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The Realistic Joneses (Through July 1): The Realistic Joneses is a precisely-titled realist play about two neighboring couples with the last name Jones, written by playwright Will Eno (whom Charles Isherwood at the New York Times called "a Samuel Beckett for the Jon Stewart generation"). The Realistic Joneses earned a number of accolades and some rave reviews on Broadway in 2014 for its humorous, character-driven take on illness, marital life, and intimacy. This production is presented by New Century Theatre Company and directed by Paul Budraitis.
Lydia (Through June 24): Octavio Solis's critically acclaimed Lydia is billed as a ghostly, intense, Miller-esque domestic drama about a young maid who cares for and communes with a teenager who wound up in a coma under mysterious circumstances. Many critics seem haunted (in a good way!) by the play's magic, and by the way it refracts Miller's obsession with the American dream through the prisms of seven brilliantly rendered Latino characters. The dean of Yale School of Drama, James Bundy, called it "one of the most important plays of this decade." This is the kind of dark, language-driven material Strawshop always pulls off with aplomb, and may very well be the low-key hit of the spring season. RS
Welcome to Braggsville (June 7–July 2): T. Geronimo Johnson's novel Welcome to Braggsville is an award-laden bestseller that Rich Benjamin at The New York Times described as a mixture between "a satirical The Indian Princess, James Nelson Barker's 1808 libretto about Pocahontas" and "a macabre E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial"—and this summer, it's being performed as a stage play presented by Book-It Repertory Theatre. Adapted by Josh Aaseng and Daemond Arrindell; directed by Josh Aaseng.
Hoodoo Love (July 13–30): This is the Seattle premiere of Katori Hall's Hoodoo Love, presented in collaboration with the Hansberry Project. The play, set during the Great Depression, promises folk magic, blues music, and a born-again Christian missionary.
Emerging Artist Showcase (Aug 4–6): The Emerging Artists Program offers up-and-comers the chance to thrive under Intiman's guidance (and the guidance of the hilarious and talented Co-Curator Sara Porkalob) and train for careers in theater. They add, "For 2016, the cohort was 73 percent people of color and 63 percent female-identified." At this production, you can see some of what they've been working on during their time at Intiman.
Barbecue (Through June 25): Lambda Literary Award–winning playwright Robert O'Hara offers up two different families—one white, one black, both named O'Mallery—staging an interventions for their respective drug-addicted family members. Up-and-coming director Malika Oyetimein, who managed a wonderful production of O'Hara's Bootycandy two years ago, will likely squeeze every ounce of cringe-inducing comedy from this very strong cast. Also of note: This play kicks off Intiman's 2017 season, which was co-curated by the extremely multitalented Sara Porkalob. RS
Pressure Cooker: Please Open Your Mouth (July 6–10): Produced as part of Cafe Nordo's new works incubator, the Pressure Cooker, this experimental work written by Joanna Garner and directed by Norah Elges Schneyer is set in a "clandestine supper club," and offers audiences the chance to "explore their fantasies, fetishes, and taboos around food, sex, and society."
Grand Concourse (Through June 11): Grand Concourse, written by Heidi Schreck and directed by Annie Lareau, is a play about the way the group dynamics in a Bronx soup kitchen change when a new hire arrives.
Pericles (July 6–Aug 6): Paul Constant wrote, "Pericles is so poorly written that, for centuries, Shakespeare scholars tried with all their nerdy might to deny he wrote it. Funny thing is, it was beloved in Shakespearean times because it's the Armageddon of Shakespeare plays, a title usually reserved for the oft-underappreciated Titus Andronicus. The first hour alone is packed with cheap-seat-pleasing thrills: shipwrecks, a jousting match for the hand of a princess, and buckets of scandal—the play opens with an incestuous relationship and, before everything is done, a murder plot is foiled by pirates, and someone gets sold into sex slavery."
