25 Arts Events We’re Excited About This Summer

Our critics pick the season’s most anticipated shows, from a blustery beach party to messy Mahler.

Theater By Mark Baumgarten

Twister Beach Coming off the deeply entertaining spy spoof To Savor Tomorrow—its most successful production yet—Café Nordo is again delving into the mid-century pop-culture trash heap for this original cabaret, produced by culinarium regulars Mark Siano and Opal Peachey (Bohemia, Seattle Vice). As is their wont, the duo has woven modern-day anxieties into their period piece, here interrupting some romantic beach-blanket bingo with climate change and shark attacks. Flip-flops encouraged. Café Nordo, 109 S. Main St., cafenordo.com. $28–$68. July 7–30

Wooden O To be there or not be there? There is no question. A summer without a little Shakespeare in the park is a summer unfulfilled. Especially this year as Seattle Shakespeare’s summer company puts on the Bard’s masterpiece, Hamlet. For those who prefer to picnic away from the influence of madmen, there’s the early comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost. Various parks, seattleshakespeare.org. Free. July 7–August 7

Daisy Artistic director John Langs started his first season at the helm of ACT by directing a very timely (and entertaining) production of Assassins, a musical about violence and presidential politics. Keeping with that theme, he will be directing the world premiere of this new play by Canadian playwright Sean Devine, which recounts the machinations behind one of the most effective and frightening presidential campaign ads ever devised. ACT, 700 Union St., 292-7676. $20–$49. July 8–August 7

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder For those who take the Tonys as their guide, this touring production of the 2014 Best Musical winner is a sure bet. It’s a merry kind of murder story starring the conniving Monty Navarro, who is only eight beating hearts away from becoming the Earl of Highhurst. On his way to the title, the audience is treated to comic vignettes performed in the style of a 19th-century operetta, as well as some of the quickest, wittiest banter Broadway has seen in some time. 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., 625-1900. $36–$101. July 12–31

Untamed–Body, Hair, Attitude Seattle Rep kicks off its 2016–17 season in September with Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, but before then theatergoers will have a chance to witness the playwright’s legacy with this performance of short plays by women of color, curated by Dominique Morisseau. The evening is being presented by the Hansberry Project as part of this year’s Intiman Festival, which kicked off last month with an astounding staging of Stick Fly. If the power of that production was any indication, this evening of stories about beauty and representation should be memorable. Jones Playhouse, University of Washington, 4045 University Way N.E., intiman.org. 7:30 p.m. Pay what you can. July 18

Visual Arts By T.S. Flock

Tariqa Waters: 100% Kanekalon These vividly colored, coded images can appeal to any eye, but their narrative specifically affirms the lives of women on the margins. Sweet and sour, soft and sharp, sacred and superficial—the very notion of what a stereotype is is burned with a smile, and it’s gorgeous. Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S. Massachusetts St., 518-6000, naamnw.org. $5–$7. Through October 16

Vik Muniz: Twisted Realism Muniz’s oeuvre exists primarily as photographic documents of land art, reproductions of classical art in foodstuffs and junk, and portraits drawn with diamonds and sugar. His upcoming show at the Henry is a study in how we create and respond to images, which in turn assign value to people and things. Henry Art Gallery, 4100 15th Ave. N.E., 543-2280, henryart.org. $6–$10. July 9–October 9

Senga Nengudi: Improvisational GesturesRepulsion and allure go hand-in-hand in Nengudi’s distended soft sculptures. Stuffed nylon forms suggest bodies that have been reduced to lumps, amputated and stretched nearly to breaking. Intellectually, you can give them a dozen readings, but none will capture the feeling you actually get in their presence. Henry Art Gallery, 4100 15th Ave. N.E., 543-2280, henryart.org. $6–$10. July 17–October 9

The Weather Diaries Nordic fashion and art get a darkly enchanting editorial treatment, apt for the taigas of the upper latitudes. Against diminishing regionalism through globalism, this is a gorgeous vision of creativity as place-making and myth-making, between wilderness and subconscious. Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 N.W. 67th St., 789-5707, nordicmuseum.org. $6–$8. Opening in August

Dance By Sandra Kurtz

The Minstrel Show Revisited Spectrum Dance Theater closes its #RACEish season with a revival of Donald Byrd’s controversial meditation on this ancestor of musical theater and variety shows. Byrd uses minstrelsy as a lens to examine both the stereotypes of entertainment and our current passive attitudes about race—you’ll laugh and squirm simultaneously. Cornish Playhouse, 201 Mercer St., 325-4161, spectrumdance.org. $20–$40. June 16–19

PALMS There will certainly be a lot to see and hear in Paige Barnes’ newest work, with a triple-decker stage serving as home to dancers, musicians, and poets, but as always the thing that draws us into her world is a direct and elemental relationship with movement. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 329-2629, northwestfilmforum.org. $17–$20. July 7–9

Wondering and Wandering A perfect combination of performance and place. The central tenets of butoh are drawn from the relationship between human animals and nature, so this danced exploration of an astonishing garden-scape should reveal as much about the performers as about the terrain. Part of the Seattle Butoh Festival. Kubota Gardens, 9817 55th Ave. S., 725-5060, kubotagarden.org. Noon. Free. July 17 (Editor’s note: A previous version of this story listed the incorrect date for Wondering and Wandering.)

