An improvised beauty contest, for girls and boys-in-dresses alike. Developed by Missy Meyer and Kate Jaegar. Wing-It Productions at the Historic University Theater, 5510 University Way NE, $8–$10. Thurs–Fri at 8 pm. Through Sept 23.

Ongoing. This mid-'90s relic by comedian Rob Becker is about the supposed prehistoric propensities of the two sexes, and is performed by Kevin Burke. There was no excuse for this show then; there's none now. ACT Theatre, 700 Union St, 292-7676. $39.50–$45. Fri at 7:30 pm, Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 3 pm. Tickets available through Sept 4.

Ongoing. "In the tame summer edition of Teatro ZinZanni, Frank Ferrante is the cra-a-a-a-azy Chef Caesar, and his TV-style shenanigans are audience-provocation lite. As for the revamped plot—which revolves around the sarcophagus of Cleopatra (played by Debbie de Coudreaux, who sings nicely, but looks cowed and humiliated when she's forced to act) and gigantic spoonfuls of something called "love spice"—it's flimsier than the skin on an onion. The shock has lost its edge, and we're left with only awe. For the record, the circus acts are indeed awesome. The hands-down stars are the Steben Sisters, whose mirror-image trapeze act contains its own miniature dramas. But pure talent has a harder time of it: Roxanne Butterfly's truly impressive tap dance seems somewhat sad in this palace of obstructed views." (Annie Wagner) Teatro ZinZanni, 2301 Sixth Ave, 802-0015. $99. Thurs–Sat at 6:30 pm, Sun at 5:30 pm (some additional Wed shows, call for details; ticket price good through Aug 31 only).

Extended. "Call it what you like (rape, abduction, cuddle party, whatever), but the fact is, The Fantasticks is about a parent who pays a middle-aged man to kidnap a 16-year-old girl in order to coerce her into marrying a 20-year-old stranger. While the original musical had the integrity to call a rape a rape, the later version's declawed "abduction" song is all fun and games, and we're expected to chuckle right along. (Worse still, after said abduction, the girl falls in love with her captor—aren't women foolish?) Questionable gender politics aside, though, this show is good. The cast members prove themselves apt comedians and competent singers: Kelly Balch, as the Mute, is particularly charming, and Jeff Berryman's baritone (velvety!) is simultaneously comforting and sinister." (Lindy West) Taproot Theatre, 204 N 85th St, 781-9707. $15–$30. Thurs at 7:30 pm, Fri at 8 pm, Sat at 2 and 8 pm, Tues at 6:30 pm (benefit for TTC, $50 donation at the door), Wed at 7:30 pm. Through Aug 27.

One week only. A staged reading of your favorite pro-dancin’ shoes movie, with Nick Garrison as Dianne Wiest and David Gehrman as Kevin Bacon. Brown Derby Series at Re-bar, 1114 Howell St. Tickets at the door only, $10. Mon-Wed Aug 15-17 at 8 pm.

Linda Lombardi (Henry IV, Part II) directs the play in which hereditary monarch Prince Hal emerges from a wild, unruly youth, gains the crown, and promptly invades a foreign country. Hmmm, sounds familiar... GreenStage at Volunteer Park, 1247 15th Ave E. Fri–Sat at 3 pm, Sun at 7 pm. At various locations through Aug 27.

Final week. A comedic monologue by Johanna Buccola about living under the specter of terrorism in NYC. The Odd Duck Studio, 1214 10th Ave. Tickets available at the door only, $7. Sat at 8 pm. Through Aug 13.

See Theater News and review this issue. Lola Productions at UW Ethnic Cultural Theatre, 3940 Brooklyn Ave NE. $20. Thurs–Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 2 pm. Through Aug 21.

Ongoing. "The real point is not the adult-catechism monologue—which by this point in the run sounds understandably stale (there is no discussion of child molestation, or Cardinal Schoenberg's backsliding on evolution)—but the script's gaps, in which Sister (Aubrey Manning) dispenses tissues to cover salacious displays of flesh and kitschy prizes to reward the dumbstruck targets of her improvisations. What distinguishes Late Nite from the walking cartoons at Disneyland is that your name, your background, and your behavior become the crux of the performance. It's the kind of exercise that my Catholic high-school theology classes used to call "affirmations": Late Nite takes your identity and reflects it back to you." (Annie Wagner) Cloud 9 Productions at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St, 292-7676. $24.50–$29.50. Thurs–Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 2 pm.

"This one-man show by Matt Smith is an extremely low-key tribute to a middle-aged crisis of heterosexual masculinity. Mainly this tired theme takes the form of a creepy obsession about his pet dog's severed testicles, but there's also a good deal of lame nostalgia for the Seattle of yore, and frequent mimicking of birdcalls." (Annie Wagner) Market Theatre, 1428 Post Alley, 781-9273. $15. Fri at 8 pm. Through Aug 19.

