The Pick List: The Week’s Recommended Events

Thursday, Jan. 30

Spamalot

“If Monty Python and the Holy Grail had one great production number,” comedian Eric Idle must have figured, “how much better would it be if it were all production numbers?” So 30 years later he converted the troupe’s 1975 cult comedy into a stage musical/money-printing machine that will run forever. The show’s skeleton is the movie—a surrealist sendup of King Arthur, the Round Table, and the rest of England’s origin myth—stuffed like a fruitcake with parodies of other musicals, beloved bits from the Python TV series, and meta-commentary on the very concept of musicals. (Numbers include “The Song That Goes Like This” and “Whatever Happened to My Part?”.) The casting for this local production is as good as it gets, full of actors you’ve loved elsewhere if you’ve seen a musical anywhere in King County in the past decade: Allen Fitzpatrick, Laura Griffith, Louis Hobson, Dane Stokinger, Greg McCormick Allen, and more. (Through March 2.) 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., 625-1900, 5thavenue.org. $39 and up. 8 p.m.

Albus

Skin color can be a fraught topic, no matter whether a country is majority white, majority black, or in the vast spectrum between. In South Africa, as elsewhere on the continent, there’s a special stigma associated with being albino, a subject explored in this new show by Johannesburg photographer Justin Dingwall, in which he depicts Thando Hopa in a series of formal portraits. Albus is very much a collaboration between artist and model, a consideration of race and identity. As Hopa recently told the BBC, “I’m a black girl who lives in the skin of a white person, and that alone should embody what a human being as a whole should represent.” Using different lighting and effects, Dingwell turns her skin from black to white and every shade of pigment imaginable. Shooting in both black-and-white and color, his images are both Vogue-ready and serenely classical. To be albino in Africa means being stared at (or worse), but Hopa’s gaze is always unflinching and strong. (Through Feb. 28.) M.I.A. Gallery, 1203 Second Ave., 467-4927, m-i-a-gallery.com. Free. Opening reception 6–8 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 31

The Sleeping Beauty

The Seahawks are traveling to New Jersey to play in the Super Bowl on Sunday, but Pacific Northwest Ballet can stay here at home while they take on the same kind of challenge. The Sleeping Beauty is a 19th-century classic and a notorious gauge of a company’s strengths, packed with myriad tests of skill and stamina. From the princess of the title through the entire ensemble, choreographer Marius Petipa created a series of kinetic essays wrapped up in a pretty story. (Ronald Hynd then updated the 1890 original in 1993.) Don’t be deceived by the fairy-tale trappings, though—this is every bit as grueling a task as anything you’ll see at MetLife Stadium. (Through Feb. 9.) McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St. (Seattle Center), 441-2424, pnb.org. $28–$179. 7:30 p.m.

Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2014

Split into two programs, live-action (108 min.) and animation (110 min.), this touring package of shorts is always a crapshoot. Among the former five, there’s a dying Danish boy, a harried French mother, an African child soldier, and a seriously delayed wedding party. The title with the lightest touch is The Voorman Problem, adapted by English director Mark Gill from the novel number9dream by David Mitchell of Cloud Atlas fame. It’s a pithy, witty little two-hander starring Martin Freeman (Bilbo in the Hobbit movies) as a shrink and Tom Hollander (currently playing Charles Dickens’ best friend in The Invisible Woman) as a mental patient who insists he’s a god. Voorman demands worship and respect, while Dr. Williams is skeptical of his straitjacketed patient. Their conversation takes on an absurd, slyly Kafkaesque quality as the psychiatrist tries not to give offence, even while demanding proof of said divinity. It’s so hard being a god, says the soft-spoken Voorman; there are so many things to keep track of. Like what? asks the doctor. Like Belgium, says Voorman—what if I stopped looking after it? Williams is not impressed, but he should be. And perhaps significantly, for us at least, none of the nominated films come from Belgium. (Through Thurs.) Harvard Exit, 807 E. Roy St., 323-0587, landmarktheatres.com. $8–$10.50. Call for showtimes.

Saturday, Feb. 1

Risk!

Podcasting has opened a whole new arena for comedians and revitalized several stand-up careers. Familiar from the ’90s comedy troupe The State, Kevin Allison had the idea a few years back of asking his Hollywood pals to share their most mortifying and shameful stories. His past guests have included Janeane Garofalo, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman, and others. Then he got the idea of touring Risk!, preferably to venues where alcohol is served, to loosen lips and lower inhibitions. Each city on Allison’s Risk! itinerary offers a new crop of confessions from local talent. His guests tonight will include Emmett Montgomery, Summer Waldron, and the editor of Capitol Hill’s leading alt-weekly newspaper . . . what’s his name? Don, Danny, Daniel? Something like that. He’ll be there, too. We hear he’s got some stories in his past. The Highline, 210 Broadway E., seattlegayscene.com and brownpapertickets.com. $20. 10 p.m.

 
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