Angel Blue was unforgettable in  in Porgy and Bess at Seattle Opera.
Angel Blue was unforgettable in Porgy and Bess at Seattle Opera. PHILIP NEWTON

Angel Blue in Porgy and Bess at Seattle Opera
Angel Blue, who played Bess in Seattle Opera’s production in August, is one of the most charismatic performers I’ve ever seen onstage. Every time she walked out, she was all I could look at. Born in 1984, Blue has already performed all over the world, and in 2017 made her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York City singing Mimi in La Boheme. "Blue’s voice has been recognized for its shining and agile upper register, ‘smoky’ middle register, beautiful timbre, and her ability to switch from a classical to contemporary sound," says Wikipedia, which fails to mention how stunning she looked in that plain white dress. Also: Since when is an opera singer good at acting? CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

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Carmen Best (left) with Jenny Durkan (right)
Carmen Best (left) with Jenny Durkan (right) Lester Black
SPD Police Chief Carmen Best Graciously Accepting Mayor Jenny Durkan's Nomination After the Mayor Previously and Very Deliberately Rejected Her From the Position

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The best performance in local politics this year may have been Carmen Best giving the appearance of genuine excitement when Mayor Jenny Durkan nominated the veteran Seattle Police Department Officer to be the next chief of police. Best’s smile looked sincere at the press conference where Durkan officially nominated her, which is odd when you consider that just a few weeks earlier Durkan had delivered Best with the snub of her career.

Best, who is well-liked by both Seattle’s cops and Seattle’s police reform activists, was considered a front-runner to receive the chief of police nomination. But Durkan surprised the city’s policing community in May by leaving Best off a list of three finalists for the position. Best stayed mostly silent after the snub but the cops and the cop reformers decried Durkan’s decision, and then the mayor herself switched course in July and kicked out one finalist to make room for Best. By August, Best was the smiling the new chief of police for the city without a drip of anger or disappointment over the mayor’s spring slight. LESTER BLACK

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Kendra Kassebaums reinterpretation of the part of Donna saves Mamma Mia! from being another tired rendition of the same old stuff.
Kendra Kassebaum's reinterpretation of the part of Donna saves Mamma Mia from being another tired rendition of the same old stuff. TRACY MARTIN
Kendra Kassenbaum in Mama Mia at 5th Avenue Theatre
The cold hard truth is that Mamma Mia is a boring show. In its treacly straightness, the script does the impossible: It makes Abba unappealing to gay people. Meryl Streep’s performance in the movie is the only Meryl Streep performance I don’t care for. But with Kendra Kassenbaum in that same role in 5th Avenue Theatre’s original production this year, things got weird in the most delightful way. At one point she was on all fours, growling like a feral animal. She was un-look-away-from-able, and the crowd was rolling in the aisles. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

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Cucci Binaca in Midnight Snack with Nina Bo'nina Brown
Cucci Binaca, one of Seattle's most famous goblins, often puts her foot in her mouth, but in an ironic, gross, and fantastically stupid performance at Kremwerk's Midnight Snack, Binaca unzipped her heels and made the idiom literal. At the drop of a nasty dubstep beat, Binaca devoured the heels she was just twirling in, leaving the audience gagging. If drag must be the art of illusion, then Binaca is one tricky apparition. CHASE BURNS

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Randy Ford (left, on red chair) performed in Dani Tirrells Black Bois, a multidisciplinary ode to the irreducibility of blackness.
Randy Ford (left, on red chair) performed in Dani Tirrell's Black Bois. NAOMI ISHISAKA
Randy Ford in Black Bois
I have said it before and I will say it again: to those who make decisions about grant funding, please give Randy Ford the money so she can just do her thing for a while. Ford’s performance in Dani Tirrell’s Black Bois, an extraordinary ode to the irreducibility of Blackness that premiered at On the Boards, is Exhibit A thru OMG. She’s got power, she’s got range, she’s got it. Very much looking forward to more from this dancer in the new year. RICH SMITH

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The performers in Familiar included Shá Cage, Harvy Blanks, and Quinn Franzen.
The performers in Familiar included Shá Cage, Harvy Blanks, and Quinn Franzen. NAVID BARATY
Quinn Franzen in Familiar at Seattle Rep
One of the darlings of the Seattle experimental theater scene back when Satori Group was filling their InScape space with dirt and feeding bowls of soup to audience members, Quinn Franzen quickly broke into the bigger houses in town, including a star turn in Yussef El Guindi’s Threesome. Then he was getting TV work (he got sliced up by an alien on Grimm) and then decamped to New York City for bigger and better opportunities. But he comes back to Seattle occasionally, and he returned to play the well-meaning, dorky, piously Christian boyfriend of one of the daughters in the Zimbabwean family at the center of Familiar. Quinn is a thoughtful and senstive actor freakishly good at playing hilariously clueless white guys. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

