Arts and Entertainment

STANDING ROOM ONLY Curtain rises on new column

Don’t be alarmed.

What you now behold, dear reader, is a well-planned, highly-developed and long-in-the-making new column that purports not to browbeat you with moral balderdash and senseless trivial wheedling. The point here is to lend a hand, to whisper in your ear, to endlessly and generously benefit you in your undying quest for aesthetic nourishment and spiritual uplift on and around Whidbey Island.

Yes. From here on out, every Wednesday and right here in these very pages, STANDING ROOM ONLY will attempt — in good faith and with an eye to the Platonic ideal of true forms — to point you in the direction of what is inarguably your God-given right as a citizen of these United States: to absorb the spectacle of genius and the genius of spectacle, to witness beautiful things, to ingest and digest and then relive the finest outpourings of local and international culture.

To be, in a word, entertained. And if, in being thusly swooped off your feet, you just happen to experience a flash of Epiphany, a moment of enlightenment, then so much the better. As existentialist philosopher Fred Nietzsche said: “In music, the senses enjoy themselves.” So it goes with all art.

Film. Music. Literature. Theater. Dance. Painting. Finger painting. Finger puppets. Comedy and Tragedy. High art and pop art and cuisine art. Juggling. Circus acts and monologues and airshows. Native sculpture and graffiti. Hip-hop and hopscotch. If someone thinks it’s art, and it’s happening in this general vicinity, it will be herein contained, explained and sometimes even judged by its own merits and/or flaws.

Without further pomp and circus pants, here are some entertainment options for this week.

I can’t recommend highly enough Whidbey Playhouse’s fantastic production of “Death Trap,” Ira Levin’s wickedly humorous who-dunnit about artistic ambition and murderous deceit. The local cast is excellent; they meet every challenge of the play’s intricate plotting and unorthodox staging. As Greenbank-based director Don Wilkin’s said, this play is a complete “mind game,” full of nasty humor and enough twists to keep you guessing until the final drop of blood is spilled. The show opens officially on Friday, and runs through Feb. 23; Thursday is a special benefit presentation for Youth Dynamics. For ticket info and times, call 679-2237.

Fans of maritime music and barbershop quartets will want to check out Saturday’s harmonic double-bill featuring the An-O-Cords, a group composed of manly crooners from Anacortes and Oak Harbor, and the Shifty Sailors, who sing rollicking and boisterous sea-shanties in the classic mode (i.e. with accordion accompaniment). This 8pm show at the Coupeville Performing Arts Center is a benefit for the lovely veterans memorial to be built on the grounds of the Island County Courthouse. Tickets are $10 adults/$5 students; available at Daily Grind in Oak Harbor, Coupeville Pharmacy, Mirian’s or Great Time Espresso and the Greenbank Store.

Goin’ South? The Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley is throwing a simulacrum of New Orleans’ famous (or infamous) Mardi Gras bachannalia on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., complete with Zydeco music and Cajun canapes and, perhaps, real-life Bourbon Street transvestites in fright-wigs and stiletto heels (okay, not really). This is a WICA fundraiser. Tickets are $40 (includes complimentary wine and “gaming). For more skinny, call 360-221-8268.

The prime pick among off-island goings-on is surely the Arianna String Quartet’s three-night stand (Jan. 31, Feb. 1 & 2) in Port Townsend as part of Centrum’s Winter Chamber Music Festival. This award-winning quartet will be playing selections from Shostakovich, Shubert, Mozart, Haydn as well as my personal favorite, the brooding, Cello-heavy mood music of Eastern European composer Bela Bartok. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday & Fri; 2 p.m. on Saturday. Individual show and series tickets are available, ranging in prices starting at $10. Call 1-800-733-3608 to order tickets by phone.

If you have entertainment information, please e-mail me at rlevin@whidbey or call 675-6611 ext. 36.

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