Midwinter's not the usual time for new arts initiatives, but Bellevue's Meydenbauer Center is bucking the trend, kicking off a new five-show season of entertainment for families with school-age kids, plus an additional five for those hard-to-please 3-to-5ers. Brainchild of Marilyn Raichle, for 10 years director of the Seattle Center's International Children's Festival, the two Meydenbauer series are sponsored by modular-furniture magnates IKEA of Sweden, a country that invests heavily in quality entertainment for kids.
Among the perks for series subscribers are an IKEA gift certificate and coupons for free Swedish-meatball meals at the store restaurant, but the lineup is inducement enough: the surreal comic mime of Imago (opening January 27), South Africa's Sibikwa Players, and the musical version of Anne of Green Gables lead off the series for older heads, while toddler favorite Red Grammer and Sesame Street singer-songwriter Gary Rosen lead the monthly Saturday matinee "Wiggle Shows" bill. (More info: 425-450-3801.)
One of the nicest aspects of the Bellevue series is that, unlike the center's festival in May, each main-series show runs a full week (matinees and evening performances included) without competition. One of the troubling aspects, at least for those who believe—or hope—that the Eastside needs and will support quality east-of-the-bridges-based entertainment: To date not one Eastside school has purchased tickets for one of the school-day morning shows scheduled for their benefit, while a number of Seattle schools are planning to bus their students eastward.
Do they do windows too?
Not content with writing, directing, and starring in their own comedy triple bill Power Plays, the multitalented team of Elaine May and Alan Arkin have decided to add songwriting to their cvs. For the grand finale of the third play in their world-premiere show opening at A Contemporary Theater March 12, they've composed an anthem titled "We Mean Business," to be performed in concert with daughter and son (respectively) Jeanne Berlin and Anthony Arkin. So pleased were the two with their tunesmithing that they briefly considered renaming the whole show to match; maybe later, in time for its post-Seattle New York opening slated for late April.
The trend toward discounting unsold arts tickets continues, with the Seattle Symphony offering a second installment of its "One Day Sale" on nearly all remaining single tickets for the remainder of the 1997-98 season. Among the dates available (by phone or in person) at 20 percent off on Monday January 26 are performances by violinist Isaac Stern, the Kronos String Quartet, and country-fiddle master Mark O'Connor. You can check out the Symphony's whole schedule in its last year at the Opera House on the Web: www.seattlesymphony.org.
Say it ain't so...
When Art Town complained (back in early December) about the trend in Seattle arts for naming everything and everyone in sight in honor of publicity-friendly folks with cash to spare, we had no idea just how bad things can be. What's a little thing like Mimi Gates toting round the title of "Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director" of Seattle Art Museum compared to the "naming-gift" moniker of the new hall the Los Angeles Philharmonic will be moving into early next century: "The Ralph's Food-4-Less Foundation Auditorium." Daddy, Daddy, make it stop!
Summer of the B-Girls
Good news for fans of far-out entertainment with an edge: House of Dames, Nikki Appino, prop., has regrouped as a non profit producing organization, with an office (1017 E Pike), a board of directors (among them doyenne actress Marjorie Nelson and ACT's Gordon Edelstein), and all the 501(c)3 trimmings. Already on blocks for summer 1998 production is a little item called Invasion of the B-Girls.Something of a change of pace from last summer's somberly gorgeous Djinn, Girls is based on a '70s sexploitation flick in which—let's let Appino herself describe this one—"these babes with big hair show up in town and start fucking all the men to death."