The Pick List: The Week’s Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 9

Jesmyn Ward

“Men’s bodies litter my family history,” writes Ward in the first chapter of her new memoir, Men We Reaped (Bloomsbury, $26). Her great- and great-great-grandfathers were both shot; another relative stepped on a land mine in Vietnam. Grim as this introduction is, Ward has yet to tell the saddest part of her story: Five young men she knew well, including her brother, all died in a four-year period. Ward was raised by a philandering dad and a collective of “inhumanly strong” women in the poor, black community of DeLisle, Mississippi. There, violence and addiction regularly claimed the lives of young men—leaving only women, children, and “the few old, as in war,” she observes. This was a reality most folks accepted, or fled. In the author’s case, she was the first in her family to leave home for college—Stanford, followed by the University of Michigan. Yet she returned home to write, compelled by family and place, and earned a 2011 National Book Award in for her novel Salvage the Bones, about Hurricane Katrina. Back in DeLisle, Ward was struck by the growing quiet of the neighborhood streets where she once heard the sounds of life and music from friends’ cars. Probing the issue that inspired the book, she asks, “I wonder why silence is the sound of our subsumed rage, our accumulated grief. I decide this is not right, that I must give voice to this story.” Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, townhallseattle.org. $5. 7:30 p.m.

The Wizard of Oz

Whatever your feelings about Andrew Lloyd Webber, there’s only so much damage he and lyricist Tim Rice can inflict with this turbocharged adaptation of the L. Frank Baum tale, known to most via the 1939 movie. As an evening of musical theater, Dorothy’s journey from Kansas to Oz and back should be well-suited to kids making their first foray into the audience. If there’s some whispering and fidgeting, the amplified sound will easily overwhelm such potential interruptions. Crucially, Lloyd Webber has kept all the core songs that entered the American songbook via The Wizard of Oz. And you can never go wrong with eye-misting standards by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg like “Over the Rainbow” and “If I Only Had a Heart.” The show originated in London two years ago and is now touring the U.S. (Danielle Wade plays Dorothy.) Tweaks have been made to update the book and broaden the demo; for instance, acknowledging the movie’s considerable camp following, the Cowardly Lion is now gay, even declaring “I’m proud to be a friend of Dorothy.” And you know what? So are we all. (Through Sun.) The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $25 and up. 7:30 p.m.

THURSDAY, OCT. 10

Chamber Dance Company

As elsewhere in our culture, gender has been a topic of animated conversation in the dance world. Hannah Wiley’s programming for In-Gender lays out a variety of positions on the subject. During the early part of the last century, modernist choreographer Doris Humphrey gave us the ideal female in Air for the G String and a history lesson in Shakers. By the end of that millennium, choreographers like Zvi Gotheiner (Brazilian Duets) and Doug Varone (Possession) have a much more slippery relationship with boys and girls. In between is Twyla Tharp, striding forward as always, as she breaks down our expectations of what men and women want in The Fugue. (Through Sun.) Meany Hall, UW campus, 543-4880, meany.org. $10–$22. 7:30 p.m.

FRIDAY, OCT. 11

Andre Dubus III

The four long stories—novellas, almost—in Dirty Love (Norton, $23.95) are set in a working-class New England where good jobs are scarce and reliable families even harder to find. Adults carry with them the resentments and damage wrought by their parents. A younger generation drifts from one reckless sexual encounter to the next. Then there’s the lure of drugs and cyberporn (working both sides of the camera). Dubus’ characters are mostly disillusioned and post-romantic, though lacking the self-awareness to consider themselves such. Yet they grope toward human connection under the umbrella definition of what we call love, which usually leads to doomed marriages. Then that wreckage follows them into seaside bars and cheap motel rooms. It’s a cycle you see repeated among these four tales, in which a few characters also recur. In one story, about a philandering bartender who fancies himself a poet, the title character crawls into bed with his pregnant wife after cheating on her with a waitress in the dunes. The bartender thinks “last night’s indulgence felt for the moment harmless, forgivable, and behind them both.” But nothing’s forgiven or forgotten in Dubus’ stories. Dirty Love isn’t about sin and atonement, but there’s always a moral reckoning, a bill to be paid. Dubus will appear with local memoirist and recent SW cover girl Nicole Hardy (Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin) and former SW staff writer and memoirist Claire Dederer (Poser). Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, townhallseattle.org. $5. 7:30 p.m.

