Find a complete list of theater, dance, and comedy events in Seattle this winter on our Things To Do calendar, or check out our other picks for the best things to do in Seattle this winter from Seattle Art and Performance.
Savage in Limbo (Dec 11): Five 32-year-olds, including a virgin, a broken couple, a failed nun, and an obsessive barkeep, hope to change their lives in this staged reading of the tragicomedy by John Patrick Shanley.
Every Five Minutes (Jan 13–Jan 30): Every Five Minutes by Scottish playwright Linda McLean (known for her celebrated debut work, Any Given Day) examines the lasting effects of prolonged torture. Presented by Washington Ensemble Theatre and directed by Ryan Purcell.
Proof (Jan 19–Feb 18): Strawshop honcho Greg Carter directs Proof, David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play about Catherine, the daughter of a late University of Chicago professor and mathematical wizard of prime numbers. Catherine is a math genius herself, and she worries she's inherited her father's mental illness along with his smarts. Invariably, one of Seattle's theaters produces this contemporary classic each year, but Carter's sure to pull out the political fire burning just beneath the play's surface. RS
A Christmas Carol (Through Dec 28): ACT Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol is a dependable, simple pleasure, with just enough variation to warrant returning year after year.
The Last Time I Saw Paris: The City of Lights Meets Russian Soul: Co-presented with The Seagull Project, this edition of The Great Soul of Russia series (a reading series that aims to show "how all roads lead to Chekhov") will explore views of Paris from a Russian perspective, curated by Hannah Victoria Franklin.
14/48: The World's Quickest Theater Festival (Jan 6–Jan 14): In a tradition that has lasted nearly 20 years, theater teams put together seven new shows in 24 hours—and then repeat the experience the following week. This means that shows are written on Thursday and performed on Friday. Watch the grueling but exciting birth of new theater.
The Cherry Orchard (Jan 31–Feb 19): The Seagull Project and ACT Theatre present Anton Chekhov's last play, The Cherry Orchard, directed by John Langs. The play—a strange mix of humor and tragedy—is about a group of family and friends hiding out in a Russian country estate as the world they know is about to fall apart.
Waning (Feb 14–Mar 1): In Waning, the main character, Luna, is a teenager, a black woman, queer—and now, pregnant. Written by Kamaria Hallums-Harris, directed by Sadiqua Iman, and co-produced with Earth Pearl Collective.
Mothers and Sons (Jan 19–Feb 11): Terrence McNally's Mothers and Sons is a Tony Award-nominated play about queerness, AIDS, family, and romance. It's a drawing room drama, showing just an hour and a half of the characters' lives, and is about a woman visiting her late son's former partner.
The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G (Through Dec 11): Playwright Qui Nguyen takes nerd/comic culture, action movie high jinks, ninjas, and puppetry and genre-fucks them all into a goofy-funny but ultimately substantive story about resilience and revenge *ahem* redemption. The story is, as is so often the case, metatheatrical: Nguyen's main character pulls him into the action and forces him to write a story he's been putting off for years. The rap battle between David Henry Hwang (as a character) and the playwright (as a character) is not to be missed. This show is directed by former Washington Ensemble Theatre co-director Ali el-Gasseir, and it will run at the same time as Seattle Rep's production of Nguyen's Vietgone. GO SEE BOTH. RS
Let the Right One In (Feb 2–Feb 12): This play (adapted by Jack Thorne) is based on the novel and film of the same title by John Ajvide Lindqvist, and follows a friendship between a young child and a young vampire. This production is presented by the National Theatre of Scotland. About the film, former Stranger staffer Paul Constant wrote, "By taking nothing about the vampire legend for granted, and by leaving great swaths of mysteries unsolved, Right One can become a film about all kinds of things: the weird sexuality of burgeoning adolescents, how anger and violence can sometimes be a perfectly reasonable response in the proper situation, and how love is always completely, seriously fucked-up."
