Seattle International Film Festival

Thanks to the sheer breadth of SIFF’s slate, you’re bound to see a handful of films that will disappear with little fanfare, but don’t sleep on the festival’s ability to be a predictor of unexpected and acclaimed hits. Boyhood stole the spotlight in 2014, following in the footsteps of past SIFF award winners The Hurt Locker, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and The Usual Suspects. Go and you may be able to say you saw next year’s Best Picture winner first.   May 14–June 7, various venues, siff.net

APRIL Festival

Now in its fourth year, the Authors, Publishers and Readers of Independent Literature Festival hasn’t let go of the scrappy outsider’s edge that’s a hallmark of the indie publishing scene. There are few other events that can bring together dozens of readers, competitive storytelling, and a Twin Peaks cover band while making it all seem natural and lively.  Mar 24–29, various venues, aprilfestival.com

Visual Art as Reminder of Home

Eloquent Objects: Georgia O’Keeffe and Still-Life Art in New Mexico

The harshness of the New Mexico desert begets an appreciation for fleeting flourishes of life and color that dot the landscape. Led by Georgia O’Keeffe’s painted floral masterworks, generations of artists have
captured the vitality of the American Southwest. Come to think of it, it’s not so different from the isolation-bred creativity of the Northwest.  Mar 1–June 7, Tacoma Art Museum, tacomaartmuseum.org


Leo Saul Berk: The Uncertainty of Enclosure

Artist Leo Saul Berk stole the show in the Frye’s 2012 group exhibition Moment Magnitude with works depicting his childhood home—architect Bruce Goff’s famed Ford House. Berk fleshes out the concept with the Uncertainty of Enclosure, highlighted by Clinkers, an otherworldly sculptural light box of the exterior masonry that glows emerald green.  May 30–Sept 6, Frye Art Museum, fryemuseum.org


The Phantom of the Opera

No character has terrified and delighted audiences as much as The Phantom of the Opera. That’s not conjecture, that’s math. Since opening on Broadway in 1988, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical has logged more than 11,000 performances, easily making it the longest-running show in Broadway history. If you’re among the two dozen people who’ve never seen it, now’s the chance to descend to the Phantom’s subterranean depths.  Apr 30–May 10, Paramount Theatre, stgpresents.org


Courtesy Matthew Murphy and Ian Douglas


Lizard Boy

Lizard Boy is just your average, run-of-the-mill, coming-of-age love story about a young gay Seattleite struggling with his identity and his lizard superpowers that also happens to be a cello-based rock musical. (We know what you’re thinking: Jeez, another one?) Seattle Rep plays host to the world premiere of playwright Justin Huertas’s way-outside-the-box tale.  Mar 27–Apr 26, Seattle Repertory Theatre, seattlerep.org


Dance as History Lesson

Carmina Burana

The satirical poems about love and morality found in Carmina Burana still carry weight more than seven centuries after being written. Donald Byrd and Spectrum Dance Theater present a new dance interpretation of the work, using the music of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana cantata, to examine the loss and rediscovery of faith by the monks who wrote the texts.  Apr 23–26, Moore Theatre, spectrumdance.org



A spirit of positivity inspired by racial progress radiates from the modern dance compositions of MacArthur Fellow and rising choreography star Kyle Abraham. After a development residency at On the Boards last year, his small ensemble Abraham.In.Motion returns to Seattle to show off three new dances inspired by the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 20th anniversary of Apartheid’s end.  Mar 4 & 5, Moore Theatre, stgpresents.org


Shutterstock/Thomas Pajot

Rock Music

Death Cab for Cutie: Kintsugi

All good things must come to an end, but what comes next? Seattle stalwart Death Cab for Cutie lost founding guitarist and producer Chris Walla in 2014, but the band soldiers forward. The group’s latest album, Kintsugi, is named for the Japanese practice of fixing broken pottery cracks with gold to make the repair an artful part of the piece’s history. Metaphor much?  Out Mar 31, deathcabforcutie.com


Chastity Belt: Time to Go Home

Emotional detachment, thy name is Chastity Belt. The Pitchfork-approved troublemakers revel in nights gone wrong as Julia Shapiro wryly drones midtempo tales about embracing promiscuity and yearning to escape boring scenes. The group makes its petulant debut on the Hardly Art label with Time to Go Home.   Out Mar 24, hardlyart.com


Courtesy Wearetheroads

Variety Show

Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally

Things actors like to do to celebrate the end of a successful TV series: rest, audition for movies, revive old Vaudevillian troupes. All right, maybe not that last one, but don’t tell Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman (aka Ron Swanson). He and wife Megan Mullally take a trip back to the glory days of married--
couple road shows when they tour with their own comedy and musical revue, Summer of 69.  May 1, Moore Theatre, stgpresents.org


Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host

When thinking about poetic bodies in motion, the name Ira Glass doesn’t immediately come to mind. But that may change. The bespectacled host of This American Life takes a new format on the road: radio storytelling–based interpretive dance. Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host pairs Glass with dancers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass for a one-of-a-kind audiovisual experience.  Apr 11, Paramount Theatre, stgpresents.org




