Stage picks

5th Avenue Theater—With the hire of new artistic director David Armstrong, the 5th Avenue has given a vote of confidence in Seattle's ability to produce first-rate musical theater, while acknowledging the fact that Broadway just don't make the blockbuster touring shows that they used to. Armstrong's won significant praise as an intelligent reinterpreter of classic musical texts, which local audiences will have a chance to judge for themselves when he directs Anything Goes, the Cole Porter shipboard folderol (11/26-12/17). Before that, however, the season opens with a big Parade, the Harold Prince/Alfred Uhry/Jason Robert Brown musical that gave Uhry a Tony last year. Critically lauded, this dark and thoughtful drama is based upon the true story of the lynching of a Jewish Northerner following a murder in Atlanta in 1913 (9/27-10/15). 1326 Fifth, 292-ARTS.

A Contemporary Theater—A particularly schizophrenic year from ACT has included crowd-pleasers (Talley's Folly) along with risk-takers (Via Dolorosa, The Fever) and the split between avant garde and paying the rent continues through December. Currently playing is the world premiere of In the Penal Colony, a new opera based upon the Franz Kafka novella, with music by Phillip Glass and libretto by Rudolph Wurlitzer, directed by the acclaimed JoAnne Akalaitis (ends 10/1). Then get ready for some aesthetic whiplash with a revival of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, featuring Seattle favorites John Proccacinio and R. Hamilton Wright (ideally typecast, we have to admit) as the feuding Oscar and Felix (9/29-10/29). Legendary actress Julie Harris returns to town with a revival of her star turn from a quarter-century ago, William Luce's intimate evening with Emily Dickinson The Belle of Amherst (10/13-11/5). The mainstage concludes with the traditional production of Gregory Falls' adaptation of A Christmas Carol, in which a frail old man is terrified mercilessly by a quartet of the undead (11/24-12/24). Meanwhile, the Bullitt Solo season continues with From the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log, a piece by solo performer and popular NPR commentator Kevin Kling, a collection of personal anecdotes about growing up quirky (10/11-10/29), Dmitry Lipkin's Moscow Nights, a story about an immigrant family's reunion in Brighton Beach that leads to a reexamination of their entire world (11/8-11/19). 700 Union, 292-7676.

A Theater Under the Influence—This small but seasoned fringe company highlights revivals of overlooked or occasionally completely unknown plays and start off their season with Table Work, an evening of one-acts from three theater giants, Strindberg's The Stronger, Brecht's The Informer, and Sam Shepard's Action, along with a fourth play, Rex by Joe Pintauro, who we know nothing about (9/15-10/14). Then as an antidote for season cheer, it's Christmas at the Johnson's, an original adaptation of Vvedensky's classic Russian absurdist work Christmas at the Ivanov's (December 2000, dates TBA). Union Garage, 1418 10th, 720-1942.

Annex Theater—While still facing possible eviction from their downtown venue at any particular time, the long-running fringe group resolutely trundles onward. Jeffrey Jones' caustic look at celebrityhood, Dirty Little Secrets, continues until 9/9, with four short plays by Anne Washburn, Everything Not Forbidden Is Permitted (And Vice Versa) running late nights through 9/8. Then it's a workshop production of a new musical by David Mesler about an introverted pianist and his contact with the spirit world, Blue Nocturne (9/14-9/16). October brings ATF: A Burlesque by Tom Wiseley, a send-up of the three holy cornerstones of American society, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (10/6-11/4), while sketch comedy troupe The Habit return in the late-night slot (10/13-11/28). Then say "Scrooge You" to the holiday season with The Ebeneezer Cycle, in which a quintet of Annex regulars each take a chapter of the Dickens holiday classic and mess it up good (12/1-12/16). 1916 Fourth, 728-0933.

ArtsWest—Thornton Wilder's Our Town, his classic study of the universal human experience through the day-to-day life of the inhabitants of a small town at the turn of the century, plays at the West Seattle venue, directed by Melanie White (9/29-10/21). Then as a holiday treat it's the remarkable UMO troupe with their exquisitely fantastical Expression of the Spirit, a fairy tale featuring an awkward princess who must go on a lengthy quest to find the cure for her ailing father (11/10-12/17). ArtsWest Playhouse, 4711 California SW, 938-0339.

