It’s the perennial question avid arts-goers get from friends (and strangers): What should I see?
This month, there are plenty of ways to feel the love, with someone special or on the town by yourself. Here are my personal picks for (what’s left of) February.
Find Out What the Fuss Is About — Or See It Again
In April 2018, Dani Tirrell: Black Bois was about the hottest ticket in town, selling out the whole four-day run at On the Boards before opening night. It’s about the only time I remember a show having loads of people — with tickets and without — piled up on the staircase before the lobby doors opened up. Flash forward to 2020, on a bigger stage, and it’s the same problem/different day. The Valentine’s Day show at the 1,800-capacity Moore Theatre is sold out. You can always show up at the box office and hope for the best. (See NWT preview & info here.)
(Update: STG has released a few more tickets. If they remain, find them here.)
And whether you caught the show last run or are seeing it Friday for the first time, you can hear the cast talk about the experience — and plenty more — while enjoying a meal together, at Sunday Dinner: Black Bois. It’s in the afternoon of Saturday 2/15 (yes, Saturday edition of Sunday Dinner) at Langston Hughes PAI, hosted by the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas. Tickets are much cheaper in advance; get them here.
Hear Voices of Immigration
With the latest political rhetoric, it’s all too easy to hear of refugees and immigrants collectively as a policy debate, rather than as people — with a great many stories to tell. In The New Colossus, directed by Tim Robbins, The Actors’ Gang presents some of these complex stories with a simple premise: 12 refugees / 12 languages / 12 eras / 1 border, as 12 actors tell stories of their ancestors with live music, poetry and kinetic movement. It plays at the Moore Theatre, 2/20-22. ($5 tickets are available here with code LIBERTY.)
Play a Rousing Game of “Where’s Jasmine?”
Seattle has some particularly busy and prolific creatives in town. But even with that as a given, Jasmine Joshua seems to be making an extreme sport of it this month. The writer/director/actor puts up their don’t-miss-it solo show, Bread Crumbs, this weekend at ACT Theatre’s inaugural Solo Fest; continues a run of the new play they co-wrote, called You’d Better Sit Down For This, at Annex Theatre (through 2/29); and assistant-directed two new musicals up this month: Bliss, which opens tonight at The 5th Avenue Theatre, and XY, which runs for the next two weekends at Village Theatre (Village Originals/Beta Series).
(Read NWT’s interview with Joshua here.)
Take a Dark Turn
The Angel in the House, on now at Cafe Nordo, is unusually dark and unusually British for another uber-prolific creative, writer/director/actor phenom Sara Porkalob. But it’s slyly funny as it subverts what we think about the era and its strictures, with a healthy dash of feminism and justice. It’s superbly written and acted; the design team transforms Cafe Nordo in all the right ways; and the four-course meal is a delight for the tastebuds. It’s heartily recommended.
Also recommended, on the darker side: The Moors from Dacha Theatre at Theatre Off Jackson, and the dystopian (and timely) classic 1984, from Radial Theater Project and 18th & Union. Both open next weekend (2/21).
Watch a Ton of Great (or Shitty) Theatre
Of all the plays out now, somewhere atop my recommendations list is Admissions at Seattle Public Theater. It’s so uncomfortable to watch, as a diversity-championing family of Liberal New England Middle-Class White People does a million awkward dances around their own privilege. Anne Allgood’s piercing stares will burn you like lasers. Everything about the play and this production lands brilliantly.
(For a particularly strange juxtaposition, this Sunday you could catch a double-feature of Allgood as the tight-laced administrator in Admissions at the SPT matinee, and as Julia Child in the NWT-recommended operetta, Bon Appétit!, at the Rendezvous that night.)
Others worth a look (and not mentioned elsewhere here) are The Best of Everything from UW Drama (on now thru 2/16), directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton; Asylum in Georgia from Red Rover Theatre Company at West of Lenin (on now through 2/29); 45 Plays for 45 Presidents (at Seattle University, 2/19-3/1); The Oysterman’s House from Parley at University Heights Center (2/20-22); and the very-appealingly titled A Night of Shitty Theater at the Rendezvous (2/23).
And at the very end of the month, the consistently strong Harlequin Productions in Olympia opens The Highest Tide. It’s described as a sensory experience, based on a local writer’s novel about a teenager’s mystical exploration on the beaches of Puget Sound. I don’t know how any of that will translate to the stage, but it sounds intriguing.
Hear Classic Black Artists in New Voices
Next weekend, two events at the Seattle Center revive and reinvent works of legendary Black artists. On 2/21, the annual August Wilson Monologue Competition features youth performing works from the great playwright’s American Century Cycle at Seattle Rep. (Wilson had a unique history with the Rep, which often produces his work; the theatre will perform August Wilson’s Jitney next month.) And on 2/22, Seattle Opera opens Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, in which the saxophonist’s ghost returns to tackle his final masterpiece (running thru 3/7).
Catch a New Dance
This month there’s tons of new dance work to choose from, once again. My top pick is Solo: A Festival of Dance at On the Boards (2/20-23), which sets out to explore “the solo as a rebellious act of self-expression.” The festival features five solo artists, alongside installations and other programming throughout the building (on the Friday-Sunday shows), co-curated by Dani Tirrell. The four-show run is next weekend, with sliding-scale advance tickets (starting at $10) available for Sunday’s show. View the festival schedule here.
Other top picks are CHOP SHOP: Bodies of Work, an annual contemporary dance festival in Bellevue (2/15-16) and Sisters Show at Base in Georgetown (2/16) this weekend; and 12 Minutes Max at Base the following week (2/23-24); plus the Seattle premiere of works by Brazilian contemporary dance company Grupo Corpo at Meany Hall (2/20-22); and two weekends of Seattle International Dance Festival’s Winter Mini Fest, a collaboration between companies in Seattle and Seoul (2/21-29).
Sign On to the Gay Agenda
Catch a queerified and modernized version of Taming of the Shrew from Tol and Smol Theatre Productions in Tacoma (thru 2/23; info here); head to Burien for the Transsexual, Transylvania cult classic, The Rocky Horror Show (opens 2/21 at Burien Actors Theatre); or see Hedwig‘s John Cameron Mitchell on the Origins of Love Tour at the Moore Theatre (2/27).
Find Your Happily Ever After
Two musicals tackle love and fairy tales: She Loves Me (which inspired the film You’ve Got Mail), at Village Theatre in Issaquah (thru 2/23) before moving to Everett; and Bliss, a new musical at The 5th (opening tonight, thru 2/23) that promises to show a new kind of princess.
Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of NWTheatre.org.