Live Music as Feminist Sounds


Apparently nobody told Sleater-Kinney that comeback albums after long hiatuses usually suck. After 10 years away, the Olympia-formed trio of riot grrrl pioneers returned in January with an amplified vengeance on No Cities to Love. We can’t wait until Sleater--Kinney kicks out the jams and shreds away for three nights in its long-awaited Seattle return.  May 7–9, The Showbox, showboxpresents.com

Waxahatchee and Girlpool

Waxahatchee and Girlpool are the yin and yang of female empowerment. The former’s emotionally taxing singer-songwriter tunes capture a quietly dignified strength (see the forthcoming Ivy Tripp). And the latter—a bass and guitar duo—make defiantly bratty rock that sounds of a piece with the punk made by the rabble-rousing ladies of Pacific Northwest in the ’90s.  May 3, The Crocodile, thecrocodile.com

Visual Art as Inspiration

Chihuly Drawings

Even the masters need a plan. In the case of Dale Chihuly, his blown-glass marvels begin as spontaneous, two-dimensional bursts of vibrant color before jumping off the paper and entering physical space. Museum of Glass premieres a collection of more than 180 Chihuly drawings, which offer a new perspective on his creative process.  Mar 1–June 30, Museum of Glass, museumofglass.org


The New Frontier: Young Designer-Makers in the Pacific Northwest

Visual art is powerful unto itself, but artists’ creations can really reach new levels of depth when they serve a purpose. Bellevue Arts Museum’s New Frontier rounds up elite young Northwest design minds for an exhibit that explores how these innovative makers balance functionality, utility, and style.  Apr 17–Aug 16, Bellevue Arts Museum, bellevuearts.org

Music as Remembrance

Seattle Pops: Rodgers and Hammerstein

The timeless songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musicals never seem to go stale, but hearing them performed live by the Seattle Symphony offers a new feel. The orchestra’s lush arrangements of songs from shows like Oklahoma! and South Pacific emphasize their emotional impact.  Mar 6–8, Benaroya Hall, seattlesymphony.org


Seattle Men’s Chorus: Legacy

The normally fun-loving Seattle Men’s Chorus gets serious to honor the lives of two fallen figures in the gay community: San Francisco politician and activist Harvey Milk and Rutgers student Tyler Clementi. The program consists of two new original compositions, I Am Harvey Milk and Tyler’s Suite, which attempt to capture the spirit of these men who died too soon and leave listeners with an uplifting sense of pride.  Mar 28 & 29, McCaw Hall, flyinghouse.org


Seattle Mariners Home Opener

After more than a decade of putrid play, the Mariners are finally giving us reasons to get excited again. Led by Félix Hernández, Kyle Seager, and Robinson Cano, the Mariners are projected by some to be the best team in the American League. Don’t miss a pitch as the team plays at home on Opening Day for the first time since 2008 (thanks a lot, Bud Selig).  Apr 6, Safeco Field, mariners.com


Seattle Sounders Home Opener

Is this the year the Sounders finally break through to capture their first MLS Cup? It’ll be a tricky proposition now that young star DeAndre Yedlin has transferred to the English Premier League. One thing’s for certain: MLS’s best fans will be out in droves to watch the team kick off the season against the New England Revolution.  Mar 8, CenturyLink Field, soundersfc.com

Dance as Spectacle

Swan Lake

Part of Swan Lake’s magic stems from the program’s simple elegance: stark white costumes and uncomplicated storytelling. Don’t miss the most popular classic ballet of all time and one of the last chances to see Pacific Northwest Ballet’s stunning prima ballerina Carla Körbes before she retires at the end of the season. Apr 10–19, McCaw Hall, pnb.org


Courtesy Angela Sterling

Alice Gosti: How to Become a Partisan

Alice Gosti isn’t interested in merely choreographing a new dance; she wants an event. How to Become a Partisan begins with a community procession on Capitol Hill that moves on to St. Mark’s Cathedral for an immersive five-hour performance piece that explores what happens when apathy cedes to action in order to battle complacency.  Apr 25, St. Mark’s Cathedral, velocitydancecenter.org


London Symphony Orchestra

It took 110 years of practice, but the London Symphony Orchestra is finally ready to make its Benaroya Hall debut. While best known to modern audiences for its work as John Williams’s go-to orchestra for film scores, LSO should prove equally moving when playing the works of twentieth-century British master Benjamin Britten, American composer George Gershwin, and Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 5 in D Minor.  Apr 1, Benaroya Hall, benaroyahall.org


Yo-Yo Ma

Okay, Yo-Yo Ma isn’t exactly an upstart, but in this case just go with it. The world’s foremost cellist joins conductor Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony for an evening highlighted by a performance of Robert Schumann’s demanding Cello Concerto in A Minor.  May 3, Benaroya Hall, seattlesymphony.org


This feature appeared in the March 2015 issue of Seattle Met magazine.

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