By Heart (Jan 12–Jan 15): This performance art/theater show created by Tiago Rodrigues is inspired by this quote from George Steiner: "Once 10 people know a poem by heart, there's nothing the KGB, the CIA or the Gestapo can do about it. It will survive." In the show, 10 people must memorize a Shakespeare sonnet (on stage, in real time) as "an act of political and artistic resistance."
King Charles III (Through Dec 18): This 2014 play written by Mike Bartlett—and here, directed by David Muse—is a blank verse commentary on the accession and reign of King Charles III, the freedom of the press, and the British royal family.
Vietgone (Through Jan 1): So often we hear stories about the end of the American War in Vietnam that focus on the experiences of shellshocked American soldiers returning to a country they don't quite understand anymore. But this ain't your typical play about the legacy of that war. Directed by May Adrales and produced in association with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Qui Nguyen's geeky, formally adventurous, energetic love story centers on the lives of two Vietnamese immigrants as they travel around the US, learning the language and navigating the complexities of refugee camps. Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty says the play won him over with its innovative use of music and language, but also "with its simple honesty." RS
Fucking A (Through Dec 11): Fucking A is an adaptation of Hawthorne's' The Scarlet Letter by badass playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. The play's set in a nightmarish Trumptopia in the middle of nowhere, and instead of "adulterer," Hester's red letter stands for "abortionist." Despite the play's heaviness, there's plenty of humor in the dialogue, and the show is ultimately about the lovebond between mother and son. Malika Oyetimein, who was featured on City Art's 2016 "Future List," will direct. RS
Disney's The Little Mermaid (Through Dec 31): 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Disney's The Little Mermaid is like one giant fuck you to winter. And winter cometh. The air is colder. Don't you just want to be under the water where everything's hotter? You do. But there's more than just seasonal utility here. The music by Alan Menken is great, and lyricist Howard Ashman was a genius who did not enjoy nearly enough time on this planet. Seattle's own Diana Huey will surely charm as Ariel, and I have every faith that the 5th Avenue will come through with some underwater dazzle. Dazzle aside, in the consumerist glare of the holiday season, this show reminds us of the power of the human voice, promotes the joys of fostering an active imagination over the ease of passive consumption (compare snarfblatts), and advocates for meaningful connections to others who are not like you. Not bad for a family-friendly affair. RS
Peter and the Starcatcher (Through Dec 23): Peter and the Starcatcher is a Tony Award-winning play about Peter Pan's backstory—written by Rick Elice, with music by Wayne Barker, and based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.
A Christmas Carol, The Musical (Dec 9–Dec 10): This musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' beloved holiday classic A Christmas Carol is presented by STG and Bishop Blanchet Drama.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Dec 13–Dec 18): John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's Tony Award-winning rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch promises a fast-paced and deeply moving plot, genderqueer fabulousness, and glam rock numbers to get you moving. Directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer.
Rent (Feb 21–Feb 26): Paramount hosts this touring production of Jonathan Larson's Rent, the dated yet persistently enduring 1996 rock musical about sex, art, AIDS, drugs, death, and la vie boheme.
Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie (Jan 6–Jan 29): Folk legend Woody Guthrie mixed his progressive politics with his music in a way that elevated both enterprises. He scrawled "This Machine Kills Fascists" across his acoustic guitar, wrote about Trump's housing discrimination and racist slumlordery back when he was living in a tenement owned by the president-elect's father, and acknowledged the oppression of Native Americans and other subjugated peoples even as he celebrated the beauty and promise of the US in songs such as "This Land Is Your Land." (He wrote a whole mess of songs about this part of the country, too! If you haven't already, check out The Columbia River Collection.) This show, directed by Nick Corley, presents a musical portrait of his life, with David Lutken in the leading role. RS
reSET (Feb 2–Feb 3): Curated by Mark Haim, Babette Pendleton, Ali Mohamed el-Gasseir, and Alice Gosti, reSET is a sort of arts-share dance series put on by the Washington Ensemble Theatre. Choreographers perform new pieces using the set for whatever play the company happens to be producing at that time. The stage for Every Five Minutes will be reimagined to suit their artistic needs. RS
The Four Seasons (Dec 28–Dec 29): An exploration of color and beauty, Vivaldi's master work The Four Seasons has been paired with Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, a performance of tango-inspired dance arranged by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzola, and featuring dancers Touceda and Lucero.
