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Two for Two Shows and The Sizzler Restaurant Review

On preview night for “Shakespeare in Love” at Tacoma ARTS Live, my wife Peggy, was unable to see the play, so my cousin Lindy joined me for the excellent production. I wrote the review. For the Lakewood Playhouse production of “Pippi Longstocking,” Peg and I were both unable to attend the first weekend, so cousin Lindy stood in for us and wrote the review. Early last week a Val-Pak envelope of local coupons was delivered to my mailbox. There was a coupon for the Sizzler Steak House in Lakewood. My mind began to wander and put together a plan that would let Peggy see Shakespeare, Peggy and I could see Pippi, and we could take advantage of a money-saving steak dinner.

Peg loved the costumes, the set, the acting, and the story of Will Shakespeare becoming “The Bard of Avon” William Shakespeare.

John Munn, Managing Artistic Director of Lakewood Playhouse and Deborah L. Armstrong, Associate Artistic Director were able to reserve two seats for the final production of “Pippi Longstocking” on Sunday afternoon, but we would not be sitting together. That same day I received confirmation of two seats for “Shakespeare in Love” on Saturday afternoon at 3:00pm. I asked John about the “Pippi” production on Saturday evening instead of the Sunday afternoon performance. Soon we had two seats together for “Pippi Longstocking” on Saturday at 7:00pm. Things fell in line perfectly.

We had aisle seats for “Shakespeare in Love.” Peg loved the costumes, the set, the acting, and the story of Will Shakespeare becoming “The Bard of Avon” William Shakespeare. The play was beautiful, funny, and fun.

During intermission I talked to Chris Serface, the Managing Artistic Director of Tacoma Little Theatre. He introduced me to a young actress who will be performing in an upcoming production at TLT. Sitting behind Chris was Blake R. York, who is a fantastic set designer and set constructor. I had never met him before. I introduced myself and told him I had enjoyed his performance last season in The Foreigner. He told me that the first time he had seen “The Foreigner” he wanted to star in that production. He is currently working on the set design for Elf: The Musical at Tacoma Music Playhouse.

I told Blake I had enjoyed his performance last season in The Foreigner. (Photo of Blake from TLT and The Foreigner rehearsal)

I enjoyed “Shakespeare in Love” even more the second time around. The cast did a great job. After Shakespeare, we hustled down to our car and drove to Lakewood. We had a little less than an hour to drive to The Sizzler, place our order, have dinner and then drive from South Tacoma Way to Towne Center, get our tickets, and take our seats for “Pippi Longstocking.”

Sizzler is a restaurant chain with headquarters in Mission Viejo, California. Their restaurants are mainly found in California with some in Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, and Washington. It is mostly known for fair prices on steak, seafood, and salad bar. It’s a great place for young families and almost always has military members there for a decent meal. Here is a typical review: “Best steak at a reasonable price to be found in the South Sound. Great value with the salad bar, staff was friendly, courteous and attentive. Restaurant was clean.”

Peg jumped out of the car and hot-footed it to the check-in line. By the time I parked and entered the restaurant there were ten people in front of me. I walked past them all and within a second or two we were ordering. I requested medium rare sirloin steak with baked potato and the salad bar. Peg ordered the deep fried shrimp senior dinner with a tossed salad.

Peg gave me two of her shrimp, which I think she later regretted. I added my potato fixin’s and was soon enjoying an excellent meal.

We sat down in a booth that had just been vacated. In just two minutes a waiter had cleaned away old napkins and wiped the table clean. I hit the salad bar and put together a plate of baked potato elements: sour cream, blue cheese, guacamole, and crumbled bacon. I added some mandarin orange segments, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon. Peg enjoyed her salad and we shared some of the fresh fruit.

Within a short time Peg’s shrimp and my steak order arrived. Peg gave me two of her shrimps, which I think she later regretted. I added my potato fixin’s and was soon enjoying an excellent meal. I gave Peg a nice cut of medium rare sirloin. We both loved the steak and the shrimp. It was a marvelous dinner value for a little over $32.00 including tip. The staff was efficient, nice, and helpful.

We arrived at Lakewood Playhouse with plenty of time to spare. The musical was directed by The Lakewood Institute of Theatre’s Education Director, Deborah L. Armstrong. Debbie was in charge and involved in everything. She was an usher and showed people to their seats. She also cast herself as a policeman in the Pippi production. She is the heart and the brains of the operation.

My two favorites were the team of miscreants played by Mia Uhl (Thunder) and Judah Sawyer (Bloom) who tried to steal Pippi’s bag of gold. (Left to right: Mia Uhl and Judah Sawyer)

Soon a grandmother and her seven or eight year old granddaughter sat next to Peg. They chatted. The mother had just been driving by the playhouse and saw the sign about “Pippi Longstocking” and called in her reservation. The grandmother was able to purchase her tickets and said, “There were only six seats left.” By the time the play began, we counted only two empty seats.

Cousin Lindy had talked about Julianna Guzman (Annika), Nigel Kelly (Tommy), and especially Makenna Kelpman (Pippi) for their work in the production. They were exceptional, but my two favorites were the team of miscreants played by Mia Uhl (Thunder) and Judah Sawyer (Bloom) who tried to steal Pippi’s bag of gold. Thunder played the straight man, while Bloom played the fool. With each Bloom pratfall, fiasco, debacle and clumsy failure shrieks of laughter erupted . . . and sometimes the children in the audience joined me. I adore simple humor.

The production was a wonderful presentation of dancing, singing, and acting. It certainly looked like everyone in the cast and the staff had a great time working on “Pippi Longstocking.” Peg and I, along with the audience enjoyed ourselves. What a great afternoon of entertainment and food. Tacoma ARTS Live and Lakewood Playhouse delivered enjoyment that was every bit as tasty as our meal at The Sizzler.

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