Hotel Indigo in Everett

Introducing Everett’s Hotel Indigo

Everett's Hotel Indigo
Everett’s newest hotel, Hotel Indigo (InterContinental Hotels Group )

After years of talk and construction, Everett’s 65-acre Waterfront Place Project is starting to take shape. The new “neighborhood” will eventually feature up to 660 housing units, ten restaurants and a variety of shops and business. One of the area’s first completed projects is the new boutique hotel, Hotel Indigo. The new InterContinental Hotels Group property will no doubt become a destination location for travelers and locals alike thanks to its beautiful views of the Port of Everett marina and Puget Sound.

There are only 67 Hotel Indigo boutique hotels in the United States and the Everett location is the only one in the chain located in Washington State.

On a recent tour of the property, I learned that instead of just being another hotel in the chain of IHG Hotels, each location must have its own story of sorts and actually blend in with the surrounding area. This new location share plenty of Everett’s waterfront history. You can see evidence of this everywhere you look from the porthole windows to the vintage lights. There is a nautical theme throughout the place, but it is done is a tasteful, un-kitschy way.

A room at Hotel Indigo in Everett
(Hotel Indigo)

Of Hotel Indigo’s 142 room, 119 of them feature water views. The floors are lined with wood-like tiles (a subtle nod to Everett’s former lumber mill) and the walls decorated with more nautical touches. Whether staying for work or a local vacation, the rooms are equipped to make one’s stay a pleasurable one with a spa-like bathroom with cozy robes, coffee maker, mini refrigerator, flat screen TV and stereo. Every guest is offered a free morning newspaper and internet service.

The hotel features many of the amenities you would expect but with a few extra nice touches. The business center is open 24/7 and so is the large on-site fitness room featuring three treadmills, two elliptical machines, an recumbent bike, a universal weight machine and entertainment options to make your workout an enjoyable one.

Next door you’ll find a large indoor saline swimming pool with plenty of windows to light up the room, but high enough to protect your privacy and not make you feel like you are on display.

Fido will appreciate walks along the 3.5 mile trail and you might want to take advantage of the paddleboat rentals and complimentary ferry trips to Jetty Island during the summer months.

The hotel’s own unique “seafood-forward” restaurant, Jetty Bar & Grille, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring an outstanding culinary team lead by Chef Andrew Cross. While you may not know him by name, Cross is no stranger to the hospitality businesses. His impressive resume includes stints at the Semiamoo Resort, Canon Whiskey restaurant and Canlis.

As is most of hotel, the restaurant is lined with large windows which presents incredible views of the sunset each night. One wall is decorated with large vintage black and white photos of the Everett marina. The lights that hang overhead are reminiscent of crab pots. The space feels larger than it really is with its clean and modern layout.

Cross’ menu promises the freshest seafood from local sources including Lummi Island Wild and Taylor Shellfish, “with a focus on approachable seafood dishes inspired by the Salish Sea,” says the hotel’s press release. Guests can look forward to trying Scuttlebutt beer-battered halibut and chips, Miso Glazed Black Cod (with ginger-edamame hummus, caramelized onions, grilled bok choy and savory broth), Blackened Salmon Sliders (grilled salmon stuffed inside buttery brioche bread with spicy pineapple slaw), Deviled Eggs (made with smoked salmon caviar!), Lummi Island smoked salmon chowder (made with yukon gold potatoes and a smoked tomato crème fraiche), and a variety of local oysters on the half shell.

During our last visit, my wife and I chose “turf” over “surf” which seemed wrong when dining a seafood restaurant, but it turned out to be a great decision. Beginning our meal with slices of fresh bread and butter, I had the Bone-In Thick Cut Pork Chop which was served with spaetzle, roasted mushrooms and amazing caramelized apples which I enjoyed with a glass of Cranberry Cider. My wife chose a Mushroom Risotto (which was stuffed with five or six different types of mushrooms) and side of roasted vegetables. We both ended up bringing boxes of leftovers home with us. Other choices include a 14 oz. New York Prime Steak (with crispy duck fat potatoes and grilled rapini) and Hanger Steak Frites (garlic fries, arugula, pickled onions and chimichurri sauce).