Constellation (Dec 9–Dec 10): Cyrus Khambatta's company performs wintry dances inspired by global ideas: "Korean folktales, the earth's rotation amongst celestial bodies, and the impact humans have on one another." For $30 total, dance enthusiasts can see a double bill: the troupe is also collaborating with Sergei Burlak Modern Line Dance Theater Company from Komsomolsk-on-Amur.
The Three Yells: Giselle Deconstruct (Jan 6–Jan 7): I saw an early, truncated version of this show at Northwest New Works Festival this year and I am pumped to see the whole, pulsing intensity of choreographer Veronica Lee-Baik's beast be brought to life. As I mentioned in a review from this summer, Giselle Deconstruct is a Butoh-influenced take on Giselle that reframes the popular ballet as a Buildungsroman from the perspective of the man-killing "Wilis." The show opens with a bunch of women dancers in dirty gold gowns crawling out of Tupperware storage containers like baby snakes while heavy industrial music booms and screeches in the background. The dancers then hiss at each other, kiss occasionally, perform snake-like fights, and generally pubesce in a field of chest-shattering music before entering a cocoon phase. In general, it's hypnotizing and super-creepy display of powerful feminist #squadgoals that deconstructs and at times shows up the ballet it references, as when the dancers slow-mo tip-toe off the stage with their hands outstretched like reptilian villains. RS
Whim W'Him presents SENSATION (Jan 20–Jan 28): SENSATION promises a variety of new works from exciting choreographers, including Larry Keigwin (Keigwin + Company), Penny Saunders (Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), and, of course, Olivier Wevers (Whim W'Him artistic director).
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (Through Dec 28): Last year, Pacific Northwest Ballet replaced Maurice Sendak's beloved pastel set with a brighter one by Ian Falconer, author of the Olivia the Pig children's book series and longtime set designer. The symmetry of Falconer's Nutcracker set would be obscene if it weren't for thick cartoonish lines and Dr. Seuss–like stage elements. It's hard not to see Wes Anderson's influence, but Falconer leaves his own distinctive marks all over the place. If you haven't seen this Christmas classic since you were a kid, you might give it a go this year. It is a deeply weird thing to see. RS
Cendrillon (Feb 3–Feb 12): The Pacific Northwest Ballet presents another take on a classic tale: this time, a ballet production with Jean-Christophe Maillot and Bernice Coppieters that offers a new take on the story of Cinderella, the ash-covered young woman who is (eventually) rewarded for her goodness.
Oil Pressure Vibrator (Jan 28, Jan 29): This has WTF sex vibes swirling all around it. Over the course of an erotic and humorous multi-media performance involving dance, video, and a CPR dummy, Korean artist Geumhyung Jeong confesses her love for an excavator machine. You know that monster Tonka truck thing that's digging holes all around Seattle right now? That thing. RS
Awaiting Oblivion: Temporary Solutions for Surviving the Dystopian Future We Find Ourselves Within at Present (Feb 23–Feb 25): Tim Smith-Stewart and Jeffrey Azevedo present Awaiting Oblivion, a performance that combines elements of street art, poetry, dance, theater, and more, coming together to portray a "radical fight for survival" within "our collapsing empire."
Shot (Jan 19–Feb 4): Shot is an exploration of police brutality and racism through dance theater, presented as part of Spectrum Dance's season examining American identity, race, and culture.
