This Week in Arts: Weekly Roundup (12/1)
Loads more Christmas shows open up this week, from irreverent to classic, along with a host of continuing runs. Plus, some great locally oriented films showing on a (home) screen near you, and a handful of college productions, short runs, and audio dramas.
Ticketing links for most shows can be found on the Performance Calendar page here.
Focus on Film
NW Film Forum: Manifest Destiny Jesus
A Seattle-based look at colonization
Streaming begins today, through 1/2/2022. Online.
Beginning today, audiences can stream (in its second encore presentation) a new film by theatre-makers Josh Aaseng, Daemond Arrindell & T. Geronimo Johnson (Welcome to Braggsville).
Manifest Destiny Jesus — which refers to a specific image, but whose themes are woven throughout — premiered at this year’s Local Sightings film festival. The compelling, efficient 40-minute film looks at colonization through the lenses of religion (White Jesus, iconography, and evangelism) and gentrification, grounded in the history of each.
Avid theatre-goers will spot a lot of familiar faces from the stage — Brace Evans, Nick Edwards, Benjamin Hunter, Sarah Rudinoff, Dimitri Woods — alongside other artists and community leaders. This film brings a welcome opportunity to hear from the humans behind the stage presences, on locally rooted issues that impact us all.
Tickets for the online screening are $5-25 (sliding scale available to all), here.
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Sound Theatre Company: Changer: A Hand Telling (streaming now). Released last year as a radio play, renowned Deaf storyteller Howie Seago worked with original adapters Fern Naomi Renville and Roger Fernandes to create this first-of-its-kind, signed film featuring two Deaf Native storytellers. This film takes the original audio and augments it with gorgeous Lower Elwha S’Klallam landscapes and visual-storytelling created for the screen. Online; info here.
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Streaming – Audio Only:
Book-It Repertory Theatre: The Three Musketeers (streaming now). Spring of 1625 is the perfect time for a young adventurer to seek his fortune. And so, D’Artagnan makes his way from Gascony to Paris to enter the ranks of the King’s musketeers. The three favorites of that old guard — Athos, Porthos, and Aramis — befriend the boy and take his battles on as their own (one for all, and all that), with minor detours into illicit love affairs and palace intrigue. Lamar Legend adapts the classic Alexandre Dumas tale in an audio play, featuring Trick Danneker, Porscha Shaw, Nicholas JaPaul Bernard, Nathaniel Tenenbaum, Kathy Hsieh, Kate Jaeger, and more. Online; info here.
Book-It Repertory Theatre: Zen and the Art of an Android Beatdown (streaming now). Cecile dreams of falling, but her work on the android keeps her grounded. She works to keep him safe, to improve his speed and stamina so that he can continue boxing with minimal risk. But, this isn’t what he wants. He needs to feel the pain of getting hit to know that he is real, that he is himself and not just a series of recycled chips, code, and battered parts. Gin Hammond adapts Tochi Onyebuchi’s journey to the heart of identity and connection into an audio play, featuring Mandy Rose Nichols, Tim Gouran, Annette Toutonghi, and more. Online; info here.
‘Tis the Season
A host of openings join the Christmas-themed shows already going strong.
Openings – Irreverent Christmas:
Can Can Culinary Cabaret: Wonderland (opening 12/2, closing 1/9/2022). Celebrate the holidays with performers swinging from the chandeliers in a carnival of merriment, full of classic beauty and flirtatious artistry. The Can Can’s new, more spacious cabaret is transformed into a whimsical winter chalet, with a variety of food, wine, and spirit menus carefully crafted with local market-fresh winter ingredients, prepared to tantalize even the most refined palates. In Seattle (Pike Place Market).
Seattle Public Theater & The Habit: A Very Die Hard Christmas (opening 12/2, closing 12/26). Sketch writers from The Habit team up with SPT to create this holiday comedy perfect for those who like their Christmas entertainment with lots of action, ’80s jokes, smooth soft rock jams, and snarky German terrorists. In Seattle (Green Lake).