Book-It Repertory Theater—The literary-minded folks at Book-It start their season with an original adaptation by Marcus Goodwin of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, her witty and perceptive romance about five daughters in need of husbands, and how the willful Elizabeth finds her match in the proud Mr. Darcy (9/8-9/24). Then it's a trotting out of the theater's (admittedly very funny) Owen Meany's Christmas Pageant, adapted from the John Irving novel, in which an impish student makes some "improvements" to his school's Yuletide drama with disastrous results (12/1-12/23). 216-0877.

Cabaret De Paris—The cabaret continues its small-stage, family-friendly musical fare with The Bouffants, charting the rise of a fictional girl group to the dizzying heights of No. 35 on the hit charts (ends 9/30). Then it's The Duke Ellington Songbook, featuring the vocal stylings of Jimi Ray Malary (10/5-11/18). Finally it's Richard Gray's annual poke at Seattle holiday cash cows and other Yule yawns, Forbidden Xmas 2000 (11/24-12/30). Crepe De Paris, 1333 Fifth, 623-4111.

Civic Light Opera—This venerable local troupe specializes in favorite American musicals and start with the classic "kid, you're gonna be a star!" backstage story 42nd Street (9/28-10/21). Then it's an unusual venture into the realm of Gilbert and Sullivan with H.M.S. Pinafore, the charming story of a sailor who loved a lass despite being decidedly below her station (11/16-12/9). Jane Addams Theater, 11051 34th NE, 363-2809.

Empty Space—As the search begins for a new artistic director (see above), the Space again offers its popular fund-raiser in which a collection of local celebrities regale us with dramatized stories from their own life in Seattle Stories (9/23). Then the season proper kicks off with Charles Ludlam's surprisingly structured comedy about romantic psychiatrists and the madness of love, Reverse Psychology (11/8-12/16). 3509 Fremont N, 547-7500.

Intiman Theater—The Chairs, Ionesco's absurdist comedy/tragedy, which has been given a colorful if slightly unnecessary gussying up by visiting director Kate Whoriskey, continues through 9/9. Then it's the Seattle premiere of The Weir, Conor McPherson's evening of ghost stories swapped by a collection of regulars in a remote bar in the Irish countryside (9/15-10/14). Then it's Shakespeare's wonderfully dark "problem comedy" of what happens when morality messes around with politics, Measure for Measure, directed by Oregon Shakespeare Festival's artistic director Libby Appel (10/20-11/18). Seattle Center, Intiman Playhouse, 269-1900.

New City Theater—Still in semi-hibernation, John Kazanjian's venerable experimental theater group presents a new work by New York playwright/designer John Jesurun entitled SNOW, in which an information collection agency streams all media through a group of people to determine what data is "pertinent" (11/8-12/9). 328-4683.

Northwest Actors Studio—The company begins their new season with an unusual adaptation of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, inspired by the concept developed by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater, with the political struggles set in a world of incipient fascism (9/1-9/23). Then it's Last Lists of My Mad Mother, an original work by Julie Jensen about the comic/tragic ravages of Alzheimer's (9/29-10/21). Finally, just in time for Christmas it's Mary Had a Little Lamb, Cora L. Jackson's new piece which uses gospel music, dance, and acting to tell the story of Mary's pregnancy with the baby Jesus (11/30-12/23). 1100 E Pike, 324-6328.

Northwest Puppet Center—The center's 13th season features all-ages entertainment from around the world, including the season opener, Sigi the Antelope, Tales of West Africa, where the resident Carter Family Marionettes work with Ocheami Dance and Drum to tell African fables (10/6-10/22). Then it's a visit from Canadian company Coad with Little Ghost Gilroy, a whimsical tale of friendship (10/27-11/12), and finally it's the return of The Nutcracker Puppet Ballet, in which the Carters use a variety of figures to tell the story of a little girl, a toy transformed into a brave soldier, and an evil Rat King (11/24-12/17). 9123 15th NE, 523-2579.

On the Boards—Seattle's long-standing home of dance and unconventional performance begins their new season with In Spite of Wishing and Wanting, an original multimedia/dance collaboration about the world of dreams, featuring the choreography of Belgian artist Wim Vandekeybus and an original score by Talking Heads founder David Byrne (10/19-10/22). Then the legendary Wooster Group make a visit to Seattle with North Atlantic, a satiric look at American military might and mistakes set aboard an aircraft carrier during the height of the Reagan/Bush years (11/16-11/19). 100W Roy, 217-9888.

