Kuntz makes multi-media magic
by Christopher Key
Pam Kuntz has become something of a local legend for creating imaginative theatrical dance performances that are all about telling the stories of our neighbors. When I was growing up, back in some previous century, we all knew our neighbors’ stories. For better or for worse. We have become something of a migratory society since those days and we often don’t get to know our neighbors before they (or we) move on. Even when we stay put for a while, the sheer busyness of our lives usually precludes the regular visiting with neighbors that was so much a part of my growing up. Kuntz and Company helps us reconnect by using the very media that has shackled us inside our homes far too much.
The Family Project, produced with help from the Washington State Arts Commission, is Kuntz’s best effort to date and that’s going some. It’s an amazing mélange of vignettes that range from the hilarious to the whimsical to the poignant and it will leave you gasping. And maybe thinking about why families and neighbors behave the way they do. There is far more to this production than I have the time and space to describe, so I’ll give you some highlights
The opening segment is a delightful take on “Bubbles in the Wine,” the theme song for the seemingly indestructible Lawrence Welk Show. This was one of those TV shows that originally brought families together, then drove them apart when the kids discovered Elvis and his successors.
Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times seems to have at least partly inspired the segment that begins with a modest table set for four. Suddenly, the table starts to expand in a wonderfully creative piece of stagecraft and three unfortunate people have to deal with an avalanche of silverware in order to keep up with the place settings.
One of the most dramatic pieces from a movement standpoint involves an encounter between two men. Are they dancing? Are they fighting? Does it matter? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
As I mentioned, Kuntz is a master of multi-media production and her story of a family whose child grows from an infant to an adult is stunning. She uses a projection screen to depict the family while a live dancer interprets the changes from behind.
Kuntz and Company and the Firehouse Performing Arts Center have been a marriage made in heaven from the very beginning. The intimacy of The Firehouse puts the audience right on top of the performers and that’s an ideal setting for the emotions Kuntz’s productions evoke.
The performers are uniformly stellar and include Ian Bivins, Jia Huan Borgesen, Wendy Borgesen, Barbara Christensen, Vanessa Daines, Angela Kiser, Rachael Leedy, Pam Sinnett and Zach Wymore.
The Family Project will leave you both shaken and stirred. It performs October 5 – 14. See the website for precise dates and times. Tickets are $15 and are available at Village Books, www.brownpapertickets.com and at the door.
The old theatrical saying is, “Make ‘em laugh, make ‘em cry, and leave ‘em begging for more.” Pam Kuntz understands this on a level that makes her a bit of a throwback. And thank God for that.
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