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Winter’s coming Redmond set to sparkle at Dec. 5 lights festival by Andy Nystrom


he city of Redmond will celebrate Redmond Lights, its annual winter festival, from 4-8 p.m. Dec. 5. The annual event celebrates the city’s cultural diversity with light installations, traditions, music, activities and fun for all ages. The event will begin at Redmond City Hall (15670 N.E. 85th St.) with free entertainment, a bonfire, food and fun activities. Mayor John Marchione, along with special guests, will light the campus before departing on the luminary walk. The walk meanders down the Redmond Central Connector to Redmond Town Center with performances and light displays along the way. The fun and entertainment continue there with an outdoor skating rink, ice sculpture, holiday carousel and kids activities. The Redmond Senior Center (8703 160th Ave. N.E.) will host a Holiday Market from noon to 6 p.m. Shop for crafted gifts from dozens of regional artists, including jewelry, fine art, accessories and home goods. After 8 p.m., the Downtown After Party will offer special discounts at numerous restaurants. Performances throughout the event will include a Quichua Mashis, Rainer Brass, Redmond Chorale, Rhythms of India, Keith Highlanders Pipe Band, Pacific Island Band, fire and light demonstrations and much more. Parking will be available at Redmond Town Center and the City Hall Parking garage. A free shuttle will run that day between both locations from 3:30-8:30 p.m. For more information about Redmond Lights, visit

{ { People enjoy last year’s Redmond Lights festival on the City Hall campus.. Photo courtesy of

Redmond Reporter




The Sammamish Symphony Orchestra prepares for its holiday concert PG 3

Guest columnist John Haynes ponders the benefits of the American creative class PG 4

Freaks of Nature actor and comic Tom Clark comes to Kirkland PG 6


The Don’t Miss List

SO-HO-HO SYMPHONIC by Megan Campbell he Sammamish Symphony Orchestra has a few surprises in store for its holiday concert. Newly appointed conductor and music director Adam Stern said it’s the “musical equivalent of a wrapped present under the tree.” The community orchestra will perform with the Liberty Singers from Liberty High School and will take the stage at the Eastlake High School Performing Arts Center Dec. 5 and Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. The group’s selection of 10-15 pieces includes the “Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi, L’ArleSienne “Suite No. 2” by George Bizet, “Fantasia on Greensleeves” by Vaughan Williams, and a number of holiday pieces like “The Christmas Song,” “Sleigh Ride” and “Babes in Toyland.” Stern joined the orchestra in January as the group’s intern conductor after longtime music director R. Joseph Scott took medical leave. He was named Scott’s replacement shortly after. “One thing led to another, … and then the orchestra honored me and surprised me,” Stern said. Stern has a long career in music: He was accepted into the California Institute of Arts at age 15 and graduated in 1977 with a master’s of fine arts. He began conducting at 21 as the CalArts’ youngest master’s degree recipient, according to his biography. Stern moved to Seattle in the early 1990s and has been leading the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra since 2003. “In additional to everything else I don’t have time for,” Stern said, “I’m working with Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, another unexpected treasure in life.” He’s been filling in for the teacher there since early September. “I’m not aware that I really change my style from orchestra to the next,” he said. “You never want it to be just you; it has to be a collaboration.” Working with the Sammamish Symphony is more about “peeling away the emotional layers” of a piece.

By Daniel Nash


“They all are rabid music lovers,” he said. “That in itself is a boon. They live it and breathe it.” First chair violinist and concertmaster Dennis Helppie says Stern helps the orchestra with musicality by helping them bring out the emotion and meaning behind the notes. To do this, they work on the dynamics and phasing of the piece. “Every piece is written for a reason,” Helppie said. “As musicians, we play notes, but we often need the maestro to explain what’s beyond those notes.” Helppie, of Sammamish, has been with the orchestra since 2002. He and his wife, Sherry, own Plateau Music, an instrument store in Klahanie. Helppie credits his wife, for without her he wouldn’t be involved with music to such a degree. Helppie, who graduated from University of Washington with a degree in economics, was named concertmaster in 2005. He said the orchestra is made up of “quite an array of society,” with Microsoft employees, medical professionals, music teachers, like himself, and stay-athome moms. In all, there are about 80 people in the orchestra. They practice once a week as a group. “We work hard to get everything whipped into place for the audience,” Helppie said. All are welcome to attend the casual concert; ticket prices vary.


