This Week in Arts: Wednesday Roundup (5/8)
Here are the things NWT loved (or didn’t) this week, and a few (or more) things to look forward to this weekend.
Highlights this week included beautiful music from Four Black Women, a chorus of queer singers, and an immigration story told through dance; plus the continuation of a new play festival, and upcoming shows from Neve Mazique-Bianco and a Million Dollar Quartet.
This is a busy week, with a lot of potential for flair and fabulousness. Unfortunately, a lot of that fabulousness all occurs on the same night — May 10 — so choose carefully. Fortunately, the rest of the week is bustling with stellar-sounding theatre — including several that will disappear this week. So activate your FOMO, read on, and go get yourself some seats.
For details on any of the shows (like times & ticket info), view them by date on the Calendar page.
Who told everyone in town to converge on May 10 for all their one-night-only shows of fierceness? This is definitely a situation where it’d be divine to be in more than one place at once. Options include Legendary Children, the bash at Seattle Art Museum celebrating queer & Black artistry and ball culture (and with free admission); Ah Yes, the Two Genders, a tongue-in-cheek ode to genderfuck conceived by Alexei Cifrese, and hosted by Cifrese alter-ego Sister Anya Knees and Chastity Joy at Copious; Converge Rising, a party with performances by dance groups including Guild Dance Company and Noelle Price/PRICEarts (see more in Week In Review), and a preview/fundraiser for the Converge Dance festival held the following weekend; and the opening of A Queen Within, the new femme fashion exhibition at MoPOP, featuring live music, DJ sets, and storytelling by She Is FIERCE.
Speaking of fashion, you can also check out Seattle Style at MOHAI, a new exhibit centered on Seattle fashion (for better or worse) with fashion-related events accompanying it; and Saturday night is Metropolitan Fashion Week’s fashion show at the Museum of Flight.
For a few short runs, this week is both your first & last chance to catch them. Recommended shows in that category are:
Neve Mazique-Bianco: Lover of Low Creatures (Velocity Dance Center) (Thursday-Sunday). Mazique-Bianco’s genre-defying new work is a sung-through Nubian musical ballet that tells the coming-of-age of a young, biracial, disabled, queer child growing up deep in the heart of White, small-town New Jersey. The NW-based Mazique-Bianco’s work has already drawn the attention of the New York Times from afar. But even if it hadn’t, it should grab your attention from just down the street, just across town, or wherever you find yourself. Directed by intersectional stage and storytelling phenom Sara Porkalob.
A Sensible Cabaret (A Sensible Theatre Company) (Monday only). And speaking of Sara Porkalob … she’s featured in this. The ongoing cabaret series — now held at Cafe Nordo’s new underground venue, the Knife Room — often features A-List singers and other performers from among the area’s plentiful talent. Joining the multi-talented Porkalob is another multi-talented star, Justin Huertas, plus Steven Tran on piano and Olivia Hamilton on bass. Advance tickets are sold out, but some will reportedly be available at the door.
There are lots of shows closing this weekend, so make sure to fit in whatever you can before they’re gone. Shows closing this Saturday (5/11) include Devi from Pratidhwani at ACT and Small Mouth Sounds from Thalia’s Umbrella at 12th Avenue Arts. Shows closing this Sunday (5/12) are The Spitfire Grill from Showtunes at Cornish Playhouse; Jitterbug Perfume at Cafe Nordo; Shakespeare Dice: As You Like It from Dacha Theatre at Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society; and Boeing Boeing at Second Story Rep.
Opening this week, for a three-month-long run between Issaquah and Everett, is Million Dollar Quartet at Village Theatre. It’s a briskly-selling remount of an original musical that premiered right here at Village before heading on to a Broadway run. The show captures a famous impromptu recording session by four musical greats: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. It’s also a short show — leaving plenty of time for a beer and snacks at nearby Levitate if you’re so inclined.
Also opening this weekend is the second lineup of new plays in Burien Actors Theatre’s Playwrights Fest: the one-act The Great Fish & Jonah by Matthew Weaver (a humorous modern take on the classic biblical story); and the full-length play Goldendale by Kevin K. Berry (in which residents of a small, conservative farming town in Washington are ready to sell their home — until they find out the couple buying are two men). Both plays run on a single slate (with ample intermissions and concessions breaks) and, at $12 for two productions, it’s a great deal. (See more in Week In Review, for a description of last week’s shows.) Also, the line at the nearby Bakery Nouveau in Burien is much, much shorter than those at the two Seattle locations. And the croissants taste just as good.
