Happy 100th, Open Circle

A fringe theater celebrates a milestone. Plus: KING FM goes local, and a diva departs.

THE REAL OC

Of the countless fringe theaters that have surfaced in Seattle over the past 14 years, and despite the many that have drowned, Open Circle Theater has somehow managed to stay afloat. It is celebrating its 100th production this weekend with D.O.B. The show includes actual recordings of director John Kaufmann's birth—a stunt typical of the unconventional style that continues to draw audiences to OCT. "We have just been more daring than other fringe theaters," says Ron Sandahl, the artistic director. "Plays by H.P. Lovecraft, which we run every Halloween, are, hands down, our most successful and even earned us international attention." But if you think their stage work is spooky, well, wait until you enter the theater, which many employees and playgoers believe is haunted. "We actually had an audience member ask us after a show what the voice was saying behind the music during one part, and we didn't know how to answer," says Sandahl. Ghosts or no, the show goes on this Friday, Jan. 27, with anniversary celebrations to follow. Info: 206-382-4250, www.octheater.com. KELLIE HWANG

DEPARTING DIVA

First Carol Vaness announced she was too ill to perform a highly anticipated Jan. 28 recital with tenor Vinson Cole at Meany Theater. Now she tells us she's leaving the University of Washington faculty for good. Carol, darling: Was it something we said? No, Vaness will join the Indiana University School of Music, where she was offered a sweet salary and benefits package, according to The Seattle Times. The singer's recent residencies at IU "have created a buzz around the school," according to Department of Voice Chair Mary Ann Hart. The buzz at the UW, meanwhile, is in a decidedly minor key. Indiana "is a fine institution, and I understand her decision. We will miss her very much," says Robin McCabe, director of UW School of Music (and celebrated pianist in her own right). Did the UW counteroffer? "She had made her decision; we didn't have the opportunity," says McCabe. Guess we'll have to console ourselves with Vaness' planned August appearance in Seattle Opera's Der Rosenkavalier. LYNN JACOBSON

GOING LOCAL

KING-FM (98.1) has announced plans to revive an evening show spotlighting local musicians—though with no interviews, no live in-studio performances, and no George Shangrow, the former host of Live by George! ousted in August 2004 to some outcry. In Northwest Focus, weeknights at 8 p.m., Gigi Yellen will preview upcoming concerts through prerecorded performances by the groups in question, or through performances by other groups of the repertory to be heard at the concert. Negative listener response to talk, says KING-FM Program Director Bryan Lowe, was the reason for not including interviews as part of the new format, though MP3 files of artist interviews are available on the station's Web site, www.king.org. GAVIN BORCHERT

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