Review: Taproot's Sweet PERSUASION Brims with Potential

Matthew Posner, Sophia Franzella,
Ryan Childers, Chelsea LeValley,
Cayman Ilika & Randy Scholz in
Persuasion at Taproot Theatre.
Photo credit: Erik Stuhaug.

There are certain things that spring to mind when thinking of a Jane Austen story. Blistering on again, off again romances. Sweeping emotions. And of course, Colin Firth emerging from a lake. Well the new musical adaptation of Jane Austen's "Persuasion", currently playing at Taproot Theatre, may not have Colin Firth but the romances and emotions are there in spades.

If you're unfamiliar with this particular Austen, we follow the tragic life of Anne Elliot (Cayman Ilika), a sweet and sensible young woman stuck in a horrible family obsessed with money and station. Anne has resigned her life to taking care of her family's affairs after she was forced to reject her love, Captain Wentworth (Matthew Posner), whom her family felt was not good enough to marry. Now eight years later he's back from the war and has made his fortune and circumstance has thrown him back into her life but will his pride and her family get in the way of them rekindling their romance?

The adaptation with book by Harold Taw and music and lyrics by Chris Jeffries shows a lot of promise. They've taken a few liberties by eliminating a few characters and condensing a few plot points. Characters and points that I feel strengthen the intent of the story but it's nothing too egregious. And the music is quite lovely. opening number sets the stage nicely and keeps advancing the story and has a good hook to it. As do many of the other songs. A few times they wander off into a need for an editor but I've seen much worse. My one big complaint would be the final song. SPOILER ALERT: y end up together. (No big surprise for an Austen story.) And their end number didn't quite have the payoff I wanted. It's wasn't quite as grand of a moment and felt a little too chipper and not the soaring romantic moment it deserved. If you're going for Austen that emotional payoff after all that denial, it needs to be huge.

The ensemble of performers is absolutely sublime but what can you expect when you have some of the best in Seattle. Ilika has never failed to impress me with those vocal chops that look effortless from her but emerge from her throat like an angel choir. And her portrayal of the meek and subservient Anne never once ventured into the realm of doormat, just hurt and resigned. Posner is dashing and regal as the stalwart Captain Wentworth and matches Ilika's power quite well. But don't think that this is just their show. The rest of the ensemble are in top form and bring in multiple characters. Nick DeSantis and Chelsea LeValley turn in some brilliant and hilarious fops as Anne's overbearing family. Kate Jaeger is painfully hilarious as the chronically ill and awkward Mary. Caitlin Frances brings in three quite different characters each driving the story beautifully. Randy Scholz makes for a swoon worthy pair of romantic red herrings. Although some of those missed plot points I mentioned fell with him. Nothing against his performance but the authors could give him a bit more to work with rather than just being there. And of course, I must mention Ryan Childers and Sophia Franzella who offer up multiple characters but none more hilarious as their brief turn as the upper-est of upper crust society.

It's a thoroughly delightful piece that needs a bit of work but those issues of mine never once blocked my enjoyment. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give the world premiere of "Persuasion" at Taproot Theatre a sweetly satisfied YAY-. But then it's Austen and Ilika so how can you go wrong?

"Persuasion" performs at Taproot Theatre through August 19th. For tickets or information contact the Taproot Theatre box office at 206-781-9708 or visit them online at


Review: HELLO, DOLLY! at Village Theatre

In the musical theater world, there are classics and then there are Classics (with the big “C”). Jerry Herman’s “Hello, Dolly!” is certainly a big “C” Classic and I’m here to fight anyone who says different. It’s a delicious throwback to the Golden Age of musicals and certainly a star vehicle for the right star. And speaking of the right star, the current production of “Dolly”, currently playing at Village Theatre, shows just how good this Classic can be with the incredible Bobbi Kotula in the title role who proves that she’s not a star, but a Star!

Seattle Shakespeare to Present THE TEMPEST as 30th Anniversary Wooden O Production This Summer

This year's free Wooden O production will be The Tempest, directed by Leah Adcock-Starr. This summer marks the 30th anniversary of free, professional Shakespeare in the Parks from Wooden O! Performances begin July 6 and run through August 6 at parks around the Puget Sound area.

Review: LES MISÉRABLES at The 5th Avenue Theatre

I’ve seen many productions of “Les Misérables” over the years, Dear Readers. I’ve seen local productions and tours. I’ve seen with the turntable and without. And, of course, I’ve seen good and not so good productions. And with all those viewings under my belt, I had to ask myself, “do I need to see it yet again?” And the answer I got last night was a resounding yes. When it’s a production as good as this one that can remind you how amazing the show is, you absolutely want to see it again.

Seattle Theatre Group Reveals 2023/24 Performing Arts Series, Celebrating Legacy Artists and Stunning New Talent

Seattle Theatre Group has announced its 2023/24 Performing Arts Series, a lineup of diverse and vibrant performers from around the country and world ranging from John Cameron Mitchell, the Tony Award-winning creator of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the ultimate Golden Girls tribute show with Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue, to internationally renowned contemporary dance groups including the world premiere of a new piece by dani tirrell (Black Bois), a major commission by Seattle Theatre Group. 

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 wo... (read more about this author)


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