Arts and Entertainment

An ensemble gets set to ensnare its fans

Mik Kuhlman and Kevin Joyce will clown around as nursery rhyme characters. - Michelle Bates Photo
Mik Kuhlman and Kevin Joyce will clown around as nursery rhyme characters.
— image credit: Michelle Bates Photo

Editor's note: This story has been changed to correct an error and is not identical to what appeared in the print edition of the newspaper.

Vashon’s inveterate performing arts troupe, UMO Ensemble, is preparing to celebrate more than 20 years of innovation with a fundraising event that weaves together the work of its founders, new ensemble members and students.

As is the case with most fundraising galas, the evening will include tasty food, a silent auction, live music and lots of raucous fun. But at the centerpiece of UMO’s gala is its ultimate treat — a chance for Islanders to get a glimpse of a new theatrical creation by the ensemble.

The show, “Indra’s Web,” was conceived by the entire troupe and is directed by founding member Kevin Joyce.

Like all UMO shows, this one has an intriguing premise. Using an Indian creation tale about a god who forms the world in the shape of spider’s web as a jumping off point, “Indra’s Web” includes everything from comedic takes of nursery rhymes to UMO’s sophisticated signature aerial work.

The show has only been performed once before, as part of last summer’s Oregon Country Fair, a well-known arts festival that has long been a showcase for UMO’s work.

Ensemble member and aerialist Martha Enson described the creation of “Indra’s Web” as “fast and furious,” adding that the show is still raw and fluid. “It’s the work we do for large, outdoor audiences,” she said. “It’s a fun piece.”

Audiences can expect to see Island favorite Mik Kuhlman in the role of Miss Muffet, with Enson dangling from the rafters as her spider foe. Other ensemble members, playing the roles of Indian gods and goddesses, will cavort onstage, and Latin duo Correo Areo will provide the soundtrack to the piece. The cast features Janet McAlpin, David Godsey, Lynelle Sjoberg, Elizabeth Klob, Kevin Joyce, and young performers from UMO’s School of Physical Arts.

But according to Enson, the gala will also feature special surprise performances.

“There will be guest performers,” she said. “My guess is that as this goes on, people are going to start coming out of the woodwork.”

The night will also provide a chance to look back at all the group has accomplished over the past two decades. There will be something the group is calling “a living timeline,” and a video retrospective showing the group at different stages of its development.

UMO, founded in 1987 and Vashon-based since 1989, has performed dozens of original works at venues throughout the United States and in Europe.

According to Enson, the years have brought change to the ensemble, with some founding members leaving the group and other performers stepping in.

“It’s morphed enormously … but it’s still thriving and we’re doing new work,” she said. “That was always our mission.”


"Indra’s Web” begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at Open Space for Arts & Community. Tickets, $20 in advance and $25 at the door, are on sale at, Vashon Bookshop and The Hardware Store Restaurant. For more information, visit



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