King of the Yees (Sept 8–Oct 1): Nationally celebrated playwright Lauren Yee is just 21 years old, and already she's written more than a half-dozen plays that explore culture and history through humor and charming dialogue. She only seems to be picking up steam: Another of her works, The Great Leap, will be staged at the Seattle Rep in the spring. King of the Yees promises a self-aware analysis of her own family history. F. Kathleen Foley at the Los Angeles Times wrote: "Although the play can be maddeningly random, it is a delightfully disorderly entertainment, as sprawling and silly as it is unexpectedly moving."
The Crucible (Oct 13–Nov 12): Arthur Miller's The Crucible is a powerful play that's also fun: the McCarthy-era communist witch hunts are communicated through the Salem witch trials, a device that enables Miller to combine themes of ideological and political paranoia with religious zealotry, teenage girl drama, and foreboding scenes of creepy witchery. Knowing ACT, they'll also manage to tie in relevant Trump-era mind games and intimidation.
DEERS (Oct 24–Nov 8): What if Cheers were about a bunch of drunk animals instead of drunk humans? This play (written by Marcus Gorman and directed by Tootsie Spangles and Quiqui Dominguez) has all the answers.
The Who & the What (Sept 7–Oct 1): Ayad Akhtar is best known for his celebrated and Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced (2012), which explored Muslim identity and Islamophobia through an animated conversation at a four-person dinner party. ArtsWest will open their season with Akhtar's 2014 play The Who & the What, which again investigates elements of Muslim identity while also examining gender roles and familial expectations. Akhtar's writing is full of drama and humor, and this play features dating woes, family strife, and a controversial book about the prophet Muhammad.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Sept 13–Oct 15): Book-It Repertory Theatre is known for their excellent adaptations of classic literature, and they'll open their 2017-2018 season with a production of one of the most celebrated and necessary autobiographies ever: Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Racism, sexism, and trauma are explored intimately and poetically through Angelou's childhood and teenage years. The play was originally adapted for Book-It in 2003; Charles Mudede wrote, "The translation of the book into this new play by Myra Platt is successful not because it's faithful to its great source, whose pleasures are purely literary (the calm then intense rhythm of Angelou's sentences, paragraphs, chapters). It's successful because the dynamic wills of the characters who populate Maya Angelou's first literary world are captured and at times enhanced by this theatrical one." Platt will return in collaboration with Malika Oyetimein to present a new, 2017-ready version of the script.
The Government Inspector (Oct 24–Nov 19): Seattle Shakespeare Company presents The Government Inspector, Nikolai Gogol's comedy from 1836 about mistaken identities and government corruption.
Julius Caesar (Sept 13–Oct 1): Seattle Shakespeare Company will stage one of Shakespeare's most intricate (and currently relevant) plays, a fresco of ambition, patriotism, irrationality, friendship, doom, and a bit of skulduggery.
Monstrosity (Nov 28–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."
Dragon Lady (Through Oct 1): Maybe you saw a version of Sara Porkalob's solo show about her Filipino gangster grandma at the Fringe Festival a few years ago? Or maybe you saw her hone each of the ~five-million characters she plays by doing another version at Theater Off Jackson last year? Or maybe you ate incredible Filipino food while watching her reimagine the whole thing as a musical back in January? Or maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about? Whatever the case, Porkalob is back with her hilarious and heartbreaking immigration story, Dragon Lady, now with a live band and a tighter script. Intiman Producing Artistic Director Andrew Russell, who is leaving us soon, will direct. RS
Belarus Free Theatre: Burning Doors (Sept 28–Oct 1): The Belarus Free Theatre is expert at covert political and artistic expression—their performances in Belarus are held secretly at rotating locations to avoid governmental persecution, and according to their website, their content focuses on "social justice, taboo zones and violation of human rights across the globe." For Burning Doors, they've collaborated with Maria Alyokhina from Pussy Riot to create a show about artists working in opposition to a state that wants to imprison them for their art and opinions.
