Thursday, November 3, 2016

Blazing good show

Weed works wonders at FKP

By Lily Olason

Free Key Productions tags its newest baby, Seeds of Change, with “It’s 4:20. Do you know where your best buds are?” In this case, it's the Mount Baker Theatre. Veteran Bellingham thespian Christopher Key leads a lightning cast to comedic perfection in this tale of love, loss, and herbal remedy.

The show pits three squeaky-clean, perennially moralistic Nazarene minister’s daughters against mystery seeds from Idaho. Sister Joy—suffering from Alzheimer’s and new to a national gardener’s seed exchange—is exuberant at the proposition: she can make anything that will grow, grow. And boy, does she. The plants flower into an enormous, odoriferous grow-op on the terrace of her retirement community apartment.

Craig Rickett’s script drips with humor and the writing is organic and absorbing. Key’s cast is tightknit, fiery, and quick on their feet; watching them ricochet this dialog back and forth is a dream.

Photo credit - Jessica Drake

Judith Owens-Lancaster gives a riotous performance as Joy. Her humor is dead-on—whether singing Hallelujah Chorus after a rapturous experience with a “special” brownie, to tirades on Bill Clinton and “wine-swilling Catholics.“ Her interactions with Kit Vonnegut, who plays the newcomer down the hall, are cut-up and how her sisters deal with it all, equally golden.

Photo credit - Jessica Drake

Chastity is given great life by Tonja Myers. Keeping a church mission afloat, corralling an ex-convict cook (Glen Nelson Bristow), reminding her sister who the newcomer down the hall is, and tracing excerpts from The Joy of Sex, Myers magnificently makes the role with equally droll humor and glassine delivery. Best example? Her prison-related breakdown at the end of Act I.

Photo credit - Jessica Drake

Faith is played with a sharp and lovely charm by Karen Edland. Sick of cloistering in near-Nazarene nunnery, she finds love down the hall with new neighbor, Patrick. Watching her devolve (evolve?) from the moral high ground to the much-more-fun, wine drinking, swearing, promiscuous middle is a riot because she’s such an endearing performer.

Photo credit - Beth Vonnegut

Kit Vonnegut plays ex-cop and newcomer down the hall, Patrick, perfectly. He can put Boy Scouts in a headlock and woo women with wit in a snap of the fingers; his timing is spot-on and the rapport with Edland, Myers, and Owens-Lancaster diverse and hilariously surprising. Oh, and he dubs the incessant helicopter buzzing around the complex as an envoy of the DEA, sending the cast into mass

Photo credit - Jessica Drake

TJ Anderson plays the best future-Eagle-Scout you’ll ever see. His eager demeanor is lovingly Labradorean and his delivery and timing razor sharp. Don’t let the Scout uniform fool you: his chops are hewn from steel.

Photo credit - Jessica Drake

Glen Nelson Bristow is Reggie, the ex-convict cook who harvests the ensuing buds and makes an ironic profit for the mission. Bristow plays the role like old-timey gangster, and his delivery is consistently hilarious. Interactions with Anderson are a hoot and he plays the character arc with a magnificent refinement.

Bottom line: Seeds of Change is a side-splitter.  The cast is a gifted, perceptive constellation of comedians and that makes for a beautiful, engrossing show.

Catch it while you can! It plays Saturday the 5th and Sunday the 6th at 2:00 and 7:30 at the Mount Baker’s Walton Theatre. Visit Free Key Productions for more info and the Mount Baker Theatre's website to buy tickets online. PSA: though it's decidedly non-kid friendly, the adults will whoop it up. Don't forget to fall back on Sunday!

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