9 Circles (Through June 25): Strawberry Theatre Workshop presents 9 Circles, a play by Bill Cain and directed by Greg Carter that likens the civilian trial of Steven Dale Green to the descent through Dante's nine circles of hell.
The Mystery of Love & Sex (Through June 26): A story of two parallel relationships happening across generations. Charlotte's relationship with her childhood best friend Johnny may be turning romantic while her parents' marriage begins to fall apart.
Daisy (July 8—Aug 7): Based on the true story that led to the infamous "Daisy" attack ad from 1964 (in which voters were encouraged to vote for Lyndon B. Johnson or risk letting little girls die in nuclear war), this world premiere show tells the story of the "ad-men" working for Johnson's presidential campaign and their decision that has forever changed American elections.
Girl (Aug 2—Aug 17): Girl, devised and directed by Mary Hubert and scripted by Julia Nardin, is like a traditional hero's journey—except it features modern Seattle heroines battling "a society that imposes constraints on their gender and generation," or our everyday world.
Caught (Through June 12): I'd count Christopher Chen's Caught as one of the four smartest / powerfulest / provocativest straight plays I've seen in this town since I took on the job of theater critic back in November. The play is meta-theatrical, but in a meaningful way—less of a self-flagellating/self-congratulatory annoying ouroboros kind of thing and more of a flower blooming out of another flower kind of thing. It's about Western responses to Chinese dissident art. Sort of. It's also about relative pain. It's also about how the truth is a collaborative fiction, and about how nobody can really know anyone else. Importantly, it's about an hour and a half long, tops. Go see it. RS
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (July 14—July 31): The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis and directed by Teresa Thuman, is a darkly comic, purgatorial meditation on the conflict between fate and free will.
Can You Hear Me Now? (July 12—July 16): Presented by Intiman Theatre Festival and The Hansberry Project, this five-day series features five contemporary plays written by Black women: Sunset Baby by Dominique Morisseau, Sojourner by Mfonsio Udofia, Bright Half Life by Tanya Barfield, A Lovely Malfunction by Shontina Vernon, and In Her Own Words, a sampler of work from local writers including Kathya Alexander, Rosalind Bell, Alma Davenport, Nina Foxx, and Storme Webber.
Stick Fly (Through June 19): Intiman Theatre Festival is kicking off its 2016 season, which will focus on U.S. plays written by black women, with Lydia R. Diamond's Stick Fly, a dramedy about an affluent black family living on Martha's Vineyard. Family ties begin to loosen when the sons bring their partners home to meet the fam. The two women—one a white Peace Corps volunteer who taught underprivileged children in the city; the other a black woman who grew up in a wealthy home--argue about the complexities of class, race, and unearned advantages. Over the course of all the butting-of-heads, promises are broken, confessions are made, and family secrets air out. Veteran Shakespeare actor G. Valmont Thomas plays the dad and he never disappoints. RS
This is Our Youth (June 20—June 26): Brian Toews presents This is Our Youth, Kenneth Lonergan's 1996 play about kids with too much money in the 1980s.
DRAGON LADY (July 21—July 30): Sara Porkalob keeps re-working her one-person performance of The Dragon Lady, a hilarious and surprising romp through the lives of a Filipina gangster's entire family, and it keeps getting better. According to press materials, this one features more than 30 characters from several generations. Porkalob has the ability to morph into many incredibly nuanced characters without a hitch, and she does a good job at playing children, which is hard to do convincingly. Prepare thyself for much laughter. RS
Hamlet (July 7—Aug 7): The Seattle Shakespeare Company presents their take on Shakespeare's funny, terrifying, and often-performed Hamlet.
