Art and Performance

The Best Theater, Dance, And Comedy in Seattle This Winter

Picks from Seattle Art and Performance
December 9, 2015

Find a complete list of theater and dance in Seattle this winter on our Things To Do calendar.

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Theater | Musical Theater | Dance | Cabaret & Variety | Comedy



recommendedHoliday of Errors (Through Dec 20): Holiday of Errors (Or, Much Ado About Stockings) is a [new] star in Seattle's holiday-theater constellation and an addition to the micro-genre of comedies about Shakespeare as a working playwright, stuffed with winking references to his plays. Theater about making theater has a high risk of being intolerably geeky and self-referential. But playwrights Frank Lawler and Daniel Flint skirt the edge of that chasm without falling into it. BRENDAN KILEY

recommended Six Pack Series (Jan 26): The folks over at Washington Ensemble Theater organize this quarterly-ish variety show around a theme. A brief list of previous themes will give you an idea of how funny and moving and politically engaged these performances tend to be. "Too Drunk to Fuck" was an early one. Another was,"Too Feminist to Come Up With a Name That Respects All Intersectional Minorities While Still Remaining Irreverent and Funny." The directive for this installment of the series is "Shut the Fuck Up! We Need to Talk About Race!" Special guest hosts Malika Oyetimein and Hazel Lozano will present six artists, all of whom will perform pieces related to the concept of race. Beers and booze available at the bar. RS

recommendedThe Motherfucker with the Hat (Jan 15—Feb 1): The Motherfucker with the Hat marks the second of two expletive-punctuated productions from the Washington Ensemble Theatre this year. The play, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis, involves a love triangle between a young woman struggling with addiction, a man recently released from prison, and a dried-up friend of theirs. The discovery of some motherfucker's hat sets off the action, and a tale of moral relativism (and lots of cussing) unfolds. WET tends to pick strangely affecting dramas shot through with a lot of comedy. This one seems to fit the bill. RS


recommended 14/48: The World's Quickest Theater Festival (Jan 8—Jan 16): High pressure, high stakes, and surprisingly effective results. This mini-festival at ACT Theatre, presented by the 14/48 Projects, challenges artists to "write, cast, design, direct, score, rehearse, and perform" 14 plays in 48 hours. It's interesting to observe how far pure instinct will get you in theater.


recommended Spin the Bottle (Every First Fri at 11 pm): This is Seattle's longest-running cabaret and has seen just about everything—dance, theater, comedy, paper airplanes, tears, stunts, music, romance—from just about everyone.


recommended King Kirby (Jan 8—Jan 23): King Kirby, written by Crystal Skillman and Fred Van Lente, takes on the story of comic book creator Jack Kirby, from his childhood in New York, to his army service in World War II, and finally, to his moment standing accused on the Senate floor.


recommended Theater Anonymous presents It's a Wonderful Life (Dec 12): A one-night-only performance of It's a Wonderful Life, with a real twist: nobody knows the cast, not even the cast. The cast members have never met each other, and have taken oaths of secrecy. They will literally pop up out of the audience and start participating. (In other words, if your spouse invites you to a show, don't let your guard down. He might be playing George Bailey.)


recommended Seattle Fringe Festival 2016 (Feb 26—Mar 6): Seattle Fringe Festival is back, firmly. They present two weekends of performances by local artists, put together in a way that's risky and exciting.


recommended 2155: An Exploration of Afrofuturism in Perfomance Art (Feb 11—Feb 21): Seattle's contribution to the funkadelic aesthetic of the diaspora extends beyond Octavia Butler and her amazing sci-fi, as this performance aims to show. Lowa de Boom Boom and Sin de la Rosa bring the burlesque; Garfield Hillson, Monique Franklin, and Shelli Kountz bring the words; and Natasha Marin brings the interdisciplinary visual and physical poetry. 2014 Stranger Genius nominee Erik Blood, the composer and musician known most recently for his work with Shabazz Palaces, performs a closing set on Saturday. RS


recommended Anastacia Tolbert: 9 Ounces (Dec 17-19): This one-woman show, featuring characters Alice, Luna, and Saraphina, was written by Hugo House writer-in-residence Anastacia Tolbert and first premiered at The Project Room. The performance promises themes that loop around, interweave, and pop back through, all through multiple characters portrayed by a single actor.