Chop Shop: Bodies of Work (Feb 18—Feb 19): The 10th anniversary of this contemporary dance festival will feature a retrospective of international artists (including Christina Chan from the New Zealand School of Dance, Donald Sales from Vancouver's Project20, and Alex Ketley from San Francisco's Foundry) from the last decade, plus, as a new addition, Seattle's Mark Haim.
Next Fest NW: pastFORWARD (Dec 9–Dec 11): See the newest and freshest ideas in contemporary dance.
Cabaret & Burlesque
Can Can Cabaret Presents Wonderland (Through Jan 29): Can Can will transform its venue into a snowy chalet and populate it with teasing beauties.
Family Affair (Every Third Wed): Jennifer Jasper hosts this monthly variety show described as "cabaret, served up family style," with each event benefiting a different local, artistically engaged family dealing with an unexpected crisis.
J'Adore!: A Burlesque Valentine (Feb 9–Feb 14): Enjoy a sugary sweet Valentine's Day burlesque performance from the Atomic Bombshells with special host Ben DeLaCreme.
Gay Witch (Dec 8–Dec 11): This multidisciplinary arts showcase is focused on intersectional queer magic. They write: "Queers have always been witches. We are healers, spell casters, shape shifters and magicians. We pull our lives out of a hat. The world calls this a trick, a farce, a phony, a sparkling sleight of hand. We must know our lives are gloriously true and bravely our own."
Madame Dragon's 60th Birthday Party (Jan 12–Jan 22): Sara Porkalob is best known for her solo show, Dragon Lady, a hilarious family history featuring a badass Filipina grandma with a gangster past. The range of characters she's capable of playing with fidelity, and her ability to create a fully fleshed-out world onstage by merely switching back and forth between these creations, is impressive. RS
Mimosas Cabaret: A Boob Job for Christmas (Through Dec 18): This boozy brunch theater experience, hosted by Isabella Extynn and local drag legend Mama Tits, promises an "over-the-top raucous" holiday spectacular with a breakfast buffet, brunch menu, a full bar, Jell-O shots, and of course, plenty of drag queens. The show will star Tipsy Rose Lee, Ruby Bouche, Sparkle Leigh/Dan Davidson, and Abbey Roads, performing choreography created by Tipsy Rose Lee.
Homo for the Holidays 2016 (Dec 8–Dec 26): This drag and burlesque gigglefest features a bunch of wacky little holiday-themed skits that our own Dan Savage once called "FUCKING GREAT....FUCKING HILARIOUS!" Now in its ninth year, Homo for the Holidays is joined by Waxie Moon, with the likes and liknessess of the great BenDeLaCreme and Cherdonna. You should get plastered before you go, if only to help make your yuletide gayer. RS
House of Dinah (Dec 7–Dec 11): Seattle director Andrew Russell and NYC playwright Jerome A. Parker present House of Dinah, a theatrical drag performance with music by Dinah Washington that follows the lives of five inter-generational black queens. This show—the Seattle premiere—exists in a place "where religious ritual meets drag performance and Dinah reigns supreme."
Dina Martina Christmas Show (Through Dec 31): You'd think the chubby-older-woman-with-a-hairy-back-and-no-talent-but-thinks-she's-God's-gift-to-singing shtick would get old, but it doesn't, because Grady West, who inhabits her horrible fashion choices, is a world-class artist, a first-rate writer, and a comedy genius. (He has a Stranger Genius Award.) There's something so enduringly brilliant about Dina's incurably bonkers self-empowerment, but also something grim and beastly about who she would be without it. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
Bacon Strip: Sylvia's Special Christmas Gifts (Through Dec 17): Sylvia O'Stayformore's holiday variety drag show will feature a different cast each night, composed of both newcomers and regulars, including Abbey Roads, Mona Real, and Betty Wetter.
Spin the Bottle (Every First Fri): This is Seattle's longest-running cabaret and has seen just about everything—dance, theater, comedy, paper airplanes, tears, stunts, music, romance—from just about everyone.
