This Week in Arts: Weekly Roundup (5/6)

This week, catch a highly recommended Pulitzer Prize-winning drama that just opened, a world-premiere original musical, a trans-centering film festival, and loads of ways to celebrate the moms in your life. 

Ticketing links for most shows can be found on the Performance Calendar page here.  

[Updated 5/7 to add recommendation of Afterwords, which opened after original post.] 



ACT Theatre: Sweat 
Anne Allgood and cast in ‘Sweat’ at ACT Theatre. Photo by Truman Buffett.

An Exceptional American Portrait
Runs through 5/22. In Downtown Seattle.

ACT’s production of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opened last night, may be the best drama I’ve seen in years. One of the few 2020 season holdovers left to go up, this one was clearly worth the wait — perhaps feeling even more timely and poignant since then.

None of its themes feel any more removed, or less urgent, in the America of today. And Nottage’s ability to pick at those wounds, and try to put them back together again, might be unmatched.

The show could be worth seeing just for Anne Allgood’s drunk dancing in a dive bar and Tracy Michelle Hughes impersonating Cher’s warbling along to “Believe,” but it goes well beyond the comedic bits and top-notch actors.

It’s a tight, deeply moving play, with a cast to match.

Tickets are $27-$69, here.


The 5th Avenue Theatre: Afterwords 

A New Musical With Warmth and Depth
Runs through 5/21. In Downtown Seattle.

Afterwords, a world-premiere musical at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo by Tracy Martin.

This original musical, a “story about stories,” is one to watch. Its themes are tough ones — mental illness, alcoholism, war reporting, loss of a parent, and more — but it ultimately has a hopeful feel.

The cast is terrific, including Seattle favorite Mari Nelson in a role showcasing her strength and versatility; the set, which overflows with books, is very cool (design by Carey Wong, lighting design by Robert J. Aguilar); and most of the music would be at home on pop rock channels if the stations were any good.

Written by Emily Kaczmarek (book) and Zoe Sarnak (music and lyrics), Afterwords is having its world premiere at The 5th following development at Village Theatre’s Beta Series and Festival of New Musicals, among others.

Tickets are $89-$179, here. Financial accessibility note: If you would benefit from low-cost tickets to this show, please email NWTheatre (contact info here) with “Afterwords” in the subject line.



Celebrating Moms 


ArtsWest: Alma
Opens tonight, runs through 5/22. In West Seattle.

I’ve seen Benjamin Benne’s play, Alma, in a couple of iterations and titles — an early version, already fueled by a compelling story, in development with the playwrights group Parley; and a wonderful workshop production two years later, with Theatre Battery in Kent — and was thrilled to see a full production land on ArtsWest’s season announcement. Alma centers on the American dream through the eyes of Alma, a hard-working mother who fought hard to bring her daughter opportunities as a U.S. citizen, and her daughter, Angel, who’s feeling the pressures of landing center-stage in all her mother hopes for. Benne’s characters are drawn with heart and insight that looks at once into one family’s living room and the noise of a divided country around them. Tickets are sliding scale ($18.50+) for all; info here.


Tacoma Little Theatre: The Happiest Song Plays Last
Runs through 5/14. In Seattle (International District).

There are mom-moms, to one family, and then there are community moms, to everyone else. Yaz, a central character in Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes’ The Happiest Song Plays Last, is very much the latter — both to her neighborhood family in Philly and her extended blood family working overseas. In her home, it’s an open-door/open-stove policy. But even the biggest heart can grow weary. With warmth and conviction, Tacoma Little Theatre’s production explores different looks of maternal love in a world that can’t always return it. Tickets are $27, here.


Three Dollar Bill Cinema: Translations Film Festival 
This weekend only. Online and in Seattle (Capitol Hill).

Films in the trans-centering Translations Film Festival likewise honor community moms, including Lorena Borjas, called “the mother of the trans Latinx community,” (featured in the film Caer) and activist-leader Bamby Salcedo, whose story is at the center of the documentary LA Queenciañera. Some selections in the Reel Kids short films program champion trans-supportive parents. Tickets are sliding scale ($5+ for virtual screenings) for all; info here. See NWT’s reviews of those and other films in a festival preview, here


Cafe Nordo: Down the Rabbit Hole
Runs through 5/28 (Sunday brunch through 5/22). In Seattle (Pioneer Square).

