This Week in Arts: Weekly Roundup (5/18)

If you haven’t seen ACT Theatre’s current production of the Pulitzer-Prize winning play Sweat, first go remedy that — it closes this weekend. And then go check out the abundance of other offerings this week, including new works from local playwrights, dance premieres, and a whole cast of puppets.   

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



Openings & Short Runs      


Riverwood – Seattle Public Theater & Langston  
Brandon Jones Mooney and Jordan-Michael Whidbey rehearse at Langston Hughes, where ‘Riverwood’ opens on Friday. Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Theater.

A new play on finding yourself in changing spaces
Opens Friday. In Seattle (two locations).

Seattle-based playwright Andrew Lee Creech’s world premiere play explores what happens when the place you’ve grown attached to is being “developed” without you.

Shepherding the play through many  developments of its own, Creech says, “What exists today is a conversation surrounding the damaging effects of gentrification and displacement, the dangers of growing up Black in America, the struggles with racism in the workplace, the channeling of creative energy, what it means to dare to dream, and how our communities share and hold each other through all of that.”

Directed by Shermona Mitchell, the cast features Rebecca M. Davis, Brandon Jones Mooney, Ayo Tushinde, Jordan-Michael Whidbey, and Dimitri Woods. This co-production between Seattle Public Theater and Langston Seattle will play at both locations — first in the historic Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in the Central District (5/19-6/5; opens 5/20), and then on SPT’s stage at Green Lake (6/17-26).

Tickets are $5-$50 (sliding scale available for all), here.


The Hue Festival @ Langston Hughes   

Presented by some of the best small theatre companies in the area, this festival of staged readings features new work by Nina Foxx directed by Sandra Holloway (presented by Brown Soul Productions), Nikki Yeboah directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton (The Hansberry Project), Keiko Green directed by Annie Lareau (Seattle Public Theater), and Lisa Price directed by Sadiqua Iman (Brown Soul Productions). The showcase runs May 22-25. Admission is pay-what-you-choose; schedule and tickets here.


Fussy Cloud Puppet Slam vol. 22 @ Theatre Off Jackson  
Some pretty sweet puppets by Kettlehead Studios. Photo courtesy of Fussy Cloud.

Puppet masters doing puppety things
Runs 5/20-21. In Seattle (International District).

I don’t exactly know what a puppet slam is, or a fussy cloud for that matter, but I do know that there’s been a dearth of good puppet-watching opportunities in local theatre lately. Apparently they’ve all descended upon a single stage for a little get-together.

This edition of the long-running show, the first since the pandemic stuff started, is hosted by burlesquer-clownster-arts maker Tootsie Spangles and features 10 artist groups from here, Portland, and the East Coast.

Tickets are all pay-what-you-choose, here.


A Look Ahead: Short Runs in Dance (Starting 5/24)  

Some noteworthy and recommended dance runs early in the following week are so short, it makes sense to get them on your radar now instead of waiting ’til the next roundup. (They also have limited tickets.)

First up, Spectrum Dance Theater returns with two premieres by acclaimed choreographer and Artistic Director Donald Byrd with Spectrum company dancers: Love Is … iteration #7  (“a highly collaborative, multimedia approach as it wonders at the powerful emotion of love”); and Grief  (which “delves deeply into the fury and pain” of Mamie Till-Mobley after White supremacists murdered her son, Emmett). Both performances feature guest vocalist and Spectrum collaborator Josephine Howell. Love Is … iteration #7 runs 5/24-25, and Grief performs 5/26-28; both are held at Spectrum’s studios on the shore of Lake Washington (Seattle – Madrona). Tickets for both are offered both at a $25 general rate and a pay-what-you-choose basis, here. No tickets will be sold at the door. 

Pacific Northwest Ballet gives its dancers a chance to show off their own choreography, in a setting much more intimate than its usual stage. In Next Step, PNB’s company dancers create original works for students in the PNB School Professional Division; the annual workshop is designed to provide infrastructure and support to grow tomorrow’s choreographic talent, while providing a performance opportunity to PNB’s most advanced students. This year’s choreographers include Malena Ani, Jonathan Batista, Mark Cuddihee, Noah Marztall, James Kirby Rogers, and Lily Wills. The same slate will perform twice (5/25-26), at On the Boards (Seattle – Lower Queen Anne). Tickets are $33, available here.