Fun Home (July 11–30): It's impossible to overstate how cool it is that Fun Home (based on the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel) is coming. Haven't seen the show yet, but the book it's based on kills me. The REASON the book kills me, though, is because of all the subtle connections Bechdel makes between her life and the literature she loves/grew up with/related to her father's suicide. Not sure how those literary subtitles translate to the stage, but it did get five Tonys. Plus, Jessica Fu, The Stranger's awesome social media manager, already saw the show in New York. "I cried during and after! And then the next morning," she told me. Better bring a box of tissues. RS
Something Rotten! (Sept 2–Oct 1): In addition to Adam Pascal (who played Roger in the original production of Rent), the show also stars Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti as two brothers who are trying to write a hit play in the 1590s, but are stuck in Shakespeare's shadow. When a soothsayer tells them that the future of theater involves singing, dancing, and acting at the same time, they set out to write the world's very first musical. This show was supposed to be in the 5th Avenue's 2014/2015 season but was canceled because it went straight to Broadway. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Through July 1): ArtsWest presents Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, a musical offering murder, cannibalism, and barbershops—plus songs that are creepy, catchy, quick, and witty.
Cabaret (June 13–25): Cabaret is the best musical of all time, because Kander and Ebb were geniuses and because it neatly solves the problem inherent in musicals (why are these people breaking into song?). Its bawdy, funny, hedonistic songs aren't indulgent for indulgence's sake. What goes on inside the Kit Kat Klub, in Berlin in 1931, is ignorant bliss on amphetamines, a carnival of humanity not aware what's coming their way. In the U.S. of 2017, we seem to be living in the shadow of creeping autocracy, so what better time is there to go see a musical about characters living in the shadows of creeping autocracy? CF
Here Lies Love (Through June 18): David Byrne's critically adored disco musical about the life and times of Imelda Marcos, disco-obsessed wife of Ferdinand Marcos. She danced by his side (and by Richard Nixon's—look it up on YouTube) while his dictatorial ass terrorized the Philippines. Unlike other musicals, you don't have to forgive this one for its melodramatic, sappy songs. The fast numbers are groovy disco bangers and the slow numbers are touching, tropically inflected twee rock/pop. Production-wise, this show will be unlike anything you've ever seen at the Rep. The installation of mobile dance floors will significantly change the theater's seating situation, and the audience will be dancing (according to the demands of the dictator, of course) throughout the show. RS
Dreamgirls (Through July 2): Village Theatre presents Tony- and Grammy Award-winning musical Dreamgirls (not officially about the Supremes' rise to fame, but containing many parallels) which was made extremely popular by the 2006 film starring Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and the inimitable Queen B. Come for Motown tunes, commentary about celebrity, dramatic ultimatums, and flashy dance numbers. The show will also play at Village Theatre in Everett from July 7-30.
Whim W'Him presents Approaching Ecstasy (Through June 10): According to press materials, Approaching Ecstasy "incorporates 40 singers, five instrumentalists, and seven dancers and is inspired by the poems of Constantine Cavafy, who lived as a closeted gay man in Egypt at the end of the 19th-century." When the show opened largely to critical acclaim back in 2012, City Arts' Rachel Gallaher described artistic director Olivier Wevers's choreography as "passionately driven." Eric Banks and the Esoterics sing the poems in Greek along with music (a throwback to the lyre-accompanied poetry readings of yore) and then read them in English. If great choral music and dance doesn't do it for you, then go for the poems of Cavafy. In his erotic poetry, he's the loneliest of the lonely boys, and while reading him you can feel how constrained he was by the homophobia of his time and place. RS
Kate Wallich + the YC and Madboots Dance: Split Bill (June 29–July 2): A little bit of intriguing "process as product" work here from Dance Church deacons Kate Wallich + The YC. Her troupe and NYC's all-male/totes gay MADBOOTS DANCE will each premiere a new work in Seattle "in dialogue" with one another. As both companies tour the country, each of the pieces will grow and change and adapt to their surroundings until the following year, when a new take on the old premieres will get some play back in the home country. I predict some mighty fine dancing about the toxic nature of restrictive gender norms! RS
Pictures at an Exhibition (Through June 11): This Pacific Northwest Ballet program includes Balanchine's 1968 ballet La Source (with music by Leo Delibes), NYCB ballet master and Broadway legend Jerome Robbins's 1979 ballet Opus 19/The Dreamer, and finally, what looks to be the highlight of the production: Alexei Ratmansky's 2014 ballet Pictures at an Exhibition. The music is by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky, inspired by his tour of a memorial exhibition for artist, architect, and designer Viktor Hartmann. Each musical number comments on an individual piece of art by Hartmann, and this production promises to pair the music and dance with geometric images by Russian painter Wassily Kandinksy. At the very least, it's an ambitious attempt to seamlessly merge dance, music, and visual art inside a new piece of choreography (whose history goes back centuries).