One World Theater—The longtime small theater favorites will be presenting another of their offensive, anarchic, and highly unmissable fund-raisers Shave and a Haircut in October (date TBA), but most of their energy's going towards Perfect Stranger, a new play by Seattle playwright Carl Sander. When a fatal accident catapults an unknown guest into the lives of a married couple, they are forced to reevaluate their 20-year relationship and their individual imperfections (10/5-10/21). 264-1735.

Open Circle Theater—While searching for a new artistic director, the theater's cut back some on the number of plays-per-year that they offer each season. They've got a charming Halloween treat planned, however, Sunken by Lyam White, in which a regular guy has a whole slew of family problems, from an overbearing father to a departed wife, on top of which, he's undead (10/31-11/18). 429 Boren N, 382-4250.

Pork Filled Players—The multicultural sketch comedy group presents Dim Sum: The Musical!, an evening that puts music, dance, comedy, and hijinks into the same moving vehicle and puts a brick on the gas pedal (10/27-11/19).

Printer's Devil Theater—The Devils continue their exploration of classic texts with Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, his dark tragedy about a woman with an indomitable will whose disappointing marriage leads her clambering towards her own destruction. Featuring the quite remarkable Heidi Shreck as Hedda, directed by Paul Willis. Sand Point Naval Air Station, Bldg. 67. Thu-Sun. 10/12-11/18. Call 328-2690 for tickets.

Re-bar—It's a transexual rock musical! Get ready for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the long-running, off-Broadway favorite. Starring Nick Garrison, Sarah Rudinoff, and a four-piece band (musicians TBA). Previews 11/9, opens 11/10 for extended run. Thu-Sun at 8 (doors at 7). $15. 1114 Howell, 233-9873.

Repertory Actors Workshop—This scrappy multiethnic theater company's been under the helm of artistic director David Hsieh for quite a few years now, providing a mix of American standards with the occasional foray into new writing. This season's offerings are Tennessee Williams' A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, a study of the lives of four women living in St. Louis in the 1930s (10/5-10/22); the popular musical You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, adapted by Clark Gesner from Charles Schultz's immortal strip about a round-headed kid, his friends, and his delusional dog (10/12-10/29); A.R. Gurney's sentimental two-hander about a lifelong romance, Love Letters (10/15-11/15); and an original musical by Gary Iwamoto about a beauty pageant in a Japanese internment camp, Miss Minidoka, 1943 (11/2-11/12). Theater Off Jackson, 409 Seventh S, 364-3283.

Riptide Theater Company—West Seattle's theater-in-a-deli continues its low-tech, small show approach to popular plays with Willy Russell's Educating Rita, in which an alcoholic English tutor takes on a brash hairdresser and both find their lives changed in startling ways (10/13-11/11). Then for some light holiday fare, it's Neil Simon's popular comedy about couple dynamics, Plaza Suite (11/24-12/23). Liberty Deli, 2722 Alki SW, 935-8420.

Seattle Children's Theater—The company continues to do what it does best, providing entertaining, challenging fare for younger audiences with a pleasing preponderance for local artists and playwrights. The season begins with Peter Hall's esteemed adaptation of Animal Farm, George Orwell's deceptively simple fable about a group of farm animals who kick out their human oppressors only to find that the new bosses are worse than the old (9/15-10/28). Then an original dramatization of a cinema classic, Albert Lamorisse's The Red Balloon, which tells the story of a young boy's friendship with a magical balloon who's threatened by a gang of pin-wielding boys (10/6-12/30). Finally it's Prince Brat and the Whipping Boy, adapted from the Newbery Award-winning book by Sid Fleischman. This musical about friendship pairs up a spoiled young royal with a smart young urchin who leads him into adventure (11/10-1/13/01).

Seattle Public Theater—Now in their new home in the former Bathhouse Theater, the politically minded company presents Ghetto by Joshua Sobol, in which a Jewish theater troupe in the Vilna Ghetto attempts to fight Nazi oppression with Klezmer songs and a puppet (10/9-11/12). The company also offers two "Plays for Young Audiences," Animotion, presented by the Seattle Mime Theater (9/15-9/24), and A Child's Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas' sentimental evocation of Yuletide delights (12/13-12/24). 7312 W Green Lake N, 524-1300.