Jody Kuehner/Cherdonna Shinatra: Kissing Like Babies: Part III of one great, bright, brittle alltogetherness (Oct 12–15): It has all been leading up to this. For the last few years, female drag queen impersonator and childlike clownsplosion Cherdonna Shinatra has been pushing the boundaries of performance art, drag, and theater with a series of shows. Clock That Mug or Dusted was a throwback to 1960s feminist performance art, wherein her outfits were the scenery. In Clock That Construct, she took over the Henry Art Gallery and made her own body the canvas of the show, allowing audience members to explore their own agency in an immersive environment. I don't know how immersive this final part of the trilogy is going to be, but the press release tells me there's going to be "a chorus of adult toddlers and a seven piece brass marching band," and that's all I need to know. RS
Graham Reynolds + Shawn Sides + Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol (Nov 16–19): Super popular Austin-based creative duo Graham Reynolds and Shawn Sides are teaming up with innovative Mexican theater company Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol to present a new work, Pancho Villa From A Safe Distance. This performance, described as "experimental opera," will explore both Mexican and American perspectives on the famous Mexican Revolutionary general.
The Humans (Nov 17–Dec 17): Stephen Karam's 2016 Tony Award-winner 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 officially Broadway tour, directed by Joe Mantello. RS
Ay, Carmela! (Sept 21–Oct 8): The Latino Theatre Project presents a play by José Sanchís Sinisterra, in which a variety company accidentally finds itself behind fascist lines during the Spanish Civil War. Carmela and her husband, Paulino, must improvise a show for the nationalists, knowing that any expression of defiance could be their last act.
las mariposas Y los muertos and No More Sad Things (Sept 19–Oct 7): Forward Flux presents their annual double feature, where audiences can catch two new, music-filled plays in one night. They'll start off with las mariposas Y los muertos by Benjamin Benne, a rock musical directed by Pilar O'Connell with original music and lyrics by Angie Citlali Vance. After the set transforms, the second feature will take over: No More Sad Things by Hansol Jung, with original music and lyrics by Hansol Jung and Jongbin Jung, featuring live Hawaiian music. The synopsis sets up what sounds like a whirlwind vacation romance...between a 15-year-old boy and a 32-year old woman. We don't know whether or not they'll explore the exploitative/illegal/traumatic potential of the situation.
Something Rotten! (Sept 12–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. CF
Ragtime (Oct 13–Nov 5): A source at the theater says: "This is a musical that is rarely produced at the professional level due to the sheer size of it. It calls for a nearly 30-person cast and the orchestra is monstrous—not to mention the budget for sets and costumes. And then, recently, Theatre Latte Da in Minneapolis produced a streamlined version that was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. It had something like a 16-person cast and very little in the way of set.... We have hired that director, Peter Rothstein, to do that again for Seattle." But it will have a Seattle cast. CF
Howl's Moving Castle (Nov 29–Dec 30): This is the world premiere of a new musical based on Diana Wynne Jones' novel Howl's Moving Castle, adapted and directed by Myra Platt with music and lyrics by Justin Huertas. Local powerhouse Sara Porkalob will star, transporting audiences to a world of fantasy, disguises, demons, mysterious portals, and witches.
The Sound of Music (Through Sept 11): The Sound of Music is a sweet, musical romp through the Bavarian Alps that offers wise nuns, charming children, elegant dancing, and an (almost) lovable Nazi.
Disney's Aladdin (Oct 12–29): In a 2015 Public Policy Poll, 30% of Republicans (and 19% of Democrats) thought that the fictional city of Agrabah—where Aladdin lives—should be bombed. Before we annihilate it, watch a few hours of theatrical performance set in Aladdin's fair city (with new songs not included in the movie) and reminisce about Robin Williams's hilarious performance as the genie.
The Bodyguard (Nov 14–19): Deborah Cox—an actress and singer known for bringing Canadian R&B to ears worldwide—will star in this production of The Bodyguard, a musical about an unexpected romance between a superstar and her bodyguard, based on the 1992 movie starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. (Cox also provided vocals for last year's made-for-TV Whitney Houston biopic.)
Elf the Musical (Dec 5–10): 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 Odyssey (Sept 8–10): Todd Almond's ambitious take on The Odyssey opened in New York to great reviews that praised the inspired and unrestrained adaptation and gigantic, impressive cast that featured a number of new and amateur performers. Seattle's version of the fantastical and violent story, directed by Marya Sea Kaminski, will feature over 100 Seattle residents alongside professional actors.
This is Halloween (Oct 20–31): Can Can's creepy yet cheery musical is back! Last year, Rich Smith wrote: "It's Tim Burton's classic The Nightmare Before Christmas repackaged as a semi-scandalous spectacle for the masses. The audience eats chicken skewers and knocks back $10 cocktails while they watch Tim Keller as Jack 'the Pumpkin King' Skellington sing and dance, cabaret-style, along with Luminous Pariah, Paris Original, Marissa Quimby, and Baby Kate, while a ghoulish orchestra pumps out the show's signature tunes. Despite the glitzy and consumerist exterior, the crew manages to smuggle a complicated cabaret about the horror of fixed identities into the unpretentious space of the Triple Door."