When the weather is nicer, guests can enjoy small bites alongside handcrafted cocktails on the outdoor patio and locals will appreciate the Jetty Grill Express food service window selling “to-go” dishes. With the recent and unexpected closure of Monte Cristo Hotel wedding venue in downtown, Hotel Indigo has been busy filling its 8,000 square feet of indoor event space with many weddings. It also offers another 5,000 square feet of outdoor space, which will be nice when the weather is warmer.

For more information, visit Hotel Indigo’s website or call 425-217-2772 to make reservations for dinner at the Jetty Bar & Grille.

(All photos were taken by the author except where noted.)

Great Balls of Fire! Million Dollar Quartet Should Not Be Missed.

The cast of “Million Dollar Quartet.” (Photo: Matt Kitaoka)

It was on December 4, 1956 at Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee when an impromptu jam session was conducted with the likes of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and a fairly unknown singer and musician (at the time) Jerry Lee Lewis. Though there was a recording of the session, it’s doubtful that it was ever intended to be shared. However, a reporter from the local Memphis Press-Scimitar was called in and he dubbed the session, the Million Dollar Quartet.

Many years later, a recording of the session was found among many other recordings in storage at Sun Records. In 1981, the Million Dollar Quartet recording was released as a record in Europe in 1981. It wasn’t until 1987 that the recording was released in the United States. In 2006, the stage show of Million Dollar Quartet was presented in Village Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals. The mainstage premiere of the show was presented in 2007 followed by a Chicago debut in 2008 and Broadway in 2010. This year, the show made its way back to Village.

Jerry Lee Lewis (John Countryman), Elvis Presley (Jason Kappus) and Dyanne (Cayman Ilika). (Photo: Mark Kitaoka)

Based on real and imagined events that happened in that recording studio, Million Dollar Quartet is a different type of show than what you normally see at Village Theatre. Rather than a traditional musical, it’s part theatre, part live performance. The program allows the audience to become a fly on the wall and imagine the conversations to might have been exchanged between four great singers/musicians and Sam Philips, the owner of Sun Records.

The story begins with Carl Perkins (Skye Scott) coming into the studio to record his new song Matchbox with his brother Jay (Chris Jones) playing the bass. They are joined by a drummer (James Reif) and hopeful new Sun Records sensation, Jerry Lee Lewis (John Countryman) playing the piano. Throughout the night, the small group are joined by Cash (Brian Grey), Presley (Jason Kappus) and his girlfriend, Dyanne (Cayman Ilika). Though the time together is mostly cordial, conversations become heated at times and it becomes clear that the egos of musicians back then were just as fragile and testy as today’s biggest stars.

Philips (Matt Wade) is in a jovial mood hoping to get Johnny to sign on for another three years while Elvis would like nothing more than to get Philips to work with him over at RCA. Meanwhile, Perkins butts heads with newbie Lewis, whose clearly too big for his britches. Remarkably, Dyanne seems to have a soothing quality that helps keep the men in check.

Johnny Cash (Brian Grey), Bassist (Chris Jones), Carl Perkins (Skye Scott) and Drummer (James Reif). (Photo: Mark Kitaoka)

Million Dollar Quartet isn’t just a good show for people who grew up in the 50s and 60s. It’s a good show period. Even if you don’t think you’re very familiar with any of these guys’ music, you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll recognize. Favorite songs (which may or may not have been played during the actual recording) include “Blue Suede Shoes,” “That’s Alright,” “I Walk the Line,” “Hound Dog” and “Great Balls of Fire.”

While the cast don’t necessarily look a lot like the characters they’re playing, they sure sound and play like them.  Brian Grey, is probably the best fit all around, but all four men are equally impressive. Finding four guys who can not only sing, act and play instruments like the famous foursome was no easy task, but these guys pull it off. For that matter, Cayman Ilika (who has appeared in numerous other Village performances and just sang the national anthem at a recent Aquasox game) is a nice addition to the otherwise male-heavy performances. Her rendition of “Fever” and “I Hear You Knockin” is spot on. The only real negative about the show is Lewis’ constant sexual innuendo comments and Countryman plays them out way too long.

