And this week, again, many performances are free.

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* indicates free tickets available for some performances to celebrate Live Theater Week.

Thom Pain

Imagine you went to an open-mike night and one guy took over the stage for hours without really intending to. Thom Pain (based on nothing) feels like that. Thom (Todd Jefferson Moore) is the play’s only character, on a humble quest to dissect his childhood, his past relationship, and his place in the world. For 70-odd minutes, Thom, a more morose version of “Seinfeld”‘s Kramer, presents a tale that’s interrupted by a cavalcade of random thoughts, such as “Do you like magic?” and (to an audience member) “I have that shirt at home.” Audience members aren’t sure how to respond when addressed-silence is the typical answer, or at least it was at a recent performance. Thom’s main soliloquy loosely tracks his boyhood as he loses a dog, a trauma which changes him on a deeper level and presents a point from which to examine his later life and lost love. Sometimes sort-of funny, sometimes profound, sometimes way too disjointed, this play will either you leave you saying “Isn’t life ugly but ultimately amazing?” or “What the hell was that?” Written by Will Eno and directed by Jerry Manning. Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, 206-443-2222, $10-$48. 7:30 p.m. Tues.-Fri., 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun.; also 2 p.m. matinee Wed. Nov. 1. Ends Sun. Nov. 5. MOLLY LORI

Openings & Previews

awake and sing! A staged reading of Clifford Odets’ tale of a Depression-era Bronx family. Our American Theater Company at Theatre Off Jackson, 409 Seventh Ave. S., Donation. 7 p.m. Mon. Oct. 23 only.

* Black Snow An adaptation of Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov’s comic novel about a young writer whose failed novel is turned into a play. UW School of Drama at the Penthouse Theatre, UW campus, 206-543-4880, $8-$15. Opens Wed. Oct. 18. 7:30 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Ends Sun. Oct. 29.

Carlotta & the Curse of Wolf Manor A Halloween musical performed by the popular Wing Ding variety show troupe. Theatre Off Jackson, 409 Seventh Ave. S., 800-838-3006, $7.50-$15. Opens Thurs. Oct. 19; pay-what-you-can Thurs. Oct. 26. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Ends Sat. Nov. 4.

* Company Stephen Sondheim’s breakthrough musical about five couples and their resolutely single pal Robert. 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., 206-625-1900, $20-$73. Opens Thurs. Oct. 19. 7:30 p.m. Tues.-Wed., 8 p.m. Thurs.-Fri., 2 & 8 p.m. Sat., 1:30 & 7 p.m. Sun. Ends Sun. Nov. 5.

Dante’s Inferno Actors and glassblowers combine their talents in this Halloween adaptation of Dante’s exploration of hell. Hot Shop Amphitheater at the Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St., Tacoma, 253-284-4750. $5-$10. Opens Fri. Oct. 20. 5:30 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Ends Sun. Oct. 29.

* Native Son Kent Gash’s adaptation of Richard Wright’s 1940 novel, a landmark examination of racism, poverty, and powerlessness. Intiman Theater, 201 Mercer St., Seattle Center, 206-269-1900. Opens Fri. Oct. 20. 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m. Tues.-Thurs. & Sun.; also 2 p.m. matinees most Sat. & Sun. and Wed. Nov. 8. Ends Sun. Nov. 19.

NightStories: Lost & Found Professional actors read short stories on the theme of people and things that are lost and/or found. SecondStory Repertory at Redmond Town Center, 16587 N.E. 74th St., Redmond, 425-881-6777, $8. Opens Fri. Oct. 20. 8:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; no show Fri. Oct. 27. Ends Sat. Oct. 28.

* Sunday on the Rocks Four women spend a day exploring the limits of friendship in this play by Theresa Rebeck. Cornish College of the Arts at PONCHO Concert Hall, 710 E. Roy St., 206-325-6500, $5-$8. Opens Thurs. Oct. 19. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Ends Sun. Oct. 22.

