Wednesday, July 23, 2008

TLT Updates

As mentioned previously, local institution Tacoma Little Theatre recently parted ways with their Artistic Director David Duvall after 17 months of ups and downs (mostly downs).

The latest news is that TLT has brought in Doug Kerr as an interim AD. Kerr spent a number of years as the head of the theatre department at Pierce Community College, and his wife is a former TLT board member. Recently retired, he now directs in the community.

I couldn't say if he is an interim in the sense of "we need someone to hold us together while we get our search for the real guy going," or in the sense of "let's see how this guy does before we put him under long-term contract." I don't even know if Kerr wants the job long-term. But he already sound like he has a few advantages over Duvall. Kerr is, as they say in baseball, a multi-tool player. He has experience (and from what little I've seen, some degree of skill) in directing, set design and technical theatre, and, obviously, the running of a theatre program. Duvall always gave off the impression of being a one trick pony: he was a music man, through and through. The shows I worked on with him as musical director, and ONLY musical director, tended to turn out great. As he moved into directing and then into running the whole show, things started to fall apart.

Also, it's been brought to my attention that the staffers that left have been replaced by new people, namely box office manager Nellie Hartmen and education director Casi Wilkerson. I'm not sure whether these new hires were made with Duvall still on board, or if they are part of the new overhaul.

It remains to be seen where all this will lead. They won't turn it all around in a season. TLT needs to rebuild its respect in the community, especially the volunteer community. Those were the people who made shows great, and those are the people who have been alienated the most by continuous staffing and operational changes.

Special thanks to Mysterious Anonymous Commentor Person for the info.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Public Meeting on Downtown Plan Updates

Received this bulletin in my e-mail a few minutes ago. The City of Tacoma is working on revising the Downtown Element of their Comprehensive Plan. It hasn't been revised in nearly seven years, and is looking to integrate the changes that have occurred, as well as the Economic Development Plan developed with AngelouEconomics.

July 30, 2008 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Tacoma City Council Chambers
Tacoma Municipal Building, First Floor
747 Market Street

Comprehensive Plan - Downtown Element Update

Join the City of Tacoma for a review and discussion of a proposed update to the Downtown Element of the Comprehensive Plan. Potential revisions include the addition of guidance for the International Financial Services Area and enhanced policies relating to transportation, parking, land use, public realm and urban design.

What is the Downtown Element of the Comprehensive Plan?

The downtown element provides general goals and policies to guide growth and development in the downtown area. The downtown area is generally bounded by Division on the north, I-5 on the south, Yakima on the west and includes the Thea Foss Waterway and the Tacoma Dome area. The element outlines a vision for dense housing, good design, open spaces and connected transportation networks.

Why are we updating the Downtown Element?

The policies have not been changed since 2001. Downtown has changed considerably since then including new housing, the development of the convention center, museums, offices and the LINK light rail corridor. The City with the assistance of Angelou Economics recently completed an economic development strategy for the downtown which identifies actions to facilitate investment and create a diversified, sustainable economy. It is time to prepare for the next phase of downtown’s rebirth by incorporating the economic strategic actions and providing specific guidance to ensure continued vibrancy, enhanced livability, quality design, improved public spaces and greater transportation choices.

How do I get involved? Visit the Planning Division webpage for more information concerning Planning Commission meetings and draft documents at and click on “Downtown Plan Update.” Or contact Community and Economic Development staff: Peter Huffman (253) 591-5373 or Donna Stenger at (253) 591-5210

Looks potentially interesting. Many of the issues are close to a number of feed>>tacomans... improved public spaces and greater transportation options spring immediately to mind.

Official Event Flyer

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of... Voice?

I fail at ample notice. Almost always. Between getting sick, and flying to Chicago, and whatever else, I have once again failed to tell anyone at all about the Out of Sight, Out of Mind gig at A Rhapsody In Bloom Florist on 6th Ave tomorrow, July 10th and 7PM.

If you saw us a couple months ago (and I know a few of you did), you have at least some idea what to expect. Don Izenman and Goodwin Trent form the core of OoSOoM, and have done for years. However, recently, in the interest of general awesomeness, they saw fit to add another to their ranks: Joe Izenman (hey that's me!) Now it's time for me to conquer the band. For aid, I have recruited my songwriting partner of 8 years, Erich Sachs, the other half of Mr. Fusion (why no, you haven't ever heard of us. But that's just because we're too lazy to ever play shows, or something.)

What has spawned is something that Erich and I have been waiting for for years: Mr. Fusion songs with... more than two people! Don and Goodwin bring a mandoliny, bassy life to songs ranging from out very newest to pieces we wrote as sophomores in high school.

Of course, the conquering isn't QUITE complete. So we'll let Goodwin do a few of his songs. But we have commanded him to accept the addition of Erich's doumbek drumming prowess, as a sign of our youthful dominance. Also, if you're extra-lucky, Don might play some covers and pretend we thought they were in the public domain. Someone has to cover for the fact that I have a horrible head cold and have almost completely lost my voice.

(ADDED VALUE BONUS: Think you saw it all last time? Now see those same Joe Izenman songs... two frets lower! Because the top of his range is tainted by mucous! Yeah!)

The weather's looking great, and at Rhapsody that means an outdoor show. What better way to spend a Summer Thursday? None, says I. None at all.

Hope to see you there! It's free, after all. You could pay to go somewhere else and have less fun, if you really want. But why?

Out of Sight, Out of Mind/Mr. Fusion
Thursday, July 10, 7PM - 9PM
A Rhapsody In Bloom Florist
6th Avenue between Proctor and Union
3709 6th Avenue Tacoma, Wa. 98406

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tacoma Little Theatre Loses its Direction... Again

Word on the grapevine today is that local institution Tacoma Little Theatre's board has voted to release Producing Artistic Director David Duvall.

Duvall was hired back in February of 2007 after a national search to replace Judy Cullen. The last national search they had netted them utter failure Tom Jones (not the singer), so you have to wonder if "national search" is the way to go at this point.

As mentioned in the afore-linked Spew article, David came on board and into a new office model, sharing operating responsibilities with Business Director Cori Chapo. Except that by the end of 2007 Chapo had left. As had the Box Office Manager and the Education Director. And as far as I know none of them had been replaced. Why no replacements? Well, I can't speak for personal reasons why staff members left, but at the top of the list, I suspect, is that they simply weren't getting paid.

TLT has run into a massive number of hurdles recently, ranging from an incompetent technical director who helped many a set fail utterly to be completed for opening night, Dreamgirls getting pushed back a week due to cast walkouts, and the recent rights debacle over The Pajama Game (which from the sound of it fell largely on Duvall's shoulders).

No word on whether the Board will go on another wide-scale hunt, go back to a few finalists from the last one, or attempt to hire from within the community for Duvall's replacement. Also no word on if there's really anyone out the who can dig them out of the sinkhole that's been steadily collapsing around them for the last couple years. I really hope they can... TLT was a huge part of my life through jr. high, high school and college. I'd love to see it get back the spark it had doing Little Shop of Horrors, 12 Angry Men, and a host of other stellar shows.