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Utopia, John Pizzarelli, ZinZanni brunch

by Milton W. Hamlin - SGN A&E Writer

Seattle's arts and entertainment calendar continues to be full to overflowing with summer events and special concert guests. Bits&Bytes has several recommendations this week. Read on:

GILBERT & SULLIVAN'S UTOPIA, LIMITED PROVES GREAT MUSICAL FUN
Celebrating its 55th anniversary season, the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society offers one of the true rarities in the G&S canon. Utopia, Limited is a satire of the British banking system of the mid-1890s. For this production, the first since 1991, The Society moves the setting to 1929 with some great special effects for the period.

The opening night audience loved the oversized miniature airplane that swooped over the full stage set before landing (off stage). The updating - to 1929 for sets and costumes and to 2009 with some banking references - works well and just adds to the fun. As usual, the plot is unimportant to the general musical delights and the low comedy routines. As the Society notes every summer: "Attempts at a detailed, literal analysis of any Gilbert & Sullivan plot will only upset you and annoy your friends and others seated near you."

The show features 18 major roles with the full cast topping out at 45 - all performers obviously have great fun on stage and the infectious feeling dominates the evening. The young lovers are properly radiant, the women's chorus is correctly "proper," the men's chorus is robust and silly. In short, everything is fine at The Society. Dave Ross, a fixture of the company for most years since 1979, plays the King in this production - and he's obviously an audience favorite before his first entrance.

The production continues performances at the Bagley Wright Theatre, the home of the Seattle Repertory Theatre, at the Seattle Center with evening and Saturday matinee performances through July 25 - that's tomorrow, folks. Check with the Society at (206) 341-9612 for ticket reservations, discount policies (they can be generous) and performance details.

JAZZ ALLEY HOSTS JOHN PIZZARELLI THROUGH JULY 26
John Pizzarelli, jazz and swing guitarist (and sometimes vocalist) returned to Jazz Alley last night for a weekend stay, which ended Sunday night. His wife, singer Jessica Molaskey, Radio Deluxe co-host and Broadway star, joins him. Their relaxed co-performances are always a delight and always have the low-key feel of a family affair. John's brother, Martin, tours with him on bass, and his celebrated father, Bucky, tours with him on some occasions. Bucky has won numerous Grammy Awards for his performances as jazz guitarist on major hits over the past six decades.

Bucky Pizzarelli, a jazz legend now in his early 80s, was at Jazz Alley in early June with pianist Benny Green. The elder Pizzarelli delighted the audience with his quips - "I may be 83, but my knees are just five years old!" - and his repertoire, including "How Deep Is The Ocean," "Tangerine," "Last Night When We Were Young," and "If I Had You." Pizzarelli and Green were starting a West Coast tour in Seattle. It was another great night at The Alley.

Ticket reservations for John and Jessica are available at (206) 441-9729. Wouldn't miss it, myself. There are two shows tonight and Saturday and one show Sunday evening - five more chances to catch the talented duo.

TEATRO ZINZANNI OFFERS BRUNCH SUNDAY, DISCOUNTS AUGUST 14
The New York Times proclaimed Teatro ZinZanni "the hottest ticket in town" when the newspaper published an article on the Seattle arts scene several years ago. The newest ZinZanni edition, Bottega ZinZanni (be sure to read the rave review in SGN last week), runs through October 11. Like many arts organizations, ZinZanni is offering various promotions to keep the house full.

The newest, very successful idea is a brunch edition. Since the long-running evening show features a five-course gourmet dinner, a shortened (two-hour) brunch performance with a three-course brunch, also designed by wonder-chef Tom Douglas, is available for a major discount over evening prices. And, this Sunday, July 26, is the next brunch performance - and "good seats" are still available at press time.

Seating for the brunch, opening at 11:30 a.m., is $73 for general adult seating with special discounts for children ($51) and students and seniors ($58). General admission for Saturday shows tops out at $125 but can soar to $160 for inner ring seating, so the savings can be substantial.

Another popular feature is special discount nights. A Pride Night earlier this month offered serious saving for the GLBT community and their friends and family members. The next major discounted regular performance is the August 14, "Asia Night." As a tribute to fashion designer Luly Yang, who designed special costumes for this edition, the August 14 performance is a fundraiser for Kin On & Nikkei Concerns. The $99 rate is available to any patron with asks for the "Spectacular Asia" rate at the box office or on the phone. Complete details are available at (206) 802-0015. ZinZanni's box office and performance home is at the Seattle Center, 222 Mercer Street.

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