Sweet Charity Molly Ringwald (director John Hughes’ favorite redhead in such ’80s teen comedy classics as The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink) stars as Charity Hope Valentine in this musical with a book by Neil Simon. Paramount Theater, 911 Pine St., 206-292-2787, $22-$70. Opens Tues. Oct. 24. 8 p.m. Tues.-Sun. Ends Sun. Oct. 29.

* The Underpants Steve Martin’s adaptation of Carl Sternheim’s 1910 farce about a housewife who becomes an overnight celebrity when she accidentally loses her underpants in public. ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 206-292-7676, $10-$54. Opens Thurs. Oct. 19. 7:30 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m. Sun.; 2 p.m. matinees Thurs. Oct. 26, Sat. Oct. 21 & Nov. 4, Sun. Oct. 22 & 29, Nov. 5 & 12. Ends Sun. Nov. 12.

* W(h)acked Seattle playwright Stephanie Timm’s “immorality play” about five murderous women. Live Girls! Theater, 2220 N.W. Market St., 800-838-8006, $10-$15. Opens Fri. Oct. 20. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Fri., 4 & 8 p.m. Sat. Ends Nov. 18.

Last Chance

* Arms and the Man George Bernard Shaw’s classic romantic comedy which stands heroic ideals on their heads, starring Taproot co-founder Pam Nolte and veteran actor Nolan Palmer and directed by Karen Lund. Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th St., 206-781-9707, $23-$30 (25 and under $15). 7:30 p.m. Wed.-Thurs., 8 p.m. Fri., 2 & 8 p.m. Sat. Ends Sat. Oct. 21.

Beauty, Art & the Erotic The Little Red Studio troupe presents a variety show featuring music, dance, mime, poetry, and performance art with an erotic edge. Little Red Studio, 1506 Franklin Ave. E., 206-328-4758, $30. 9 p.m. Sat. Oct. 21 only.

* Capitol Hill High, Episode Three Overheard in the halls during this chapter (Shaniquala Sleeps Tonight) of the late-night serial satire: “You know how I feel about premarital sex—I want my baby to know it came from a virgin!” “Who wants Vicodin? I’m feeling the Christmas spirit.” As John and Jack, members of the Aloof Art Fag Mafia, perpetrate a hate crime on flamboyantly gay Guy: “Aw, you guys’ self-loathing is so cute. Two more hits!” If you don’t like it, transfer to Madison Valley, bitch. Capitol Hill Arts Center, 1621 12th Ave., 800-838-3006, $10-$12. 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; all-ages show 7:30 p.m. Wed. Oct. 18. Ends Sat. Oct. 21. RACHEL SHIMP

Seattle Weekly Pick* Doubt Seattle Rep has struck gold with this production of John Patrick Shanley’s (Moonstruck) play about the tense power struggle that erupts between a nun and a priest at a parochial school over suspected sexual indiscretions with the school’s only African-American student. Deftly avoiding easy sentimentality and ham-fisted moralism, director Warner Shook stages Shanley’s play with grace, confidence, and a fierce economy. The set is gorgeous. The cast shines. At every turn, Doubt foils audience expectations—each moment shades to gray. In a world quickly being polarized by good and evil, black and white, the play throws a welcome wrench into the sound-bite machinery of quick cures and easy answers. Like the best art, it complicates our understanding of a difficult issue and trips us on our rush to take sides. It’s a vital and exhilarating piece of work. Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, 206-443-2222, $10-$48. 7:30 p.m. Tues.-Fri., 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat.; 2 p.m. matinee Wed. Oct. 18. Ends Sat. Oct. 21.

Evita Tony Award–winning musical based on the life of Eva Peron, first lady to President Juan Peron of Argentina. Village Theatre, Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front St. N., Issaquah, 425-392-2202, $25-$49. 8 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun.; also 2 p.m. select Sat. matinees & Sun. evening shows, call for dates. Ends Sun. Oct. 22.