Carrie: The Musical

For a teen still best remembered for being drenched in pig blood, Stephen King’s telekinetic heroine is now quite the queen of the prom. Brian De Palma immortalized her in his 1976 adaptation starring the translucent Sissy Spacek, and Kimberly (Boys Don’t Cry) Peirce’s remake arrives October 18 with Chloë Grace Moretz, the Kick-Ass girl, as its star. As in King’s 1974 novel, Carrie is the victim of school bullying, now such a hot news topic; and for that she has her revenge. Carrie: The Musical was a notorious 1988 Broadway flop, with an amateurish book by the first film’s screenwriter (Lawrence D. Cohen); and the songs, by Oscar-winning pop pros Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore, make Carrie into an edgy Disney heroine. (There’s a lot of soaring “What’s going on deep in me?” blather.) Still, the show has an adolescent urgency, if not self-awareness (shades of Spring Awakening), and it gives mother Margaret some room to breathe as a real human being. That bodes well for this Balagan/STG production, since director Louis Hobson, a former Seattle stage vet, tempted Tony-winning Alice Ripley, his Next to Normal co-star, to play mom to Keaton Whittaker’s Carrie. Ripley can really tear it up in the right role, and Bothell teen Whittaker is already a Broadway vet who played Catherine Zeta-Jones’ daughter in the recent revival of A Little Night Music. And during Balagan’s season preview last June, she proved she has the pipes for the show by blazing through its title song. (Through Oct. 26) The Moore, 1932 Second Ave., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.com. $17.50–$50. 7 p.m.

András Schiff

There have been practically as many adaptations of Bach’s Goldberg Variations as there are variations in the original. Bach blew up a simple chord progression into a collection of 30 keyboard vignettes that range from the blackest tragedy to the giddiest flamboyance. Subsequent musicians have reworked the entire set for chamber ensemble, string orchestra, organ, guitar, harp, and more. (In a brilliantly imaginative recording, pianist Uri Caine even cross-pollinated Bach with genres ranging from electronica to smooth Eurojazz.) Among the classical-music public, the legacy of Glenn Gould looms large; he recorded the Goldbergs twice, in 1955 and 1981—one album launching his career, the other, as it happened, capping it. But as strongly as the work has been publicly identified with Gould, other pianists have naturally found its riches irresistible; Schiff has also recorded the Goldbergs twice, and has devoted increasing attention in his concert schedule to Bach, to increasing critical acclaim. He’ll play the entire set, 80 minutes or so, tonight. (By coincidence, another pianist who’s made her mark with the Goldbergs, Simone Dinnerstein, is playing a Mozart concerto with the Seattle Symphony on Thursday and Saturday.) Benaroya Hall, Third Ave. & Union St., 215-4747, seattlesymphony.org. $19–$112. 8 p.m.

TUESDAY, OCT. 15

Anything Goes

I am not one to argue that P.G. Wodehouse’s original book for this 1934 musical, built around Cole Porter’s impeccable songs, needed updating. Still, that is what happened with this 2011 redo (written by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman, directed by Kathleen Marshall), which earned a Tony for best revival. On a posh London-bound steamship are a gaggle of gangsters, socialites, deadbeats, golddiggers, swells, and the unstoppable evangelist-turned-songstress Reno Sweeney (Rachel York). Do these characters behave like careworn denizens of the Great Depression? Of course not. Porter’s bubbling tunes—“You’re the Top,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “Anything Goes,” etc.—defy those hard times. And, 80 years later, as we stand uncertainly on the far edge of a recession, it feels good to celebrate, to indulge in turkey dinners and derby winners, to savor Waldorf salads and Berlin ballads. Accordingly, the former choreographer Marshall has amped up the dancing in Anything Goes; the hoofing now gets equal weight with the belting. And when the ship reaches shore and the house lights go up, Reno gets her man and everyone goes home happy. (Previews begin tonight; opens Thursday; runs through Nov. 3.) The 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., 625-1900, 5thavenue.org. $29 and up. 7:30 p.m.

 
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