PNB Season Encore Performance (June 11): Rich Smith wrote, "At the end of this season, Pacific Northwest Ballet is waving goodbye to two of its principal dancers: Carrie Imler, whose slo-mo promenade during Tricolore this fall seemed to me to be a triumph of skill and strength; and Batkhurel Bold, who my colleague Jen Graves called a 'noble powerhouse' in PNB's Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven." Give the two performers a proper send-off at this Season Encore performance.
Bring It! Live (Aug 20): Attend this hiphop majorette event for a high-energy performance that spans genres of dance.
NW New Works Festival 2017 (June 9–18): It's your 34th annual NW New Works Festival, Seattle! This year, 16 contemporary performing arts companies from around the region (Washington, Oregon, and BC) will freakify the stages of OtB over the course of two weekends. I guarantee at least two of these ~20-minute pieces will grow into full-length shows that will take this town (and maybe the world) by storm in the coming years. Don't believe me—ask Zoe | Juniper, Sarah Rudinoff, and Tim Smith-Stewart/Jeffrey Azevedo, all of whom developed impressive pieces of work on OtB's summer stages. Lots to love at this iteration, but I'd recommend Vanessa Goodman, PETE (Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble), Petra Zanki: Pleasant Place, Katie Piatt, and Waxie Moon. RS
(Im)pulse (June 15–July 2): The great and talented and Tony-nominated choreographer Donald Byrd has a knack for translating complex historical texts into visceral dance pieces that help us reckon with the present. Last year's A Rap on Race, a jazzy interpretation of an important conversation between Margaret Mead and James Baldwin, stands out in my memory as a tremendous testimony to that fact. This world premiere sees the mass shooting at Orlando Pulse Nightclub through the lens of the brilliant/brutal David Wojnarowicz, whose Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration should be on everyone's syllabus, and also playwright Brian Quirk. RS
Seattle International Dance Festival (June 9–25): For 16 days, dancers from around the world (and some local stars) will perform in indoor and outdoor venues. Some events will be free and all-ages. In general, the focus is on innovation and diversity; in a Stranger article from 2013, Melody Datz Hansen observed the festival's "local spotlight" show and commended its wide range of choreography and costume, from "classical moves" made "new and rad" to "upsetting" lurching by a dancer in a potato-penis suit. If your June is shaping up to lack a certain amount of excitement, this might be one way to remedy that.
Cabaret & Burlesque
Tricked: A Mostly Male Burlesque Show (Every Third Fri): This series of drag, burlesque, and boylesque shows is not necessarily limited to men. The theme: those wily, alluring Tricksters, from Loki to Coyote to Bugs Bunny. With Bolt Action, Arson Nicki, Mercury Divine, Aaron Wheeler, Ewa Long, the Marquis Façade, and EmpeROAR Fabulous!!!
La Petite Mort's Anthology of Erotic Esoterica (Every Last Fri): See "the darker side of performance art" at this eerie, secretive variety show with circus arts, burlesque, music, and more. Feel free to wear a mask if you'd rather not be seen.
Dita Von Teese's "The Art of the Teese" Burlesque Revue (July 23): Probably the most famous burlesque dancer alive, Dita Von Teese brings her sexy and luxurious act to the Moore. See her curl up in a giant martini glass, perform the ballet-themed "Swan Lake Striptease," and revive her "Cowgirl Act."
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.
Lost Falls (Through June 25): Celebrate the return of Twin Peaks, after more than 25 years off the air, with this food- and performance-based homage to David Lynch, with all the small-town charm and creepy suspense you'll find in his work. They'll investigate the question: "Who killed Chef Nordo Lefesczki?"
HANG TOGETHER: A Performance Farewell for John DeShazo (June 30–July 1): Honor the work of John DeShazo (multitalented person in the Seattle arts scene who has been on the Northwest Film Forum Board of Directors for 17 years) before he leaves our little town. Local stars will perform and celebrate his contributions, including our own Art and Music Editor Sean Nelson, the Vis-à-Vis Society, actor/storyteller Matt Smith, dancer/choreographer Paige Barnes, musician/performer Sarah Paul Ocampo, ChromaMatic (with spontaneous painting!), and "mad scientist"/animator Web Crowell. Hosted by Northwest Film Forum's executive director, Courtney Sheehan.
Highbrow/Lowbrow: A Very Varied Variety Show! (Every Fourth Tues): Highbrow/Lowbrow promises a very varied (in style, form, and apparent classiness) variety show that features drag, burlesque, musical theatre, and dance.