See review this issue. ACT Theatre, 700 Union St, 292-7676. $10–$54. Thurs at 2 and 7:30 pm, Fri–Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 7:30 pm, Tues–Wed at 7:30 pm. Through Aug 28.

recommended PRINCESSES
Opening. See Theater News. This Broadway warm-up run of the new tween meta-musical about a boarding school performance of a musical based on A Little Princess. Brent Barrett stars as the sexy father who's directing the show. The 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave, 292-2787. $16–$58. Previewing Thurs Aug 11 at 8 pm, Fri at 8 pm, Sat at 2 and 8 pm, Sun at 1:30 and 7 pm. Opening Wed Aug 17 at 7:30 pm. Through Aug 28.

recommended THE RING CYCLE
Seattle Opera presents their biggest, brightest, most ambitious productions—the signature Richard Wagner opera cycle the company attempts only once every four years. You can't get seats unless a ticket holder gives up tickets for a single show, but it's worth a shot. Seattle Opera at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St, Seattle Center, 389-7676. Cycle 1: Götterdämmerung, Sat Aug 12 at 6 pm. Cycle 2: Das Rheingold, Mon Aug 15 at 7 pm, Die Walküre, Tues Aug 16 at 6 pm. Through Aug 28.

Andrew Tasakos directs the play inspired by the eighth chapter of the 1969 bestseller Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask. Theatre Off Jackson, 409 Seventh Ave S, $12. Thurs–Sat at 8 pm. Through Aug 27.

"After a few days of shouting over planes and screeching kids, Richard Clairmont made a hoarse and less than commanding Prospero; and Regan deVictoria's Miranda was all isolated sweetness, with barely a hint of feral passion. Brandon Simmons isn't bad as Ariel, though, and Heather Persinger positively tears up the park with her broad, swaggering Trinculo. Theater in the park is all about spectacle, not subtlety; this mildly entertaining production doesn't seem to know which it's aiming for, and ultimately achieves neither." (Annie Wagner) GreenStage at Volunteer Park, 1247 15th Ave E. Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 3 pm. At various locations through Aug 28.

Final week. "From a thematic standpoint, Martin Moran's one-man show is fascinating. With unique insight into the complex aftermath of childhood sexual abuse (when your first orgasm comes at the hands of your abuser, where does your capacity for blame end and a complicit sense of guilt begin?), Moran charts the relationship between a former Catholic camp counselor and his 12-year-old self. As theater, though, his monologue is strangely distancing. The Catholic standup routine that opens the show feels queasy, even manipulative—can't audiences be trusted to take scary stories straight up? Once the darker material edges in, Moran's over-composed, actorly persona remains: It's about as far away from the paddle-hoisting kid in the onstage photo as he can get. The story of the abuse itself is bracketed (and earnestly authenticated) by being read from a notebook in a contracted spotlight. Moran's approach to the classic abuse narrative is sophisticated and smart; surely his presentation of that narrative could have negotiated the line between evocation and exploitation with an equal degree of agility?" (Annie Wagner) Intiman Theatre, 201 Mercer St, 269-1900. $27–$46. Thurs at 7:30 pm, Fri at 8 pm, Sat at 2 and 8 pm. Through Aug 13.

See review this issue. Theatre Unlocked at 1541 NW 49th St, 285-0714. $10. Thurs–Sat at 8 pm. Through Aug 27.


One night only. You're invited to watch a rehearsal of a new work-in-progress, The Sleeping Beauty Notebook, with some of the most athletic ballet-trained dancers in the city. Spectrum Dance Theater at the Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave. Free. Wed Aug 17 at 6:30 pm.


One night only. See Stranger Suggests, page 25. Fenix Underground, 109 S Washington St, 405-4323. $7, 21+ w/ ID required. Thurs Aug 11 at 8 pm.

Like the best brunch hosts in the world, Peggy Platt and Michael Oaks give you presents and tell lots of jokes. They do not, however, pay for your food. Thumper's, 1500 E Madison St, 328-3800. $10 show, brunch extra. Sun at 11 am and 2 pm. Through Aug 28.


"Fast-paced, ethanol-fueled comedy." Jet City Improv at Historic University Theater, 5510 University Way NE, 325-6500. $5. Sat night at 12:30 am. No closing date set.


HAROLD (that's an improv game, not a person) at Market Theatre, 1428 Post Alley, 781-9273. $10. Sat at 8 pm. JET CITY IMPROV at Historic University Theater, 5510 University Way NE, 325-6500. $8–$10. Fri at 10:30 pm, Sat at 8 and 10:30 pm. AUGGIE SMITH at Comedy Underground, 222 Main St, 800-325-7328. $6–$12 (21+ w/ID required). Thurs at 8:30 pm, Fri–Sat at 8:30 and 10:30 pm. THEATRESPORTS at Market Theatre, 1428 Post Alley, 781-9273. $8–$12. Fri–Sat at 10:30 pm, Sun at 7 pm.


One day only. A benefit for Annex Theatre's upcoming production of The Front Page, with auction items donated by Confounded Books, Web Crowell, and more. CHAC Lower Level, 1621 12th Ave. Tickets at the door only, $5. Sun Aug 14 at 2 pm (live auction at 4 pm).