Week In Review
This week was a low-key, but still packed with variety and musicality. Opening last Wednesday was Nina Simone: Four Women at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. A full review is coming soon, but suffice it to say you should make a point of going. The weekend kicked off with a concert by Puget Soundworks exploring notions of home and experiences of homelessness. You can read NWT’s review here.
A dance show at YAW Theater, by the Guild Dance Company, beautifully told a wrought story of a people forced from their home and the battles raging around them. In Immigration Stories, Alex Ung, the Guild’s artistic director, choreographed the show tracing the repeated forced relocations of his Tai Dam family in Southeast Asia, before their eventual arrival in the U.S. The piece forces an intimate survey of having a homeland (“our beloved region”) constantly under threat or siege. The choreography and design work were very well done. The dancers, unfortunately, were inconsistent; while some performed well individually, the overall cohort was frequently out of sync with one another. Robert Moore, who NWT saw previously in the recent TINT Dance Festival, was an outstanding strong performer; and it was intriguing to watch Ung himself enter the scene at various dramatic points in his own choreography. A particularly memorable scene, in which all the elements (including performers) came together beautifully, was a dangerous river crossing, in which a huge panoramic view of the river and effects summoned feelings of an actual crossing; a later crossing, just as powerful, was overtaken by gunfire enveloping the sweeping natural beauty. Another memorable sequence concerned the family’s arrival in the U.S., demonstrating the ways they were acted upon: taken to the U.S., searched, undressed, re-dressed in foreign, U.S. garb; thrown into a new land in a time of protest (ironically, they were surrounded by protesters upon whom the Vietnam War had little personal impact); then sent off to Iowa — in which they were able to establish a home. The piece, overall, was a robust, clear, and powerful journey, in which the siege from outside actors and the forces driving them out were palpable (aided in that demonstration by strong design work). It’s a dynamic collage of how forced migration and two regions shaped the artist and his family.
Opening for Immigration Stories was a short work by the dancers of PRICEarts‘ new smaller ensemble, fittingly called N.E.W. (for Never Ending Work). The dance, called My Piece to Give, evoked feelings of journeying together, being attacked from the outside in, and loneliness. It was a poignant entry point to Ung’s longer work; and we’re excited to see more, as most anything with PRICEarts’ name attached is likely to have some power to it.
Also opening last week was Julia Cho’s intense Office Hour at ArtsWest, a dark play inspired by the Virginia Tech mass shooting; you can read Dusty Somers’ review for NWT here.
Closing out its two-week run last Sunday was the first installment (of two, running consecutively) of the BAT Playwrights Fest at Burien Actors Theatre. (The second installment opens this weekend — see above.) Each installment includes a production of a one-act and a full-length play, selected among in-state submissions through a competitive process. The short (Not Food for Monsters, by Devin Rodger) featured a frazzled teacher apparently on the run, and a relatively at-ease pregnant student resting in the teachers’ lounge — a location and two characters I liked, but the plot seemed muddled. The full-length play (Hardened Criminals, by Suzanne Bailie) was mightily disturbing — an anesthesiologist father seeks to cure his daughter’s heroin addiction by putting her in a (non-consensual) induced coma and stashing her in a spare bedroom for six months. The play was extremely dark; but also one of the best (and most thorough) treatments of toxic masculinity I’ve seen, showing intricately how the father and the daughter’s boyfriend both sought to control the women in their lives — from home to relationship to workplace — and the destruction their behavior wreaked in their savior complex missions. It’s a vivid exhibition of “gaslighting,” that increasingly popular term that’s easy to say but tough to explain with the clarity it received here. The characters were also very well-written, with none totally likable nor pure evil (although toward the end the father had pretty well sealed my disdain). It’s a twisted, gut-wrenching, thought-provoking, and timely piece of theatre — and one that deserves to be seen in a larger run.
Wednesday Roundup is a weekly feature, with NWT’s picks for the upcoming week and recaps around town.
Want to plan your show schedule further out? See what’s happening on NWT’s Calendar page. And for news on all the openings this month, see Miryam Gordon’s May coverage here.