John Countryman as Jerry Lee Lewis. (Photo: Mark Kitaoka)

The show also hints that this recording session was a happier time for the foursome who all wrestled with their inner demons years later. But even at this time, their lives were far from perfect. All of them had grown up in the Bible belt and struggled reconciling playing secular music instead of sacred. The music scene back then wasn’t a whole lot different back then than it is now apparently. Overall, this is an upbeat show that will get you up on your feet and clapping along enjoying every minute of it.

Finally, a word must be given to Andrea Bryn Bush’s stage design. Every detail from the ventilation system to the smudges on the studio’s door’s windows are perfect. Instead of watching a show that takes place in a room that resembles a recording studio, you are transported to a real one.

Million Dollar Quartet continues at the Everett Performing Arts Center through July 28, 2019 (but I wouldn’t be surprised if the show gets held over). The theatre is located in Everett at 2710 Wetmore Ave. 98201. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 425.257.8600.

Art and Plant Lovers Come Together

This weekend marks one of Everett’s biggest and free arts events. Sorticulture Garden Arts Festival (sort of art, sort of horticulture) will be blooming June 7-9 at Legion Memorial Park in Everett.

The lush arboretum is a great setting to chat with artists, talk to plant experts and dance to live music in the wine garden. Pick out some fine, hand-crafted art for your garden, learn how to care for specialty plants you (up until now) have been to scared to plant and keep the kids busy with their own activities.

Photo: City of Everett

It’s here where you check out a few outstanding display gardens for your inspirational pleasure and listen to plant specialist Ciscoe Morris on Saturday at 2 p.m. Dozens of artists, craftsman, landscapers and plant experts will bring their wares as well.

Over a dozen food booths will be on hand as well including Crepe Town (sweet and savory crepes), Gip’s Down Home BBQ (BBQ pork sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs), NW Corn Roasters (roasted corn on the cob and smoked turkey legs) and Scotty’s Northwest (blackened salmon Caesar salad, clam chowder and shrimp salad.)

Kids’ activities include free face painting, a “paint a flower pot” workshop for kindergardeners, the Quilceda Carvers where you can learn the art of carving wood from the experts and Arthouse Mosaic Studio offering a variety of take home projects (for a fee) and the animal shelter showing off some of the city’s finest critters ready to take home if you’re ready for them!

Photo: City of Everett

The Sorticulture Garden Arts Festival will be held at Legion Memorial Park, 147 Alverson Blvd, Everett, WA 98201 and will open each day at 10 a.m. and will close on 7 p.m. on Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. There is only limited ADA parking at the park, but you can take a free short shuttle ride from Everett Community College. Dogs are weclome on leash at the event but not on the shuttle.

Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Crystal’ Shines

I have been fortunate enough to see a number of Cirque du Soleil performances but I have to say that their newest production, Crystal, is my favorite (for now!) It is the first show created to be performed on ice and it is game-changer.

The show features all the elements you’ve come to expect for a Cirque du Soleil show (acrobats, jugglers, clowns, trapeze acts, live music, colorful costumes, etc.) and presents them on large sheet of ice because, you know, solid ground is just so pedestrian. But Crystal is also a very elegant ice show with half of the cast consisting of ice skaters.

All photos by Matt Beard.

Before the show begins, those who have taken to their seats early are treated with a mini-show featuring a comic character (Nate Cooper) and Jorge Petit (who I interviewed just a few weeks ago.) The comic stumbles around the ice with a bucket on his head while Jorge tosses snowballs to the audience to pelt the comic with. Surprisingly, there were a lot of near misses during opening night.

As with many other productions, Crystal has a loose storyline running throughout the production. Crystal (played by four different performers throughout the show) is a young girl with a huge imagination and a writer. She is an outcast at school and she feel misunderstood by everyone. Running to the ice to escape her problems, she sees a reflection of herself and then falls through! Now on the other side of the ice, Crystal’s alter ego takes her on an Alice-in-Wonderland-like journey showing her the power of words. Her journey revisits her days of teasing on the playground, her family ignoring her at home while watching TV, exploring the big city, getting her first office job and falling in love before making her journey back home again.