Enter the Kirkland Arts Center and you’re greeted by a chair, a (seemingly) wood and leather antique piece that would feel right at home in a Victorian household. Except, perhaps, for the swarm of crows and “Frankenstein” busts — each one carefully molded by artist Paul Metivier — that form a swirling vortex. As you step closer and cast a more careful gaze down the storm’s loci, you see that the chair’s seat and back are being pushed and rended by tortured, animalistic faces desperate to burst out of their prison’s exquisite leather upholstery. Monstrous, which opened shortly before Halloween, challenges its visitors to accept the beauty in the beast and the glory in the grotesque. Curated by E. Valentine DeWald II, it features the ceramic sculptures of DeWald and Metivier alongside the intricately detailed decay of Kathleen Skeels’ corpses and the colorfully menacing creatures of Carol Gouthro. DeWald’s own ceramic installations — which include fantastical weaponry and the life cycle of a predatory dragon (an egg form, Late Period Draco Ootheca, is pictured above) — can be compared to the work of H.R. Giger, the German surrealist whose dark and violently erotic Necronom IV became the basis for his design work on Ridley Scott’s Alien. Monstrous is free to view, but won’t remain on display much longer, so be sure to catch it quickly. After all: Pretty is overrated. WHEN: Through December 5 WHERE: Kirkland Arts Center, 620 Market St., Kirkland


Not much can be said about musical theater staple My Fair Lady that hasn’t been said already, except that it stands as enduring proof that good comedy burns eternal. So it’s a good thing that Village Theatre has delivered a cast that can tend the flame with wit, energy and rat-a-tat comic timing. Allison Standley proves herself an expert chameleon as Eliza Doolittle, the uncultured Cockney flower girl who is transformed into an honorary member of the British gentry by phoneticist Henry Higgins (Mark Anders). Anders plays condescending and unlikeable well, which is great for his comic back-and-forth with Standley, but an unfortunate hindrance when the story calls for him to become an object of sympathy and (less believably) affection. Given that this is a show about the divisive nuances of British language, Village’s production starts out feeling a bit inaccessible to Lady newbies, like this writer. In other words, the cast hits the accents hard — it’s difficult to tune your ear to it at first, but no more so than your standard episode of BBC Sherlock. Stick it out and you’ll be well rewarded. WHEN: Through January 3 WHERE: Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front St. N., Issaquah

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THE PACIFIC SHOWROOM Many mistake “the arts” as an exclusive club populated by opera aficionados, jazz nerds and ballet buffs. But art is remarkably accessible: Art is the home decoration that pulls the room together, the movie that makes us cry (or gorge on popcorn), the playlist we blast from our laptop to get through the work day. Pictured at left, homegrown Eastside artist and Redmond High alumnus Cody Votolato (leather jacket), rocks out with his band Head Wound City at the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 8. Also pictured is Justin Pearson. Votolato’s former band The Bloodbrothers got its start playing at Redmond’s Old Fire House Teen Center in the late 1990s.

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hy is the development of a vibrant arts and culture sector such an important element in the progress of the Eastside? It’s a fair question. After all, if you’re willing to sit in traffic, pay a toll, and spring for a $20 parking tab, there’s plenty to do in Seattle. But there are 600,000 people who live and work on the sunrise side of the lake and they can’t borrow their cultural life from Seattle forever. About ten years ago, I came across a book entitled “The Rise of the Creative Class,” by Dr. Richard Florida, the Heinz Professor of Regional Economic Development at Carnegie Mellon University. His research focused on “identifying the factors that make certain cities and regions grow and prosper and others lag behind.” He began by examining the conventional wisdom that the key to economic growth lies in attracting and retaining companies, because companies create jobs and people will “go where the jobs are.” But his research showed that the creative sector now accounts for 50 percent of all U.S. economic activity and that innovative companies are being formed almost exclusively in regions that are themselves attractive to creative workers. There are more than 40 million people today who are paid to be creative: designers, engineers, artists, writers, programmers and so on. The emergence of creative workers as an economic force has been so powerful that they now constitute an entirely new economic class. These people don’t work 9 to 5; they think 24/7. Access to this critical mass of creative thinkers is what drives economic growth. They can best be characterized as a “mosaic society”

Guest column by John Haynes

— open-minded, mobile, tolerant and diverse, with non-negotiable arts, entertainment, food and cultural needs. These factors work to enhance a community’s ability to mobilize the resources necessary to support innovative enterprises, from venture capital to nightlife. As executive director of a large performing arts center project, I spend much of my time fundraising for its $160 million construction budget. Frequently a prospective donor — someone with financial capacity and a community leadership profile — will tell me that they’re “just not into the arts.” This response is usually accompanied by the explanation that their interests and passions are tied up in sports, education, health care, or other worthy agendas. I have come to realize that what they mean by “the arts” is very different than what I mean. They may not care for ballet or opera, but I’ll bet that they make playlists, go to movies and decorate their homes. “The arts” is shorthand for creative human expression in all its forms. The arts feed our minds and our hearts… and they help create the kind of community that our prosperity depends on. That our children’s futures depend on. If we care about these things, we’d better care about the arts and nurture the Eastside organizations that provide them. John Haynes is Executive Director and CEO of Performing Arts Center Eastside/Tateuchi Center, a 2,000-seat, regional project being developed in downtown Bellevue. He served previously as President of the California Center for the Arts, Director of Performing Arts at the University of Notre Dame, and President of the Western Alliance of Arts Administrators.