Paint Your Wagon (Through June 25): Lerner and Loewe's Paint Your Wagon is a musical about a bunch of lovelorn, lonely, and gold-lusting '49ers getting into scrapes on their way out West. There's a lot of grab-your-hoe-and-off-we-go sing-a-longs, which are enlivening, but I have a soft spot for "I Was Born Under a Wand'ring Star," which kind of sounds like the Oompa Loompa theme but written and sung by Leonard Cohen. For the show, the 5th Ave. Theatre commissioned Jon Marans to freshen up the book, which should speed up the story. RS
The Wiz (Through June 12): Tacoma Musical Playhouse presents The Wiz, a fun, catchy, and occasionally poignant adaptation of The Wizard of Oz that's told through the lens of the African-American experience.
Strictly Seattle Performances 2016 (July 29—July 30): New works by Zoe Scofield, Amy O'Neal, Alice Gosti, Mark Haim, Marlo Martin, Rosa Vissers, and films from KT Niehoff's Film Track students, created as part of the Strictly Seattle adult dance intensive.
Whim W'Him: OUT-SPOKEN (Through June 11): OUT-SPOKEN is Whim W'Him Contemporary Dance's third program of the season, featuring choreography by James Gregg, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Olivier Wevers. The performances will be set to new, original music created specifically for each piece.
Cherdonna Shinatra (June 10—June 12): The inexplicable, fascinating, "female impersonator impersonator" Cherdonna Shinatra (Jody Kuehner) performs an homage to feminist performance artists including Anna Halprin and Janine Antoni.
PNB: American Stories (Through June 12): PNB presents a trio of bouncy fun numbers from three massively influential choreographers: Fancy Free by Jerome Robbins, Square Dance by George Balanchine, and Waiting at the Station by Twyla Tharp. Combining classiccal movement with elements of swing, square, and tap dancing reduces the stuffiness of what's too often perceived as a stuffy genre. And if you get tipsy enough before the show, I'm willing to bet you might feel loose enough to engage in a little primo chair dancing—one of America's other great contributions to the world of dance. Also, Stranger Genius nominee Noelani Pantastico will be struttin' in all three pieces, and she's the fucking best. RS
PNB Season Encore Performance (June 12): Did you fail to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet's 2015-2016 season? Did you catch every show and now long to relive them? See the season's highlights at this one-night-only show, featuring crowd-pleasers including excerpts from George Balanchine's The Nutracker, Justin Peck's Year of the Rabbit (featuring music from Sufjan Stevens), and Twyla Tharp's Waiting at the Station.
NW New Works Festival 2016 (June 10—June 19): Manditory. NW New Works gives you a snapshot of all the performance/theater/dance you're going to be talking about a year from now. Some stuff is in-progress. Some stuff is close to done. Some stuff is the best. Some stuff is ???. But part of the joy is figuring out which performance has the most potential to become the next mind-melting, genre-altering thing that will emerge from this region and conquer the rest of the country. An early version of the 2016 Stranger Genius-nominated production That'swhatshesaid started here, as have several other award-winning shows by artists such as zoe | juniper, Pat Graney, and Amy O'Neal. This year, there's lots of new faces, and lots of vets trying out new things. Britt Karhoff's got a solo dance piece about #shoutyourabortion and the wage gap. Queer/woman/POC-centered dance group, Au Collective, plans to collpase the personal and the mythological in Bayanihan: A Collection of Physical Tales. Mallery Avidon and Jeff Aaron are unveiling a new opera thing that should be hillarious and wild. Gary Hill is going to fill the studio space with flashes of 3,000-watt light, which is enough to turn audience members into afterimages. The Three Yells will present their interpretation of Giselle through butoh and "athletic contempary dance." I see no other choice but to block off both weekends. RS
Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation (July 31—Aug 7): The Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation, presented by Velocity Dance Center, is a weeklong exploration of dance improvisation, with intensive classes, drop-in workshops, talks, "jams," and performances.
Bodies of Water (July 16): A five-hour durational, site-specific performance by Alice Gosti about our city and its waters, presented by Friends of Waterfront Seattle and produced by Velocity Dance Center.
Cabaret & Burlesque
Junk Yard (Through Oct 28): Curated by Seattle-based male entertainer Jonny Boy, this hunk-filled performance will be appreciated by birthday boys and brides-to-be alike. Abs are imminent.