If mom is a bit adventurous — and can get down the steep flight of stairs, an unfortunate barrier — show her a good time in a Wonderland-themed cabaret over a very tasty brunch. The plot is a little loose, but it’s hard to beat the quirky courses, refined cocktails, and mysterious artsy Wonderland forest that’ll surround your tables. Even the salad is unexpected — and delicious. Tickets are $100 (including 5-course brunch), here.


Village Theatre: You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Runs through 5/22 (in Issaquah) and 5/27-6/19 (in Everett).

If you’re looking for fun for the whole family — or a smart-alecky approach, in showing the kids do just fine without grown-ups … at least in the comics and cartoons — Village Theatre’s current show is a great choice. In the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, the songs are a fun, kid-friendly and adult-satisfying type of sass; and set design and costuming are fantastical and cheery. But the biggest bright spot is how well the cast of grown-ups pulls off the uniquely Peanuts balance of childlike innocence and wisdom beyond their years. Tickets are $53-$91, here; pay-what-you-choose performances on 5/11 (evening), 5/12 (matinee), and 5/14 (evening).



Openings & Short Runs      


Pamela Z: Other Rooms  @ On the Boards (runs through 5/7). In Seattle (Lower Queen Anne).

Red Rover Theatre Company: Patrimony  @ 18th & Union (opened yesterday, closing 5/14). In Seattle (Central District).

Can Can Culinary Cabaret: Lola  (opened yesterday, closing 8/28). In Seattle (Pike Place Market).

The 5th Avenue Theatre: Afterwords  (in previews, opens tonight, closing 5/21). In Downtown Seattle.

ArtsWest: Alma  (in previews, opens tonight, closing 5/22). In West Seattle.

Seattle Children’s Theatre: The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963  (in previews, opens tonight, closing 5/22). At the Seattle Center.

Harlequin Productions: Sovereignty  (opens tonight, closing 5/28). In Olympia.

Seattle Opera: The Marriage of Figaro  (opens 5/7, closing 5/22). At the Seattle Center (Mercer St. side).

MOMIX: Alice  @ Meany Center (runs 5/12-14). In Seattle (UW main campus).



Closing Soon 


The Changing Scene Theatre Northwest: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)[revised]  @ Dukesbay Theater (closing 5/7). In Tacoma.

Coriolis Dance: The Art of Seafaring  @ Yaw Theater (closing 5/7). In Seattle (Georgetown).

ManeStage Theatre: Anne of Green Gables  (closing 5/8). In Puyallup.

Twelfth Night Productions: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee  @ Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (closing 5/8). In West Seattle (Delridge).



Continuing Runs 


Reboot Theatre Company: Cabaret  @ Theatre Off Jackson (closing 5/14). In Seattle (International District).

Intiman Theatre: Two Mile Hollow  @ Broadway Performance Hall (closing 5/14). In Seattle (Capitol Hill).

Sound Theatre Company: Gaslight (Angel Street)  @ 12th Avenue Arts (closing 5/14). In Seattle (Capitol Hill).

Tacoma Little Theatre: The Happiest Song Plays Last  (closing 5/15). In Tacoma.

Seattle Rep: Selling Kabul  (closing 5/22). At the Seattle Center (Mercer St. side).

Seattle Shakespeare Company: Much Ado About Nothing  (closing 5/22). At the Seattle Center.

Theatre22: Or,  @ Seattle Public Theater (closing 5/22). In Seattle (Green Lake).

Seattle Children’s Theatre: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus: The Musical  (closing 5/22). At the Seattle Center.

Cafe Nordo: Down the Rabbit Hole  (closing 5/28). In Seattle (Pioneer Square).

Village Theatre: You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown  (closing 5/22 in Issaquah; runs 5/27-6/19 in Everett). In Issaquah & Everett.


The Roundup is a weekly (ish) feature. Want to plan your show schedule further out? See NWT’s 2022 Shows list, which aims to list just about every theatre show in town. For shows by day and ticketing info, see the Performance Calendar.

Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of NWTheatre.org.