Seattle Repertory Theater—Comedienne Lily Tomlin is currently performing her popular one-woman show The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe at the Rep till 10/7. Next up at the theater is Jar the Floor, a new comedy by Cheryl L. West about a family reunion that brings four generations of feisty women together (9/18-10/28). That's followed by The Odyssey, an original adaptation of Homer's epic tale of the longest detour ever taken by Mary Zimmerman (10/16-11/18). In the Leo K., it's a rare event indeed, a world premiere of a play by a local playwright on the Rep stage (and it's not even Steven Dietz or August Wilson!), New Patagonia by Elizabeth Heffron. A counterculture guru stages a "death carnival" in his last days, and his son tries to communicate what his father's life has cost them both (11/13-12/23). Then former artistic director Dan Sullivan comes back to town to direct In Real Life, Charlayne Woodard's new one-woman show about the wild characters she met in her early days as an actress in New York (12/4-1/7/01). Seattle Center, Seattle Repertory Theater, 443-2222.

Seattle Shakespeare Company—That's right, Company. The once-seasonal Festival's switched to year-round programming highlighting the works of the Bard and have taken up residence in the Group Theater's old space at Seattle Center. Their Fall offering is a new production of Hamlet, Shakespeare's great tragedy of a son's quest to quell his own melancholy and revenge his father's death, directed by the group's artistic director Stephanie Shine (10/6-10/29). Seattle Center, Performance Studio, 305 Harrison, 286-0728.

Seattle Theater Group—The producers of the Moore and Paramount Theaters spotlight a collection of overlapping "seasons" of dance, music, performance, and theater. In the Moore's "Emerging Works" series, the Joe Goode Performance Group presents two new pieces of dance theater, Gender Heroes and Undertaking Harry, focusing on the life of the founder of the first gay civil rights movement, Harry Hay (10/20-10/21). In the Paramount's "Broadway" series, the recent hit revival of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun comes to town with screen and TV "stars" (ahem) Marilu Henner and Tom Wopat (11/28-12/10), followed by magician David Copperfield, who vows to annihilate 13 audience members in a fiery blast (12/15-12/17). Meanwhile, in the Moore's "Off-Broadway" series, master mime Marcel Marceau comes to town for a limited engagement of walking against the wind and building invisible walls (10/10-10/15), followed by It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, a tribute in music and dance to the many varieties of blues music (11/14-11/19), and then a special return engagement of con artist/wise guys Penn and Teller, for an evening of legerdemain, conjuring, and cool things (12/12-12/17). Paramount Ninth and Pine, Moore Theater, 1932 Second, 292-ARTS.

Stepping Stone Productions—This plucky fringe company begins their new season with Eric Bogosian's Sex, Drugs, and Rock n' Roll, his collection of monologues from those on the fringes of society by choice or by accident, performed by actor Peter Dylan O'Connor (10/19-11/18). Nippon Kan Theater, 628 Washington, 841-2521.

Stone Soup Theater—The theater/theater school features a production of Rumi, adapted by Colin Banks from the Eastern poet's writing (12/7-12/8). 4035 Stone Wy N, 633-1883.

Taproot Theater—Final show of the current season is the currently running Radio Gals, about an all-girl group in the early days of broadcasting who have to use smarts, wit, and a bit of sex appeal to keep their show on the air (ends 10/17).

Theater Schmeater—Transformations and Other Tales is artistic director Sheila Daniels' original adaptation of the poems of Anne Sexton to the stage, in which the stories of the Brothers Grimm are opened to reveal their essential brutality and sexuality (9/15-10/21). Then it's Bondagers by Sue Glover, a lyrical drama about a group of Scottish women in the late 19th century who yearn for a better life across the sea (11/10-12/16). In the late-night slot, there's a fall episode of the ever-popular Twilight Zone Live On-Stage, featuring dramatized productions of the classic black-and-white fantasy series (9/29-10/21). Finally, it's the eagerly anticipated "Holiday Show" of the absolutely hilarious Money and Run, Wayne S. Rawley's dead-on parody of white trash culture and bad TV (11/24-12/16). 1500 Summit, 324-5801.

Unexpected Productions—Yin/Yang is the newest evening of improvisation offered by the company, where quick-witted players explore the feminine (9/7-10/12), followed by Double Feature, in which two stories in two different film genres are invented on the spot (10/19-11/16). Then it's the return of the holiday favorite Citizen Scrooge, the company's inspired commingling of Citizen Kane, Dickens, and a whole slew of other pop-culture classics (11/24-12/23). Market Theater, 1428 Post Alley, 781-9273.

