Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: A PROPER PLACE at Village Shipwrecks Itself

Review: A PROPER PLACE at Village Shipwrecks Itself
Chelsea LeValley in Village Theatre's
A Proper Place.
Photo credit: © 2017 Tracy Martin
Property of Village Theatre.

There's the old adage in any kind of entertainment that if you have a strong finish, the audience can forgive some pitfalls that may have come before. Unfortunately the new work currently playing at Village Theatre has many of those pitfalls (and some good moments too) but they're followed by one of the most egregiously bad, anti-climactic and lackluster endings I think I've ever seen.

Based on J.M. Barrie's "The Admirable Chrichton", the musical written by Leslie Becker and Curtis Rhodes is billed as "Downton Abbey" meets "Gilligan's Island". We follow the antics of Lord Loam (Hugh Hastings) and his upper crust family, his daughters Mary, Agatha and Catherine (Chelsea LeValley, Krista Curry and Sarah Bordenet), his nephew Ernest (Randy Scholz) who's engaged to Agatha, and the Reverend Treherne (David Caldwell) who's engaged to Catherine. Lord Loam considers himself quite the progressive even inviting the servants to tea (for one hour only) and decides to take his family on a sea voyage and brings their butler Chrichton (Kevin Vortmann) and kitchen maid Tweeny (Sophia Franzella) along with them. They are soon shipwrecked on a deserted island where the family realizes how useless they are at surviving and how ingenious Chrichton is at keeping them alive and comfortable and eventually the lines of class and station begin to blur.

It's a cute show. It's got a fun premise and the characters are likable and fun enough and there are a few quite pretty songs but largely the show lacks much to engage. Many of the songs are unmemorable and don't move anything along, there are story points and character moments that are put forth and then completely abandoned and then there's that ending where we are about to get the emotional denouement for the two main characters and that moment suddenly ends up happening off stage while the rest of cast watches it from on stage, and curtain! As an audience member it seemed like the writers had felt we'd seen enough and didn't deserve any closure. You do know we can't see the actors when they're off stage, right?

Director Jerry Dixon and the wonderful cast do what they can with the piece although I must question a few moments where we got lengthy musical interludes with nothing happening. LeValley is her usual fabulous self with her incredible stage presence and killer pipes and she is perfectly matched with Vortmann who's matinee idol looks are only surpassed by one of the clearest and richest, most powerful voices I've heard. And extra kudos to Vortmann who only stepped into the role a week ago when the previous lead sustained an injury. You would have never known he hadn't been with them all along. Hastings is a delight as the doting patriarch and Curry and Bordenet have some wonderful moments as the squabbling spoiled daughters. Caldwell remains solid throughout as the rational conscience of the group. And Scholz and Franzella are hilarious as the foppish twit and no nonsense maid who he ultimately falls for.

The show does have some things going for it with this cast and a few soaring numbers but is ultimately betrayed by the writing and that ending. And so, with my three letter rating system, I give Village Theatre's "A Proper Place" an unengaged and frustrated MEH-. I remember enjoying this much more when I saw the workshop at the Village Originals Festival so I have to wonder, what happened?

"A Proper Place" performs at Village Theatre in Issaquah through April 23rd and then moves to their Everett location running April 28th through May 21st. For tickets or information contact the Issaquah box office at 425-392-2202 or the Everett box office at 425-257-8600 or visit them online at


From This Author - Jay Irwin

         Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Jay has been a theater geek for years.  He attends as many shows as he can around the country and loves taking in new exciting... (read more about this author)

Review: CLOUD TECTONICS from Sound Theatre Company And EarthseedReview: CLOUD TECTONICS from Sound Theatre Company And Earthseed
September 25, 2022

Dear Readers, I am a sucker for both a sweet love story and even more so when we mix in a little magical realism. Movies like “Amelie” or plays like “O Lovely Glowworm, or Scenes of Great Beauty” are some of my favorites. So, something like Jose Rivera’s “Cloud Tectonics”, currently playing at 12th Avenue Arts from Sound Theatre Company and Earthseed, should be right up my alley. And while I find it a sweet little love story, I have to emphasize the “little”. There’s not a whole lot to it. But then, that works well since it's only an intermissionless 90 minutes.

Review: THE GRISWOLDS' BROADWAY VACATION at The 5th Avenue TheatreReview: THE GRISWOLDS' BROADWAY VACATION at The 5th Avenue Theatre
September 23, 2022

The Griswolds’ have been to Wally World, they’ve visited family for Christmas, and they’ve nearly destroyed Europe on their vacations. And now, they’ve loaded up the Wagon Queen Family Truckster and are hitting Broadway in the new musical at the 5th Avenue Theatre, “The Griswolds’ Broadway Vacation”. Are the Griswolds ready for Broadway? No. And by the Griswolds’ I mean the characters as well as this show. But just like the Griswolds the show does grow and with a little bit of work (or a lot of work) they and it just might make it on the Great White Way.

Review: CHOIR BOY at ACT TheatreReview: CHOIR BOY at ACT Theatre
September 22, 2022

Dear Readers, I’m going to set the “Way Back Machine” to 2011 where I was first introduced to the works of playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney as the Seattle Rep had produced his stunning “The Brothers Size”, a show that hit me so hard in the gut that I think about it to this day. And while I was still reeling from it in 2012, he presented his astounding “Choir Boy” at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Eventually it made its way to Broadway in 2019 to a huge outpouring of critical acclaim. Sadly, I missed that run but then ACT announced they would be bringing it to Seattle … in 2020. Yup, you guessed it. It didn’t happen then thanks to the pandemic. But now, thanks to the theatre gods, ACT, in conjunction with the 5th Avenue Theatre, have made good on their promise of presenting this amazing work and let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Village TheatreReview: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Village Theatre
September 18, 2022

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s “Little Shop of Horrors” is arguably one of those near perfect musicals. I will argue with you on this from now until the plants take over the earth as it remains my absolute favorite. But it needs to be done right. That’s not to say it needs to be done the same way every time. One of the best productions I saw was a modern retelling set in a real skid row. But this B-movie sci-fi adaptation needs to have that humor, that crispness, and that bite to make it work. And while the current production from Village Theatre has some wonderful performances and voices, it suffers from a lack of pace and that crispness and bite to take it from a fun show to a killer one.

Review: WHERE WE BELONG at Seattle RepReview: WHERE WE BELONG at Seattle Rep
September 15, 2022

The history of colonization of indigenous lands in this country and other countries is a sensitive subject that many shy away from. But then to look at it from the viewpoint of those that have been displaced goes a long way to recognizing the issues and keep them from continuing. Madeline Sayet and her amazing play “Where We Belong”, currently playing at the Seattle Rep gives a wonderful insight into this topic and specifically her viewpoint and how it affected her and her Mohegan culture.