Likewise, PRICEarts presents an annual program highlighting N.E.W. company members as choreographers. inSHOP is designed to give dancers space to explore their own socially relevant concepts, pursuing on an individual and personal basis the PRICEarts mission to find freedom through art. The inSHOP sneak peek is an intimate opportunity for audience members to be on set with inSHOP choreographers and movers on the evening of filming, to view segments of each choreographer’s work, and to hear artists discuss their work while the filming process is fresh in their minds. This year’s choreographers include Ieva Bračiulytė, Allison Carrillo, Lisa Kwak, Nia-Amina Minor, and Symone Sanz. The event is on 5/26 at 12th Avenue Arts (Seattle – Capitol Hill), with free tickets here.

* * *

Dina Martina @ The Triple Door (runs tonight through 5/22). In Downtown Seattle.

Taproot Theatre: The Nerd  (preview tonight, opens 5/19, closing 6/18). In Seattle (Greenwood).

The 5th Avenue Theatre: And So That Happened …  @ ACT Theatre  (previews start tonight, opening TBD, closing 6/19). In Downtown Seattle.

University of Washington Drama: Passage  (in previews, opens 5/19, closing 5/29). In Seattle (U-District).

On the Boards: Dana Michel – Cutlass Spring  (runs 5/19-22). In Seattle (Lower Queen Anne).

Seattle Pacific University: String  (opens 5/19, closing 5/28). In Seattle (North Queen Anne).

Magpie Artists’ Ensemble: The Myth Cycle – Medusa’s Curse  (5/20 only). Online only.

Red Curtain Foundation for the Arts: Into the Woods  (opens 5/20, closing 6/5). In Marysville.

Centerstage Theatre: Yellow Fever  (opens 5/20, closing 6/12). In Federal Way (Dash Point).

The Changing Scene Theatre Northwest: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised]  @ Dukesbay Theater (runs 5/21-22). In Tacoma.

Drama Dock: Turn the Corner George  (staged reading) @ Vashon High School Theatre (5/22 only). On Vashon Island.



Closing Soon 


Sweat @ ACT Theatre  

Don’t Miss 
Closes 5/22. In Downtown Seattle.

Photo by Truman Buffett.

Under the boom of fireworks celebrating America, some long-tenured union workers find themselves shut out. Tensions erupt among them — and as nice as it’d be to sort out the enemies, Sweat doesn’t give in that easy. It peels back the problems and shows the humans underneath.

Lynn Nottage’s careful story construction, deft direction from John Langs, and an excellent cast are all aligned here. Even if this production of Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play wasn’t great on every level (it is), it’d be worth seeing just for Anne Allgood drunk dancing in a dive bar and Tracy Michelle Hughes matching Cher’s warbling along to “Believe”.

This is ACT getting back to what it does best — the best in contemporary works, and an exceptional piece of theatre.

Tickets are $27-$69, here; pay-what-you-choose rush tickets available for Sunday night’s show (see info here). ASL interpreted on Thursday night’s show.

* * *

The 5th Avenue Theatre: Afterwords  (closing 5/21). In Downtown Seattle.

Whim W’Him: Spring 22 – New Creations by Maurya Kerr, Micaela Taylor, and Olivier Wevers  (closing 5/21 at Cornish Playhouse in Seattle; also performs 5/25 on Vashon Island and 5/28 on Whidbey Island).

ArtsWest: Alma  (closing 5/22). In West Seattle.

Outrage Onstage: Miss Margarida’s Way  @ West of Lenin (closing 5/22). In Seattle (Fremont).

Rainy Day Artistic Collective: Much Ado About Nothing  (closing 5/22). Online only.

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.

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

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

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

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

Vashon Repertory Theatre: The Standing Nation  (closing 5/22). On Vashon Island.



Continuing Runs 


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

Edmonds Driftwood Players: Over the River and Through the Woods  (closing 6/5). In Edmonds.

Tacoma Musical Playhouse: In the Heights  (closing 6/5). In Tacoma.

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

Cafe Nordo: Down the Rabbit Hole  (extended through summer, and Sunday brunch shows added — closing 8/13). In Seattle (Pioneer Square).

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


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.