recommended The Life Model (Jan 14—Jan 17): What did the 2011 revolution in Cairo look like from the perspective of a young Egyptian leftist? Or an Egyptian video artist struggling with the decision to leave the country? A plastic surgeon from Rio? An American studying Islamic art? Local playwright/actor/professor of drama at UW, Jeffrey Fracé, has teamed up with a group of international artists, including Stranger Genius in Literature Maged Zaher, to create a story that draws on these perspectives. The performance incorporates video, movement, music, and language to create a multi-faceted portrait of Cairo before and during the revolution. RS

recommended Riding on a Cloud (Jan 28—Jan 31): Lebanese artist Rabih Mroué returns to OtB with a performance drawing on the experiences of his brother Yasser Mroué's personal experiences in the Lebanese Civil War, written by Rabih and performed by Yasser.


recommended Romeo and Juliet (Feb 18—Mar 18): Seattle Immersive Theatre (Listening Glass and Dump Site) presents Romeo and Juliet, directed by Emily Penick. Guests are invited to a masquerade party, where "free-flowing champagne," hors d'oeuvres, and a contemporary take on Shakespeare's tale of woe are all on offer. RS


recommended Come From Away (Through Dec 20): After 9/11, the United States closed its airspace and diverted 38 planes to the airport near Gander, Newfoundland. There, 7,000 people from all over the world converged on a town of 7,000 Newfies. What happened when these kind island-people who lived in the poorest province in Canada realized that they had to play host to a bunch of irritated and scared and stranded "plane people" who nearly outnumbered them? They helped. This is the strong, uplifting premise of Come From Away, a musical running now at the Seattle Rep. RS

recommended Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales: Unwrapped (Through Dec 13): There are no words for how brain-explodingly brilliant Jinkx Monsoon is. You think she was funny on RuPaul's Drag Race? You don't know the half of it. She brought down the house in The Vaudevillians at Seattle Rep last year, which was such a smash hit that the Rep offered Jinkx and Major Scales "an open invitation to come back to us with a new show." This is it! It's a holiday show, so expect really fucked-up Christmas songs—or maybe Hanukkah songs. Jinkx is half Jewish, as every die-hard Jinkx fan worth their salt knows. Christopher Frizzelle

recommended Constellations (Jan 22—Feb 21): Playwright Nick Payne's rom-com dramatizes courtship in the era of quantum physics. Within this framework of reality, one where lives and loves play out in many dimensions and universes, Roland tries to seduce theoretical physicist Marianne. The actors' body movements indicate changes in time-space, which, understandably, throws a wrench in many pair-bonding strategies. The short play (under an hour) did well at the Royal Court Theatre in London, and should find a happy home on our tech-y shores. RS


recommended SnowGlobed (Through Dec 19): The fifth iteration of SnowGlobed features five new holiday-inspired plays by Nicky Davis, K. Brian Neel, Kelleen Conway Blanchard, Benjamin Benne, and Pilar O'Connell. Look out for divorce courts, miserable orphanages, bloody puppet shows, and all the usual holiday staples.

Musical Theater


recommended The Crystal Palace (Dec 12): A whimsical (we're talkin' blanket forts, y'all) theatrical concert featuring Whitney Lyman, Ian McCutcheon, and Kelton Sears.


recommended Taylor Mac: A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: Songs of the American Right (Dec 10—Dec 12): This show is Taylor Mac's political and funny introduction to what will eventually be a 24-hour-long performance work.


recommended The Book of Mormon (Dec 29—Jan 10): The smash-hit musical from the creators of South Park is coming to Seattle. Few things reach mass cultural appeal like this anymore—Breaking Bad comes close—where everyone and their mother is still talking about it.



recommended reSET (Feb 4): Curated by Mark Haim, Babette Pendleton, and Ali Mohamed el-Gasseir, reSET is a sort of arts-share dance series put on by the Washington Ensemble Theatre. Choreographers perform new pieces using the set for whatever play the company happens to be producing at that time. Marc Kenison (aka Waxie Moon) and Alice Gosti! (aka durational performer who once wrapped herself in pounds of toilet paper while people told her stories) will reimagine the stage for The Motherfucker with the Hat to suit their artistic needs. RS


recommended Buttcracker (Dec 18—Dec 20): The most brilliantly titled show playing in Seattle. It features modern dance and "the energy of an '80s rock concert."


recommended The Nutcracker (Through Dec 28): After retiring its much-loved Nutcracker last year, Pacific Northwest Ballet unveils a fresh one with new-to-the-company choreography by George Balanchine and a mystery design by illustrator (and theater designer) Ian Falconer. Generations of Seattle dance-heads are counting down the days to see what it'll be like. BK

recommended Roméo et Juliette (Feb 5—Feb 14): The ballet's contemporary design and Jean-Christophe Maillot's choreography is a great companion to PNB Orchestra's performance of Sergei Prokofiev's powerfully haunting score.

