Section Two

April 8, 2005

Volume 33,
Issue 14

Sat, Feb 27, 2016


Bits & Bytes
Seattle chefs—all women—wow New York, Taproot’s audience loves comic Beau Jest, Men’s Chorus scores with Miss Manners
by Milton W. Hamlin SGN A&E Writer

New entertainments seem to be popping up around Seattle—just like spring flowers. Bits & Bytes takes a look at new shows, upcoming events, continuing stagings and “last chance” cabarets. It’s another great week for Emerald City entertainment fans—and Bits & Bytes.


If audience reaction is any indicator, Taproot Theatre Company has a huge hit on its hands with its new staging of Beau Jest, James Sherman’s cultural-clash comedy that predates My Big, Fat Greek Wedding and the Gay-themed The Wedding Banquet. Seattle audiences seem ready for comedy—ArtsWest just had a box office smash revival of Neil Simon’s Barefoot In The Park and it seems certain that Beau Jest will go through the roof for Taproot.

Taproot staged the comedy 10 years ago with director Karen Lund making her debut with the North Seattle-based company. Lund also directs the current revival which uses a totally new cast—and is staged in the company’s new-ish Greenwood-area theater. Center Stage, the now-shuttered resident theater in the Stroum Center on Mercer Island, also offered a fondly remembered production—a natural for the Center which explored aspects of Jewish life.

Taproot’s new Beau Jest had an opening weekend matinee crowd howling from start to finish. As a Jewish girl seeks an actor to “play” her imaginary Jewish boyfriend, she starts to fall for the young “escort” only to find that he is not Jewish. Thankfully, touring editions of Cabaret and Fiddler On The Roof give him enough Jewish lore to let him fake his way through Jewish holiday prayers, etc.

Lund directs this staging at a fever pitch—it’s loud and shrill all the way with only a few reflective moments. The show is at its best in the quiet, contemplative moments—but there was no doubt the near-capacity crowd loved every shout, ever door slam.

The cast gives broad but likeable performances. Charity Parenzini, making her Mainstage debut with Taproot has many appealing qualities as Sarah Goldman. The few times she underplays a scene show her at her best. Timothy Hornor, a Taproot regular, is delightfully rubber-faced as her hired escort for a series of family dinners. As the two slowly fall in love, they are terrifically appealing to the audience.

There’s a lot to like about Taproot’s new Beau Jest—which, incidentally, has a double pun in its title. If the show is ever translated into Italian, it would probably come out A Joke About A Boyfriend.

Beau Jest plays at Taproot through April 30. Take a few minutes to read the informative programs notes on Jewish holidays and customs in the theater program—and check out the display in the upper lobby for more information and an archival photo display. Ticket information is available at (206) 781-9707.


Three Seattle chefs—all women—are ready to wow New York tomorrow night as they cook a special Washington State Dinner at the prestigious James Beard House, a culinary landmark founded in 1986 by Julia Child and the late Peter Kump in the building that was the original Greenwich brownstone home of the celebrity chef. Each year, certain states send a special team of chefs and associates to the non-profit foundation headquarters to cook a gala dinner for food writers, restaurant managers, VIPs, assorted celebrities and James Beard Foundation members.

This year, Washington’s celebrity chefs are all women with ties to Kirkland’s Carillon Point. “The Three Divas,” as they are called, include Vicky McCaffree, chef of the Yarrow Bay Grill, Cameron Orel, chef of the Beach Café at the Point, and Jessica Campbell, pastry chef at the Yarrow Bay Grill.

The all-Northwest menu includes local seafood, local produce and fruits and wines from two local wineries, Chateau Ste. Michelle and DeLille Cellars. At a pre-New York “trial” run, “The Three Divas” tested the menu on Seattle food writers and assorted media types. Bits & Bytes—in his guise as Bits & Bites—represented SGN at the elaborate multi-course dinner.

The evening featured multiple mid-sized entrees. This unique presentation allowed the “Divas” to offer Golden Halibut (with coconut lime sauce and accents of curried Whidbey Island mussels), Alaskan Halibut (with Manila clams, chorizo and sherry), Hawaiian Big Eye (itself prepared in three different ways) and Tandoori King Salmon (with coconut tomato chutney, spiced spinach and naan bread). (Yes, it is a tough job but somebody has to do it.)

Special wines were chosen for each course—including the elaborate starters which featured Sweet Onion Foie Gras Crostini, Scallops Ceviche and Five Spice Nova Salmon Lox. The cheese course featured Beechers Flagship Cheese and Washington apple paste, a tart, jelled-apple treat. Dessert, billed as Sweet Jess, featured Jessica Campbell’s sinful sounding Chocolate Bang Bang and Caramel Pot de Crème. The molten-chocolate fantasy was as sinfully delicious as its name.

An incredible Sweet Pea Soup (with dungeness crab, smoked bacon and red pepper) started the at-table offerings. A Blood Orange Oyster Freeze and Tarragon Grape Salad separated the seafood mini-main courses.

As the evening drew to a close, Bits&Bytes/Bites casually mentioned to his guest, “Can you imagine eating like this every night.” A woman at the table, a full-time food writer, smiled at her husband and asked, “Don’t you? We do.” A wonderful evening, a preview of a gala New York dinner and a clear reminder about how lucky we all are.

Ticket information on all James Beard Foundation events—and tomorrow night’s dinner—is available at (212) 627-2308. And, yes, tell ‘em that Bits & Bytes/Bites told you to call.



The Seattle Men’s Chorus had a huge hit with its 2005 Spring Concert last weekend. Minding Your Manners, featuring Judith Martin, the famous Miss Manners, syndicated columnist with a wicked sense of humor.

New songs, with text by Miss Manners, mingled effectively with Broadway and American Songbook classics. SMC’s subgroups, Captain Smartypants and the new Aedonis, added variety. Three numbers from Broadway’s Avenue Q, the Gay-themed and Gay friendly Tony Award-winning Best Musical, were highlights of the show for many audience members. “Everyone’s A Little Big Racist,” introduced by cartoon characters in vivid Crayon colors, was a fun-with-a-message outing. “There’s A Fine, Fine Line,” adapted here for a Gay couple, was an emotional moment with unexpected depth.

Judith Martin may have been the box office lure but the close harmonies—and excellent diction—of the Seattle Men’s Chorus made this short, snappy concert a winner in all departments.

Next for SMC is the very special May 13-15 concert staging of Broadway’s rarely revived Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Faith Prince and Lucy Lawless. Ticket details on all SMC events at (206) 388-1400. Blondes is a co-production with the 5th Avenue Musical Theatre. Plan ahead—expect a sell out.


Seattle Opera’s 2004-2005 Young Artists Program staging of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, which received rave reviews from local reviewers, plays its final three performances tonight through Sunday at the Maydenbauer Center in Bellevue.

Ticket information at (206) 389-7676 or toll-free at (800) 426-1619. Bits & Bytes says check it out.

Leslie Robinson

Madelyn Arnold