12th Avenue Arts
Rhinoceros (Through Oct 8): You're probably going to spend a lot of time while watching Strawberry Theatre Workshop's production of Eugène Ionesco's classic absurdist play thinking, "Okay, but do the rhinoceroses stampeding all over this French town represent Trump supporters, or do they represent Bernie Bros, or do they represent Hillbots perfectly enacting the Democratic nominee's vagenda of manocide?" And then once you figure that out, you're going to be thinking, "All right, well, is this funny and pointed parable about the rise of the 20th century's worst -isms a critique of the idea of the state of political discourse, or a critique of incrementalism, or…?" By the end of the show, you'll think Rhinoceros is either EXACTLY the play we need to be seeing right now or EXACTLY the play we don't need to be seeing right now. RS
Revolt. She said. Revolt again. (Sept 24—Oct 10): This Washington Ensemble Theatre production will be the West Coast premiere of Revolt. She said. Revolt again., which is supposed to be a powerful, absurd-funny, polyvocal, multimedia, fiercely feminist call for revolt. Revolt draws its title from a Julia Kristeva book about "revolt" as a mode of being (hi, grad school) and also highlights the way language shapes our perceptions and expectations of women. RS
Ghosts (Sept 22—Oct 23): Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts was considered scandalous when it was first performed in 1892, and still shocks some with themes including sexually transmitted disease, euthanasia, and incest. Follow the story of widow Helene Alving in this new adaptation by director Richard Eyre.
Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White (Through Oct 2): Stranger Genius Valerie Curtis-Newton told me over the phone that she would "crawl across glass" to produce Alice Childress's Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White, a play about an interracial relationship in the Jim Crow South. Back in 2013, she directed Childress's Trouble in Mind, which former Stranger theater editor Brendan Kiley raved about in his review for the show, and directing this one will mean that, over the course of her career, Curtis-Newton will have directed all of Childress's plays. How are you not going to be there to witness that? Wedding Band serves as the bookend drama for the Intiman Theatre Festival, which has focused on plays written by black women. RS
The Winter’s Tale (Through Oct 2): Seattle Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s absorbing “problem play” The Winter’s Tale, so called because of its mishmash of comedy and brutal drama.
A Raisin in the Sun (Sept 30—Oct 30): This 1959 play about family and segregation is set in Chicago’s South Side, and is said to have “changed American theater forever” (New York Times). Written by Lorraine Hansberry and directed by Timothy McCuen Piggee.
Roz and Ray (Oct 14—Nov 13): Local playwright Karen Hartman’s medical thriller is about twin boys born with hemophilia. The disease puts the kids at a high risk for contracting AIDS, which in 1976 is starting to spread more widely in America. The boys’ father, Ray, is a single parent who obviously wants to keep his boys alive, and Dr. Roz is the pediatrician with a miracle cure: Factor 8. Something goes wrong during the administration of the drug, forcing Dr. Roz and Ray to deal with an increasingly bleak future. In a recent interview, Hartman said she likes to write plays about the parts of life that are rarely dramatized, and this tangled up bit of medical history fits that bill. RS
King Charles III (Nov 11-Dec 11) 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 (Dec 2-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 the lives of two Vietnamese immigrants as they travel around the U.S., learning the language and navigating the complexities 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
Fly by Night (Nov 4—Nov 19): Reboot Theatre Company presents the Seattle premiere of Fly by Night, an indie rock musical set just before New York’s 1965 blackout.
MUSICAL THEATERMan of La Mancha (Oct 7—Oct 30): The 5th Avenue Theatre's fancy new state-of-the-art sound system will be ready and raring to push out lush tones for this season opener: Allison Narver's take on Dale Wasserman's Man of La Mancha. The show stars Tony-nominated actor Norm Lewis as the windmill-slaying Don Quixote, and I'm very much looking forward to his "Dulcinea," but I'm super-mega looking forward to any noise that Nova Payton makes during her portrayal of Aldonza. I heard/felt/was destroyed by Payton's voice during last year's production of Janis Joplin—her soprano is so clean the room sparkles every time she holds a note, and her control is insane—and I'm so glad she's back in town for this one. RS
Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Nov 23—Dec 31): Disney’s stage musical The Little Mermaid got mixed (but mostly positive) reviews on Broadway. You should still see it, if only for the music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman. And since it’s at the 5th Ave, you can probably look forward to some fun underwater effects and complicated stage design.
Peter and the Starcatcher (Nov 17—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.
Working (Through Oct 2): Studs Terkel’s book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, is a brilliant, best-selling depiction of the American workforce and how they as individuals relate to both their daily lives and the nebulous concept of “work.” The 1977 musical, based on the book, combines Terkel’s social commentary with music from geniuses including Stephen Schwartz and James Taylor. This production, from the 2012 version of the show, will feature new songs by the hottest composer of the moment, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
DANCEMade in Seattle: Mary Sheldon Scott (Nov 3—Nov 6): Celebrate Velocity’s 20th year with The SOLO(s) Project, a performance that will feature 7 new solos choreographed by Mary Sheldon Scott with an original score by composer Jarrad Powell. Scott/Powell have even more impressive longevity than Velocity—the duo has been working together for 22 years.