Mimosas with Mama: 30-Minute Chicago (Every Sat-Sun through Aug 28): The newest edition of Seattle's most popular drag brunch show features Mama Tits, all of 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
Peaches Christ's "Whatever Happened to Bianca Del Rio?" (June 23): San Francisco and Seattle are like the twin girls in The Shining: weird enough on their own but downright unsettling when they're together—as they should be. San Francisco's queen of frights, Peaches Christ, teams up with Seattle's own drag favorites Mama Tits, Sylvia O'Stayformore, Abbey Roads, and Ade for this Seattle premiere of her live theatrical parody What Ever Happened to Bianca Del Rio?, co-starring the RuPaul's Drag Race star. MATT BAUME
Bacon Strip (June 18): Every month at Bacon Strip, hostess Sylvia O'Stayformore brings us comedy, costumes, outrageousness, and drag performances featuring local acts and special guests. Come for the smoked pig products—stay for the men with penises tucked between their butt cheeks. MATT BAUME
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.
Family Affair (Through Aug 18): 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.
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. Get there early if you want a seat—their shows are often filled to capacity, with latecomers turned away. Hey, a room can fit only so many nieces and nephews. Copresented by the Comedy Nest. MATT BAUME
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.
Loudmouth Cunts (Every First Sun): An all-female identifying comedy showcase that happens on the first Sunday of every month.
Steve Martin and Martin Short (July 23): The two celebrated, beloved comics—both of whom have performed on Saturday Night Live and were in Father of the Bride—talk about their lives and careers in this show that will combine "banter, singing, and banjo playing."
Collide-O-Scope (Every Second Mon, Fourth Mon): Created and hosted by Michael Anderson and Shane Wahlund, Collide-O-Scope is the cavalcade of curated video delights that takes over Re-bar twice a month. The show keeps getting better, with thematic suites, hallucinatory repetition, and inspired guests. Perennial bonuses: free popcorn and Red Vines, and multiple prizes waiting to be won via drawings throughout the show.
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. Organized by the very funny Elicia Sanchez, it's every second Sunday of the month in the Grotto at the Rendezvous, and every audience member gets a free shot of wine.
Comedy Nest Open Mic (Every Tues): Comedy Womb used to be a female-only comedy night, but has since become Comedy Nest in the name of inclusivity. Unsurprisingly, they write that "although the name has changed the mission is still the same." The rules 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. Having so many women onstage and in the crowd makes male comics more mindful of their sets and their audience, while reinforcing what should be obvious: Women can be just as funny (or unfunny) as men. Equality, hurrah!
Weird & Awesome with Emmett Montgomery: Album Recording Edition! (June 11—June 12): Watch beloved local comic and "mustache wizard" Emmett Montgomery record a live stand-up album for A Special Thing Records.
Arj Barker (July 7—July 9): Arj Barker (dopey friend Dave on Flight of the Conchords) brings out the stand-up comedy that got him featured on Just for Laughs, Premium Blend, Last Comic Standing, Conan, Leno and David Letterman.
Damon Wayans Jr (July 21—July 23): Movie and television star Damon Wayans Jr. (Let's Be Cops, New Girl, Happy Endings, and much more) will spew funny words from his dashing face.
Roy Wood Jr. (Aug 4—Aug 6): Roy Wood Jr. (correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah) performs with SNL cast member Brooks Wheelan.
Dave Coulier (Aug 12—Aug 13): Daww, it's Dave Coulier ("Joey" from Full House) who will probably deliver an evening of surprisingly shocking stand-up material.
Theatre Off Jackson
409 Seventh Ave S, 340-1049, theatreoffjackson.org
Comedy Night with Elicia Sanchez (June 24): Local favorite comedian and writer Elicia Sanchez, whom Lindy West has called a "grumpy nugget of delight" and whom Kimya Dawson considers her "favorite underground Northwest comedian," delivers an evening of stand-up comedy.