The Rites of Spring: Spring Arts Preview 2013

We celebrate all that’s classical and avant-garde, traditional and trendsetting in Seattle’s spring arts season.

By Laura Dannen and Seth Sommerfeld February 20, 2013 Published in the March 2013 issue of Seattle Met

TheAter & Performance

Prison Break

New Century Theatre Company’s adaptation of The Trial, Kafka’s cautionary tale of a man arrested on ambiguous charges who’s powerless in the face of “the Law,” isn’t going to be a standard play. “We want it to be an event,” said Darragh Kennan, who’ll star as Josef K. Director John Langs (The Adding Machine) returns to lead a cast of top Seattle actors; and the stage is set in Inscape, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service building. “We’ll be doing Kafka in a building where people used to be sworn in as U.S. citizens, or were held or detained,” Kennan said. Don’t be surprised if they throw the book at you, too. Apr 5–28, Inscape,

Editor's Picks

Grey Gardens
The true story of East Hampton hermits Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and Little Edie—aunt and cousin, respectively, of Jackie O—whose squandered wealth and Norma Desmond delusions are the stuff musicals are made of. ACT and 5th Avenue coproduce.Mar 16–May 26, ACT Theatre, and

Young couple Nick and Colby give birth to a “creature,” “freak,” or simply put, a “black smudge” in this dark-as-night comedy about the unspoken fears of parenthood by Parks and Recreation writer Rachel Axler.Mar 29–Apr 22, Washington Ensemble Theatre,

Untitled Feminist Show
Playwright Young Jean Lee can debate gender politics without saying a word; the latest “experiment” by the Spalding Gray Award winner is a practically dialogue-free comedy with women exploring feminism in their birthday suits.Apr 4–7, On the Boards,

Jersey Boys
With nostalgia at the wheel and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” on the tape deck, the jukebox musical about the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is this season’s feel-good ride.Apr 4–May 4, 5th Avenue Theatre,

August: Osage County
Balagan Theatre continues its season of edgy modern theater—Avenue Q, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Next to Normal—with this dramedy of midwestern family dysfunction.Apr 5–27, Balagan Theatre,

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Book-It Rep sends Huck and Jim down the Mississippi just as Mark Twain intended: with the uncensored text from 1885. Repeated use of the n-word puts the harsh reality of racism center stage.Apr 16–May 12, Book-It Repertory Theatre,

Penn is a preteen environmentalist with a pet turtle—easy pickings for seventh-grade bully Crash. But the jock has a lot to learn from the nerd in this Seattle Children’s Theatre production.Apr 18–May 19, Seattle Children’s Theatre, 

Boeing Boeing
In this 1960s farce with a dose of Pan Am glam, a lothario is living the dream—engaged to three stewardesses at once!—until Boeing develops a speedy new jet (the Dreamliner? Oh wait…) that complicates his dating life. Apr 19–May 19, Seattle Repertory Theatre, 

Black Watch
War’s a bitch—and we’ll hear it straight from the soldiers’ mouths in this powerful National Theatre of Scotland production, inspired by true (profanity-laced) stories of the Scottish regiment Black Watch in Iraq.Apr 25–May 5, Paramount Theatre,

Come on, babe, why don’t we paint the town? Village Theatre inspires us to get gussied up and cheer on the “merry murderesses of the Cook County jail.”May 8–June 29, Village Theatre,

Paradisiacal Rites 
Under the direction of art-mayhem maestro Ryan Mitchell, a Saint Genet performance could include whippet-fueled dancers, public urination, and hypnotic performances by Seattle artists that redefine risk taking.May 16–19, On the Boards,

This pulsating, gyrating musical by Bill T. Jones explores the life of Fela Kuti, the Nigerian bandleader and rebel who gave birth to funk-jazz hybrid Afrobeat. Two words: dance party.May 28–June 2, Paramount Theatre,


Classical & Dance

What Comfort Zone?