Tricolore (Sept 23—Oct 2): Choreographer Benjamin Millepied (known for his work with the Paris Opera Ballet) will return to PNB with two works, Appassionata and Three Movements, followed by Balanchine's Symphony in C.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (Nov 25—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. I mean, the ballet goes into this little girl's dream, wherein there's a war with a many-headed rat king who ends up dying dramatically after the girl throws her handkerchief at him. But what's fucked up is that a nutcracker steals one of the rat king's crowns and then places it on the girl's head, which transforms her into a bunch of adult snowflake ballerinas with crowns on! And THEN it turns out that the nutcracker transforms into her childhood crush! The two walk hand-in-hand toward a giant exploding star, which ends up being a portal into a 45-minute Katy Perry video filled with dancing desserts and a glittery peacock that moves like a sexy broken river. Maybe bring a pot lozenge? RS
Mark Morris Dance Group with The Silk Road Ensemble (Oct 6—Oct 8): The Mark Morris Dance Group has moved on to bigger stages than Seattle has to offer, so this performance is a rare chance to see the inventive and humorous choreography that made Morris famous. The company will perform original production Layla and Majnun (based on an ancient Persian tale) with music by composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli, and featuring Azerbaijani singers Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova with The Silk Road Ensemble.
Jessica Lang Dance (Nov 10—Nov 12): This show offers the chance to see works by acclaimed choreographer Jessica Lang, including Tesseracts of Time (a work created in collaboration with architect Steven Holl) and Thousand Yard Stare, set to Beethoven’s late String Quartet No. 15, Op. 132, which is a piece that honors "wounded veterans and those affected by war."
Zoe | Juniper: Clear and Sweet (Oct 20—Oct 23): Y’all know what sacred harp singing is? Back-country hymns. The kind of congregational music an Alabama boy hears when he’s walking toward the light. What you have is a big choir singing four part harmonies, and they’re singing loud, simple music. Stranger Genius award winners zoe | juniper will use this music’s democratic ethos and raw power as inspiration and atmosphere for this piece. Southern protestant surrealism mixed with visceral dance? Deal. RS
DRAGSweet Like Candy (Oct 27—Oct 28): Drag star Mama Tits (who David Schmader described as “a fun-loving party queen who’s not afraid get substantial on your ass”) will perform a jazz and blues tribute titled Sweet Like Candy.
Mimosas Cabaret (Every Sat; Every Sun at 1 pm): Mama Tits’s show, “30 Minute-ish Chicago,” features all your favorite songs from the Broadway show plus some elaborate quick-change drag-queen magic. But that’s not all. The musical is just the culmination of the experience: The first half of the two-ish hour experience is a delightful drag cabaret/brunch buffet, with singing, dancing, comedy, and more naughty entendres than you can shake a stick at. MATT BAUME
BenDeLaCreme’s Inferno-A-Go-Go (Sept 23—Oct 1): Every week I put a check mark in the "Don't Miss" box for some queer event, but this week "Don't Miss" doesn't even begin to communicate the urgency of attending this show. No, I haven't seen it yet, and no, I don't have to see it in order to recommend it. BenDeLaCreme is one of the best things about Seattle, a truly magical artist whose work in shows like Cosmos and Freedom Fantasia will leave you giddy and thoughtful for months. All we need to know is that she is now performing a solo show based on Dante's Inferno featuring puppets and songs, and we can be assured of an evening of divinely comedic delights. MATT BAUME
CABARETBridget Everett: Pound It! Tour (Dec 3): You may recall this “alt-cabaret provocateur” from her appearance on the last season of Inside Amy Schumer. It’s worth digging deeper. She’s a boisterous transgressor who plays hilarious havoc with gender, sexuality, and many other sensitive regions with a sharp tongue and a camp soul. SEAN NELSON
COMEDYJohn Cleese and Eric Idle (Oct 26—Oct 27): This evening of semi-improvised comedy and performance will feature hilarious duo John Cleese and Eric Idle. They promise “storytelling, musical numbers, exclusive footage and aquatic juggling,” and that “no two shows will be quite the same.”
The Seattle Process with Brett Hamil (Oct 21): 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.
John Hodgman: Vacationland (Nov 11): Writer and actor John Hodgman (who you’ll probably recognize as a correspondent on The Daily Show) presents his new one-man show, Vacationland, which deals with topics including “the laws regarding the dumping of household garbage in various rural towns.”
Hannibal Buress: The Hannibal Montanabal Experience (Oct 15): Super-popular stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress is hilarious as Lincoln on Broad City, but his solo act is arguably even stronger—if you haven’t heard it already, definitely look up his bit on Bill Cosby.
Jerry Seinfeld (Nov 4): When you hear the name “Jerry Seinfeld” you might immediately think of Bee Movie, but true fans will know that he got his start on the brilliantly mundane sitcom Seinfeld.
Jim Jefferies: The Unusual Punishment Tour (Nov 10): Celebrated Australian stand-up comedian Jim Jefferies will perform his set at the Paramount. Last year, Dan Savage wrote, “[Jefferies] does a better job making a case for gun control—and puncturing the arguments against gun control—than any liberal American politician or gun-control advocate has ever done.”
Hari Kondabolu Album Release Shows (Dec 5—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. KELLY O
VARIETYMarkeith Wiley: It’s Not Too Late (Nov 16—Nov 20): A talk show starring choreographer / dancer Markeith Wiley! I like it. Wiley's funny, light on his feet, and he's not afraid to bring it down for a moment or to go there or to say that. Press materials claim the show will include a live band, a bunch of local guests, stand-up comedy, theater, and dance. Organizers dropped Paul Mooney's name in the press release, so there should be a lot of searing and hilarious commentary on matters of race, politics, and art. Maybe this will be like Brett Hamil's Seattle Process but for the arts? That'd be cool. Or maybe it will be like something we've never seen before? That would also be cool. RS