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12th Avenue Arts
Building the Wall (Through Dec 23): With this production of Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan's Building the Wall, the theater world has officially moved on from indirect criticisms of the worst president in the history of the US to direct criticism of the worst president in the history of the US. In the play, which Schenkkan reportedly wrote in a "white heat" after the 2016 election, ICE rounds up immigrants following a terrorist attack in Times Square. As everyone waits to hear what will be done with the incarcerated, a history professor grills the supervisor of the private prison, who is in charge of administering the horrifying punishment they expect to come down the pike. Desdemona Chiang, who's fresh off a pretty solid production of The World of Extreme Happiness at Seattle Public Theater, directs. RS
Straight White Men (Jan 12-29): In Washington Ensemble Theatre's Northwest debut of this family drama about three brothers mulling over their varying degrees of success during a Christmas vacation, Young Jean Lee holds whiteness and straightness and maleness up to the light for a proper examination that's long overdue. Something tells me that director Sara Porkalob, who has written extensively on the issue, is going to have a lot of fun with this one. Though there's plenty of fodder for her, Charles Isherwood over at the New York Times says the play "goes far beyond cheap satire, ultimately becoming a compassionate and stimulating exploration of one man's existential crisis." RS
Frost/Nixon (Jan 18-Feb 17): In 1977, British TV show host David Frost conducted 28 hours of interviews with the disgraced ex-President Nixon, who up until then had kept silent on the Watergate Scandal. Greg Carter will direct this Strawberry Theatre Workshop production of the famous Peter Morgan play based on the remarkable broadcast.
18th & Union
No Strings Attached (Through Dec 16): An older woman, bereaved of her cheating husband, plunges into the underground swinger scene in this sexy comedy about "personal responsibility and the right to happiness."
A Christmas Carol (Through Dec 28): ACT Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol is a dependable, simple pleasure, with just enough variation to warrant returning year after year.
Safe Space (Feb 13-28): Where do you go when your safe space is shut down? Two girls, deprived of their group therapy due to Medicaid cuts, decide to continue their healing process at a slumber party that promptly goes wrong. They strive to deal with eating disorders, opioids, and misogyny aimed their way in this drama by Kyleigh Archer.
Hir (March 1-25): Newly minted MacArthur genius Taylor Mac debuted this play at Playwrights Horizons two years ago, and everyone went nuts about it: a darkly (and weirdly) funny take on the dysfunctional suburban family drama that still jerks some tears and tells some straight truths, all the while innovating with the genre. The dad is down and out, and now the mom and her transitioning son, Max, are on a "crusade to dismantle the patriarchy," according to the promo materials. The prodigal son returns from a tour in the desert just in time to see it all explode. Watch out for this one. RS
The Ballard Underground
quick bright things (Through Dec 16): Dacha Theatre's quick bright things is an energetic retelling of the oft-produced Shakespearean comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream. It recasts the fairies "as the echoes and shadows that inhabit performative spaces—as the unspoken threat behind all theatrical superstitions."
Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay (Dec 18): This show is based on the true story of a children's orchestra whose instruments are all handmade from recycled materials. Your kids can stay on after the Spanish/English bilingual performance, which is only 35-40 minutes long, to make their own awesome musical instruments with the help of Seattle ReCreative.
Glenn Hughes Penthouse Theater
Monstrosity (Through Dec 10): Lucy Thurber's play Monstrosity is a dark and creative play about a pair of siblings trapped in a teenage fascist training camp. The press release describes it as "a retelling of the hero's tale where girls are the heroes, youth are the powerful, and a pair of magical, bicycle-riding twins whisper at our deepest, darkest impulses."
Power: From the Mouths of the Occupied (March 16-18): Patrisse Cullors, justice reform advocate and co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, takes to the stage to combat the silencing of black voices. Along with Seattle activist/writer C. Davida Ingram and a cast of eight to 10 community members, she'll facilitate the sharing of stories of "rampant incarceration and State violence" and their effect on the black community. Rich Smith saw the first incarnation of Power in 2016; he described: "Many of the details in the cast's stories revealed deep miscarriages of justice happening right here in our community, and almost all escalated as a result of trying to 'x' while Black. Trying to drive while Black in Seattle. Trying to exercise a right to assemble while Black. Trying to go to school while Black."
On the Boards
Forced Entertainment: Real Magic (Jan 18-20): This experimental theater company based in the UK has been in operation since 1984, and their shit looks ~extremely~ British. Lots of dry, dark humor about the inability to change. Strange durational pieces. Lots of anti-climaxes. Oddly deployed nudity. "We're interested in confusion as well as laughter," they say. Real Magic seems to fit their moldless mold. It's structured like a weird game show wherein participants "endlessly revisit moments of defeat, hope and anticipation." RS
Forced Entertainment: Tomorrow's Parties (Jan 21): The six artists of Forced Entertainment from Sheffield, UK will continue their Seattle visit with a performance of Tomorrow's Parties, a fairground kaleidoscope of many possible scenarios of the future of civilization. See sci-fi fancies, absurdist skits, doomy predications, and more.
Pacific Place 11
National Theatre Live: Hamlet (March 8): Watch the revenge and insanity unfold in this production of the tragedy of the prince of Denmark starring Benedict Cumberbatch. This is a rebroadcast of the 2015 production at the National Theatre in London, projected on a Seattle screen.
Seattle Children's Theatre
The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559 (Feb 8-March 4): This kid-friendly play deals with some timely and tragic themes. When Japanese planes attack Pearl Harbor, 12-year-old Ben Uchida and his family are rounded up in internment camps. How does a young innocent process the reality of systemic oppression and hate?
Seattle Repertory Theatre
The Humans (Through Dec 17): Stephen Karam's The Humans, which won a 2016 Tony Award for best play, gets plaudits for its expert characterization, its subtle but gut-busting humor, and its clear-eyed view on contemporary family relations despite the fact that it's a play about a dysfunctional family spending a dysfunctional Thanksgiving together in Chinatown dysfunctionally. This is the official Broadway tour, directed by Joe Mantello. RS
Two Trains Running (Jan 12-Feb 11): Thanks in part to an Oscar-winning performance by Viola Davis in Denzel Washington's recent film adaptation of the play, everyone should by now be well aware of Fences, August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece about black family life in the 1950s. But everyone—especially Seattleites concerned with issues of gentrification, activism, rising racial tensions, and economic inequality—would also do well to heap as much attention on Wilson's Two Trains Running, the next in his 10-play cycle. Set in a Pittsburgh diner, Wilson reckons with the revolutionary decade of the 1960s, when the expectations for the future of the civil rights movement were as high as they were uncertain. Everyone should also by now know that Wilson's a hometown hero, having spent the latter years of his life writing in the Victrola on 15th or the (old) Canterbury on 19th. Seeing his plays at the Rep, where his cycle of plays was produced in full, carries a special resonance. Juliette Carrillo will direct. RS
Ibsen in Chicago (Feb 2-March 4): This is the world premiere of a new play by David Grimm. Through his 2000 production Kit Marlowe, Grimm created a dramatized version of theatrical history that focused on the man surrounded by myth and rumor: Marlowe might have been a spy, or a heretic, or even the person who wrote Shakespeare's best-known works. This new play, Ibsen in Chicago, also deals with history and theatrics—this time, it's about Scandinavian immigrants putting on an Ibsen play in Chicago in 1882. Look forward to direction by Seattle Rep Artistic Director Braden Abraham.
Second Story Repertory
Wit (Jan 18-Feb 3): Margaret Edson's brainy and deeply moving play is a piercing study of a successful English professor diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. The professor intertwines the story of her experimental chemotherapy with her intellectual quest to understand her own mortality. SecondStory Repertory will stage this Pulitzer-winning play.
The 5th Avenue Theatre
Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn (Through Dec 31): A musical based on the film by Gordon Greenburg and Chad Hodge, it features songs by Irving Berlin such as "White Christmas" and "Easter Parade." It's going to be the 5th's holiday show, directed by David Armstrong and choreographed by James Rocco. CF
INTERMISSION! THE MUSICAL! (Feb 9-March 4): This is the world premiere of a new musical by Jerry Zucker, who wrote Airplane and The Naked Gun. He's also directing it. According to a source, Zucker "had been approached for years to turn Airplane into a musical, which he thought would be a terrible idea. And then he started thinking about 'What if I did write a musical?' And that's where this show came from. It will be very much in that over-the-top comedic vein. Two brothers get one of those emails telling them that a distant relative in a foreign country you've never heard of died, and left them a bunch of money. All they have to do is send their checking account and routing number and they will get this huge inheritance. But the brothers are orphans and are so excited to find out they had any family in the world at all that they buy plane tickets and fly to this country, fall in love, [and] get swept up in a military coup..." CF
Book-It Repertory Theatre
Howl's Moving Castle (Through Dec 30): Everything about this musical adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle looks good. Hayao Miyazaki's anime, which was based on Diana Wynne Jones's novel, is a wondrous fairy tale about the perils of wondrous fairy tales, and it's beloved by all—or at least by all who harbor no particular fondness for the Iraq war. Book-It's all-star cast features Sara Porkalob, whose solo show, Dragon Lady, floored me in all of its iterations. Expect top-notch performances from Randall Scott Carpenter, Kate Jaeger, and Opal Peachey, too. Justin Huertas will compose the songs and write the lyrics. His widely acclaimed musical Lizard Boy debuted at Seattle Repertory Theatre a couple years back, he's been a touring cellist with the Broadway show Spring Awakening, and he displayed solid comedic chops during Book-It's production of Welcome to Braggsville. He'll likely draw out as much humor as he can from the story while still maintaining the magic. RS
Elf the Musical (Through Dec 10): An oversized elf navigates human life in the USA in this musical show based on the 2003 film (in which Will Ferrell romps around in an adorable elf costume, winning over everyone he meets with his naiveté). Tony Award nominees and winners have lent their talents, with songs by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin and a book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin.
The Book of Mormon (Jan 2-14): "Hello, would you like to change religions? I have a free book written by Jesus!" This is what Christopher Frizzelle wrote the last time the Book of Mormon came through Seattle (this time it's a season option of Broadway at the Paramount): "Has there ever been a better time to see a musical send-up of organized religion? Is there anything funnier than watching Mormon missionaries tap-dancing? Do you realize one song is a parody of 'Hakuna Matata' from the Lion King? This is the third [now fourth] time the Book of Mormon has toured through Seattle, and a whole bunch of people were crying their eyes out when they didn't get in the last two [three] times—including a few Stranger staffers—so if you're one of those people, here's your chance. Pro tip: Praying won't help. You gotta buy a ticket."
Hamilton (Feb 6-March 18): Lin-Manuel Miranda is responsible for Hamilton's book, music, and lyrics, and he has squashed a dizzying number of words and concepts into this stunning production. You don't like musicals? Fine. Try Hamilton—its hiphop, jazz, and rap numbers have made people all over the country rethink their rigid anti-musical stance, and offered them juicy, controversial history about one of their Founding Fathers. The wildly popular show will be here for more than four glorious weeks.
Seattle Musical Theatre
Annie (Through Dec 17): Family-friendly musical Annie offers spunky orphans, a benevolent millionaire, and a very smart dog. Come for musical theater classics like Hard Knock Life, Easy Street, and We'd Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover.
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin (Feb 23-March 18): Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin has been collecting accolades from up and down the West Coast, and now, it's finally Seattle's turn. Come for a heartfelt tribute to the musical icon by writer/performer Felder, practiced performances of a variety of songs from Berlin's repertoire, and a cheery depiction of American music as a whole. David C. Nichols at the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Indeed, the empathy, showmanship and craft on tap may just be the best match of historical figure and performing artist yet in this franchise, wholly attuned to a gratefully participating audience. Those who resist Felder or Berlin are advised to skip this one—it'll just leave more tickets for the rest of us."
Base: Experimental Arts + Space
12 Minutes Max (Dec 6, Feb 18-19): On the Boards' longest running program is back! Three years ago, they replaced the show, which features 12 (surprisingly quick or unfortunately long) minutes of brand-new work from Pacific Northwest performers, with another program called Open Studio. But artists were clamoring for a return of the format, and OtB clearly heard their cries. Glenn Kawasaki and Velocity vice president Owen David curate the comeback show, and the December lineup includes Naphtali Beyleveld, Lynn Tofil, Danielle Doell, Susan Fink, Kristina Dillard, and Daniel Costa. I am especially excited to see Doell's piece, which is described as "a confession on roller skates—a search for God, love, and redemption through pop music, the 10 Commandments, and eight red wheels." RS
Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center
Configurate (Jan 19-27): Whim W'him will please your eyes with three world premieres by New York choreographer and Princess Grace Award-winner Gabrielle Lamb, the Switzerland-based Sadler's Wells Global Dance Contest laureate Ihsan Rustem, and Whim W'Him's own founder Olivier Wevers.
PYLON III (Feb 8-9): Pylon III wraps up a trilogy by Coleman Pester of Tectonic Marrow Society. Dave Segal called the previous installment "an overwhelmingly beautiful and harrowing experience." In the same vein, Pylon III will explore the tensions between human bodies, architectural sets, and technology.
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (Through Dec 28): If you haven't seen this Christmas classic since you were a kid, give it a go this year. In 2015, PNB replaced its beloved Maurice Sendak set with one by Ian Falconer, who did the Olivia the Pig books, and I'm glad that they did. The new set is gorgeous in a Wes Anderson-y way, and it reflects the genuine weirdness and beauty in the story. I mean, the last 45 minutes of this thing is a Katy Perry video starring dancing desserts and a glittery peacock that moves like a sexy broken river. Bring a pot lozenge. RS
Swan Lake (Feb 2-11): It doesn't get more ballet than Swan Lake, but that ain't a bad thing. You've got Tchaikovsky's signature score. You've got choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov's translation of the dramatic swoops and lines of the eponymous pond-dweller into a high-velocity revenge narrative. And, with PNB's production, you've got Kent Stowell's streamlined re-configuration of all that, repackaged and re-designed by the great Ming Cho Lee. It's going to be hard to top Carrie Imler's version of the black swan's space-time defying fouetté series, but if there's anyone who can at least meet Imler's power and control, it's Lesley Rausch and Noelani Pantastico, both of whom absolutely nailed the challenging principal role in Balanchine's "Diamonds" in the fall. RS
Directors' Choice (March 16-25): Artistic Director Peter Boal has chosen some brilliant pieces to showcase: Slingerland Duet, featuring a "bonded pair" of dancers; a reproduction of William Forsythe's One Flat Thing, featuring performers playing off one another around 20 tables; and Red Angels, in which four dancers in red move in white and red light to the strains of an electric violin.
Dora: Tramontane (Feb 1): In part one of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company's Analogy trilogy, which interrogates "race, class, gender, history, and identity" through dance, see an interpretation of the story of Dora Amerlan, a French Jewish woman who survived World War II. Bill T. Jones, a MacArthur "genius" fellow and Tony winner, conducted interviews with Amelan for this piece on memory and survival.
Lance: Pretty AKA The Escape Artist (Feb 2): Bill T. Jones is a living legend who stepped confidently into the modern dance canon with his solo piece "21," a series of poses that he describes differently each time he performs the piece, thus revealing the infinite combination of storylines and truths that the mind can tell from the same sequence of movements. He's been running his company (Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane) for over three decades and producing great work all along. This is the second part of Bill T. Jones's trilogy, Analogy, which the Meany Center is presenting over the course of three nights, which is a very rare thing indeed. According to press materials, this section is "based on an oral history Jones conducted with his nephew, Lance T. Briggs" about his "journey through the sex trade, drug use, and excess during the 1980s." RS
Ambros: The Emigrant (Feb 3): This ballet tells the story of W.S. Sebald's novel The Emigrants through dance. Ambros Adelwarth is the German valet to a wealthy young American Jewish aviator. Both men fall victim to trauma and psychiatric ills in the troubling homoerotic story. This is the final piece of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company's Analogy series.
Mark Morris Dance Group - Sgt. Pepper at 50: Pepperland (Feb 16-18): The Mark Morris Dance Group may have moved on to bigger stages than Seattle has to offer, but don't worry—they come back every so often. For the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the group will frolic to new music by Ethan Iverson that elaborates on the classical and non-Western influences on the Beatles' songs.
On the Boards
Kate Wallich + The YC: Dream Dances (Dec 7-10): You deserve a nice, relaxing night out. In Dream Dances, Dance Church deacon Kate Wallich and her YCs are going to give you just that. The promotional copy contains some information about the inspirations of spatial geometry and "heightened reality," but when I watch the preview videos all I see are dancers moving very slowly, very calmly, as if they're swimming in really delightful jelly. Toss a minimalistic, rhythmic, loopy score by Johnny Goss and Adnrew J.S. on top of that, add a pot lozenge, and you got yourself the best Friday you've had in while. RS
Bebe Miller Company: In a Rhythm (March 15-18): Bebe Miller, who's garnered awards from some of the most prestigious arts organizations in the nation, will stage her new dance works inspired by modern and contemporary literary masters and interrogate "the syntax of movement."
Spectrum Studio Theater
Iolanta (Dec 14-17): The Spectrum Dance Company and Spectrum school students dance the tale of Iolanta, a princess who has been carefully guarded from awareness of her own blindness, in a production choreographed by Tony- and Bessie-winning Donald Byrd.
Velocity Dance Center
Shift Sessions Featuring Adra Boo (Dec 8-10): Rejoice in "lady power" at this musical/dance night with singer and Stranger contributor Adra Boo, music by Caela Bailey, and choreography by Xaviera Vandermay.
Bridge Project (Jan 25-28): In Velocity's Bridge Project, four up-and-coming choreographers each create a fully produced new piece over the course of three weeks. At the end of their residency, you get to see the birth of these brand-new works.
Made in Seattle: Kim Lusk (March 9-11): Rising Seattle choreographer Kim Lusk will stage her first evening-length work, A Dance for Dark Horses, scored to '90s pop music and full of parody and physical humor.
Wonderland (Through Jan 28): Wonderland returns! Can Can will transform its venue into a snowy chalet and populate it with teasing beauties. VIP tickets get you champagne and a meal as well. There's also a brunch show that's safe for kids, and there will be a special New Year's Eve performance.
The Brutalesque Holiday Onslaught (Dec 8): Holiday variety performance will get tough and loud at this heavy metal burlesque extravaganza.
Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker (Dec 7-28): The 12th annual Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker is a lascivious holiday show experience with sugar plum fairies, exciting, clothes-dropping times, and who knows, maybe some "woody" jokes.
Tulalip Resort Casino
Chippendales ...About Last Night? (March 17): See the infamous buff boys strut their stuff.
Somebody Get Me A Chainsaw (Dec 15-16): Perhaps you've been fortunate enough to have been caught in the big gay whirlwind that is Mom Finley: a towering matriarch composed entirely of arched eyebrows and bons mots, she's as indelible a part of the Seattle landscape as one of those towering construction cranes, only with better angles. Her new show promises storytelling, songs, and maybe a little piano, which is all we could possibly hope for in a night of theater. Listening to Mom's stories is like riding a series of roller coasters, and at times you'll find them too outrageous to possibly be true—and yet also too good to possibly disbelieve. MB
Betty & Cookie's Not-So-Silent Night (Dec 21-23): Two of the most beloved, classiest queens in town, Betty Wetter and Cookie Couture, will embody the holiday spirit with a special show about "chosen family" and booze. There to round out the cast: Butylene O'Kipple (Dec 21), Old Witch (Dec 22), and Americano (Dec 23). Steven Palin will supply the music.
A Drag Queen Christmas (Dec 29): Hosted by RuPaul's Drag Race Season 9 contestant Trinity Taylor, this holiday spectacular boasts performances by all your Drag Race favorites, like Season 9 winner Sasha Velour, runners-up Shea Coulee and Aja, Season 4 contestant Latrice Royale, Season 6 alum Milk, and Season 8's Chi Chi DeVayne.
Oddfellows West Hall
Homo for the Holidays (Dec 7-30): This annual drag and burlesque gigglefest features a bunch of wacky little holiday-themed skits that our own Dan Savage once called "FUCKING GREAT... FUCKING HILARIOUS!" DeLouRue, aka Kitten 'n Lou and BenDeLaCreme, bring you a special with Cherdonna, Waxie Moon, and other superqueer stars.
Dina Martina Christmas Show (Through Dec 31): Do you appreciate irony? Do you enjoy joy? Are you a sucker for horrifying stories told as if they're heartwarming, the spectacle of beastly narcissism among the untalented, and pop songs with the lyrics rewritten because the singer seems to have undergone some kind of brain scramble? The Seattle holiday tradition of the drag-gone-wrong Dina Martina Christmas Show is upon us. All we know for sure is that that one song she sings every year will be in it. I wouldn't miss it for the world. CF
The Gay Uncle's Journey Through the Valley of the Dolls (Dec 29-30): The Gay Uncle Time was, according to Stranger contributor Matt Baume, "an avuncular variety show starring Santa-esque comedian Jeffrey Robert and a rotating cavalcade of local stars, drag queens, storytellers, and weirdos," which gave 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." In this new iteration, he promises to start with Jacqueline Susann's "CLASSIC of Trash Literature" and tear through such topics as "ankhs, Judy Garland, barbiturates, Dory Previn, backstage drama, Charles Manson, breast cancer, poodles, wig fights, Russ Meyer, Patty Duke, and so much more."
Satanic Panic Theater (Jan 13): Let nightmare drag queen Jackie Hell escort you to the underworld, where Strap on Halo will perform devilish music and unconventional performers will seduce you with dark underground burlesque.
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Bianca Del Rio in Peaches Christ's 'Sheetlejuice' (Dec 12): Demented drag legend Peaches Christ, the "Queen of Mean," wreaks havoc a denizen of the afterlife in this new drag parody of the Tim Burton cult classic.
Dungeons & Drag Queens On Ice: A Winterized Comedy Adventure (Dec 9): High-concept plays typically give me the willies. No, I would not like to see your Fringe show which ponders the pressing question, "What would the Tempest be like if it were mashed with the plot of Aliens?" That being said, Matt Baume's Dungeons & Drag Queens On Ice is the one exception to my mishmash theatrephobia. Why? Because Baume is a prolific nerd with a keen eye for talent, and Dungeons & Drag Queens On Ice features some of the most beloved queens in town. Who doesn't want to see Arson Nicki as a Warlock (on ice)? Rubes, that's who. Chase Burns
Mimosas Cabaret (Sunday): The drag diva titaness Mama Tits will preside over another iteration of Mimosas Cabaret, featuring a short musical (it's Isabella Extynn's A Boob Job for Christmas until December 17), plus songs, comedy, dance, and brunch.
Circus, Variety & Performance Art
12th Avenue Arts
The Fig Tree Waltzes (Dec 15-23): Acrobatic Conundrum's vigorous dance and acrobatics show will star Jimmy Ortiz Chinchilla of Costa Rica and evoke "a paean to the human drive to keep playing against overwhelming odds."
La Petite Mort's Anthology of Erotic Esoterica (Every last Friday): 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.
Love, Chaos, and Dinner (Through April 29): Beloved circus/cabaret/comedy institution Teatro ZinZanni will return to Seattle for a dinner theater production of Love, Chaos, and Dinner. They promise "the same stunning, velvet-laden, and iconic Belgian spiegeltent Seattleites will remember from Teatro ZinZanni's former location on lower Queen Anne." The cast is led by first-time "Madame ZinZanni" Ariana Savalas, and will feature a duo on aerial trapeze, a magician, a "contortionist-puppet," a yodeling dominatrix, a hoop aerialist, and a Parisian acrobat.
Feathers of Fire (March 14): Hamid Rahmanian's cinematic shadow puppet/live actor show adapts a love story from a 10th-century Persian epic tale, Shahnameh, set to original music by Loga Ramin Torkian and Azam Ali. Its movie-like qualities have been praised by none other than Francis Ford Coppola.
Northwest Film Forum
The Seattle Process with Brett Hamil (Feb 2): Described as "Seattle's only intentionally funny talk show" and "a mudpie lobbed into the halls of power," The Seattle Process with Brett Hamil offers politics, exasperation, information, and comedy. Past esteemed guests have included Stranger Genius Lindy West, Kshama Sawant, former Stranger associate editor David Schmader, and Pramila Jayapal. This installment features Cary Moon and interim council member Kirsten Harris-Talley. Plus, Kevin Murphy of the Moondoggies will give a closing performance.
The Future Is 0 (Feb 16-17): This DIY game show (filmed with a live studio audience right here in Seattle) is described as "equal parts Double Dare 2000, nihilist performance art, and sarcastic TV experiment."
Cirque Dreams Holidaze (Dec 22-24): This lavish circus performance is chock full of holiday icons like gingerbread men, snowmen, angels, Santa, ornaments, and others—all performing acrobatic feats in 300 costumes and 20 acts.
The Pocket Theater
Objectified (Or Whatever) (Dec 8): Musical satirist Carly OMFG composes heartbreaking ditties for YouTube like "Dave Beck Won't Add Me Back On Facebook," about an unrequited social media crush on a 98.1 Classical King FM. See the youthful pianist/comedian in the flesh.
Theatre Off Jackson
Dear White People (Feb 2-3): Samuel L. JackYouSon's variety show is meant to "Bring levity to political language and invite new perspectives" through a mixture of live music, burlesque, poetry, dance, and spoken word. Featured talent includes Taqueet$, Boom Boom L'Roux, Anastacia Renee, and the Black Tones.
Bury Me Under I-5 (Feb 16-March 10): Sgt Rigsby & His Amazing Silhouettes—that is, Scot Augustson Rigsby and his shadow puppets—bring you a show with witty Foley sound effects.
Moisture Festival (March 15-April 9): The Moisture Festival unites a vast kaleidoscope of burlesque and variété performers. Whomever you fancy—clowns, comedians, tightwire artists, aerialists, jugglers, singers—you can find someone who's traveled from far-flung regions to entertain you. There will also be a special New Year's Eve Extravaganza at Hale's Palladium, featuring funk, juggling, aerial acts, balloons, snacks, and champagnes.
Podcasts & Radio
Sam Harris and the 'Waking Up' Podcast (Dec 6): "More than half of our neighbors believe that the entire cosmos was created six thousand years ago, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue," Sam Harris writes in his concise and satisfying book Letter to a Christian Nation, a takedown of American wing nuts. He adds, "Anyone who cares about the fate of civilization would do well to recognize that the combination of great power and great stupidity is simply terrifying." He wrote that in 2006, mind you. It couldn't be more urgent now. Harris also hosts the Waking Up podcast. This event is a live recording. CF
Stuff You Should Know (Jan 15): The Stuff You Should Know podcast explains how things work, from global warming to giraffes to personalized medicine to restaurant inspections. Check them out if you want a general introduction to...stuff.
Welcome to Night Vale (Dec 7): Created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, Welcome to Night Vale is the twice-monthly podcast that presents itself as a news-radio show for a fictional town where all conspiracy theories are true. In style and content, the show blends Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon with David Lynch's Twin Peaks, and the results are deeply weird and beguiling. Tonight, Night Vale comes to life onstage.
Live Wire with Luke Burbank (Dec 9): Luke Burbank's Live Wire is an NPR-type variety program based in Portland, Oregon, featuring artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians in conversation. At this live recording, Burbank will moderate a panel with Seattle civic poet Anastacia-Reneé, Buzzfeed commerce editor Emmy Favilla, and singer-songwriter Laura Gibson.
Washington State Convention & Trade Center
PodCon (Dec 9-10): This convention of podnerds will spend two days producing livecasts, performances, panels, and more. A sampling of the guests: Dylan Marron (Welcome to Night Vale), Phoebe Judge & Lauren Spohrer (Criminal), Aaron Mahnke (Lore), and Rod & Karen Morrow (The Black Guy Who Tips).
Adam Sandler & Friends (Jan 22): Adam Sandler of Grown Ups notoriety (and star in many better movies, like The Meyerowitz Stories by Noah Baumbach) will perform live, no doubt with an arsenal of silly songs.
Greg Proops (March 12): Greg Proops of Whose Line Is It Anyway? fame also hosts the podcast The Smartest Man in the World, which records across the globe. He'll bring his fierce lefty wit to Seattle, where no doubt it will be most welcome.
Edmonds Center for the Arts
Paula Poundstone (March 9-10): Paula Poundstone is a divisive comedian. She placed at 88 on Comedy Central's 2004 list of top 100 stand-ups list while clocking in at number 6 for Maxim magazine's 2007 list of "Worst Comedians of All-Time." Well-known for her stints on NPR's news quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me, she specializes in relatable, everyday anecdotes that come loaded with humorous twists, often glazed with self-deprecation and mild absurdity. There's something Seinfeldian about her act, but she's a bit goofier overall than Jerry. Poundstone's a seasoned pro, albeit not with the spiciest ingredients. On March 9, she'll perform at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma. DS
Lewis Black (Jan 20): The old, white, alpha-male ranter is a familiar figure in comedy, stated Captain Obvious. But Lewis Black might be the paragon of this tradition, perhaps the last such über-curmudgeon we'll ever need (although probably not, seeing as how the world's going). Looking like a more brutish Al Franken, Black bellows in a baritone a litany of insults and outrages to his sensibilities. From the most minuscule mundanities to the horror show of politics to the most cosmic injustices, Black pinpoints their infuriating truths—laced with a powerful arsenal of profanity. Incredible catharsis ensues. DS
Ricky Gervais (Jan 27): Welcome the prickly British comedian, creator of The Office, Extras, and Derek, on his stand-up comeback tour, Humanity.
Hari Kondabolu (Dec 15): If you like your political/cultural humor astute, subtle, and punching from the left, Hari Kondabolu is your man. The former Seattle comic's career has been ascending over the last five or so years, with writing gigs for Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, appearances on late-night TV shows (John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman, etc.), and acclaimed albums on stalwart indie-rock label Kill Rock Stars. From his Waiting for 2042 LP: "Saying I'm obsessed with racism in America is like saying I'm obsessed with swimming when I'm drowning." DS
Ryan Hamilton (Jan 13): Idahoan Ryan Hamilton, his enormous smile, and his gentle burring voice are coming to charm Seattle. Check out why Rolling Stone named this Great American Comedy Festival winner one of five comics to watch.
Steven Wright (Jan 20): To keep audience members gripping their sides with laughter merely by deadpanning terse absurdities and dispensing hilariously improbable scenarios in one or two lines is genius. Poker-faced and bearing a ridiculous hairline, Wright is the master of succinct surrealism and once-in-a-millennium ideas. Even the way he says "thanks" will kill you. I remember bits like "The ice-cream truck in my neighborhood plays 'Helter Skelter'" and "I was cesarean born, but you can't tell. Although, whenever I leave the house, I go out the window," as if it they were hit singles from my misspent youth. Wright is a hero for monotone-voiced wise guys worldwide. DS
Lily Tomlin (Dec 16): If you've only seen her in Grace & Frankie or Grandma, Grab your chance to witness six-time Emmy and two-time Tony winner Lily Tomlin continue her multi-decade streak of being really, really funny.
John Mulaney (Dec 12-13): Baby-faced John Mulaney has worked on SNL (he's partially responsible for "Stefon"), starred on Oh Hello on Broadway, released three stand-up specials, and won an Emmy. Catch him on his Kid Gorgeous tour.
Parlor Live Comedy Club Bellevue
Bill Bellamy (Dec 7-9): Bill Bellamy (The Bounce Back, Def Comedy Jam), supposedly the coiner of the term "booty call," will swing round to Seattle with some delicious new collocations. See the man about whom Charles Mudede once wrote: "Just look at the fine brother. That skin, those eyes, those lips—to use the words of Dr. Dre: 'Make a ho's panty wet.'"
Solomon Georgio (Jan 11): The formerly local comedian twice took top honors at The Stranger Gong Show and became a frequent Stranger contributor before he had to leave Seattle for the pro-comedy hub of LA. He has since performed on Conan O'Brien. I'll never forget the first time I saw Georgio perform, explicitly presenting himself onstage as an Ethiopian-born male homosexual, then proceeding to tell jokes—topics included: his name, his gayness, and Disneyfied genocide—that surprised, challenged, and delighted the whole crowd. Georgio has since appeared on Conan and Adam Ruins Everything as well as hosting on Vice's Flophouse. He's acted in Ball or Nothing and White Flight. DS
James Davis: Hood Adjacent Comedy Tour (Jan 12-14): "Hood Adjacent" comic James Davis made comedy out of his attempts to get a "hood pass" despite being a Pomona College English major. Now, hear his verbal wit, perhaps about being a "professional token black friend."
Vir Das (March 15-17): Extremely popular Bollywood comedian and actor Vir Das (who has appeared in films including BadMaash Company, Delhi Belly, and Revolver Rani, and has performed stand-up comedy all over the world) will grace humble Bellevue.
An Evening with Courtney Karwal (Dec 28): Seattle-raised Courtney Karwal is now based in Los Angeles, where she was named Comic to Watch at Riot. Welcome her home to perform a long set.
Jeff Dunham: Passively Aggressive (March 10): Ventriloquist/comedian Jeff Dunham will bring his one-man cast of characters to Tacoma.