Weird and Awesome with Emmett Montgomery (Every First Sun): On the first Sunday of each month, comedy, variety, and "a parade of wonder and awkward sharing" are hosted by the self-proclaimed "mustache wizard" Emmett Montgomery.
The Seattle Process with Brett Hamil (Jan 13): Described as "Seattle's only intentionally funny talk show" and "a mudpie lobbed into the halls of power," the Seattle Process with Brett Hamil offers politics, exasperation, information, and comedy.
Christmas S***show (Dec 18–Dec 20): Baby Jesus & co. ring in the holiday season with a "peyote-fueled" romp, and you're invited to participate in the festivities with a drinking game.
Fist and Shout (Dec 14, Jan 11, Feb 8): Local comedic geniuses Elicia Sanchez and Marita DeLeon sail onto new territories with their latest project, Fist and Shout, a QTPOC-centered comedy and variety show.
Ian & Bhama's Black Christmas (Dec 17): Bhama Roget and Ian Schuelke present this Christmas special featuring sketches and songs about "the occult, porn stars, black metal, and presents."
The Gay Uncle Time (Every First Wed): It's an avuncular variety show starring Santa-esque comedian Jeffrey Robert and a rotating cavalcade of local stars, drag queens, storytellers, and weirdos. Get a healthy dose of history, comedy, and song from the gay uncle you always wished you had and his friends you always suspected were up to no good. MATT BAUME
Wine Shots: Comedy's Happiest Hour (Every Second Sun): This all-female comedy variety show comes complete with an all-female Michael Bolton cover band, Lightning Bolton. Every audience member gets a free shot of wine.
Comedy Nest Open Mic (Every Tues): The rules of this pro-lady stand-up night are refreshing in their simplicity: no misogyny, racism, homophobia, hatred, or heckling. Based on the size, quality, and diversity of the crowds it attracts, the rules work.
Hari Kondabolu with Elicia Sanchez (Through Dec 7): "Hari Kondabolu," says original riot grrrl musician Kathleen Hanna, "is punk as fuck." And it makes perfect sense that Kondabolu's new comedy album, Mainstream American Comic, will be released on Olympia's original punk record label Kill Rock Stars. Laugh till you cry at the live release show, then take the album home so you can make other people cry, too. He'll perform with Elicia Sanchez, whom Lindy West called a "grumpy nugget of delight." KELLY O
Tig Notaro (Dec 15): Comedian, writer, and actor Tig Notaro (whose memoir I'm Just a Person came out this year, and whose TV series One Mississippi premiered in 2015) puts a funny spin on topics including cancer, being a lesbian, and being a person.
Kathy Griffin (Jan 14): Human snark machine Kathy Griffin will comically eviscerate her enemies as part of her national "Like a Boss" comedy tour.
Bassem Youssef (Jan 26): Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef hosted an incredibly popular—and notably controversial—satirical news show (Al Bernameg) and has been called "the Jon Stewart of the Arab world." He made international news when a warrant was issued for his arrest due to comments he made on the show. Now he's working on a project called The Democracy Handbook, which explores issues in the United States.
Sarah Silverman (Feb 7): Watch celebrated snarky weirdo and proud vagina-haver Sarah Silverman perform an evening of stand-up at the Paramount.
Louis C.K. (Dec 9 & 10): Sometimes I get a little tired of Louis C.K.'s pragmatic, mopey dad takes on American culture, but his comic genius is undeniable and his aim is true. Everything from his wildly successful stand-up performances to his web series to his I-don't-have-to-tell-you-how-good-it-is TV show, Louie, is all about how difficult and humiliating it is to be a good person and parent in a fucked up world. That's a truth worth remembering in this time of incessant moralizing. RS
The Blue Show (Through Feb 4): Improvisers have been saving up their dirtiest material for The Blue Show, an emphatically adults-only improv comedy night that happens just once a month.