The Roast of Mama Tits (July 6): There's going to be a roast of Mama Tits—or as the press release says, "a celebratory take down of Seattle’s favorite Skyscraper Hostess"—featuring drag stars Bianca Del Rio and Jackie Beat, director Chi Chi Larue, San Francisco queens Heklina and Sister Roma, and Seattle queens Robbie Turner and Mark Finley. I don't know why I'm treating this so breathlessly—probably because I'm deep into the latest season of RuPaul's Drag Race, and it's getting tense, and it's the only reality TV show I watch. Also the gay thing. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
Camptacular! (June 30–July 3): Drag burlesque duo Kitten 'n' Lou bring a (wet, hot, American) summer theater treat to Seattle with Camptacular! This performance will be a contemporary dance, drag, and burlesque Bomb Pop featuring Stranger Genius Award winner Cherdonna, contemporary dancer Markeith Wiley, ever-rising star Waxie Moon, and special guest Jeez Loueez, who, according to my extensive YouTube video searches, blends twerk and burlesque to great effect. Go. You'll be a happy camper. RS
Mimosas Cabaret (Every Sat–Sun): The great protest art of the Donald Trump era is already happening, with the Mimosas crew choosing a daring show to stage as their latest 30ish-minute musical. They're doing the show Cabaret, a song-and-dance extravaganza set in the days of Hitler's rise to power. The allegories to today are chillingly perfect, from nationalist Nazis singing "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" to the gut-wrenching appearance of the Star of David. For 50 years, Cabaret has been a reflection on the past, but now it's a scream of alarm about the future. You won't just cry at this show, you will sob. MATT BAUME
Erin Jorgensen: Undertones (July 15 & Aug 19): Erin Jorgensen's Undertones podcast combines trance and electronica with sparing words. Stranger contributor Andrew Hamlin writes, "This is supposed to be a transmission from outer space broadcast directly to your subconscious mind. The aliens may or may not tell us to send more Chuck Berry. They may or may not want to demolish Earth to build a bypass. Hope. Pray if you're into that. Lock in the dial."
Sandbox Radio Presents A New Leaf (June 19): Look forward to new plays, songs, poetry, adaptations of classic literature, and appearances by special guests at this episode of Sandbox Radio, a podcast combining radio, theater, and music.
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.
Tim & Eric 10 Year Anniversary Awesome Tour (Aug 5): For the first time in a decade, comedy duo Tim & Eric of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (and about a million other strange things) will hit the road on a national tour in honor of 10 years passing since the last time they did this.
Michael Che (June 23): Stand-up comedian, actor, and writer Michael Che is best known for his gig as co-anchor on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update." Come for political commentary, social/interpersonal observations, and some dark humor.
Arj Barker (June 22): You might remember Arj Barker as the idiotic pawnshop broker on Flight of the Conchords or from his appearance in Doug Benson's Super High Me—now he's bringing his stand-up routine to the Parlor. The Guardian writes that Barker has "an endlessly active comic imagination," and his comedy "goes down so easily it's entirely possible to miss the skill and artistry of it all."
Bruce Bruce (Aug 24–26): Comedian Bruce Bruce (as seen in Think Like a Man, Maron and Top Five) will perform his stand-up routine at the Parlor. A 2015 Los Angeles Times article describes Bruce as priding himself "on not using vulgarity for his laughs."
The Magic Hat Presented by Emmett Montgomery and Friends (Every Mon): Five "brilliant humans(?)," ranging from seasoned stand-up comics to sketch performers to audience members, are selected (presumably out of the Magic Hat) throughout the show to perform weekly at this comedy variety show, otherwise described as a "friendship machine that will make the world a better place."
Comedy Nest Open Mic (Every Tues): The rules of this pro-lady stand-up night 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. Every Tuesday night, fans pack the Rendezvous Grotto to watch two and a half hours of comedy, about half of which is delivered by women.
Naked Brunch (Every Sat): Alyssa Yeoman and Matthew Valdespino host (what they claim is) Seattle's only all-improvised comedy open mic every week.
Outer Rim: An Improvised Space Western (Through June 17): Improv artists will take you on a long-form trip through deep space. No two performances will be the same, but every night the crew will have to employ all their hyperdrive and wiles to survive as they hop from planet to planet "on the fringes of civilization."