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This show took my face off of my face.
This show took my face off of my face. MARIA BARANOVA

Andrew Schneider in YOUARENOWHERE
Schneider, an OBIE award-winning performer known for incorporating innovative tech into his shows, gave me the most mind-bending, mind-expanding, and yet totally full-body experience I had as an audience member this year. He mixed ancient forms (the monologue, clowning) with state-of-the-art stagecraft to create a "one-man show" that pushed the genre’s boundaries into—semi-literally—outer-space. RICH SMITH

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A performance that may actually force the state to save the orcas.
A performance that may actually force the state to save the orcas. RIEGSECKER/GETTYIMAGES.COM

Tahlequah Carrying Her Dead Orca Calf for 17 Days and 1,000 Miles
Seattle’s humans are killing local orca whales but most people don’t seem to notice or care. That changed this summer when Tahlequah, a 20-year-old killer whale, carried her dead calf for 17 days and over 1,000 miles around the Salish Sea. The macabre parade attracted a media frenzy and international attention. The world watched as each daily update from Seattle Times's Lynda V. Mapes reminded us that a mother was carrying her dead baby on her nose. When Tahlequah finally let her baby sink to the bottom of the sea, she had generated enough media attention to put the plight of the Southern Resident orcas in the heads of millions of people. LESTER BLACK

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It’s better than Hamilton, okay? Plus, it’s only one act!
It’s better than Hamilton, okay? Plus, it’s only one act! MATT MURPHY
The whole cast of Come From Away at 5th Ave
Not to brag or anything, but at the opening night of the national tour of Come From Away, which took place at 5th Avenue Theatre, the curtain call included real-life people the characters were based on coming out onstage and hugging the actors who played them. I would say that it made me start crying, except that I was already crying because what had just happened over the previous two hours filled me with feelings. “I was impressed by the fact that the actors played multiple characters without you ever being lost,” a friend said afterward. “The spareness of it all was just a template for how amazing those actors were.” Couldn’t agree more. As I wrote shortly thereafter, Come From Away was better than Hamilton. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

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JOE RAEDLE / GETTY

Stormy Daniels at Dream Girls
On Veterans Day, Stormy Daniels took to the stage of Seattle's Dream Girls at SoDo and gave a historic, patriotic, vulva-forward, wax-driven erotic dance for me, my boyfriend, and the troops (they got in for free). At one point, Stormy kicked so high I thought her heel was going to bend behind her head like Gumby and skewer the face of the man whom she had just walloped with her bare boob. A boob, I might add, that has allegedly walloped the President of the United States.

If a dollar equals a round of applause in a strip club, then Seattle gave Stormy the longest standing ovation I've ever seen in this town. There were so many dollars thrown onstage that men had to come with brooms to sweep mountains of $20 bills out from under her feet—while she high-kicked! With her pussy out! It was electrifying. I felt like I was watching Tonya Harding do the triple axel at the 1991 Nationals. CHASE BURNS

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Angelica Generosa in Everything She Did for Pacific Northwest Ballet This Year
In 2016 PNB promoted Generosa to soloist. Since then she’s quickly become one of my favorite dancers to watch—quick, explosive, unerringly precise. She was practically built for Justin Peck’s Year of the Rabbit, which is basically a Wes Anderson movie about cheerleading. She killed it in Swan Lake. She was also impressive in Kyle Davis’s A Dark and Lonely Space, and she didn’t even have a major role. I hope she gets an opportunity to practice her acting chops in the next year. RICH SMITH

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Miss Texas 1988 Winning Losing the 2018 Miss Bacon Strip Pageant
Miss Texas 1988 fucked up in every category of this year's Miss Bacon Strip drag pageant—the runway portion asked for swimsuits, she wore a ball gown; the performance portion asked for a lip-sync, she did a baton number while eating a gallon of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!®—but, by the end of it, she was shockingly crowned the winner of the pageant. Dressed in a burlap sack (her final outfit for the evening) with the word "FAILURE" written across it, Miss Texas accepted the crown and title... only to receive a call later that night from the show's producer, Sylvia O'Stayformore, that the final results had been Steve Harvey'd. The votes, allegedly, had been counted incorrectly. Old Witch, the expected winner, had actually won the crown.