Cabaret & Variety


recommended Junk Yard (Every Thurs at 9:30 pm): Curated by Seattle-based male entertainer Jonny Boy, this hunk-filled performance will be appreciated by birthday boys and brides-to-be alike. Abs are imminent. 21+


recommended Homo for the Holidays 2015 (Dec 10—Dec 27): BenDeLaCreme, Kitten N' Lou, Cherdonna, Waxie Moon, and more help you usher in the holiday season and make your yuletide gay. Look forward to sexy, spectacular drag and burlesque acts.



recommended Weird and Awesome with Emmett Montgomery (Every First Sun at 7:30 pm): On the first Sunday of each month, comedy, variety, and "a parade of wonder and awkward sharing" are hosted by the self-proclaimed "mustache wizard" Emmett Montgomery.


recommended Amy Schumer (Dec 31): This year, Amy Schumer starred in a movie she wrote, Trainwreck, released an HBO comedy special, and hosted Saturday Night Live, plus she scored a couple Emmys for her eponymous and frequently hilarious show that uses humor as a tool to poke fun at the patriarchy, Inside Amy Schumer. This New Year's Eve, instead of getting blitzed on André and making out in front of your lonely friends, do all that in front of Schumer at KeyArena. RS


recommended Close Friends (Dec 11): Emmett Montgomery, Elicia Sanchez, and Danielle K. L. Gregoire will perform some comedy, with open-mic slots peppered throughout the show.


recommended The Seattle Process with Brett Hamil (Dec 9): Described as "Seattle's only intentionally funny talk show" and "a mudpie lobbed into the halls of power," the local Stewart-like presence of Brett Hamil is one of exasperation, information, and comedy. December's edition at Northwest Film Forum will feature Lindy West, Ahamefule J. Oluo, Nick Licata, an update from Seattle Tunnel Partners on Bertha and "the Viaduct Doom Portal," and awards for Hamil-endorsed candidates who ran in the November election.


recommended Collide-O-Scope (Every Second, Fourth Mon): Created and hosted by Michael Anderson and Shane Wahlund, Collide-O-Scope is the cavalcade of curated video delights that takes over Re-bar twice a month. The show keeps getting better, with thematic suites, hallucinatory repetition, and inspired guests. (A recent show featured artist Clyde Petersen, who's working his way through every film in Scarecrow Video's LGBT video section and showed up to share some of his findings). Perennial bonuses: free popcorn and Red Vines, and multiple prizes waiting to be won via drawings throughout the show.


recommended The Gay Uncle Time (Every First Wed at 7 pm): It's an avuncular variety show starring Santa-esque comedian Jeffrey Robert and a rotating cavalcade of local stars, drag queens, storytellers, and weirdos. Get a healthy dose of history, comedy, and song from the gay uncle you always wished you had and his friends you always suspected were up to no good. Get there early if you want a seat—their shows are often filled to capacity, with latecomers turned away. Hey, a room can fit only so many nieces and nephews. Copresented by the Comedy Womb. MATT BAUME

recommended Wine Shots: Comedy's Happiest Hour (Every Second Sun): This all-female comedy variety show comes complete with an all-female Michael Bolton cover band, Lightning Bolton. Organized by the very funny Elicia Sanchez, it's every second Sunday of the month in the Grotto at the Rendezvous, and every audience member gets a free shot of wine.

recommended Comedy Womb Open Mic (Every Tues at 7 and 9 pm): The rules of this pro-lady stand-up night are refreshing in their simplicity: no misogyny and no heckling. Based on the size, quality, and diversity of the crowds it attracts, the rules work. Every Tuesday night, fans pack the Rendezvous Grotto to watch two and a half hours of comedy, about half of which is delivered by women. Having so many women onstage and in the crowd makes male comics more mindful of their sets and their audience, while reinforcing what should be obvious: Women can be just as funny (or unfunny) as men. Equality, hurrah!


recommended Gary Gulman (Feb 18): Gregarious comedian and Last Comic Standing finalist Gary Gulman, about whom The New York Times wrote, “Gary is finally being recognized as one of the country’s strongest comedians,” comes to Mercer Island.

Find a complete list of comedy shows in Seattle this winter on our Things To Do calendar.