For months, we’ve had a pen pal named Molly. “Pen pal” isn’t quite accurate, since we never actually replied, but someone named Molly from Lingo Dance, undeterred, continued to write us letters on shiny gold stationery. Part philosophy, part poetry, these notes inspired us to take part in Collision Theory, a year of “immersions” around Seattle—dance and dinner parties, film screenings, fashion shows—orchestrated by choreographer KT Niehoff and musician Ivory Smith. The series reconsidered how art and audiences interact, and for the grand finale, they’ll dance to their own music at On the Boards—and, hopefully, ask us to join. Apr 18–21, On the Boards,

Editor's Picks

LUCO: Chamber Music Cabaret
In the cozy downstairs theater at Town Hall, Lake Union Civic Orchestra invites a motley crew of chamber ensembles to jam. Will there be a bassoon trio? A drum circle? The surprise is half the fun.Mar 3, Town Hall,

Modern Masterpieces
Bach and Balanchine. Arvo Pärt and Ulysses Dove. Philip Glass and Twyla Tharp. Pacific Northwest Ballet stages three masterful pairings from its repertory and the world premiere of Mozart Pieces, a pas de deux by PNB ballet master Paul Gibson. Mar 15–24, McCaw Hall,

Symphony Untuxed: Scheherazade
The voyages of Sinbad and 1,001 Arabian nights come alive as Seattle Symphony continues its series of shorter, no-intermission concerts with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.Mar 29, Benaroya Hall,

Handel’s Apollo e Dafne & Gloria
Dashing young soprano Amanda Forsythe and baritone Douglas Williams lend heat to Handel’s cantata, performed with the Pacific MusicWorks Baroque orchestra.Apr 5, Nordstrom Recital Hall,

A Cruel New World/The New Normal
On its 10th anniversary under Donald Byrd’s leadership, Spectrum Dance reprises his debut work for the company: an honest and brutal look at America after 9/11.Apr 11–13, Emerald City Trapeze Arts,

Trey McIntyre Project
As Boise’s first-ever “Cultural Ambassador,” inventive modern-dance choreographer Trey McIntyre and his troupe tour Arrantza, a piece on the Basque people, and Queen of the Goths, his take on Titus Andronicus. Apr 11–13, Meany Hall,

Swan Lake
Former Pacific Northwest Ballet star Casey Herd, now a principal dancer with the Dutch National Ballet, returns to play the prince for a night in this reprisal of Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake.Apr 12–21, McCaw Hall,

Simple Measures’ Rajan Krishnaswami (cello) and Mark Salman (piano) invite Seattle Symphony concertmaster Alexander Velinzon (violin) to make sweet music in an informal concert.Apr 19 & 21, Good Shepherd Center & Town Hall, 

Hilary Hahn Plays Sibelius
Classical music is flat-out cool in the nimble hands of the 33-year-old violin virtuoso, whose fresh approach to the masters landed her on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. Apr 25 & 27, Benaroya Hall,

/untitled/: New Expressions
Up next in Seattle Symphony’s late-night chamber music series: three world premieres by prin-cipal members of the orchestra. When was the last time you heard an oboe quartet?Apr 26, Benaroya Lobby,

La voix humaine & Suor Angelica
Two 20th-century one-acts close out the opera season: Poulenc’s monodrama La voix humaine, about a woman in a last-gasp, 40-minute phone plea to her ex; and Puccini’s Suor Angelica, fea-turing a saintly choir and a nun with a complicated past.May 4–18, McCaw Hall,

Lucis: Music of Light
Modern choral works recalling shipwrecks and JFK sound divine as Seattle Pro Musica’s 70-strong voices reverberate around St. James Cathedral.May 18 & 19, St. James Cathedral,


Classing Up the Buzz

Blending classical sounds with the cutting edge is Seattle Rock Orchestra’s forte. The volunteer ensemble lends strings and brass to Bowie and Radiohead covers, but our favorite nights are the annual Chamber Rock concerts. SRO founder and chief composer Scott Teske handpicks an eclectic lineup of buzzy local bands—in April, members of Kithkin, Pollens, and the Lonely Forest join—for an intimate chamber-music show that rocks.Chamber Rock, Apr 5 & 6, Columbia City Theater; SRO Performs the Beatles, May 11 & 12, Moore Theatre,

Editor's Picks

Hey Marseilles
Ever since the Seattle chamber-pop band self-released its debut album in 2008, fans have been clamoring for more. Wait no longer: Hey Marseilles celebrates the release of Lines We Trace.Mar 1, Showbox at the Market,

Formidable female hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction headlines an all-local showcase of the city’s trendsetting avant-rap. OC Notes, Kingdom Crumbs, and Sax G join. (See “Hip-Hop Duo THEESatisfaction”) Mar 22, Neumos,

