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Flying Karamazov Brothers Back in Seattle

Marcie Sillman

For more than 20 years, the Flying Karamazov Brothers have called Seattle their home away from home. This is where they try out new material, and open their new shows. The juggling quartet is back in town, working on “Life: A Guide for the Perplexed”. KUOW’s Marcie Sillman visited a recent rehearsal. She has this report.

ON A RECENT SUNNY AFTERNOON AT ACT THEATER, THE FOUR FLYING KARAMAZOV BROTHERS ARE RUNNING THROUGH THE SCRIPT FOR THEIR NEWEST SHOW. PAUL MAGID, BEST KNOWN TO AUDIENCES AS DMITRI KARAMAZOV…THE ONE WITH LONG DARK HAIR…SAYS HE GOT THE IDEA FOR THIS PROJECT ON A FAMILY VACATION: “I went to Italy this summer, with the family actually, and we were going ostensibly on a vacation, to a small little city in Umbria. And then, they sort of found out I was a theater person, and they said why don’t you do a show? I sort of wrote what is the bones of this show there. And it was really really fun. And I thought, there’s something for a regular Karamazov show.” MAGID DESCRIBES “LIFE: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED” A SERIES OF PARABLES, WITH JUGGLING AND MUSIC. HE WROTE THE SCRIPT. FELLOW KARAMAZOVS MARK ETTINGER AND HOWARD JAY PATTERSON CONTRIBUTED THE MUSIC AND LYRICS, RESPECTIVELY. AS THE FLYING KARAMAZOV BROTHERS GATHER AROUND A PIANO TO RUN THROUGH A SONG, DIRECTOR MICHAEL PRESTON JUMPS UP TO HELP THEM MOVE THE INSTRUMENT TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM. PRESTON IS A FORMER KARAMAZOV, BUT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME HE’S DIRECTED ONE OF THEIR SHOWS. HOWARD JAY PATTERSON SAYS WORKING WITH PRESTON IS A BIG CHANGE FOR THE TROUPE: “Most of the directors we’ve worked with will say no no do that again, do something worse, harder. Hurt more, do it again. But he’ll actually get up and do it first, a physical director. And he can also see juggling. The director will go, uh, Howard, that third double to mark your underturn..Ah, no director’s ever been able to see what the juggling was before.” AND JUGGLING IS THE HEART OF THE KARAMAZOV SHOWS. MOST OF THEM INCLUDE A SHTICK CALLED “THE GAMBLE”. AUDIENCE MEMBERS BRING IN EVERYTHING FROM CHAIN SAWS TO MUFFINS…ONE OF THE BROTHERS MUST JUGGLE THE OBJECTS FOR AT LEAST TEN SECONDS, OR GET A CREAM PIE IN THE FACE. FOR THIS NEW SHOW, MARK ETTINGER AND HOWARD PATTERSON HAVE WRITTEN A NEW MUSICAL PRELUDE: ALTHOUGH PATTERSON WILL SING THE INTRODUCTION, HE WON’T REPREESE HIS REGULAR ROLE AS GAMBLE CHAMP. PAUL MAGID TAKES ON THE TASK. HE SAYS HE WOWED ITALIAN AUDIENCES WITH THE GAMBLE LAST SUMMER. NOW PATTERSON AND MAGID LOOK FORWARD TO THE REACTION FROM THE HOME AWAY FROM HOME CROWD: “This is where many things were generated and we were, our humor is based out of this kind of sensibility. And it really becomes clear when we put a show together here and then we tour the country with it, and you get used to where there are laughs and where there aren’t laughs. And there are some places where there just won’t be laughs and you kind of, you know, you tighten up at the end of the line, you know, because you know there’s not going to be a laugh, and we just keep em in, because we like em. And then, you’ll come back to the Northwest and do the show, and oh, right, that was funny, that’s why we say that thing.” HOWARD JAY PATTERSON, PAUL MAGID, MARK ETTINGER AND RODERICK KIMBALL ARE THE FLYING KARAMAZOV BROTHERS. THEIR NEW SHOW, “LIFE: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED”, OPENS TONIGHT AT SEATTLE’S ACT THEATER. I’M MARCIE SILLMAN, KUOW NEWS.