Ursa Major Theater—Currently playing at the Speakeasy Backroom is Living With Betty, an original solo show by Heather Benton about a young widow in 1966 Arizona whose new roommate shakes up her life considerably (ends 9/16). Then in November it's Grace, a new play by Catherine L. Johnston. From Thanksgivings past to November remains, follow one family through a storm-filled meal they will never forget (11/2-11/18). 323-7412.

UW School of Drama—The school's new season begins with two one-acts by the French comic master Moli貥, George Dandin (a jealous husband grows frantic) and Les Precieuses Ridicules (a parody of preening aristocrats), directed by Robert Goldsby (10/25-11/5), followed by On the Verge, Eric Overmyer's popular time-traveling comedy about a trio of Victorian women explorers who discover not only new lands but the 20th century as well (11/8-11/19). Then Lorraine Hansberry's rarely performed dramedy The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window follows a circle of Greenwich Village friends and their turbulence during a political campaign (11/30-12/10). 543-4880.

EASTSIDE

Boomer Classics—This new Eastside company focuses on works of the recent past and follows up on its recent Tom Stoppard radio double-bill with his rarely performed Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, about dissidents and double-think, performed by six actors and a chamber orchestra. Directed by Arne Zaslove (9/14-9/16). Then, after a one-night only homage to TV game shows, The Big Bang: Boomer games for the 21st Century (11/25), they end the year with another bit of Zaslovian fun, The Big Holiday Big Broadcast, a remount of his popular reminiscence of Radio's Golden Age (12/21-12/30). Kirkland Performance Center, 425-893-9900.

Encore Playhouse—Now with a new home in Bellevue, the company has the space to produce the popular Menken/Ashman musical Little Shop of Horrors, about a timid shopkeeper and the carnivorous plant who brings him romance at a significant price (10/20-10/29). Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue, 206-325-6500.

Renton Civic Theater—1776, Peter Stone and Sherman Edward's irreverent musical about the private lives of the Founding Fathers during the tussles towards the Declaration of Independence (9/8-10/8). Then it's The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Alfred Uhry's sentimental comedy about life in Atlanta in 1937, when turbulent world events seem far away from the annual society ball (10/20-11/19). For the holidays, it's The Great Christmas Cavalcade Broadcast, a fun look back at the glory days of television in the 1950s, when live telecasts and variety shows ruled the airwaves (12/7-12/31). 507 S Third, Renton, 425-226-5529.

Second Story Repertory—Redmond's ambitious theater company begins their second season with Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Steve Martin's thoughtful comedy which asks "what if Einstein and Picasso had a few drinks before they were famous?" (9/15-10/14). Then it's the horror/comedy/musical about a timid gardener and a ferocious garden, Little Shop of Horrors (10/27-12/23), and finally a story of those tireless elves in Santa's workshop, Stan Gill and Cindy Bright's No Hole Holiday (12/1-12/23). Redmond Town Center, 16587 NE 74th, Redmond, 425-881-6777.

Valley Community Players—Love, Sex, and the IRS is a wild farce by William Van Zandt and Jane Milmore in which a couple of out-of-work guys find themselves in deep trouble when the IRS comes by for an audit of their married status (9/22-10/15). Then it's yet another revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown!, the hit musical based upon the long-running comic strip by the late, great Charles Schultz (11/17-12/10). Carco Theater, 1717 Maple Valley, Renton, 425-226-5190

Village Theatre—Performing both in Issaquah and at the Everett Performing Arts Center, the family oriented Eastside company begins their season with The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Rupert Holmes' jokey musical based on the unfinished Dickens novel, where the audience chooses the ending every night (9/21-10/29 Issaquah, 11/3-11/19 Everett). Then it's the popular Webber/Rice musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the tuneful reworking of the story of Joseph and his jealous brothers who sell him into slavery (11/16-12/31 Issaquah, 1/5/01-1/21/01 Everett). 303 Front N, Issaquah, 425-392-2202.

Youth Theater Northwest—Zorro and the Day of the Dead is an original play by Kristin Newbom that mixes up old-style melodramatic swordplay with original insights into authentic Hispanic culture (10/20-11/5). Then for Christmas it's Beauty and the Beast, an original adaptation of the exquisite French fairy tale by local playwright Bret Fetzer (12/1-12/17). 8805 SE 40th, Mercer Island, 206-232-2202.

 
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