The New Skid Row Theatre's People in the Square by David Nyberg & Rose Cano (8/2/22)

Here’s coming at you with internationally commodified Italian coffee, which began right here in Old Town Seattle. 

Let me apologize for the long hiatus since my last review. I would complain of nothing but work, work, work and the vicissitudes of life, with a couple of moves thrown in. What is it with rent? Two hundred a month more than pre-COVID, and so much demand I can hardly get into anything in town. I am hunkered down in SOUTH Tacoma when I am not at the boat, and, more often than I care to admit, sleeping in the car between double overnight shifts at work, and that is not a good recipe for theatre.

My friend Rose Cano is one of the authors of this piece, a theatre artist with such an exemplary track record for four decades that, whatever may be, the piece can be counted on to be thrilling. I don’t know David Nyberg other than meeting him the once last night, but I know he has good taste in collaborators. 

How to approach the subject of people in Pioneer Square in a musical? That was the dramaturgical challenge of the night, and the answer was, slyly. 

Part of the answer was the space itself, the ur-Seattle built so low it flooded and was built over by the present municipality, with the bones of its predecessor still nestled beneath it. I haven’t done the Underground Tour, and have been needing to. Now that I have successfully gotten there, I can get there again.

The initial plan was to park my car at the Tukwila Transit Center, take a bus to the boat, then a bus to the show, but as I made my way to the Light Rail platform, it occurred to me that the train stops in Pioneer Square, just a couple of blocks from the venue, and aren’t there numerous bars, restaurants, and other venues of comestibles to help me while away the extra hours?

So jump on the train and avoid all that nasty, expensive Pioneer Square parking. I managed to find the Merchant Saloon and have a cocktail before the show. That is a nice way to start a show, although unnecessary, in this case. This show began with a visit to the Speakeasy and a round of drinks already in progress, so I recommend you plan on that, and possibly go easy with the first drink. Just saying.

The show itself was topical, well-produced, enthusiastically acted, and well-directed. The band was stunning and the singing, Cara Mia! It is not easy to do a musical in this post-HAMILTON era, especially with a recondite subject. How to tell the story of Pioneer Square when it bridges vast chasms of culture, from the Duwamish Nation to the 19th-century settlers to the modern corporate to the homeless to the night club scene and the arts? You have to craft each particular segment and jump from disparate moment to disparate moment. Some of these moments will be more well-received than others. This is especially the case in the situation of new music. So my hat’s off to this creative team for this piece.

© Joann Farias 2024