* Line One The night I attended, the show’s theme (it’s different every night) was homosexuality, religion, and the Web: An actress is given an off-site mission: find a gay Christian at the Wild Rose, a nearby lesbian bar. As she struggles to find someone willing to be the centerpiece of a play already underway, her side of the conversation is communicated, down to her nervous giggle, via cell phone to an actor, who reproduces it onstage. A pair of lesbian nuns has disappeared, and—surprise, surprise—it’s not so easy to find a gay Christian. This bit of live drama adds to the appeal of John Kaufmann’s engaging, yet uneven, work. (For a complete list of show themes by date, see Web site.) Annex Theatre at Capitol Hill Arts Center, 1621 12th Ave., $15-$25. 7:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Ends Sat. Oct. 21. ADRIANA GRANT

Slow Children Matthew Weiss’ hair-metal melodrama, set in 1989 at the dawn of grunge. 21 and over. Re-bar, 1114 Howell St., 800-838-3006, $12-$15. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Ends Sat. Oct. 21.

Seattle Weekly Pick* Soul of a Whore This play, Part III of Denis Johnson’s Cassandra Cycle, is a comic body darkly stretched across the crumbling frame of desperate human acts. John Cassandra believes charlatan/shaman Bill Jenks will be able to raise his mother from the dead—post-lethal injection—after witnessing Jenks drive a demon from an epileptic Texas stripper. But the exorcism comes with a price, a deal with the demon: Freedom for the spirit, prophesy for the man. It is a no-exit world motivated by lust, bitterness, and revenge, where everyone is haunted by the past, painfully aware they will never reach redemption, while justice remains a tear-stained mask in the shattering end. Rob West returns to direct this final installment with aplomb; quality talent and fine technical support round out the crew. Johnson, also the author of Jesus’ Son, is picking at the scabs of the American abyss, only to find a painful humor underneath. Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave., 206-325-6500, $18, under 18 always free. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Ends Sat. Oct. 21. NEIL CORCORAN

* The Transylvanian Clockworks In this dark and spooky vampire comedy, playwright Don Nigro investigates the Dracula myth in terms of Victorian sexual repression and the erotic charge of Gothic horror. Capitol Hill Arts Center, 1621 12th Ave., 800-838-3006, $10-$15. 7:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Ends Sat. Oct. 21.

Continuing Runs

7 Strangers: Season 3, Episode 2 The latest installment of this reality-theater spoof of MTV’s Real World, in which audience members move freely through a house peopled by seven cast members. EXITheatre at 1812 12th Ave., 206-550-1268, $10. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Ends Sat. Oct. 28.

* Arcadia Tom Stoppard’s Olivier Award-winning play is a heady murder mystery that melds past and present while tackling a dizzying array of topics. Bainbridge Performing Arts at the Playhouse, 200 Madison Ave. N., Bainbridge Island, 206-842-8569, $15-$18. 7:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., 3 p.m. Sun. Ends Sun. Oct. 29.

* Betrayal Harold Pinter’s play begins as former lovers—in this case Emma (Heather Hawkins) and Jerry (Bob Borwick)—meet on neutral ground to sum up, in excruciating discomfort, all that has come to pass. From there, the play, directed by SPT associate artistic director Carole Roscoe, moves backward in time—like an exploded bomb rising up, sucking in shrapnel and collateral damage, and reintegrating. It’s an autopsy of infidelity, no less distasteful for ending at the moment of seduction. Robert (Shawn Belyea) and Jerry are best friends from way back; Robert and Emma are married; Jerry and Emma commit adultery—they betray Robert, but not only Robert—in an affair long-standing enough to require a flat rented in secret, a lair of sex and lies. The cast, especially the excellent Hawkins, is adept at capturing the psychic damage inflicted by a sense of betrayal, a wounding that can turn around and lash out with unbounded nastiness. Unfortunately, SPT’s production is all ashes and no inferno, with little evidence of even the most coldly calculating passion within and, more importantly, between the characters. Such remoteness is only exacerbated by the adoption of British accents, an utterly unnecessary contrivance that seems to create a serious gap in the actors’ ability to connect to one another. Such a reliance on mimicry is symptomatic of an unwillingness to take hold of the material. SPT’s production of Betrayal, whether over-reverential or too timid, commits a kind of self-betrayal. Seattle Public Theater, 7312 W. Greenlake Dr. N., 206-524-1300, $14-$24. 7:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Ends Sun. Oct. 29.