Theatre Off Jackson & Shoes and Pants Productions: Scott Shoemaker’s War on Christmas! (opening 12/2, closing 12/24). A cast of Seattle luminaries tries to figure out who’s fighting a war on Christmas, and what for? A night of comedy, songs, dance numbers, delightful videos, and partial nudity, featuring Adé, Waxie Moon, Mandy Price, and Faggedy Randy. In Seattle (International District).
Jet City Improv @ West of Lenin: Uncle Mike Ruins Christmas (runs 12/3-18). You write down a heartwarming holiday memory. They re-enact it. Then Uncle Mike ruins it in ways no sane human should be able to imagine. In Seattle (Fremont).
Kitten N’ Lou @ OddFellows Hall: Jingle All the Gay! (runs 12/3-18). Jingle All the Gay invites you into a chosen family of fabulous fruitcakes in a joyful and triumphant celebration of song, dance, burlesque, and holiday hilarity. Light your menorah, stuff your stockings, and revel in the power of live theatre with this deliciously queer and delectably extravagant holiday confection. In Seattle (Capitol Hill).
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Openings – Classic Christmas:
Edmonds Driftwood Players: It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (opening 12/2, closing 12/19). This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of a small ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve. In Edmonds.
Renton Civic Theatre: It’s a Wonderful Life (opening 12/3, closing 12/18). George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all — and it’s Christmas! As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence — who then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all his good deeds over the years. In Renton.
Valley Center Stage: A Christmas Carol (opening 12/3, closing 12/19). Dickens’s holiday classic tells a story of second chances, transformation, forgiveness, and compassion. In North Bend.
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Lakewood Playhouse: A Christmas Carol … More or Less (closing 12/19). A couple on the verge of breaking up discovers their entire cast and crew are snowed out, and they’re snowed in. They undertake to perform the entire thing themselves; and as the show goes on, their personal story invades the Dickens tale and informs it with dual levels of meaning. In Lakewood (south of Tacoma).
Phoenix Theatre: Inspecting Carol (closing 12/19). Behind the scenes of a struggling theatre’s annual clumsy production of A Christmas Carol, this laugh-out-loud spoof makes for a night at the theatre that is anything but show business as usual. In Edmonds.
Red Curtain Foundation for the Arts: The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ (closing 12/19). A small theatre troupe tries to get through a production of A Christmas Carol, and it’s disaster-prone from the start — from broken-down transportation to collapsing scenery, line mix-ups to infighting. But they carry on, having a jolly good time along the way and bringing the audience along with them, with improvisational audience participation throughout. In Marysville.
Unexpected Productions: A(n Improvised) ‘Christmas Carol’ (closing 12/23). Based on audience suggestions, improvisers will weave Dickens’s tale in all sorts of hilarious ways. Each show is different, merging this literary classic with over 30 audience suggestions: Where does Scrooge work? What ails Tiny Tim? Does Scrooge even get reformed? It’s all up to you in this wild, hilarious, holiday ride. In Seattle (Pike Place Market).
Seattle Public Theater: Christmastown (closing 12/24). In Seattle (Green Lake). In this film noir-inspired holiday thriller, hard-boiled detective Nick Holiday investigates some un-holiday-like shenanigans taking place in Christmastown, which send him on a search for the truth about Big Red. A glamorous elf, a used-Christmas-tree salesman, a muckraking reporter, and a quick-thinking cab driver round out this modern Seattle holiday tradition.
Village Theatre: Welcome Home: A Holiday Concert (Everett show closes 12/5; opens in Issaquah 12/8, closing 12/26). Vocalists Andi Alhadeff, Kyle Nicholas Anderson, Jordon Bolden, Kataka Corn, and Shaunyce Omar sing Christmas songs and selections from musicals with a four-piece band. In Everett and Issaquah.
Pacific Northwest Ballet: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (closing 12/28). Ready to celebrate the holidays with renewed gusto? With its classic score, thrilling dance, resplendent costumes and scenery, and magical story, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is the perfect centerpiece of holiday cheer in the beautifully decked McCaw Hall. Read NWT’s review of the 2019 (most recent) production here. In Seattle (Seattle Center); streaming also available, beginning 12/20.