The Event (Oct 19–22): Peggy Piacenza is a performing artist and choreographer known for strange, startling, funny work. The Event, which she's directing and choreographing, explores "humor, fantasy, mortality, and sorrow within a hybrid of dance, theatre, text and film." Piacenza is not performing, but the phenomenal dancers Ezra Dickinson, Kim Lusk, Wade Madsen, and Amelia Reeber are.
Next Fest NW: Disruption (Dec 1–3): Velocity's annual Next Fest NW is often the place to go to see Seattle's best up-and-coming performers and choreographers push the bounds of modern dance.
George Balanchine's Jewels (Sept 22–Oct 1): Alastair Macaulay at the New York Times called George Balanchine's Jewels "a perfect introduction to ballet." Each section of this triptych is inspired by a jewel (emeralds, diamonds, and rubies) and while each ballet's music and atmosphere is unique, they're tied together by decadence and luxury. This production features new costumes and set designs by PNB favorite Jerome Kaplan.
Her Story (Nov 3–12): The work of three very different, very major choreographers will be on display during this female-focused program. Crystal Pite's kinetic and structurally fascinating Plot Point makes its PNB premiere, and Twyla Tharp's weird, swirling, galloping Afternoon Ball returns to wow and exhaust us, as does Jessica Lang's Her Door to the Sky, which will explode with a million soft New Mexico sunset colors. RS
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (Nov 24–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
Eight Abigails (Nov 10–12): Kaitlin McCarthy's Eight Abigails is an abstract dance performance loosely based on Arthur Miller's The Crucible that "investigates and reimagines the teenage villain, Abigail Williams, a young woman teetering on the edge of sanity, survival, and insurgency." Sean Nelson writes, "When John Proctor smears Abigail's false accusations as a 'a whore's vengeance,' the play clearly endorses the interpretation, and demands that we do, too. It's not hard to imagine a contemporary reading (perhaps even the abstract dance of Eight Abigails) that considers the unimaginable ignorance and Puritan repression that yielded these conditions—not as a means of exonerating anyone, but as a way of widening the lens of the play in an effort to let it show us something we don't already know."
Cabaret & Burlesque
The Bare Witch Project 2: Book of Strippers (Oct 1): Enjoy hot-blooded Halloween chills at this sexy spooky show.
The Future is 0 (Sept 8): This satirical DIY game show (filmed with a live studio audience right here in Seattle) pits artists of various disciplines against each other in "a battle of mental, physical, and psychological challenges."
A John Waters Christmas (Nov 30): Legendary cult director/noted Baltimore resident/moustache-haver John Waters regales the Neptune with filthy Christmas jokes, monologic shenanigans, and gripes about holiday traditions.
BenDeLaCreme: Beware the Terror of Gaylord Manor (Oct 12-29): Someone got wise and gave BenDeLaCreme a Halloween show. The fact that that someone is ACT Theatre, a company not exactly known for big drag blowouts, is suspicious, but for BenDeLaCreme I'm willing to suspend my disbelief. This horrific tale begins—where else—at Gaylord Manor, where a team of "paranormal researchers" have found themselves on this fateful night. Soon they're beset by "vampire vixens, well-built werewolves, mischievous mummies and witches that WERK," and it only gets more fabulously frightening from there. RS
Jinkx Monsoon & Ginger Minj in Peaches Christ's "Hocum Pokem" (Sept 28): Watch RuPaul's Drag Race stars Jinkx Monsoon and Ginger Minj in drag legend Peaches Christ's spooky rendition of your favorite childhood Halloween flick.
Mimosas Cabaret (Sundays): It's a Sunday tradition to bundle up your friends or coworkers or visiting relatives and hustle them down into the mysterious sanctum created just for you by the great Mama Tits. Her cabaret troupe has prepared three (ish) hours of delights and amusement with a rotating blend of song, dance, and comedy. The 30(ish) minute musical at the climax of the show is a delight from start to finish. MB
Poppy (Oct 20): Poppy is an electropop singer known for her ambient, ASMR-inspired YouTube performances that are ominously kawaii. With multiple viral video hits, a debut EP, and a recent collaboration with Sanrio, Poppy is poised to become a veritable internet superstar. CHASE BURNS
SketchFest (Sept 22–23): SketchFest, sadly somewhat reduced this year, will bring a weekend of comedy skits and films to Capitol Hill.
