Hedwig and the Angry Inch

(THEATER) As beloved as Hedwig and the Angry Inch has become since it debuted off-Broadway in 1998, John Cameron Mitchell's story is not without its issues. In the program notes for ArtsWest's current production of the show, director Eddie DeHais mentions many of them, writing, "Stories like Hedwig were largely responsible for keeping me closeted. And surgery? Forget it. Trans bodies were horrifying and surgery was an atrocity, a perversion, a mutilation, and, most importantly, destined to fail." So why did DeHais—who medically transitioned at the same age the fictional Hedwig did—agree to direct ArtsWest's run of the show? They credit star Nicholas Japaul Bernard. And after catching a weekend matinee recently, it's easy to understand why. Bernard's performance is electrifying. His Hedwig—who is Black, queer, and disabled—is complicated, contradictive, and unlikable at times (be nicer to Yitzhak!). But you'll cheer for him all the while, as his powerful vulnerability balances the bitterness. And speaking of Yitzhak, at ArtsWest Bernard is joined by the immensely talented Kataka Corn (who played a perfect Dorothy in the 5th Avenue Theater's production of The Wiz last year, btw). Your entire body will tingle with goosebumps when they appear during the "Midnight Radio" finale. (ArtsWest, 4711 California Ave SW, Wed-Sun through July 23, $15-$120) MEGAN SELING


Kelly Akashi: Formations

Kelly Akashi's show Formations is at the Frye through September 3. COURTESY OF FRYE ART MUSEUM

(VISUAL ART) Los Angeles-based artist Kelly Akashi is well-known for her fluid forms and focus on craft—she vacillates between analog photography and old-school techniques of candle making, bronze casting, and rope making. Organized by the San José Museum of Art, this exhibition includes nearly a decade of the artist's boundary-pushing work, which tends to meditate on time, materiality, and lineage. Make sure to see Conjoined Tumbleweeds, a newly commissioned bronze cast of plants collected from Poston, Arizona, where members of Akashi's family were incarcerated in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II. (Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave, Wed-Sun through September 3, free, all ages) LINDSAY COSTELLO

FRIDAY 7/14 

Rodrigo Valenzuela: The New Land

A piece by Rodrigo Valenzuela featured in The New Land at Mini Mart City Park. courtesy of the artist

(VISUAL ART) Rodrigo Valenzuela's exhibit, The New Land, marks the first anniversary of Mini Mart City Park, a gallery and community center founded by John Sutton, Ben Beres, and Zac Culler. Valenzuela, an artist who first made his mark in Seattle a decade ago, is presently based in Los Angeles. His short films, sculptures, and photographs are always brutally honest but never without their music or poetry. In The New Land, a series of medium- and large-sized photographs examine the human history of a landscape. But no humans are in these images, only the ghosts of their forgotten stories. (Mini Mart City Park, 6525 Ellis Ave S, Fri-Sat noon-5 pm through August 19) CHARLES MUDEDE


Bad Black

(FILM) The genius of Wakaliwood films, which are made in the slums of Kampala, the capital of the English-speaking African country Uganda, is that they cannot be improved. The way they look is exactly how they were made: with almost no money. The raw action scenes and stunts, the super-cheap CGI special effects (the kind you find on an iPhone), the poor quality of the sound, the disorderly editing, the crazy mesh of English and Swahili, and the improbable plots are precisely what make these films so enjoyable. Because the poverty of the production is so proud of itself, so brazen, so lacking in shame, it directly mocks first-world production values. If, say, the special effects were upgraded, then these films would lose a lot of their political and comic power. Another aspect of Wakaliwood films is their benshi (a performer who provides narration) bringing the whole mess together. If the benshi does not make you laugh until it hurts, then he has not done his job. Bad Black is a Wakaliwood masterpiece. (Grand Illusion, 1403 NE 50th St, 7:30 pm, $5-$11) CHARLES MUDEDE

SUNDAY 7/16 

Serial Mom

(FILM) Showing as part of the Mourning Sickness cult and camp cinema series hosted by drag queen Monday Mourning, 1994’s Serial Mom is a delightful dark comedy about murder, motherhood, and mayhem that could only come from the one-of-a-kind mind of the great American filmmaker John Waters. A spectacular Kathleen Turner plays the serial mom herself, Beverly Sutphin, who turns the quiet suburbs of Baltimore into a bloodbath. The results are sharply funny, wonderfully snarky, and a better satire of our true crime obsession than most anything this century—it remains a prescient, properly fun film without compare. It's worth seeing for how titanically good Turner is alone. (Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave, 7 pm, $18) CHASE HUTCHINSON

MONDAY 7/17 

World of Wong Kar-wai: In the Mood for Love

(FILM) SIFF Cinema Egyptian will bring Wong Kar-wai's sensual visuals and pitch-perfect soundtracks back to the screen for this series, which will present eight of the director's classics in 4K restorations and 35mm, as well as a director's cut of The Hand. I'm stoked for the screenings of In the Mood for Love this week; set in '60s Hong Kong, the film follows a lonely married journalist and a similarly isolated woman. When the two realize that their respective partners are cheating on them, they form an intimate bond and wrestle with the allure of a sordid affair. It's sooo juicy, but also bleak, but also dizzyingly glamorous. A must-see, if you haven't! Christopher Doyle's vivid cinematography helped cement In the Mood for Love as a major stylistic influence on the last 20 years of film—you might recognize a certain scene reinterpreted in Everything Everywhere All at Once. (SIFF Cinema Egyptian, 805 E Pine St, 7 pm, $13-$14 for a single screening/$60-$90 for a series pass; see all screening dates here) LINDSAY COSTELLO


AJJ, Open Mike Eagle, and Foot Ox

(MUSIC) Frustration. Sadness. Despair. When experiencing these common emotions it can be healthy to reach out for help. Call a friend, get a hug, revive your spirit with a gentle pep talk. But let's be honest, sometimes it's fun to wallow. AJJ know this. The band—who call Phoenix, Arizona home, so they know a thing or two about suffering—continue their reign of clever pessimism on their latest release, Disposable Everything. Choice lyrics: "This is no exaggeration, we're living in a death machine" ("Death Machine"); "Lately I've been feeling good and that makes me feel so bad" ("Disposable Everything"); and "Daniel Johnston died today / And Neil Young is next" (I Hate Rock and Roll Again"). The truth really does hurt. There is also a playful romp about a dead panda! Nothing they sing will make you feel better, but at least you'll feel less alone. Open Mike Eagle and Foot Ox open. (The Crocodile, 2505 First Ave, 8 pm, $28.50, all ages) MEGAN SELING