Major Lazer
Fact: Seattleites will dance in public as long as there’s a good reason, like Major Lazer’s electronic-reggae fusion set at last year’s Capitol Hill Block Party. Expect another frenzy.Mar 26, Showbox SoDo,

Bushwick Book Club Presents Original Music Inspired by the Bible
We’re talking Old Testament: Adam and Eve. Sodom and Gomorrah. Joseph and his crazy coat. Seattle singer-songwriters write a soundtrack to the Bible with help from local jazz com-posers and gay vocal-comedy troupe Captain Smartypants.Mar 28 & 29, Town Hall,

It’s been 25 years since the Seattle grunge godfathers—and Sub Pop—made their debut. Rock like you don’t have kids when Mudhoney releases its new studio album, Vanishing Point.Mar 30, Neumos,

The Barbadian pop diva’s troubled love life may dominate tabloids, but her seemingly never-ending string of hits still shine like “Diamonds.”Apr 3, KeyArena,

My Goodness
Local gents Joel Schneider and Andy Lum give the oft-tired notion of blues-rock a kick in the britches with a hint of grunge and some Seattle edge.Apr 4, The Triple Door,

Jeff Bridges and the Abiders
While his turn as a country singer in Crazy Heart earned Jeff Bridges an Academy Award, it also proved the Dude can sing.Apr 5, Moore Theatre, 

Steep Canyon Rangers
Now that they’ve finally shed the dead weight of banjo player Steve Martin (joke!), the Steep Canyon Rangers take center stage with their award-winning bluegrass licks.Apr 5, The Triple Door,

Little Big Show No. 6: Jim James
My Morning Jacket’s front man plays plaintive tunes from his solo debut, Regions of Light and Sound of God, while ticket proceeds go to a local nonprofit. We’re all winners.May 15, Neptune Theatre,

Fleetwood Mac
The notoriously dysfunctional crew hits the road once again with its classic lineup—yes, including Stevie Nicks—to promote a new deluxe version of the band’s masterpiece Rumours.May 20, Tacoma Dome,

Northwest Folklife Festival
Ballard’s Fin Records joins the festival’s indie-folk music show-case, enriching a diverse weekend of Bollywood, Balkan, and busking sounds.May 24–27, Seattle Center,

VisuAl ARt

David Byrd, Sack on the Table, 1986, oil on canvas, 33 x 42 in.

Introductions Are In Order

David Byrd, who makes his debut at Greg Kucera Gallery, has a biography that reads like a Hollywood screenplay: Raised in three foster homes. Shipped to Europe and Asia as a merchant marine from 1943 to 1945. Attended art school on the G.I. Bill, but worked most of his life as an orderly in the psych ward of a veteran’s hospital in New York. Retired to upstate New York and lived in a shack for four years as he built his own home. Through it all, he sketched and painted, amassing some 400 artworks that—until now—were a life’s story untold. For the first time, we reach for Byrd’s Sack on the Table, its contents unknown.Apr 4–May 18, Greg Kucera Gallery,

Editor's Picks

Chamber Music
For his debut as a Frye curator, Scott Lawrimore commissions 36 Seattle artists to muse on the music inspired by James Joyce’s first published work, the poetry anthology Chamber Music.Thru May 5, Frye Art Museum,

Out (o) Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty
Beauty is in the eye of the photographer in this broad survey at the Henry, featuring the work of Cecil Beaton, Edward Curtis, Lee Friedlander, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, and more.Mar 2–Sept 1, Henry Art Gallery, 

Layers of the Hijab
What’s it like to wear a hijab to school in Seattle? With local artist Mary Coss, East African girls in an after-school art program reflected on the contrast of American culture and Islamic tradition; the results are on display in Columbia City.Mar 6–Apr 21, Columbia City Gallery, 

Zoom. Italian Design and the Photography of Aldo and Marirosa Ballo
Everyone who was anyone in radical midcentury Italian design stopped by Studio Ballo in Milan for a portrait. Flashback to the 1960s at Bellevue Arts Museum. See “Radical By Design,” page 101.Mar 15–June 16, Bellevue Arts Museum,

Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States
New York collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel bequeathed 2,500 artworks to museums across the country, sharing a love of minimalist and conceptual art by the likes of Richard Tuttle, Sol LeWitt, and Dan Flavin. See the 50 gifted to Seattle Art Museum.Mar 16–June 30, Seattle Art Museum, 