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TOM CLARK So what’s new in the life of Tom Clark? CLARK: I was just on Conan back in September 28. That was something I’ve been working on for a long time. And I was just in this movie called Freaks of Nature, which was a long delayed movie with Denis Leary and a bunch of other really funny actors. I shot it two years ago and they dumped it on the world pretty recently -- it’s on a limited release. But they kept my scene in, which is pretty great. I think I even made it into the trailer. Who do you play?

CLARK: I was known as “Concerned Citi-

zen Tom.” I have a scene where I’m in a gymnasium with everyone else and — I should back up and explain the movie is about vampires, zombies and humans teaming up to fight aliens. Anyway, I’m one of the humans that are coming out, questioning the aliens and their intentions. What do they want? You grew up in Wisconsin and eventually moved to Los Angeles. Where did you get your start as a standup? CLARK: I started in Milwaukee in the mid ‘90s. I actually started with Frank Caliendo, who’s on ESPN now. There were six or seven comics who were around when I started. Comedy had really bottomed. I was definitely at the low point of comedy.

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Meaning when the comedy club boom had ended. CLARK: Surprisingly, when I started, Milwaukee still had three comedy clubs. But there was this other place in town — not a comedy club — where I started. It was this place called The Safe House, and it was a spy themed bar that catered to tourists. They used to have Thursday open mics, so I started there. They had all these 007-themed things and then there would be comedy in the back. Sometimes you just performed in front of an empty room. Did you get your start in comedy through standup? I know at one point early in your career you were part of a group called The Dead Alewives that included some really impressive guys, like [Community creator] Dan Harmon. CLARK: I started both at the same time, both standup and the Alewives. Yeah, when I got into Comedy Sportz, Dan Harmon was there and Rob Schrab. Dan tried a little standup here and there, but he didn’t really like it. Dan was actually my teacher at one point in Comedy Sportz. Rob Schrab is now directing the next LEGO movie, so it’s been cool to see where they’ve gone. But when they moved [to LA], I was part of the next generation of performers in The Dead Alewives who replaced them. Did a sketch background shape your standup style? CLARK: Not so much sketch, mostly the improv that I learned in Comedy Sportz


Interview by Daniel Nash

and in performing with The Dead Alewives. I think the improv taught me how to trust myself on stage. It taught me that whatever I say in the moment is the right thing to say. It taught me to just go with the idea and run with it. Your jokes are short and punchy. How did you arrive at that style? CLARK: I think when I initially started I had a lot of longer drawn out bits. I had a... hm, a take home joke or a staff joke... I don’t remember really, but I used to tell this longwinded joke and I would screw up everything every time I tried it on stage. “There was this guy and he, he... he was Irish! No, he was German! Wait, no, he was Chinese!” I would go through all this trouble for just a three-minute joke. But if you’re on TV you have to tell these 30 second jokes, then move right along to the next 30-second joke. I had to learn how to edit myself. You also play up a sort of manic and naive character on stage. How close is your onstage persona to your actual personality? CLARK: I would say it’s not that close. I’m silly, but I think when people meet me they find me pretty serious and pretty down-to-earth. Did you like to be goofy when you were younger? Were you a weird kid? CLARK: Ha, no, I never performed really at all throughout grade school or high school. Or even really in college. I was really quiet. I remember my third grade teacher wrote up my report card and she called me a loner. I was like, what’s a loner? I looked it up later and I was like, aw, man, that means I’m weird. Amongst my friends I’d have two or three friends I would make laugh and come out of my shell with, but it was really only with them. You’re performing at Laughs Comedy Spot in December. Have you performed there before? CLARK: I performed there when it first opened up. I was one of the first comics to perform up there. Dave and Angela, they treat the comics so well. I think Dave knows what comics go through and that makes all the difference. What do you like to do when you’re up here?

CLARK: I usually go to the EMP. I love that

place. I still haven’t been to the top of the Space Needle. My wife Steph usually comes with me when I travel and we usually go to Pike Place Market. Tom Clark will perform at Laughs Comedy Spot in Kirkland Dec. 10-12. You can check out his recent appearances and projects on tomclarkcomedy.

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theEastside Scene - December 2015  
theEastside Scene - December 2015