DANCE This This showcase of local youth dance takes the roof off the theater every summer. Each group is a blast on its own, repping for their individual styles, but then the finale brings them all together onstage and pulls the audience to its feet. The Moore, 1932 Second Ave., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $18. July 8–9

Summer at SAM: Sculptured Dance The Olympic Sculpture Park is full of wonderful things, but it’s all a bit static, so Pacific Northwest Ballet is curating a program of movement among the artworks. With choreography by Donald Byrd, Kiyon Gaines, Ezra Thomson, Kate Wallich, and Olivier Wevers and performers drawn from PNB, Spectrum Dance Theater, and Whim W’him. Olympic Sculpture Park, 2901 Western Ave., 654-3100, pnb.org. 6 p.m. Free. August 11

Pop Music By Dusty Henry

Lauryn Hill Be forewarned: Ms. Hill has an ongoing legacy of showing up late to her performances and cutting them short. Yet even mere moments in her presence are worth the admission price. The rapper and R&B crooner still has only one solo album to her name, yet her name and persona still carry the weight of one of the all-time greats. The Showbox, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151, showboxpresents.com. 8 p.m. $78 adv. All ages. June 27

“Weird Al” Yankovic How Yankovic has managed to coexist with pop music and not become a heel is extraordinary. His parodies have been consistently witty and hilarious without demeaning their inspirations. Presenting his zany antics at the zoo is an all too perfect a fit, and those who disagree can get an egg and beat it. Woodland Park Zoo, 5500 Phinney Ave. N., 548-2500, zoo.org. 5 p.m. $35–$269 adv. All ages. July 26–27

BJ The Chicago Kid An “up-and-comer” for a few years now, he’s shared his sultry voice on records by everyone from Kanye West to Kendrick Lamar. He elevates every track he appears on, turning hooks into silky velvet mantras. The Crocodile’s the perfect intimate spot to hear his intimate woes. The Crocodile. 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618, thecrocodile.com. 6:30 p.m. $16 adv. All ages. July 29

Ja Rule & Ashanti It’s been 15 years since these two dominated summer airwaves with their collab “Always on Time.” Ja’s gravelly raps and Ashanti’s breathy vocals completed each other as the duo teamed up again and again on hits like “Mesmerize” and “Down 4 U.” Those songs never stopped being great, and now they can be relived on possibly the best nostalgia tour of the season. The Showbox, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151, showboxpresents.com. 8 p.m. $45 adv./$50 DOS. All ages. August 30

Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa Hey, did you hear that Seattle legalized weed? Crazy, right? You’ll definitely hear all about it at this show. Cannabis aside, these Cali rappers have turned into pop crossovers later in their careers. With all the hate and vitriol going on in the world, it might be nice to hang out with two dudes who want nothing but to chill out and smoke. White River Amphitheater, 40601 Auburn Enumclaw Rd. S.E., Auburn, amphitheaterauburn.com. $25–$100. All ages. September 2

Classical Music By Gavin Borchert

Seattle Chamber Music Festival Recital/concert pairs on 12 evenings in July, plus other surprises. Highlights include transcriptions of Strauss waltzes (July 6), mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile (July 8), and this summer’s premiere, The Inland Seas by Jeremy Turner. (July 11). Benaroya Recital Hall, Third Ave. & Union St., seattlechambermusic.org. Single tickets $16–$50. July 5–30

Swarm & Stew For this performance marking the 80th birthday of Stuart Dempster, global high priest of the avant-trombone, composer Neal Kosaly-Meyer has invited longtime colleague Pauline Oliveros, longtime son Loren Dempster, and others for … well, I’m not sure exactly what, but without doubt it’ll be improvisational, captivating, and memorable. Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, waywardmusic.org. 7:30 p.m. $5–$15. July 9

Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society The Yeomen of the Guard is atypical in the pair’s output: weightier, with a bittersweet ending, romance rather than farce or parody, and their grandest, most thrilling Act I finale ever. Done here for the first time since, I believe, ’99, it’s a don’t-miss. Seattle Rep, Seattle Center, pattersong.org. $16–$40. July 15–30

Northwest Mahler Festival Join local community-orchestra players for open readings (June 20, 22, 28, 30; see nwmahlerfestival.org for full details), or, if you’re feeling non-participatory, enjoy a performance of Mahler’s Symphony no. 3, his biggest and messiest, at First Free Methodist Church, 3200 Third Ave. W. July 17