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Theater Review (Seattle): ‘Seattle Vice’ at ACT Theatre

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Sheer enthusiasm goes a long way in Seattle Vice, a new cabaret/burlesque/variety show combo that purports to unveil the seedy history of Seattle in the ’60s. Clearly a labor of love for co-creators and stars Mark Siano and Opal Peachey, Seattle Vice tends to be naughtier, funnier and more free-wheeling than similar shows around town at the Triple Door and Teatro Zinzanni, but it also suffers from the same problem: Whenever the narrative starts to take over, the show tends to grind to a halt.

That narrative, based on the book by Rick Anderson, focuses on Frank Colacurcio (played with plenty of “eh, guy” gusto by Michael Cimino), a longtime organized-crime suspect and nightclub owner. Bribing cops and threatening rivals, Colacurcio pushed for laxer and laxer standards in his strip clubs, and generally got his way. In Seattle Vice, ACT Theatre’s Bullitt Cabaret is transformed into one of Colacurcio’s clubs, the entertainment run by showman Gil Conte (Siano) in the front, and the brothel managed by Rose Marie Williams (Peachey) in the back.

The cast of 'Seattle Vice.' Photo by John Cornicello.

The cast of ‘Seattle Vice.’ Photo by John Cornicello.

The fascinating real-life history feels more like a jumping-off point than the true subject of Seattle Vice. Once the stage is set, plotting gives way to Siano and Peachey’s charming, lounge-y numbers, dances from a troupe of chorus girls/hookers and a variety of pole-dancing, strip-teasing burlesque routines.

The show’s decade-jumping back half gets bogged down in some half-baked stuff about Colacurcio’s betrayal of Gil and Rose and their extended residency in Las Vegas, but the show knows well enough to bring everyone back together for a triumphant musical finale, no matter how little sense it makes plot-wise.

Siano is a natural emcee, and his rakishly charming songs and offhand jokes establish a casual, feel-good mood that persists throughout the show. Peachey’s turn as a knowing sexpot is equal parts sexy and ironically detached, a testament to how this show is mostly able to have it both ways.

Seattle Vice is on stage through April 20. Tickets are available for purchase online.

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.