Interview: Annex Theatre

Annex Theatre

Annex Theatre

Bumbershoot is less than 2 weeks away!  Did you know TPS has a stage there?  I’ll be highlighting some of the various TPS member companies featured on our stage.  First up: Annex Theatre and their production of Spin the Bottle, Jr.!

Members of Spin the Bottle

Members of Spin the Bottle

Bret Fetzer knows Spin the Bottle.   Being involved at Annex for over 12 years (currently as Artistic Director) he’s seen his share of craziness on stage.  Spin is known for being one of the most unpredictable variety shows around – every show truly feels like the acts were chosen and ordered through a spinning bottle and a list.

For Bumbershoot, Annex has added a slight twist to their formula – see the “Jr.” at the end of the title? This will be a big change for Spin the Bottle, as there are a few differences between entertaining intoxicated theatre patrons on a saturday night versus the all-ages, mid-afternoon crowd that will stop by at Bumbershoot. I talked briefly with Bret to see what they have in store for this never-predictable show.

Shane Regan (TPS)Spin the Bottle was fairly groundbreaking when it first started here in Seattle, and has inspired many other theatres to create their own late-night and variety shows. What inspired the creation of STB?

Bret Fetzer At the time — 1997 — there was no late night theater.  I’d been a regular performer in the New City Late Night Club for several years, in the early 90s, and had a great time doing it, so I decided to revive the format at Annex.

SR: You’ve had every spectrum of the arts perform, sometimes all in the same night or even in the same performance.  Many of the acts are in the “workshop” stage, and it’s their chance to experiment in front of a willing audience.  Others take full advantage of a crowd that has no idea what to expect.  What’s the wildest thing you’ve witnessed there?

Bret Fetzer, Artistic Director, Annex Theatre

Bret Fetzer, Artistic Director, Annex Theatre

BF: It started out as a duo performing Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” on the ukulele; additional musicians kept joining them one by one; by the time they finished, they were backed by multiple instrumentalists and something like a 20 person choir.  It was a thing of beauty.  Also, sleeping bag sumo wrestling by Gude/Laurance, which will be performed at Spin the Bottle, Jr., at this Bumbershoot.

SR: As you mentioned, the Bumbershoot show is actually Spin the Bottle Jr. – what things will be different about the show in an all-ages, daytime environment at a new venue?

BF: Well, every edition of the late night Spin the Bottle ends with what we affectionately call smut, and we’ve left that out in the kid’s version.

But aside from the lack of questionable content, we’ve tried to choose acts that would be just as entertaining in the late night show, acts that can be fully enjoyed by adults but just happen to also be kid-friendly.
We aspire to create a show that can be enjoyed equally (thought not always for the same reasons) by parents and children.

SR: When you’re screening for entries, what do you and Annex Theatre look for in a performance?

BF: Something that will hold the attention of a drunken crowd; something that will keep an audience at midnight awake and intrigued; and something that will make me pay attention after curating a variety show for 12 years.
Generally, if it can do that, it can also hold the attention of squirmy kids who haven’t had their nap.

Annex Theatre’s Spin the Bottle, Jr. plays at Bumbershoot on all 3 days – 3:45 on Saturday 9/5, and 3:30 Sunday and Monday.

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