The Blue Show (Oct 7 & Nov 4): ComedySportz improvisers have been saving up their dirtiest material for the Blue Show, an emphatically adults-only improv comedy night that happens just once a month—and that has attracted celebrity guests Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher.
The Seattle Process with Brett Hamil (Nov 3): 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 Savant, former Stranger associate editor David Schmader, and Pramila Jayapal.
Jim Gaffigan (Sept 16): If you're looking for an evening of relatively family-friendly comedy, watch Jim Gaffigan make jokes about impressive food consumption and the trials and tribulations of daily life. Gaffigan's known for his TV and film appearances, stand-up specials Mr. Universe and Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed, and his books Dad is Fat and Food: A Love Story.
Nick Offerman (Oct 6): Nick Offerman—who you will probably recognize from his role as Ron on Parks & Recreation, his various movie appearances, or from making the NYT bestseller list with Paddle Your Own Canoe—will entertain for an evening at the Moore. And heads up: Offerman the comedian is not as aggressively masculine or stubbornly libertarian as the character he's best known for playing.
Mike Birbiglia (Nov 3–4): Mike Birbiglia (who David Schmader described as "the beloved storyteller and This American Life contributor with the famous sleepwalking problems and habit of saying 'uhhhhh...'") will entertain at the Moore—now, thankfully, for two nights instead of one. Snatch up tickets because they won't last long.
Ilana Glazer and Phoebe Robinson (Nov 18): Two popular funny ladies, Ilana Glazer (Broad City) and Phoebe Robinson (2 Dope Queens), will tour with a double whammy of a show called called YQY (which stands for Yaaas Queen Yaaas).
Demetri Martin (Dec 2): The weirdly entertaining Demetri Martin (from Important Things with Demetri Martin and The Daily Show fame) comes to the Moore for an evening of dry, punny, deadpan oddity.
Jen Kirkman (Sept 8): Jen Kirkman, whose comedy specials have been praised by as exalted a publication as the Atlantic and whose books include I Can Barely Take Care of Myself and I Know What I'm Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself: (Dispatches From a Life Under Construction), will perform a set as part of her fall tour.
Jim Norton: Kneeling Room Only (Sept 22): Stand-up from a very dark, painfully funny guy who you may have seen on Inside Amy Schumer and Louie, or (respectfully) debating Lindy West about rape jokes.
Chris Rock (Sept 15-17): For the first time in more than nine years, acclaimed comedian and actor Chris Rock will take to the stage and share the inside of his brain with audiences around the country. Hopefully, his set will contain timely new material that skewers politics and society. Only one way to find out! He'll also perform at McCaw Hall on September 15.
Trevor Noah (Dec 1–2): South African TV personality, writer, and comedian Trevor Noah is known mainly for being the host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show (he attracted tons of media attention for his controversial interview with young Republican Tomi Lahren). He also published a book last year titled Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.
Arsenio Hall (Oct 27–28): Pioneering black comedian who used to be very, very funny is back to prove he still has it after, well, not winning Celebrity Apprentice. There's a good chance he'll have some jokes about what Trump is really like. CF
Piff the Magic Dragon (Nov 2–5): Some performers try to conceal their true nature, but Piff the Magic Dragon is exactly what it advertises: a magician in a dragon suit. He's British, and he's great. CF
Podcasts & Radio
NPR's How I Built This with Guy Raz (Sept 14): On NPR's popular podcast "How I Built This," host Guy Raz interviews the founders of companies ranging from Instagram to Spanx to Rolling Stone about the origin and history of their products. This is the third live taping happening this summer (after interviews with the Buzzfeed founder in New York and the Reddit founder in San Francisco), and will feature Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schulz. They'll also have a "full digital map of the city, showcasing your ideas and innovations" at the end of the evening.
An Evening with with Brian Reed (Oct 29): One thing that the podcast S-Town (a truth-based radio mystery à la Serial) is great for is provoking strong opinions—everyone and their mother had a take on the style, investigation, and ethics of the series. At this event, get a peek into the mind of S-Town co-creator and host Brian Reed, who will share audio outtakes from production, reporting details that were left out of the final product, and anecdotes from the process.
Throwing Shade (Sept 14): Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi host this weekly podcast in which they "look at all the issues important to ladies & gays and treat them with much less respect than they deserve." Their candid and humor-driven take on culture and society has earned them both praise for their "queer joy" and criticism for their take on appropriation. Come to this live show for music, prank calls to hate groups, and lots of shade thrown at Mike Pence.