You know who needs a break? You do. And there are plenty of great excuses to get out of town this month, with shows just a scenic daytrip away.
List will be updated throughout July as needed.
Now thru July 23
Bellingham Theatre Works: Fairhaven Summer Repertory Theatre
The most recognizable title among this trio of rotating modern dramas is What the Constitution Means to Me, but more intriguing might be the harder to find shows: Keely and Du (a pregnant woman held hostage by a fundamentalist Christian sect, forcing her to carry her pregnancy to term) and Gidion’s Knot (a teacher-parent showdown over a young student’s death by suicide). The themes are weighty, but it feels like a timely slate. Tickets and schedule here.
While You’re There
There’s plenty to do (and eat, and drink) in Bellingham. Check out the taproom of a favorite Bellingham-based brewery, Stemma Brewing, with fun decor and great brews; or one of Kulshan Brewing’s three locations, including the original beer garden (called — sometimes comically — Sunnyland) and the intriguing, new-to-me location (called Trackside) in the Waterfront Container Village.
If you’re looking for lunch on the way up, head to The Fairhaven in Burlington. The friendly, casual spot has delicious sandwiches, lemon bars, and plenty more. Open Wednesday-Saturday.
And if you have time to chill earlier in the day, head west to Sunset Beach in Anacortes’ Washington Park for a day of gorgeous views from a quiet, woodsy beach.
All of the above are very dog-friendly spaces. 🐶
Chimacum & Port Townsend
Finnriver Cidery (aerialists, puppets & more)
The sprawling cidery in the small town of Chimacum boasts a big variety of guest performers in its orchard over the summer, chased with a big range of flavors flowing from the taproom year-round. Ones to watch this month are Up Up Up! (a circus of acrobats, aerialists, clowns, and musicians, with a crane truck as their stage) (July 9); Bootleg Sunshine + Aerial Amy (Afro-Cuban and Spanish guitar with aerial performance) (July 16); and a variety of paint-and-sip, wander-and-sketch, music, and literary events. Later on, check out the Port Townsend-based Saltfire Theatre’s Taming of the Shrew (August 10-13), and Olympia-based String & Shadow Puppet Theater’s Ship of Fools: A Giant Puppet Odyssey (August 18-19).
If you enjoy yourself there, consider becoming a cider club member, which is a great deal and a fun excuse to make a quarterly cider voyage. (And feel free to list me as your reference — I’ll never turn down the free drink of a referral bonus.)
Finnriver is not dog-friendly, which is a bummer. They do have limited shady parking (over by the dog yard, which does not allow drinks), which is workable for dog comfort if you deck out your car with plenty of fans and cooling blankets. 🚫🐶
July 28 – August 13
Key City Public Theatre @ Chetzemoka Park
They call it Shakespeare in the Park but that’s a bit of a misnomer, as there’s very little classical Shakespeare happening in this season’s lineup. Key City, Port Townsend’s established theatre company and venue, collaborates with other artists and companies to present novel shows with a gorgeous water view. (That’s true both of the company’s indoor shows at its main venue, directly across from Port Townsend Bay and the Salish Sea, and its grassy summer stage right on the water at Chetzemoka Park.) This season is Constellations (July 28-30), Titus & Juliet, a mashup of the Shakespeare plays (August 4-6), and Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea with Dacha Theatre (August 11-13).
Park season schedule and reservations (pay-what-you-choose) here. 🐶
After its park season, the short play festival Sips & Scripts, an indoor showing of new plays and cocktails, rounds out the summer (August 19-20).
While You’re There
In the tiny agricultural town of Chimacum, Finnriver is kind of a daytrip unto itself, made for lazy days of reading, chatting, and sipping endless varieties of cider. The refreshing Autumn’s Blush and this year’s robust Lavender Black Currant are current go-to favorites, or try one of their daily flights for the biggest grazing opportunity. Food options depend on the day, but crepes, ramen, and wood-fired pizza (make sure to try the Orchard — a pizza with apples, bacon, and balsamic) make regular appearances. But while you’re in Chimacum, might as well check out the market on the corner (browse the end-caps for treats, including some yummy rosemary scones); and (bear with me here) the bathroom at the Chevron across the street, where the sink is made out of a gas nozzle and a tire.
About 20 minutes north, the seaside Victorian town of Port Townsend is a stark contrast, with plenty to do and a steady stream of tourists throughout the season. But there’s a lot of calm to find there, too. Choice waterside reading spots include access points off Water Street at Quincy Street (covered benches on a landing directly over the water) and Tyler Street (a tiny street-end park with picnic tables and buskers). Nearby Tommyknockers has great food, a chill vibe, and plenty of dog-friendly tables. 🐶
Langley – Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island Center for the Arts: The Shot
For just a three-day run, Sharon Lawrence takes the local stage as Katharine Graham, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter of some of the messiest political dramas of the Nixon era. Lawrence has a plenty long acting resume, but is best known to me from appearances on Rizzoli and Isles; others would probably point to years on Broadway or NYPD Blue. Either way, this is a rare chance to see a well-known screen actor take on a compelling character on a local stage. Tickets here.
July 21 – September 10
Island Shakespeare Festival: Romeo & Juliet and Bold Stroke for a Husband
The summer-spanning outdoor theatre festival this year presents a Shakespeare classic alongside a modern Shakespeare-inspired work that brings strong female characters to the forefront. Schedule and reservations (or pay-what-you-choose at the door) here. (Note: this outdoor venue doesn’t allow dogs and mentions only direct-sunlight parking is available, making it the least dog-friendly of the daytrip destinations.) 🚫🐶
While You’re There
Honestly? I have no idea, since I haven’t been to Whidbey Island in ages. But the south end of the island is a short ferry trip from Mukilteo, and the prevalence of pretty scenery and tasty breweries (including dog-friendly ones) looks pretty high. 🐶
San Juan Islands
Now through July 30
San Juan Community Theatre: Fully Committed
This established theatre runs a year-round season on its two San Juan Island stages, and currently presents a one-actor, many-character modern play skewering foodie culture, workplace hierarchies, and entitlement, all from a haute cuisine reservation phone line. Info and tickets here.
July 20 – August 20
Island Stage Left: Twelfth Night
The Friday Harbor company’s seasonal “Shakespeare Under the Stars” presents free nighttime outdoor performances on San Juan Island. Info here.
Opera on Tap @ Vita’s Wildly Delicious
The nationwide organization Opera on Tap brings opera performances into bars, and this time the Seattle chapter brings opera into a casual restaurant and wine bar on Lopez Island. Sounds delightful. Info here.
Good to Know
Getting to the San Juans takes more planning than your usual daytrip, with reservations recommended if you’re taking a car aboard the popular (and less frequent) ferry, which leaves from Anacortes (itself a decent daytrip from Seattle). View a ferry guide for the islands here.
Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of NWTheatre.org.