Opening Nights

Summer camp: Adventures in Mating, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, and Zanna, Don't!

PICK: Adventures in Mating Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave., 324- 5801, www.schmeater.org. $12–$15. 8 p.m. Fri.–Sat. (no show July 4). Ends July 26.The animal kingdom has concocted some bizarre mating rituals: White-fronted parrots regurgitate into each other's mouths to get into the mood, while the infamous female black widow spider will turn her mate into a post-coital snack if he doesn't scurry away fast enough. But Joseph Scrimshaw's play documents the most undignified avenue to reproduction of them all: the dating game. Better than the incidental voyeurism of the Discovery Channel, a saucy waiter (Michael White) prompts the audience for this feeding frenzy to decide the fate of two love-bumblers, transforming a quaint cafe setting into a scene of screamingly funny romantic carnage. We spectators guide the unfortunate subjects, a la "Choose Your Own Adventure" (or "Public Humiliation"), from the beginning to the audience-selected end of their rendezvous.Miranda (Alyssa Keene), pretty in puce and the proud mama of 28 cats, faces the Darwinian challenge of 30-something dating: a) Does the man across the table possess a drug habit, an STD, or a criminal record? and b) Will he give her babies? Her potential inseminator, a bald divorcee (Daniel Wood), wrestles with the opposing problem: Can he get laid without getting trapped into any sort of commitment? Theater Schmeater's aptly cast players serve up Scrimshaw's slick brand of humor without drowning the spontaneity of the dialogue in cheap red wine; Wood's carpet-piddling puppy persona never fails to draw laughs as he's repeatedly smacked on the head with Keene's American Psycho–esque self-possession. Despite the pair's hilarious frailties, even the most jaded theatergoers will want them to beat the odds and find romantic fulfillment. JENNA NANDPICK: Vampire Lesbians of SodomBalagan Theatre, 1117 E. Pike St., 800-838-3006, www.twohourstraffic.org. $15–$30. 11 p.m. July 5, 10, 11.One advantage you have in staging a classic campfest like Charles Busch's Vampire Lesbians of Sodom is that the audience is on your side going in, ready to celebrate their appreciation of insidery queer humor, or they don't bother going in at all. And so it is just possible to coast a bit: Sashay around, mug a little, toss in some boyflesh, and call it good. Therefore it's a joy to see a cast so totally invested in the material as Two Hours Traffic's is—not just in the sight gags, double entendres, and lip-synching, but in the lines the word-intoxicated Busch writes with such relish; his prose is a purple of deepest dye.He plops his two title vamp(ire)s, rather arbitrarily, in three different eras: the "ancient world" (more accurately, the world of '50s Biblical epics), Hollywood in the chaise-longue '20s, and Vegas in the leg-warmer '80s. Played by two active local drag queens, the rival immortals battle, reincarnate, and battle some more. Patty O'Furniture has a sort of big, broad, blowzy Christine Baranski thing going, and she's splendid. As for Lily Armani: Hers is as near-perfect a stage performance as I've ever seen. She delivers no joke that doesn't land, no line that's miscalculatedly overplayed or underplayed, no gesture or inflection that isn't precisely what it needs to be. She knows just when to launch a flaming diva rocket and when to toss off an aside. And she moves like an ocelot: graceful, with hidden sharp claws. Here's hoping Two Hours Traffic works its way through the rest of the Busch oeuvre. GAVIN BORCHERTPICK: Zanna, Don't!PONCHO Forum, Seattle Repertory Theater, Seattle Center, 800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. 8 p.m. Wed.–Sun. Ends July 6 (no show July 4).Zanna, Don't! is hands down the gayest thing I have ever seen on stage... and that's a good thing. Contemporary Classics presents the Seattle premiere of this heavily homosexual musical romp through an alternate reality where gay is great and straight is shunned. The cast, an exceptionally talented lineup of young Seattle musical-theater stars, shine with the light of a hundred disco balls, keeping up with the fast-paced music (some with multiple characters and countless costume changes) in perfect harmony and with a huge smile. Although the show borders on too much camp (e.g. pogo sticks, tutus, and roller skates), it isn't without a profound message that's bound to put ideas into people's heads. So whether you want to extend your Pride weekend or you just want to see a cheer-out-loud show, Zanna, Don't! is one fabulous choice worth coming out for. DYLAN SLADKY

 
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