* Campfire Audience stories of the unexplained—UFO abductions, odd coincidences, ghosts, recurring dreams—are turned into improvised campfire stories for the stage. Unexpected Productions at Market Theater, 1428 Post Alley, 206-325-6500, www.unexpected $10. 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; also 8 p.m. Tues. Oct. 31. Ends Sat. Nov. 4.

Seattle Weekly Pick* The Colour Out Of Space Three cleverly interlocking stories based on the tales and elaborate invented mythos of H.P. Lovecraft: A meteorite disrupts (and destroys) a farm couple’s lives; a young student is driven by his succubus-esque fiancée to research mysterious woodland rites (and is destroyed); a hambone vaudeville magician stumbles on some true and hideous magical power (and is destroyed). Like the original short stories, these adaptations by Maggie Lee and Ron Sandahl build . . .suspense . . . very . . . slowly . . . but be patient, the payoffs are worth it. Theater on a shoestring doesn’t get any shoestringier than this; the show’s a triumph of imagination and skill over a tiny budget—or as Lovecraft would have put it, a budget infinitesimal, unspeakable, and unholy, which no sane creature could endure!!!Open Circle Theater, 429 Boren Ave. N., 206-382-4250, $13. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., 3 p.m. Sun. Ends Sat. Nov. 11. GAVIN BORCHERT

* Dark Earth The art of puppetry depends on a suspension of disbelief—the stringpuller’s ability to erase all trace of herself by transmitting her will into inanimate objects—and one of the real pleasures of watching Naked Puppets’ Dark Earth is the virtual disappearance of the black-clad puppetmasters as they deftly breathe life into blocks of carved wood. Led by Argentinean-born Ariel Goldberger, this troupe of talented puppeteers appear bent on bringing their craft to more mature audiences. Dark Earth, a triptych of obtuse works loosely inspired by the Kabbalah, is lovely to behold but hell to grasp—a series of virtuoso performances whose dialogue-less narratives are little more than languorous ballets of nonsense. Hitched to a stronger story, one that does justice to their technical genius, Naked Puppets could really soar. Theater4, 4th floor, Center House, Seattle Center, 800-838-3006, $12-$16. 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Ends Sat. Oct. 28.

* Diva Daughters Dupree Three daughters reunite with their husbands in their family home 10 years after their parents’ death in this dramatic comedy by Kim Yvonne Euell. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, 104 17th Ave. S., 206-386-1177, $18-$22. 7 p.m. Thurs.-Fri., 2 & 7 p.m. Sat., 7 p.m. Sun. Ends Sun. Nov. 5.

Fuh-Geddaboudit Dinner theater with various audience-participation “survival” games that give comic instruction on life in the mafia, including how to perform a proper hit and how to survive FBI surveillance. Includes a four-course Italian dinner. Julia’s on Broadway, 300 Broadway E., 206-860-1818, $44.90. 6:30 p.m. Sun. Open run.