Miss Texas 1988 has always been a drag queen committed to the art of failure, but her accidental crowning as the winner of this year's Miss Bacon Strip Pageant was consummate failure-art. "I didn't just fail at Bacon Strip. I failed at winning," she told me afterward. "I'm a true failure." It was the most delightfully confounding camp. CHASE BURNS

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Picture this, but with spit dripping down it.
Picture this, but with spit dripping down it. George Frey/Getty

That Teen Visiting Seattle Who Had His MAGA Hat Ripped Off His Head
Over the summer, a couple of local #Resistance heroes pulled the MAGA hat off the head of a teenager visiting from the Midwest, spit on it, called him a racist, and threw the fugly red thing on the ground. The teen, naturally, filmed the encounter and posted it online, where every conservative media outlet east of Bellevue picked it up. Seattle, once known for grunge and coffee, quickly became known on the right as the number one hotbed of leftist intolerance. Not only did this make the #Resistance heros feel good about themselves, it signaled to Trump voters that their kind aren’t welcome here. Some, I suppose, would consider this a win/win. KATIE HERZOG

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Amy Thone as Richard Nixon, morose mumbler and booming narcissist.
Amy Thone as Richard Nixon, morose mumbler and booming narcissist. JOHN ULMAN

Amy Thone as Nixon in Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon
As I said in my review of the show, Thone turned in a masterful performance as Nixon. She perfectly reproduced his barking charm, his sly smile, his alarmingly rigid gait, and his propensity for mumbling. The fact that she was a woman playing a man short-circuited any socially engrained sympathy the audience may have had for a man doing anything he can to obtain power and revealed him for the crook he really was. We’ve come to expect these kinds of performances from her ever since she won the Stranger Genius award in 2007, but they’re still worth championing every time they happen. RICH SMITH

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Emily Rohm in Ride the Cyclone at ACT
I’m not going to lie: Ride the Cyclone had some problems. The story was set in an amusement park where one of the rollercoasters had just killed half a dozen park-goers. Each of the dead kids introduced themselves and then… that was it. That was the plot. It was like Cats, but without that one good song. I didn’t end up reviewing the show, but if I had I would have focused on Emily Rohm’s performance as the accident victim who never was identified, known as Jane Doe. She played the part as a creepy, doll-like character, and during her number she magically launched off her feet and spun through the air in a way I still can’t figure out. (It wasn’t a harness. Someone with inside knowledge told me it was a giganic hook that extended out between the curtains.) And her soprano voice was killer. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

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Amoania in Pot Secret
Typically, the work of an actor is to articulate the life of a script, and the work of a drag performer is to articulate the life of a song. Those songs are traditionally the stuff of divas and ballads: "I Will Always Love You," "MacArthur Park," "Total Eclipse of the Heart," etc. Songs with clear lyrics—not Aphex Twin's "Window Licker," a 6+ minute electronic song that sounds like robots doing poppers. But Amoania, a matriach of Seattle's bar queens, performed the track at Pot Secret with a sneakily masterful lip-synch that landed somewhere between contemporary dance, clowning, and drag. She goes from lazily toking a blunt to tightly head-banging on beat. A+ trash art, but this is also probably just what Amoania does alone in her kitchen. CHASE BURNS

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What happens to Matt is sad! And look at that face up there! He looks so sad!
What happens to Matt is sad! And look at that face up there! He looks so sad! CHRIS BENNION

Frank Boyd as Matt in Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men (Washington Ensemble Theatre)
Boyd played Matt, the central character and central issue in WET’s production of Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men. Matt’s down on his luck, boring, and generally morose. He’s basically a mopey Kohl’s mannequin. And yet Boyd still found a way to fill this purposefully dull character with tons of emotional complexity, making him completely magnetic. Pulling off a nuanced, understated performance is hard work, but Boyd easily cleared the bar here. RICH SMITH

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The secret weapon in Annie at 5th Avenue is Timothy McCuen Piggee, on the right, as Oliver Warbucks.
The secret weapon in Annie at 5th Avenue is Timothy McCuen Piggee, on the right, as Oliver Warbucks. PHOTO BY TRACY MARTIN/COURTESY OF 5TH AVENUE THEATRE

Timothy McCuen Piggee in Annie at 5th Avenue Theatre
The role of Oliver Warbucks is a hard one to make interesting. The character is such a sap: All he wants to do is adopt a child, love them, and spoil them. 5th Avenue Theatre’s original production of Annie this winter, helmed by Billie Wildrick in her directoral debut at the leading musical theater in the Pacific Northwest, was full of great performances, but Piggee stood out for his gentle cleverness, which somehow graduated Warbucks from sappiness to poignancy. Warbucks is a hardened indistrialist who’s good friends with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and has much bigger things to worry about than orphaned redheads, but over time his hardened exterior melted away as he and Annie hit it off. Piggee and Visesia Fakatoufifita, 11, in the role of Annie, had genuine onstage chemistry. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE