Don't miss the Dance Theatre of Harlem—the first African American classical ballet company—when they stop in Seattle in April for their 50th anniversary tour. Courtesy of STG
Below, we've rounded up all of our critics' performance picks for the season, including performances featuring operatic femme fatales, bizarro drag-pageant competitors, comedians from all over the world, Deaf and hearing Shakespeareans, and other denizens of the stage from Seattle and afar. Plus, find a complete list of theater, dance, and comedy events in Seattle this spring on our Things To Do calendar, or check out the rest of our critics' picks from Seattle Art and Performance.


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Theater



March 14–April 7

John A young couple trying to reknit after a cheating incident is haunted by ghosts at their bed and breakfast getaway—and the owner of the house has memories of her own. Annie Baker's play was listed as one of the 10 Best Shows of 2015 by Time and received critical praise all around. (ArtsWest, $20—$42)


March 14–May 12

Jitterbug Perfume Tom Robbins's famous novel about magical beets, immortality, scents, and the scrambling of space-time will get the Nordo dinner-theater treatment. (Cafe Nordo, $99)


March 15–April 28

A Doll's House, Part 2 Nora, in Henrik Ibsen's

A Doll House, is arguably one of most famous female roles in 19th-century theatre. Every leading ingénue has had her turn playing the "little lark"—even Seattle's Cherdonna Shinatra recently took on the role. But the ending of the play is famously up for interpretation, and Tony Award-nominee Lucas Hnath's cheekily-titled A Doll's House, Part 2 takes on the challenge of picking up where Ibsen left off. It's funny, smart, and maybe the best old play to come out of the 2010s. CHASE BURNS (Seattle Repertory Theatre, $37—$67)


Through Sat March 30

Caught I'd count Christopher Chen's Caught as one of the four smartest / powerfulest / provocativest straight plays I saw in 2016. It's meta-theatrical, but in a meaningful way—less of a self-flagellating/self-congratulatory annoying ouroboros kind of thing and more of a flower blooming out of another flower kind of thing. It's about Western responses to Chinese dissident art. Sort of. It's also about relative pain. It's also about how the truth is a collaborative fiction, and about how nobody can really know anyone else. Importantly, it's about an hour-and-a-half long, tops. This remount is presented by Intiman and directed by Desdemona Chiang. Go see it. RICH SMITH (12th Avenue Arts, $35/$50)


March 29–April 15

Feathers and Teeth Washington Ensemble Theatre will return to the oeuvre of Charise Castro Smith (The Hunchback of Seville, which former Stranger critic Brendan Kiley called "big, careening fun with outsize everything") in a play about a possibly evil stepmother, a mysterious creature, and a child bent on revenge. (12th Avenue Arts, $25)


Through Sun March 31

Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare's most misread play gets a new treatment from ACT artistic director John Langs. For this production, he's casting deaf actor Joshua Castille as Romeo and incorporating ASL into the performance. Gabriella O'Fallon will play Juliet. Castille did a fine job starring as Quasimodo in 5th Avenue's recent production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and O'Fallon killed it in WET's The Nether, so this show will probably rule. Plus, Stranger Genius Amy Thone is playing the Nurse! It'll be interesting to see this excellent dramatic actor tackle a traditionally comic role. Press materials say the show will be accessible "for Deaf and hearing audiences alike." RICH SMITH (ACT Theatre, $27–$92)


April 3–27

The Master and Margarita Last time this Theatre Simple production by Rachel Katz Carey came to town, in 1997, Stranger writer Bret Fetzer noted that it "deftly weaves together multiple story lines and metaphysical romance with vigorous hands-on theatrics." Now it's back, with the same director and a new score by Brent Arnold. If you haven't read Bulgakov's 1930s masterpiece, it's the story of the Devil and his entourage (including a scene-stealing talking, smoking cat) testing the residents of Stalinist Moscow to see if Communism has really changed their nature. But it's also about Pontius Pilate, love, and the immortality of art. (Theatre Off Jackson, $25—$45)


April 5–May 4

Queer, Mama. Crossroads Seattle's Civic Poet continues her foray into the dramatic arts with this new solo show about "intersectionality and paranormal possibilities." If it's anything like her last show, 9 Ounces, Anastacia will ply her talent for playing multiple characters in a frank and honest look at the lives of black women trying to survive in a culture that's actively hostile to their very being. RICH SMITH (Annex Theatre, 7:30 pm, $10—$40)


April 12–May 4

Language Rooms Before his ACT Theatre premiere of People of the Book this fall, Stranger Genius Award winner Yussef El Guindi will have another play—a very dark comedy—staged by Pony World Theatre. Ahmed is a regular, if rather awkward, American guy who works at "a secret military intelligence group that interrogates terrorism suspects." When he's forced to grill someone very close to him as a test of loyalty, Ahmed must confront his own roots and patriotism. (The Slate Theater, 7:30 pm, $20)


April 19–May 11

Small Mouth Sounds Thalia's Umbrella will stage this "(mostly) silent comedy" about seven people trying to stay quiet at a forest retreat. (12th Avenue Arts, $35)


April 25–May 5

Singlet Washington Ensemble Theatre will inaugurate a new series, called GUSH, which imports new theatrical pieces to Seattle. This opening production will be

Singlet by Erin Markey, starring Markey and their longtime associate Emily Davis, a retake on Jean Genet's The Maids described by Theatermania as "like a wrestling match between titans." (12th Avenue Arts, $25)


May 17–June 3

The Arsonists From the theater company that produced Hamlet in a mansion on First Hill, The Horse In Motion presents this site-specific "absurdist political parable" at Gallery Erato in historic Pioneer Square, where "the Seattle Great Fire raged over a century ago." The play is about a group of fire-starters who convince people into letting them inside their houses. Once they're allowed in, guess what they do? Expect plenty of parallels to the Trump administration, and lots of uncomfortable laughter. RICH SMITH (Gallery Erato, 7:30 pm, $17—$28)


May 23–June 23

Take Me Out A valuable outfielder comes out to his baseball team comrades in the comfort of their clubhouse/shower, and a rookie's revelations on TV stir up controversy. Greg Carter will direct Richard Greenberg's comedic and heartfelt play about "masculinity, democracy, race, and identity." (12th Avenue Arts, 7:30 pm, $24/$36)


May 30–June 15

Blackbird In this drama by aptly named playwright David Harrower, a 27-year-old woman, Una, arrives unexpectedly at the office of Ray, the man with whom she had a sexual relationship 15 years earlier. Ray has embarked upon a new life, but Una is beset by rage, confusion, trauma, and her past feelings. Paul Budraitis directs. (18th & Union, $15—$25)


May 31–June 23

Pass Over Antoinette Nwandu's play was written partially in response to the slaying of Trayvon Martin and borrows the format of Waiting for Godot with a dose of the biblical Exodus story. In Chicago, it was the catalyst for some fierce controversy for its depiction of a racist white police officer, which one prominent Sun-Times critic decried as ignoring "black-on-black" violence. The Chicago theater scene responded angrily, and Nwandu herself responded: "Reconciliation is impossible without an honest conversation about who is angry at whom, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to present a reality that most black audience members identify with and find cathartic in a historically white institutional space." See Nwandu's acclaimed work, a testament to the forces driving Black Lives Matter and the search for the promised land. Nataki Garrett will direct. (ACT Theatre, $27—$56)


Fourth Thursdays

Seattle Playwrights Salon Witness the birth of new local theater every month at the wonderfully atmospheric Palace Theatre & Art Bar. (Palace Theatre & Art Bar, 7—9 pm, $10 suggested donation)


Children's Theater



March 14–July 7

Balloonacy I don't have children, so I can't say if babies will like Balloonacy, one of the cutest pieces of theater made for young children in recent years. But I once saw Balloonacy at Minneapolis's Children's Theatre Company stoned out of my mind, and WOW, is it one of the most magical things to ever be created for the stage. It's a wordless, situational comedy about an old man who lives alone and is trying to celebrate his birthday when suddenly red balloons bust into his apartment to tease and tickle him. It's basically an allegory for socialism, but for kids. CB (Seattle Children's Theatre, $40)


Musical Theater



March 14–May 19

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time A play-within-a-play adapted from the novel by Mark Haddon. Precocious, non-neuro-typical teenager Christopher sets out to solve the murder of his neighbor's dog, a crime of which he's been unjustly accused. But his investigation, which is shaped by unusual fears and abilities, leads him to his own family's secrets and lies. (Village Theatre Issaquah through April 21, Everett April 26—May 19, $32—$74)


March 22–April 14

Marie, Dancing Still: A New Musical The brand-new Stephen Flaherty/Lynn Ahrens musical about a dancer in Degas's Impressionist masterpiece delves into the backstory of ballerinas at the Paris Opera Ballet. Five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman will direct. (The 5th Avenue Theatre, $29—$145)


Through Sun March 24

I Do! I Do! Get ready to weep nostalgic tears at the Village Theatre's production of a multiple Tony Award-winning musical by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, which portrays 50 years of a loving marriage. (Village Theatre Everett, $28–$76)


March 26–31

Cats!

Cats is built into our cultural DNA. We know what it is. It's a musical about cats, and it's also the gayest thing ever made. Actors in full-body spandex suits belt Andrew Lloyd Webber's hits while also dancing to T.S. Eliot's cat poetry. It's ridiculous, and I can think of nothing funnier—or Waiting for Guffman-esque—than witnessing a terrible (but committed) rural community theater production of this musical. Seattle's upcoming production, however, features a very good professional cast and is directed by the famous Trevor Nunn, so you'll have to settle for something incredible. CHASE BURNS (Paramount Theatre, $350)


April 6–May 26

Urinetown: The Musical The themes of scarcity, greed, populism, and capitalism running amok make the triple Tony-winning post-apocalyptic musical Urinetown, with music by Mark Hollmann, lyrics by Hollmann and Greg Kotis, and book by Kotis, a perfect satire for our times. This is a coproduction with the 5th Avenue Theater. (ACT Theatre, $47—$97)


April 23–28

The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical An adaptation of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series' first entry, in which a 12-year-old Greek demigod discovers his divine heritage—much to his annoyance. (The 5th Avenue Theatre, $29—$175)


April 26–June 2

Nina Simone: Four Women Journey back to 1963 as Nina Simone, horrified by the killings of four black girls in the bombing of an Alabama church, writes the agony of the civil rights struggle into her music. Valerie Curtis-Newton, a 2014 Stranger Genius Award laureate, will direct this play by Christina Ham. (Seattle Repertory Theatre, $57)


May 14–19

School of Rock Dewey Finn is a substitute teacher who turns his class into one huge rock band. Andrew Lloyd Webber has composed 14 new songs for this new musical, based on the Richard Linklater-Jack Black film. (Paramount Theatre, $35—$115)


May 31–June 23

West Side Story "In truth, they rarely ever made musicals like West Side Story, a show conceived a half-century ago by acclaimed choreographer/director Jerome Robbins along with fellow Broadway legends Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents. You've seen the movie, you've heard the songs, you're well-familiar with the Romeo and Juliet-inspired 1950s New York street-gang setting. A musical that tells its story as much through dance as it does through song or dialogue, this is Robbins's masterpiece." (The 5th Avenue Theatre)


June 8–30

The Champagne Widow Opal Peachey and Annastasia Workman's brand-new musical is paired with a four-course meal by Erin Brindley and a champagne flight. Peachey will star as the quintessential "Champagne Widow," introducing you to Veuve Clicquot, Veuve Pommery, Veuve Bollinger, and Veuve Laurent-Perrier and their indomitably bubbly spirits as they go into the champagne business. (Cafe Nordo, $79)


Dance



March 15–24

Director's Choice Pacific Northwest Ballet's artistic director Peter Boal will give us what we've been waiting for all year: a compelling collection of contemporary ballets that push boundaries and make the form feel alive again. This year, he's presenting world premieres from American choreographers Robyn Mineko Williams and Matthew Neenan, plus Justin Peck's In the Countenance of Kings. My prediction is the new pieces will be romantic, abstract, and slightly nostalgic. Then Peck's piece, enlivened with Sufjan Stevens's swirling, sylvan score, will pull us out of the past and ready us for a newly dawning spring. RS (McCaw Hall, $37—$189)


March 29–30

A.I.M by Kyle Abraham Years ago, theater critic, Brendan Kiley, The Stranger wrote, "Critics talk about hiphop theater and hiphop dance-theater, but artists like Abraham are making that critical frame obsolete, demonstrating that hiphop is an influence, not a cage." Abraham and his dancers have returned with new choreography, all created in the last two years, including a solo work by Abraham called INDY; Meditation: A Silent Prayer, with a voice-over by Carrie Mae Weems and art by Titus Kaphar; a "club beat"-filled piece called Drive; and a duet from Dearest Home. (Moore Theatre, 8 pm, $33—$53)


April 2–7

Shen Yun Shen Yun, founded by Chinese Falun Dafa dancers in New York City, is an absolute celebration of an entire region's magic, splendor, and creative possibility. The production aims to bring China's ancient wonders to life on stage with dance and music. (McCaw Hall, $80—$200)


April 4–6

Ballet Preljocaj: La Fresque This world-renowned, 30-plus-years-old French dance company will bring La Fresque, a ballet meant to depict a "painting come to life," to Seattle. The story, based on a Chinese tale, follows a man who steps into a painting to be with the woman he loves. (Meany Center for the Performing Arts, $52/$60)


April 5–14

Mark Haim: Parts to a Sum Mark Haim has met a lot of people over the course of his decades-long career in dance. He's traveled the world, making work for the likes of William Forsythe, José Limón, and the hyper-prestigious Nederlands Dans Theater. In his latest piece, Parts to a Sum, he's tapping all his international (and local) connections to create one dance from movements he collected from 371 different people. Those people range in age from 2 to 932 years old, and they include people from all walks of life. There's plenty of friends and family in the mix, but also some hometown dance heroes such as Alice Gosti, Jade Solomon Curtis, Dani Tirrell, Wade Madsen, and Molly Scott, just to name a few. All of those choreographers use wildly different styles, but for a few brief hours they'll all be connected in one body onstage. RS (Velocity Dance Center, 7:30pm, $15—$25)


April 8–28

The Wokeness Festival Donald Byrd's Spectrum Dance Studio has long striven to express in performance the urgent fight for justice, particularly for black Americans facing police violence and discrimination. This festival is a natural outgrowth of that effort, with dances like Shot: A Presumption of Guilt and Dangerousness, a protest against deadly bias; Dance Dance Dance #2, which includes a piece by Merce Cunningham and a new piece by Byrd, as well as a recent work by Vincent Michael Lopez; and Strange Fruit, a dance-theater hybrid in the spirit of Abel Meeropol's tragic song about lynching. (Washington Hall, $20/$25)


April 12–21

A Midsummer Night's Dream George Balanchine's beautiful choreography of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream will get a Northwest forest setting in this Pacific Northwest Ballet production. (McCaw Hall, $59—$189)


April 19–20

Cornish Dance Theater Spring 2019 Concert Watch Cornish dancers perform works by faculty and guest choreographers Pat Hon, Laura Ann Smyth, Kate Wallich, and Deborah Wolf. (Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, 8 pm, $15)


April 25–27

MOMIX This Connecticut-based modern dance company headed by Moses Pendleton (co-founder of Pilobolus) has been playing with light, movement, and props to create gorgeous illusions since 1981. (Meany Center for the Performing Arts, $60—$68)


April 27–28

Dance Theatre of Harlem 50th Anniversary Celebration Shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., renowned dancer and choreographer Arthur Mitchell founded the first African American classical ballet company: the Dance Theatre of Harlem. They've highlighted works by choreographers from George Balanchine to Jerome Robbins, and are known first and foremost for their thoroughly impressive performances and innovative commissioned works. (Paramount Theatre, $25—$65)


May 9–12

Neve Mazique-Bianco: Lover of Low Creatures Sara Porkalob will direct this world premiere from Neve Mazique-Bianco, a disabled dancer and choreographer who incorporates movement from contemporary, jazz, and ballet. This show promises to be a "sung-through Nubian musical ballet that tells the coming-of-age story of a young, bi-racial, disabled, queer child growing up deep in the heart of white, small-town New Jersey." Mazique-Bianco brings in "punk...Vogueing...and Zar, a trance ritual dance originating from the Horn of Africa" to tell the story. I've never seen Porkalob direct a contemporary-dance-musical before, and Mazique-Bianco's work fuses styles I've also never seen before—punk and Zar??—so I can't wait to see this. RICH SMITH (Velocity Dance Center, 7:30 pm, $20/$25/$50)


Sat May 25

Derek Hough: Live! The Tour Dancing with the Stars Emmy winner Hough will embark on his first solo tour, melding hiphop, salsa, tap, and ballroom. (Benaroya Hall, 8 pm, $60—$525)


May 31–June 9

Themes and Variations See masterpieces by George Balanchine (Theme and Variation and Tarantella), Jose Limon (The Moor's Pavane), and Price Suddarth (Signature) at this Pacific Northwest Ballet production. (McCaw Hall, $37—$143)


June 6–9

Dances des Cygnes Natascha Greenwalt and Coriolis Dance's Dances des Cygnes has already been performed as a work-in-progress at the Seattle International Dance Festival. Now, you can see the finished production, a reversal of Swan Lake that emphasizes female power. (Velocity Dance Center, $15—$25)


June 7–15

This Is Not the Little Prince As the title suggests, this dance by Olivier Wevers of Whim W'Him takes inspiration from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's children's classic The Little Prince, but mixes in Magritte-style surrealism and other new approaches. (Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, $30—$55)


Sun June 9

Pacific Northwest Ballet Season Encore Performance Bid farewell to retiring Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Jonathan Porretta, who's spent 20 years with the company. (McCaw Hall, $25—$185)


Cabaret & Burlesque



March 29–30

La Chambre de Valtesse XXX For those with a yen for high-end kink, the performers of Valtesse will revel in opulent "couture burlesque, aerial, whips, chains, dance, and doms." Wear black, red, and/or fetish gear to fit in, and stay on after the show for a party by the fireplace. (The Ruins, 7:30 pm, 10 pm, $75/$100)


April 3–7

Through the Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice in Wonderland The producers of The Burlesque Nutcracker, Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann, will once again re-imagine Lewis Carroll's classic story as Alice visits Wonderland's hottest nightclub, the Looking Glass. With Lily Verlaine as the Caterpillar, Tory Peil as the Cheshire Cat, and Paris Original (House of Verlaine; Mod Carousel) as the Knave Of Hearts. (Triple Door, $40–$65)


April 19–20

The Fifth Annual Boylesque Festival Boylesque is burlesque that has a lot more "boy" in it. Think Chippendales, if Chippendales were queer and the men put sparkly tassels on their butts and occasionally looked hyper-femme. (So, really, it's nothing like Chippendales. Thank God.) Strappy lingerie, gender-bending, sequined crotch pieces, kicks, wieners, flips, and twerking are promised. The thing features more than 30 performers from across the country, and it tends to sell out, so nab your tickets ASAP if you're looking for extra-creative ways to pull slutty socks off your body parts. CB (Triple Door, $25/$40)


April 19–27

Kat Robichaud's Misfit Cabaret Presents: A Space Oddity The Voice finalist Kat Robichaud and her cohorts promise a musical romp through classic sci-fi. (Hale's Palladium, 8 pm, $30–$250)


Through Sun April 21

Bonbon The slinky dancers of Pike Place's kitschy cabaret return with another tasty show. Ever wanted to ogle athletic dancers twirling from chandeliers inches from your face? Go. There's also a family-friendly brunch version that you can guiltlessly take your out-of-town relatives to. (Can Can, 7 pm, 9:30 pm, $40—$100)


May 8–11

The Atomic Bombshells: Lost in Space! As we've noted, the boisterous Atomic Bombshells troupe has been instrumental in Seattle's burlesque revival. After a successful Valentine's Day show, they'll be back with a cheeky "retro-future" adventure full of "alluring aliens, slinky space adventurers, bodacious Barbarellas, and planetary princesses," not to mention plenty of "ASSteroids." (Triple Door, $25—$45)


Second Sundays

The Sunday Night Shuga Shaq The Stranger's Kim Selling described Ms. Briq House to me as "the sexiest thing on two feet," and it literally could not be more true—she's the reason seduction is considered an art form. The sex- and body-positive burlesque performer hosts the Sunday Night Shuga Shaq: An All People of Color Burlesque Revue every second Sunday of the month. The show features burlesque, dance performances, storytelling, and pole and aerial work that'll make your cheeks flush and pupils dilate with excitement. While the show invites people of all kinds to attend, Shuga Shaq is a space that specifically promotes and focuses on the beauty and utter sexiness of people of color. JASMYNE KEIMIG (Theatre Off Jackson, 7 pm, $15—$30)


Third Sundays

Morgue Anne Presents: A Monthly Burlesque Show Sexy villains, ring-led by Morgue Anne, will take over the stage for devilry and ecdysiasm. Corrupt your innocent eyes on such dancers as Nip Slip Cheerio, Pique A Boo, Isabella L. Price, and many others. (Rendezvous, 6:30 pm, $20—$45)


Drag



March 14–30

Ms. Pak-Man: Mazed and Confused Ms. Pak-Man is a bright yellow disaster portrayed by local comedy hero Scott Shoemaker (Ian Bell's Brown Derby Series and Homo for the Holidays), and she'll be back in voracious form for another adventure. (Re-bar, 8 pm, $25—$85)


Thurs March 28

Bearded & Beautiful Who says you can't be gorgeous and feminine while sporting a beard? These performers will prove it once and for all: Amora Dior Black, Cookie Couture, Dolce Vida, Honey Bucket, Juan Keyaí, Londyn Bradshaw, SHE, Skarlet Dior Black, and Stranger staffer Uh Oh. (Timbre Room, 7:30 pm, $8/$12)


Sat May 4

Miss Bacon Strip the Unpageant! The Miss Bacon Strip, Unpageant has been one of Seattle's best drag events for years, but 2017s pageant scored top marks. Not only did one of the queens, Miss Texas 1988, eat a tub of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!® while performing a baton twirl for her talent portion, but she won the crown! The crowd was shocked and thrilled. But then, in a sincere accidental twist, it was revealed there was a scoring error and Miss Texas 1988 did not win. She was uncrowned of her unpageant title. Everyone was a good sport. It was high camp, and this year's competition will hopefully be similar. CHASE BURNS (Palace Theatre & Art Bar, $20/$25)


First Saturdays

Art Haus The weirdo drag battles at Art Haus produce the kind of shockingly brilliant, deeply strange, and delightfully incomprehensible performances that I imagine when old timers talk about the off-the-wall art people used to make before the first wave of tech money started "ruining" everything. Go and have fun at something for once in your life. RICH SMITH (Kremwerk, 8 pm, $7/$10)


Second Saturdays

Rapture Kick-start your weekend with Rapture, hosted by unidentified frocking object Arson Nicki. Expect to see the avantest of the avant-garde creatures, peculiar performances, and a runway that may double as a portal to the Negaverse. You will be unable to forget any of what you see—or to make anyone believe that it happened. MATT BAUME (Timbre Room, 10 pm—2 am, $10—$12)

Cucci's Critter Barn Cucci's Critter Barn is more likely to feature queens lip-synching vaporwave tracks and pouring paint on themselves than anything resembling RuPaul's Drag Race. One year at Critter Barn, a San Francisco artist named Jader Vision shoved a bottle up a papier-mâché anus they sewed to the lining of their body suit. It was very well received. Expect similar performances from the show's "Featured EnterTainer" Miss Texas 1988, as well as from a changing round-up of Seattle's best drag critters; people like Mona Real, Christian Brown, and La Saveona Hunt. CB (Kremwerk, 8 pm, $5—$13)


Last Saturdays

KINGS: A Drag King Show Flipping the traditional drag script, the Kings of Kremwerk will bring royalty to the stage, with a rotating monthly theme. (Kremwerk, 8 pm, $7–$12)


Sundays

Mimosas Cabaret The drag diva titaness Mama Tits presides over weekly iterations of

Mimosas Cabaret, featuring a short musical (currently, it's Mean Gurrls), plus songs, comedy, dance, and brunch. (Unicorn, 1 pm, $25)


Circus & Acrobatics



Through Sun April 28

Hollywood & Vine Enjoy a vintage and magic-filled tribute to Tinseltown with the 20-year-old circus troupe Teatro ZinZanni as they perform in their new Woodinville space. (Teatro ZinZanni, $99+)


May 2–June 30

Love, Chaos, & Dinner Beloved circus/cabaret/comedy institution Teatro ZinZanni will reboot their successful variety show, which they describe as the "Kit Kat Klub on acid." They promise to fill their spiegeltent with "world-class acrobats, musicians, divas, illusionists, madmen, and aerialists." (Teatro ZinZanni, $99+)


May 31–June 2

Cirque Goes Broadway Now this is gilding the lily in a highly entertaining way: Acrobats and aerialists will dance to live Broadway music, performed by none other than the Seattle Symphony. (Benaroya Hall, $45—$96)


Variety



March 14–April 7

Moisture Festival Moisture Festival is devoted to the variety of performers Seattle has fostered over the years, from circus acts to comedians, burlesque dancers to musicians, and jugglers to tap dancers. Variété is the main, recurring event, with a rotating lineup, and there are also matinée and rather racier late-night versions. The bawdy Libertease Cabaret is for adults only and features burlesque dancers and scantily clothed aerial performers. There are also workshops, talks, and special opening and closing nights. New guest artists this year include French clowning duo Viktor Levillon and Alexis De Bouvere, comedian Mike Wood, and juggler Anne Kupper. (Various locations, $22—$35)


Sat May 11

Mixed Bag: A Comedy and Music Show The variety show led by poet Jeanine Walker and musician Steve Mauer will get actors Mandy Canales, Amelia Peacock, and Chris Walker as well as Seattle writers onstage for some music, comedy, and fun. (Hugo House, 8—10 pm, $12)


May 31–June 29

They/Them: The Festival Genderqueer, trans, and nonbinary artists will reveal their talents in comedy, drag, music, and theater, including curator Sam I'Am's solo piece called They/Them the Musical. (Annex Theatre, 7:30 pm, $10—$20)


Sun June 9

You Don't Have To Go Home But You Can't Stay Here Through live music, spoken word, performance art, drag, dancing, and more, a troupe of Indigenous Turtle Islanders (curated by Howie Echo-Hawk) will share their stories, experiences, and histories. (Annex Theatre, 8 pm, $10—$50)


Mondays

The Magic Hat Presented by Emmett Montgomery and Friends 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. (Rendezvous, 7 pm, $5)


Second Thursdays

Spin the Bottle 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. (Annex Theatre, 8 pm, $10/$15)


First Sundays

Weird and Awesome with Emmett Montgomery On the first Sunday of each month, comedy, variety, and "a parade of wonder and awkward sharing" are hosted by self-proclaimed "mustache wizard" Montgomery. (Annex Theatre, 7 pm, $10–$15)


Podcasts & Radio



Sat April 20

Radiolab's Jad Abumrad: The Miracle of Indoor Plumbing NPR's insanely popular podcast/broadcast

Radiolab is the brainchild of Jad Abumrad, who won a Peabody Award and a MacArthur "Genius" Grant for his audiodocumentary innovations. He also hosts More Perfect, a newer series about the Supreme Court. (Moore Theatre, 8 pm, $23—$63)


Sat May 11

Savage Love Live You can catch up with a world of sexual misadventures and The Stranger's own Dan Savage's perspicacious, compassionate, and sometimes catty responses in the Savage Lovecast podcast every week. But! For an extra-special raunchy gab session, join Savage for a live talk about strangers' lurid boudoir doings. With musical guest Rachel Lark. (SIFF Cinema Egyptian, 8 pm, $35)


Performance Art



March 22–24

Keyon Gaskin: [lavender]: a self portrait This On the Boards production (taking place offsite) brings Portland artist Gaskin and collaborators to perform this "self-portrait," whose title is not meant to be words but the actual color. (To Be Announced, $35)


April 4–6

Michelle Ellsworth: Post-Verbal Social Network Language is a problem, especially if you're trying to communicate emotional information to someone else. Words aren't enough, and yet they mean too much. And some words even mean the opposite of what they mean—I'm looking at you, "weathered," "cleave," "literally," and all other contronyms. Wouldn't it be nice to just dispense with all this word nonsense all together? Michelle Ellsworth seems to think so. In this installation / performance piece, Ellsworth has constructed "21 prototypes (aka: possible solutions to language)" and placed them throughout On the Boards, including in the bathrooms and stairwells. "The work is particularly site responsive to the plumbing at OTB," press materials read, somewhat cryptically. (Urinal art?) She's also doing a live demonstration of another prototype in the studio space. She's setting all this up to create "non-language based, non-mediated, human-to-human encounters" in the theater. RICH SMITH (On the Boards, 1:15—9:15 pm, $15)

Michelle Ellsworth: The Rehearsal Artist Ellsworth invites a few audience members at a time to gaze at a dancer who is doing two things at once: watching reenactments of 2001: A Space Odyssey and "participating in a mash-up of some of the most canonical social science experiments of the last 50 years." (On the Boards, $50/$75)


May 9–11

Ligia Lewis: minor matter Despite being performed first this season, minor matter is the Bessie-winning sequel to Lewis's Sorrow Swag, the second part in a developing triptych. Lewis and two other performers "become engaged in a complicated entanglement with the black box and themselves" in this reflection on meaning and representation in theater. (On the Boards, $26/$30/$70)


May 17–18

Ligia Lewis: Sorrow Swag The first in the unfinished triptych that also includes minor matter, choreographer Lewis draws together elements like the color blue, classical dramatists Samuel Beckett and Jean Anouilh, and text in an exploration of "race, authorship, gender, and grief." (On the Boards, $26/$30/$70)


First and Third Mondays

SH*T GOLD Velocity invites artists from all media and genres to contribute up to five minutes of risky material to this very supportive open mic night. (Velocity Dance Center, 10 pm, free)


Last Fridays

La Petite Mort's Anthology of Erotic Esoterica See "the darker side of performance art" at this eerie, secretive variety show with circus arts, burlesque, music, and more. (Palace Theatre & Art Bar, 8 pm, $28)


Comedy



March 21–24

Intersections Festival Improv comedy queens Natasha Ransom, Jekeva Phillips, and Kinzie Shaw are organizing a festival for performers who identify as LGBTQ+, are people of color, and/or have disabilities. Rejoice in representation and see burlesque, improv, theater, dance, and music acts, plus a party. (Youngstown Cultural Arts Center)


Sat April 13

Chain Lynx Fence Stranger arts calendar editor Joule Zelman will host another night of all-queer, femme, and nonbinary comedians, adepts of improv, stand-up, and sketch. (The Pocket Theater, 7 pm, $10/$14)


Sat April 20

Cheech & Chong That's right, here's a chance to witness the legendary stoner duo in the flesh and with THC-laced blood. (Emerald Queen Casino, 8:30 pm, $45—$110)


Fri May 31

The Seattle Process Described as "Seattle's only intentionally funny talk show" and "a mudpie lobbed into the halls of power," this Brett Hamil-hosted show includes politics, exasperation, information, and comedy. (Northwest Film Forum, 7 pm, $16)


May 31–June 1

Puddles Pity Party The extremely popular "sad clown with the golden voice" presents his downcast live production featuring a mopey clown, absurdism, and some laughs. (The Showbox, 9 pm, $35)


Tuesdays

Comedy Nest Open Mic 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 other Tuesday night, fans pack the Rendezvous Grotto to watch two and a half hours of comedy, about half of which is delivered by women. Having so many women onstage and in the crowd makes male comics more mindful of their sets and their audience, while reinforcing what should be obvious: Women can be just as funny (or unfunny) as men. (Rendezvous, 8 pm, $5)


First Thursdays

The Central Comedy Show Every month, Central Cinema presents an evening of live comedy starring a lineup of local favorites. (Central Cinema, 8 pm, $13/$15)


Third Sundays

Match Game Contestants will try to guess local celebrities' answers to silly questions during this beloved, long-running, ribald series run by Richard Rugburn and Miss Moist Towelette. (Re-bar, 7 pm, $12)


Stand-up



March 18–19

Aziz Ansari: Road to Nowhere The Emmy-winning star, creator of

Master of None, and expert dork-rogue portrayer on Parks and Rec will swing by Seattle for his new tour. (Paramount Theatre, 7:30 pm, $35—$65 (sold out))


Tues March 19

Outstanding: Queer Comic Competition (Semi-finals) Queer comics have battled it out at previous rounds; host Bobby Higley will help the six winners (Genevieve Ferrari, Paul Curry, Jenna Vesper, and others TBD) to weed one another out for the finals. (Timbre Room, 7:30 pm, $10)


Thurs March 21

Tiffany Haddish: #SheReady Tour Recently seen in Night School and The Oath, Tiffany Haddish might not always appear in movies as good as Girls Trip, but she's still a contender for supreme funny person. (Paramount Theatre, 7 pm, $50—$150)


Sat March 23

Maria Bamford When Lindy West worked at The Stranger, she wrote: "No one delivers an 'Uhhhhhhhhhh' quite like Maria Bamford, and nobody has ever done impressions of phlegmy fathers and mall-walking bitchez in such a perfect and dark and exhilaratingly bizarre way. She is possibly a genius." Still true! (Moore Theatre, 8 pm, $25—$30)

Uncanny Comedy Festival Presents Hannibal Buress As Dave Segal has written, "As famous for his acting credits for Broad City, The Eric Andre Show, Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, Daddy's Home, and other funny films and television shows as he is for accusing fellow comedian/actor Bill Cosby of rape, Buress is a masterly storyteller whose anecdotes keep accruing layers of hilarity as they go." Buress will appear with Jeff Dye, Jubal Fresh, and Jessimae Peluso. (ShoWare Center, 8 pm, $35—$90)


Sat March 30

Adam Conover: Mind Parasites Live! A CollegeHumor web series-turned-half hour truTV show, Adam Ruins Everything finds comedian/writer Conover taking common and pervasive societal misconceptions about certain topics (the economy, breastfeeding, football, etc.), and debunking them using critical thinking to explain where and when the misconception started, why it is what it is today, and what's wrong with it. Live, Conover has a more straightforward delivery, and on his current Mind Parasites tour, he combines psychology, zoology, and biology with stand-up to discuss parasites that can "control the minds of their hosts, and how that relates to American society and the forces in your life that are trying to control your mind." LEILANI POLK (Showbox Sodo, 8 pm, $38—$75)

Ronny Chieng A featured contributor to The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and an internationally performing stand-up comic, Chieng has had a great year: He appeared in the hit romance Crazy Rich Asians, and his new series Ronny Chieng: International Student dropped on Comedy Central. With his air of cynicism leavened with sweetness, it's no wonder he's gotten popular. (Neptune Theatre, 8 pm, $28)


April 18–20

Vir Das Extremely popular Bollywood comedian and actor Vir Das (who has appeared in films like Delhi Belly and Revolver Rani, and has performed stand-up all over the world) will grace humble Bellevue. (Parlor Live Comedy Club, $25/$35)


May 3–5

Tom Segura: Take It Down Tour Segura dominates in the realm of making observations about American society and his own life with equal wryness. In his latest Netflix special, Disgraceful, he covers topics ranging from losing weight on a public platform and the unintended consequences of being the inspiration for someone who wants coaching ("'Please give me a message to get this thing kick-started.' I'll give you a message. When you look in the mirror, do you say, 'I fucking hate you?' Then you're not ready. Cry more and eat less. Send."), to disabilities that aren't funny, except when they are. ("Some people experience head trauma. Not funny. But they wake up speaking their native language with a foreign accent. Very funny.") LP (Moore Theatre, $37—$47)


Thurs May 9 & Thurs June 6

The Gateway Show It's an experiment in stand-up: Four comics do their sets. Then these four comics get super, duper stoned. Then they perform again while occupying this much hazier headspace. Or attempt to perform again. Will the bake bring out another dimension of their comedy, or will they bomb, one by one, in forgetful spells of heaping laughter (or awkward pauses)? This sounds like an entertaining experiment, and they do it once a month. LEILANI POLK (Bites of Bangkok, 8 pm, $15/$20)


Fri May 10

Paula Poundstone She placed 88 on Comedy Central's 2004 list of top 100 stand-ups while clocking in at No. 6 in 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. DAVE SEGAL (Moore Theatre, 8 pm, $33—$43)


June 7–9

Lavell Crawford Crawford is very recognizable as Huell on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, but you also may have seen him on Comedy Central Presents, Meet the Blacks, and more. (Parlor Live Comedy Club, $25/$35)


Sat June 8

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas Stranger writer Katie Herzog has praised the Tasmanian comic for her "strange, affecting, and exceedingly vulnerable" Netflix special Nanette. Now Gadsby is back with new material in a show named for her dog Douglas. (Moore Theatre, 7:30 pm, $40–$60)


Wednesdays

Joketellers Union Clock-Out Lounge is not only giving Beacon Hill a boost in its live-music ecosystem, but has enhanced the South End's comedy scene, too. This weekly event is run by Brett Hamil and Emmett Montgomery, whose keen observational and absurdist humor, political satire, and improv skits have been cracking up crowds in this city and elsewhere for over a decade. Local and touring comics, both established and on the rise, are showcased. DAVE SEGAL (Clock-Out Lounge, 8:30 pm, $7)


Improv



April 4–19

The Matchelorette Directors Kayla Teel and Michael Draper plus a cast of improvisers will re-create the seedy/addictive TV show The Bachelor with contestants eliminated one by one from a competition for true love. (Jet City Improv, 7:30 pm, $17/$18)


Through Sat April 27

Bechdel Test All too often in this world, female characters, when they talk to each other at all in films, discuss one thing and one thing only: men. There's even a term for it—the Bechdel Test, named for cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who, in a 1985 comic strip, featured a character explaining that she goes to a movie only if it has at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Jet City Improv re-creates films that fail the test, but with a Bechdel-approved twist. You name the movie; they make it pass. KH (Jet City Improv, 10 pm, $17/$18)


May 2–June 7

Jet City Improv Presents: Claim of Thrones Expect bloody treachery, quasi-medieval language, dragons, and a lot of blunt force head trauma (maybe) in Alison Luhrs and Nick Edwards's improvised send-up of you-know-which-HBO-show. (Jet City Improv, 7:30 pm, $17–$18)