* Harriet’s Halloween Candy A talented cast gets as much mileage as possible out of a rather thin plot about a girl who hoards her Halloween candy, eventually to discover that friendship trumps selfishness. The best part of the play is its toe-tapping tunes, sung with especial verve by Liz McCarthy’s Harriet. The actors know how to ham it up to make the little ones laugh, as in a well-played scene when Harriet and her friends hit upon the home of a dentist. The set is magically spooky. While the plot may not be riveting, it does the job. Your kids may leave the theater, as mine did, saying, “You know, I feel like Harriet sometimes.” Recommended for ages 5 and up. Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Center, 206-441-4488, $16-$32. 7 p.m. Fri., 2 & 5:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Ends Sun. Nov. 12. NINA SHAPIRO

Hogwash An improvised and audience-interactive tale for small children in which kids guide the “choose your own story” format. Jerk Alert Productions at the Historic University Theater, Historic University Theater, 5510 University Ave. N.E., 206-297-1767. $10. 2 p.m. Sat. Ends Sat. Oct. 28.

* Jason & the Golden Fleece John Olive’s adaptation of the ancient Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts, directed by Rita Giomi. Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Center, 206-441-4488, $16-$32. 7 p.m. Fri., 2 & 5:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Ends Sun. Nov. 26.

Late Nite Catechism Maripat Donovan’s one-woman show explains everything you wanted to know about the Catholic faith, but were too scared you’d get rapped across the knuckles to ask. ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 206-292-7676, $24.50-$29.50. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Open run.

Menopause: The Musical Jeanie Linders’ tuneful celebration of That Time of Life is back at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 206-292-7676, $45. Opens Wed. Oct. 11. 7:30 p.m. Wed.-Fri., 2 & 5:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Through Nov. 5, at least.

* Princess & the Pea Live music and audience participation mark this comic adaptation of the classic children’s tale. Recommended for ages 4–12. Sprouts Children’s Theatre at SecondStory Repertory, 16587 N.E. 74th St., Redmond, 425-881-6777, $8.75. 7 p.m. Fri., 1 & 3 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Ends Sun. Oct. 29.

Singin’ in the Rain One of the great all-time musicals about the changover in Hollywood from silent to talking motion pictures (“I caaan’t staaand ‘im!”). Dinner available 90 minutes before the show. Auburn Avenue Theater, 10 Auburn Ave., Auburn, 253-833-5678, $17.50-$46.95. 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 4 p.m. Sun. Ends Sat. Nov. 11.

Thom Pain (based on nothing) SEE BOX.

* Tick, tick . . . BOOM! Before tragically dying of an aortic aneurism at 36, Rent creator Jonathan Larson wrote an autobiographical dramatic monologue about trying to succeed as a rock composer. After Larson’s death Tick, Tick . . . Boom! was made over into a musical for three actors. It is a reflection on the importance (or not) of making it before the clock strikes 30, with equal parts indulgent brooding and vaudevillian camp. As Honest Abe once said, “People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.” Actors Nick DeSantis (Jonathan), John W. Bartley (Michael), and Jessica Skerritt (Susan) are obviously talented, deftly morphing into characters who range from Jon’s emphysemic agent to his well-intentioned pipe-smoking father. The explosive energy of ambitious twentysomethings (going on 30) would have been better conveyed in a larger space that allowed for more expansive choreography, but Tick, Tick . . . Boom! nevertheless works well as a letter to a young playwright—warts and all. As a historical predecessor to what was Larson’s one and only Broadway sensation, it aptly demonstrates the bumps that occur on the road to success. ArtsWest, 4711 California Ave. S.W., $10-$29. 7:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat.; 2 p.m. matinees Sat. Oct. 21 & 28, Sun. Oct. 22 & 29, Sat. Nov. 4. Ends Sat. Nov. 4. SUZANNE BEAL

Cabaret & Variety

The Bed Room Club A show harkening back to the heyday of burlesque, featuring live music, sketch comedy, and dessert. Burning Hearts Burlesque at the Northwest Actors Studio, 1100 E. Pike St., 206-898-9067,, $10-$15. 10 p.m. Thurs. Open run.

