Amanda Knox
Director Shawn Belyea is taking on the cult classic Angry Housewives at West Seattle's ArtsWest Theater. The play will run from April 23-May 24, Tickets are available at artswest.org or (206) 938-0339

Shawn Belyea directs ArtsWest revival of Seattle cult classic, Angry Housewives

By Amanda Knox

Tonight at 7:30pm ArtsWest Theatre will open its production of Angry Housewives. Written and originally produced by Seattleites A.M. Collins (book) and Chad Henry (music and lyrics) in 1983, the punk-rock musical was a cult phenomenon that ran over six years at the Pioneer Square Theatre until the theatre’s closure in 1989. While Angry Housewives has since been produced elsewhere, ArtsWest will be the first to revive the show in its original Seattle setting.

This will also be ArtsWest’s final show in its 2014-2015 season, so the desire to send out the season with a bang, coupled with the pressure to live up to the show’s legacy, means that the Angry Housewives production team is feeling the heat from multiple directions.

Yesterday, after the audience rollicked into the night after a pre-show fueled by $1 beers courtesy of Elliott Bay Brewery, director Shawn Belyea stayed late into the evening with his team giving copious notes. Artistic director Mathew Wright let me in the back for a privileged glance of Belyea’s team hard at work.

As it turns out, audiences may look forward to the type of show where the standard notes on light cues (“Bring the purple in during the transition.”) and line delivery (“Keep it tight. Don’t swallow it.”) are interspersed with observations like, “I missed the butt smack!” and suggestions like, “More Muppet arms!” Choreographer Troy Wageman posed voluptuously to emphasize that his heroines should, “Do the full drag.” Meanwhile, tech-dog Beezus (so read her bandana) meandered around the stage and up the rafters, finding cosy perches in actors’ laps.

Shawn Belyea has been an active in Seattle theatre as director and performer for many years and for many companies, such as the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Seattle Public Theatre, ACT, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and the Village Theatre, to name a few. He founded the 14/48 Project, which produces the World’s Quickest Theatre Festival (where 14 plays are produced and performed within 48 hours) and Theatre Anonymous (where performers first come into contact with each other on the opening night). Belyea’s mission is to foster a theatre community that trains and encourages new generations of theatre artists.

Angry Housewives fits into that mission because, above all else, Belyea’s direction aims to celebrate Seattle’s theatrical and musical heritage. Belyea says he acknowledges the other angles available within the script—the story of female empowerment, which he says is “relevant because there is still wage inequality and inequity in the arts for women,” and the entertainment value of 80’s nostalgia—but his primary focus is the celebration of that defining period of time where Seattle became a punk and grunge capital and center of counterculture.

“It’s a ton of fun,” Belyea promises. “We’ve done a really good job of bringing it home.”

Angry Housewives will be performed at ArtWest Theatre (4711 California Ave SW) April 23-May 24, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3pm. Tickets cost $17-$36.50 and may be bought at the box office or at this link: .

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