Sunday, June 25, 2017 This Week's Paper

Arts & Entertainment: Comic soap opera – Tacoma style

// ‘Java Tacoma’ returns to the stage for third installment

Fringe theater in Tacoma (yes, there really is such a thing) will make a welcomed appearance in town starting July 27 when the curtain goes up on “Java Tacoma: Episode 39 – The Mochaccino Candidate.” This time, the third installment of this all-original sit-com for the stage dives into the cutthroat world of politics, perfect for this election year.

The “Java Tacoma” series centers on a small group of life-long friends – Linda, Kate, Jeri and Bert – who like to gather at Perky’s Coffee Shop, a fictitious café in Tacoma. It is here that they live out their crazy adventures while the audience sees it all like watching a situation comedy on TV – the entertaining stories unfold in the most hilarious ways with an easy style that seems to appeal to people across the board, especially those who may not otherwise enjoy live theater in the more established venues around town.

“What we’re doing is different from traditional theater, so we’ve developed a following,” said Producer Aya Hashiguchi Clark of Dukesbay Productions. “I find we’re attracting a non-theater crowd because we’re so different.”

Here is a brief synopsis of what is in store for Episode 39: It is an election year, and Perky’s becomes the site for political intrigue, covert police action and budding theater divas. Kate, the constant (and unsuccessful) candidate for Tacoma City Council, decides now is the time to finally take her place among the city leaders. That is, unless Bert or fellow business owner Evelyn defeat her at the polls. And why are the police staked out at Perky’s? Does this have anything to do with Jeri’s theatrical aspirations or Linda’s mysterious silence?  

“Java Tacoma” plays are stuffed with local references to people, places and things around Tacoma and the South Sound, which makes for an even more enjoyable experience for those who like live theater with one foot in the familiar. “The Mochaccino Candidate” will certainly stick to this winning formula.

“Because this is an election year, we thought we’d bring in a political story line, and since it’s about Tacoma what better thing to spoof than a city council election?” Clark said, noting that if any current Tacoma City Council members show up in the audience they would not be offended – it is not that kind of play. In fact, “Java Tacoma” is suitable for general audiences.

The troupe also has a new stage venue after having recently moved from their original performance venue at Trinity Presbyterian Church. The new, 70-seat theater space is at First Congregational Church, 918 Division Ave., which Dukesbay Productions is sharing with the newly created Tacoma Youth Theatre.

“Theater and church basements have had a long history anyway,” said Clark. “That’s where off-off-Broadway is – some church basement in New York City.

“What we’re trying to do ultimately is help fringe theater survive in Pierce County. If we can make this work with First Congregational Church, it might be a space where these little pop-up groups can put on shows.

“Java Tacoma: Episode 39 – The Mochaccino Candidate” is directed by Randy Clark, with original theme songs and musical score composed by Allan Loucks. Scenic and lighting design is by Scott Campbell and scenic painting is by Maggie Knott. The multi-racial cast includes Mick Flaaen, Aya Hashiguchi, Demetrick Louis, Susan Mayeno, George McClure, Betzy Miller, Syra Beth Puett and Bryan Yambe. Dukesbay Productions’ mission is to showcase the works of local playwrights and give a voice to theater artists of all ethnicities.

The show opens July 27 and runs through Aug. 11. It plays Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5, which includes your choice of coffee, tea and an assortment of baked goods. Reservations are recommended: (253) 267-0869 or e-mail