Matt Sellars
Spokane native Matt Sellars frequently calls on nature as his muse, creating minimalist sculptures, drawings, and installations that evoke art with a conscience: terra cotta boats strewn about like debris on a beach; or tilting tabletop barns that meditate on the tenuous life of a farmer.Mar 28–May 4, Platform Gallery,

Beyond Books: The Independent Art of Eric CArle
Best known as the author and illustrator of children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle’s boundless imagination is on display in his early poster art, street photography, metal sculptures, and opera costume design.Apr 6–July 7, Tacoma Art Museum,

Paul Laffoley
Boston artist and architect Paul Laffoley imagines the self-coined “Bauharoque” era—a hybrid of Bauhaus utopia and Baroque extravagance—through brilliantly colored and diagrammed paintings best described as a karmic LSD trip.Apr 6–Sept 29, Henry Art Gallery,

Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic
Tolkien nerds, rejoice: EMP hosts an exhibit of fantasy literature and film ephemera, from original hand-edited manuscript pages of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings to Labyrinth costumes. Opens Apr 27, Experience Music Project,

Alfredo Arreguin
The Mexican-born, Seattle-based painter continues to create bold, arresting work that layers intricate patterns beneath traditional images of Frida Kahlo, Pacific Northwest landscapes, or Hokusai-style great waves.May 2–June 1, Linda Hodges Gallery,

Books, Talks & Film

Power of the People

Pulitzer-winning playwright Tony Kushner reinvigorated our notion of a leader with his screenplay for Lincoln, a president “clothed in immense power” who also cared deeply about his citizenry. But what does it mean to be a good citizen? Ask Eric Liu, a former Clinton speechwriter and White House advisor who’s rallied some of the nation’s thought leaders, including Kushner, to speak at this year’s Citizen University. The full-day conference (formerly called Guiding Lights) prompts participants to share ideas on motivating change. Remember: Ask not what your country can do for you...Mar 23, Fisher Pavilion,

Editor's Picks

You Are Here
Hugo House closes out the 2012–13 literary series with authors Jonathan Evison and Cheryl Strayed, multiple-PEN-winning poet Chris Abani, and singer-songwriter Joy Mills sharing new work that explores maps (literally and figuratively).Mar 1, Richard Hugo House,  

L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema
In the late ’60s, UCLA’s film program became a leader in committing the new black voice to celluloid. L.A. Rebellion chronicles the wide-ranging works by these filmmakers.Mar 1–24, Northwest Film Forum,

007: Six Classic James Bond Films
To obtain a license to kill, you must first pass the written test. Brush up on the best of Bond, including Goldfinger and The Spy Who Loved Me.Mar 8–28, Grand Illusion Cinema,

MacKenzie Bezos
Seven years after winning the American Book Award for her debut novel The Testing of Luther Albright, Bezos finally releases her follow-up, Traps. Here’s guessing Mrs. Amazon isn’t doing it for the money.Mar 12, Elliott Bay Book Company,

David Shields
In his new book, How Literature Saved My Life, the author of Reality Hunger and UW writer in residence mixes insightful literary criticism with autobiography for a love you/hate myself confessional.Mar 14, Elliott Bay Book Company,

Karen Russell
The author of the offbeat novel Swamplandia!, a Pulitzer finalist about a family of alligator wrestlers, returns with Vampires in the Lemon Grove, her new collection of wry and fantastical short stories.Apr 3, Benaroya Hall,

National Film Festival for Talented Youth
If the children are our future, then NFFTY, the world’s largest showcase of films by directors 22 and younger, suggests there’ll still be plenty of great popcorn fare when we’re old and gray.Apr 25–28, visit website for venues,

Seattle True Independent Film Festival
If SIFF is the prom queen of Seattle’s movie festivals, then STIFF is the guy who puts on DIY punk shows. Sometimes that guy’s more fun.May 3–11, visit website for venues,

The Great Gatsby
The latest adaptation of the literary classic stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy, with Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann making it look like one big absinthe party.Opens May 10,

Susan Orlean
Sure, her most recent book Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend may be about a famous canine, but Susan Orlean’s writing hasn’t gone to the dogs.May 14, Benaroya Hall,

Seattle International Film Festival
Anyone can walk the red carpet at SIFF—all it takes is a ticket. The nation’s largest (and most accessible) film festival has multiple galas and gay-las and your pick of 250 feature films. May 16–June 9, visit website for venues, 

Published: March 2013

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