Taproot Theatre: Babette’s Feast (closing 12/30). Babette finds safety in a tiny mountain village, but petty squabbles and personal slights render the pious villagers as frigid and unforgiving as their surroundings. On one snowy December night, in an act of radical generosity, Babette prepares a feast so lavish that it awakens and transforms the brittle hearts in the village. In Seattle (Greenwood); streaming also available, beginning 12/3.
Harlequin Productions: A Christmas Carol (closing 12/31). Hailed as the greatest ghost story ever told, this classic packs a healthy dose of cheer and family-friendly, ghostly special effects. With its first production of A Christmas Carol, Harlequin begins a new South Sound holiday tradition with a fresh adaptation of Charles Dickens’s timeless story of transformation, absolution, and grace. In Olympia.
On the Boards & Sub Pop: The Future Is 0 (runs 12/2-4). This cult-comedy live game show has artist contestants competing in a dizzying array of mental, physical, and psychological challenges. With original music, unique animations, produced video segments, absurdist games, and biting social commentary. In Seattle (Lower Queen Anne).
Penguin Productions @ U-Heights: Metamorphoses (runs 12/4-5). Tony Award-winning Mary Zimmerman’s smash hit conjures the force of Ovid’s myths into gorgeous imagery, provocative moments and breathtaking storytelling. In Seattle (University District).
UW Undergraduate Theatre Society: Short Play Festival (runs 12/3-5). University of Washington undergraduate theatre students present a festival of three short plays, each running 10-20 minutes. In Seattle (UW main campus).
Cornish College of the Arts: Streaming Theater Festival (runs 12/3-11). Cornish students present several productions, all online: She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms, Pippin, Tiger Beat, Senior Cabaret, and Senior Thesis Productions. Online.
Shoreline Community College Theater: Lost Girl (opening 12/3, closing 12/5). What became of Wendy Darling in the years following her adventures with Peter Pan? Long after returning from Neverland, Wendy decides that she must find Peter in order to reclaim her kiss and move on with her life. Along the way, she meets other girls who went to Neverland and learns she is not alone. In Shoreline.
University of Puget Sound Theatre Arts: Director’s Lab (runs 12/6-7). A festival of scenes selected from five full-length plays, directed by students of Theatre 313: Directing. In Tacoma.
Continuing Runs & Closing Soon
Harlequin Productions, Until the Flood (closing 12/4). A documentary-style play based on interviews following the shooting of Michael Brown and protests in Ferguson. Read NWT’s review here. In Olympia.
Cafe Nordo, Curiouser and Curiouser: Down the Rabbit Hole and Feast of the Queens (closing 12/19). Two separate shows form a food-centric theatrical experience, inspired by Alice in Wonderland. In Seattle (Pioneer Square).
Tacoma Musical Playhouse: Cinderella – Enchanted Edition (closing 12/19). Inspired by the acclaimed 1997 teleplay starring Brandy and Whitney Houston, this version of the magical fairy tale is reborn with the Rodgers & Hammerstein hallmarks of originality, charm, and elegance. In Tacoma (west side/6th Ave.).
Centerstage Theatre: Puss in Boots (closing 12/19). In this holiday pantomime, a fantastical mix-up brings a little luck, a little magic, and a very clever cat. In Federal Way (Dash Point).
ArtsWest: We’ve Battled Monsters Before (closing 12/26). When you’re the youngest sibling in a family of secret warriors who for generations have protected Seattle from monsters and demons, living up to your Lola’s expectations is, in a word, daunting. Adarna’s mistakes were cute at first, but when they begin to cost her family more than she ever imagined, she must decide what she would sacrifice to save them. Loosely adapted from the 16th century Filipino epic poem Ibong Adarna, playwright-composer-lyricist Justin Huertas returns to his Lizard Boy roots with a sweet and intimate actor-musician musical adventure. In West Seattle.
Want to plan your show schedule further out? See NWT’s Performance Calendar, which aims to list just about every theatre show in town.
Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of NWTheatre.org.