skilled performers such as juggler Rhys Thomas remind us that these arts now belong to corporate gatherings and malls. At the same time, one can see why vaudeville died. It was not from terminal cheesiness but from being top-heavy with performers. These countercultural enthusiasts of variety theater, by fitting these arts to modern sensibilities, offer us a gift of revival that can be sustained only by this kind of community effort. Grab it while you can, and take the kids.
Fremont will be awash in vaudeville at Moisture Festival By Tina Potterf Seattle Times staff reporter
A confluence of honky-tonk players, quirky musicians, avant-garde circus acts and provocative performance artists are bringing vaudeville to Seattle. The motley cast of characters will meet at the “Center of the Universe,” also known as Fremont, for the first annual “Moisture Festival,” Wednesday through next Sunday. The inaugural festival, presented by Fremonstor Theatrical and the Fremont Arts Council, is in the spirit of traditional vaudeville shows and modeled after the Oregon Country Fair, a haven for fringe performance artists in Veneta, Ore., outside of Eugene. Event organizer and co-creator Ron W. Bailey said discussions about creating a comedy/ variety show in Seattle started a couple of years ago. Many of the artists and street musicians performing at Moisture Festival are familiar to Northwest audiences through appearances at the Folklife Festival and Bumbershoot. The Moisture Festival is an opportunity to see a variety of acts under one roof — or in this case, a big-top tent, erected at the site of the popular Fremont Outdoor Cinema. “It’s just great entertainment, that’s the main thing,” Bailey said. “A great variety of entertainment, plus humor.” The festival’s name is a tribute to the Northwest’s dark and dank climate. “Instead of complaining about the rain,” Bailey said, “celebrate it.” Moisture Festival kicks off Wednesday with an opening-night party and swing dance with acts including the Honky Tonk Revue and Jo Miller & her Burly Roughnecks, Evangeline and Seattle’s own Cirque de Flambé. In keeping with this alt-country theme, the event closes April 25 with a “Wild Hare Square Dance” and “old-time” music night hosted by the Canote Brothers. Sandwiched between the music and dancing is edgy and interesting performance art from the likes of Rev. Chumleigh, Circus Contraption, Baby Gramps, Artis the Spoonman, the Fremont Players and, for the kids, “Jugglemaniac” Rhys Thomas, among others. On Saturday night, Chumleigh hosts a film festival and lecture based on his private collection of rare and classic 16mm movies, including vintage erotica and the cult classic “Reefer Madness.” While much of the festival’s entertainment is suited toward adults, the weekend holds something for younger audiences. The Fremont Players present a musical-comedy version of “Jack and the Beanstalk” at 3 p.m. April 24 and 25. This is no ordinary telling of the popular children’s fairy tale, however. The Fremont Players production is done in the style of British panto theater, where audience interaction is not only encouraged, but expected, said Simon Neale, founding member of the Fremont Players theater troupe. “The wonderful thing about British panto is the audience participation,” Neale said. At the beginning of the hourlong show the audience will get a lesson on what’s expected of them, such as booing the “bad” guy and cheering for the “good” ones. “It’s a chance to have a lot of fun for an hour. This isn’t highbrow theater, it’s just downright fun,” Neale said. “We’re not doing Chekhov. We’re doing fun.” And to that end, Fremont is a perfect locale for a vaudeville-style show like the Moisture Festival, Neale said. “Fremont has got a great tradition of the ‘out of the ordinary.’