The women playing different version of Crystal include Silja Dos Reis (figure skater), Danica Gagnon-Plamondon (swing trapeze/acrobat), Mary Siegel (figure skater) and Emily McCarthy (acrobat).

The many acts include a juggling routine (Jorge Petit), comedic clown bits (Nate Cooper), swinging trapeze (Danica Gagnon-Plamondon), pole hopping, ice dancing and more. The most impressive performances were the extreme skaters playing as hockey players doing jumps and flips on a number of ramps, an amazing chair balancing act (Lkhagva-Ochir) that nearly took my breath away and the romantic Aerial Strap Pas de Deux performance with Crystal and her love interest (Jerome Sordillon). All of their performances were by all appearances, flawless and the live music (provided by Steve Bach, Camilo Motta and Stephan Grytsay) and the occasional falling snow added to the magical performance.

Crystal continues through Sunday, April 14 at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. For information and tickets, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/crystal

 

Juggler Shares His Experience On the Ice

For those who already have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time, try to imagine ice skating while juggling. Fortunately, that feat has already been mastered by Jorge Petite so that you don’t have to. Jorge appears in the amazing traveling show, Crystal by Cirque du Soleil coming to Everett from April 10-14, 2019.

I got a chance to meet Jorge and Julie Desmarais, a publicist for the show, to discuss this unlikely combination of ice skating and acrobatics. For Jorge, his story started in 2002 when he took ups juggling as a hobby in Chile.

“I just wanted to learn how to juggle three balls and then I started learning tricks from videos I found on the internet and then it became a very serious hobby,” he tells me. “I think five years after that I started doing acts and started performing a little bit. Thirteen years after that I went to École Nationale De Cirque (National Circus School) in Quebec and then started my professional career.”

I saved him from the jokes that I heard others commenting on that he must not have done a lot of ice skating while growing up in Chile, which then got me thinking. I wondered what the most annoying question people ask him was.

“If I juggle chainsaws,” he says. “They always ask me that.”

So, while Jorge may not risk his life, he is still pretty much a daredevil.

Jorge learned how to ice skate during the creation of Crystal about a year and a half ago and about three months before the soft premiere in Lafayette, Louisiana. And he wasn’t the only one. The whole crew had to learn how to ice skate for the company’s 42nd creation.

Unlike traditional circus show, this production has a storyline about a girl named Crystal trying to find her place in this world and finds it by diving into her own world of imagination. She’s young, creative and misunderstood by others. Her journey begins at a frozen pond where she sees her reflection and then falls through the ice. There, she finds herself in an upside down world where her reflection leads her to path to awaken her own creativity.

“The show Crystal is about looking at things from fresh angles, peeking through the veneer of everyday life, reframing one’s daily reality to see what one might have missed. Sometimes the only way to appreciate things is to look at them sideways,” says the show’s press materials.

So, how did this whole concoction of mixing ice with acrobatics come about? Cirque Du Soleil is known for always pushing the boundaries and creating a show on ice seemed like the next natural step for the company.

“We had to do a bit of research to see how we could implement acrobatics with ice skating,” says Julie. “We also did some workshops with ice skating coaches like Kurt Browning as well as acrobatic coaches and we experimented a lot of new things to see how this could be really possible.”

Jorge is just one of 43 performers in the show which includes trapeze artists, BMX ice bike riders, a clown and a three-person live band. The cast is about half acrobats and half ice skaters coming together as an ensemble performance.

Despite what you might think, Julie assures me that Crystal will present the same quality show usually found under their big top. Everything from the stage to the lights travels with this show in 17 semi-truck trailers traveling to more areas so that more people can experience a Cirque du Soleil show. In total, there are 90 people from 20 different countries that travel with the show for 10-12 weeks at a time. They take two weeks off and then hit the road again for about 300 shows a year.

Crystal will be presented in Everett at the Angel of the Winds Arena for eight shows over the span of five days from April 10-14, 2019. Shows will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 12:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday before the hit the road again. Tickets start at $109 and can be purchase online. The arena is located at 2000 Hewitt Ave., Everett, WA 98201.