Pick of the Week Book-it Repertory Theatre should take more chances, like it did adapting Olympia novelist Jim Lynch’s Border Songs. While there’s an inherently juicy narrative about guards patrolling the Washington–British Columbia border for drug smugglers, illegal immigrants, and terrorists, that’s not what this story is about, and certainly not why we care. We’re in it for Brandon Vanderkool. Played by Patrick Allcorn, Brandon is a 6’8, dyslexic, bird-loving Border Patrol agent who’s as quirky as a Miranda July film. You’re expected to write off Brandon as a nitwit—but there’s something special about this gentle giant. Are all border guards this misunderstood? Closes Oct 9.
Rolling in the hay’ With a few more dance routines, Washington Ensemble Theatre’s MilkMilk Lemonade could be It Gets Better: The Musical. Inside the barn on a lonely chicken farm, two fifth grade boys play house. Like adults. They don’t really know what sex or sexuality is yet—life’s truths are simpler at this age. Like: Effeminate little Emory will get beat up if he sings show tunes at school. Pyromaniac bully Elliot can’t tell anyone he likes Emory. And someday Emory’s best friend Linda—a talking chicken—might end up on his dinner plate. Despite learning early on that life is f’n hard, this lovable cast of misfits, led by adorable grown-up Tim Smith-Stewart as Emory, empowers us to hold our heads high during a choreographed ribbon dance. Closes Oct 10.
Ballet’s “It Boy” Now I know why Christopher Wheeldon is one of the most in-demand choreographers in modern ballet. On opening night of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s All Wheeldon program, I left enamored by two completely different performances: the spare and tender “After the Rain pas de deux” by Maria Chapman and Karel Cruz, and a gleeful one-act comedy ballet that goes behind the scenes of a dance rehearsal. Wheeldon understands both nuance and parody, creating kooky prima ballerinas (Laura Gilbreath) and lasting images. I likely won’t forget Chapman, bent over backwards and frozen in place, carried across the stage like a prop by a bare-chested Cruz. Closes Oct 2.