Burlesque Behind the Pink Door Variety show featuring a revolving cast of performers including Babette La Fave, the Fremond Players, and Pa-Ooh-La the Swedish Housewife. 21 and over. The Pink Door, 1919 Post Alley, 206-443-3241, $5. 10 p.m. Sat. Open run.

Seattle Weekly PickColumbia City Cabaret You might expect that with a high-flying hostess like Tamara the Trapeze Lady, this naughty show would feature artists suspended in the air, and you’d be right, as Scotty Walsh presents some “aerial comedy” alongside a bevy of other suggestive performers. Columbia City Theatre, 4916 Rainier Ave. S., 206-605-9920. $15. 6 p.m. Sun. Oct. 22. Open run. SANDRA KURTZ

Mark Cotter This New York City crooner, a graduate of the Eugene O’Neill Center’s Cabaret Symposium, will make his Seattle debut with a six-night run. Crepe de Paris, 1333 Fifth Ave., 206-623-4111. Opens Thurs. Oct. 19. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Ends Sat. Oct. 28.

Fall Student Graduation Recital Hosted by Academy of Burlesque headmistress Miss Indigo Blue. 21 and over. Jewelbox Theater at the Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., 206-441-5823, $10. 7 & 8:30 p.m. Sun. Oct. 21 only.

Le Faux Julia’s newest drag show, starring Seattle’s finest female impersonators. Julia’s on Broadway, 300 Broadway E., 206-334-0513, $10. 10:30 p.m. Sat. Ends Nov. 25.

Garrison Keillor The master raconteur and creator of A Prairie Home Companion brings the old-timey entertainment of Lake Wobegon Days to Seattle. Seattle Theater Group at the Paramount Theater, 911 Pine St., 206-292-2787, $22.50-$72.50. 7:30 p.m. Thurs. Oct. 19 only.

One Night Only A gala evening of cabaret to benefit Diverse Harmony, the nation’s first gay/straight alliance youth chorus. (Thumper’s will close its doors the following night, Sat. Oct. 21, with a “Last Call” party.) Thumper’s, 1500 E. Madison St., 206-328-3800, $50. 7 p.m. Fri. Oct. 20 only.

Sinner Saint Burlesque Weekly revue hosted by Mr. Dane Ballard. SSB at Noc Noc, 1516 Second Ave., $5. 10 p.m. Thurs. Open run.

Teatro ZinZanni: The Trickster’s Trunk Latest installment of the big-top dinner theater, featuring “triple threat” actor/singer/dancer Melanie Stace and opera singer Rachel DeShon. Teatro ZinZanni, 2301 Sixth Ave., 206-802-0015, $104-$155. 6:30 Thurs.-Sun. Ends Jan. 21.

Sketches & Stand-Up

Comedy Underground The long-running humor hangout spotlights seasoned pros as well as up-and-comers. Tuesday at 8:30 is Non-Profit Comedy ($10), benefiting a revolving list of causes and institutions. 222 S. Main St., 206-628-0303,, $6-$15. See website for dates and times.

Giggles Comedy Club Stand-up comedians and other entertainers from around the area and across the country. Thurs. is a free open-mike night; Sun. is a free “Comedy Showcase”; Fri. and Sat. feature headliners. 5220 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-526-JOKE, See website for specific date, time, and price info.

Jet City Improv Funny, fast-paced theater based on audience suggestions. Historic University Theater, 5510 University Ave. N.E., 206-352-8291, $8-$10. All ages. See website for dates and times. Open run.

Unexpected Productions Various shows including TheatreSports, competitive improv since 1983, and Market Fresh Improv. Market Theatre, 1428 Post Alley, 206-587-2414, See website for dates, times, and prices. Open run.

Brent Weinback This San Francisco stand-up comic was called a “name to watch” by New York Magazine. Jewelbox Theater at the Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., 206-441-5823. $7. 7:30 p.m. Tues. Oct. 24 only.