In the Spotlight

The Performing Arts Stage a Comeback This Winter Season

A flurry of dance performances, plays, and live music descends on the city.

By Sophie Grossman December 14, 2021

Freestyle Love Supreme at Seattle Rep.

Seattle Rep

Founded in the 1960s, the largest nonprofit resident theater in the Pacific Northwest continues to pursue its vision of theater at the center of public life. A medium-blending adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale runs through December, while a monthlong run of Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer opens January 14. The one-woman show starring E. Faye Butler was co-commissioned by the Goodman Theater, and pays homage to civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer, whose labors to uplift and enfranchise Black people in the Jim Crow–era South left an indelible mark on her community and the nation. The end of February brings Tony Award–winning Freestyle Love Supreme, a partially improvisational hip-hop musical that draws on audience participation.

5th Avenue Theatre

The 5th rolls out seasoned crowd pleaser and eternal family favorite Beauty and the Beast, January 12–February 6. Harnessing the iconic Disney score by Alan Menken, this local production promises sumptuous costuming and an epochal tale of unlikely romance and learning to see beyond the superficial.

Seattle Theatre Group

STG’s trio of venues roar back to life this winter. A Broadway production of Anastasia by five-time Tony Award–winner Terrence McNally runs January 25–30 at the Paramount. And Seattle-born experimental string collective Kronos Quartet performs at the Moore on February 13, following An Untitled Love, performed by Kyle Abraham’s A.I.M. and produced in partnership with On the Boards. 


Whim W’Him

The winter season from small contemporary dance company Whim W’Him ushers in two original productions by fresh-faced talents Jakevis Thomason and Ethan Colangelo. Thomason’s childhood as a competitive dancer shines through in the expressive theatrics of his choreography, while Colangelo’s extensive ballet background is apparent in the precision of each movement. 

Pacific Northwest Ballet

PNB continues its virtual offerings this season; in-person  performances return with George Balanchine’s singular version of The Nutcracker (thru Dec 28) and Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliet, a company mainstay since 2008, February 4–13.

ACT Theatre

January 28 marks the world premiere of a new play by Yussef El Guindi, author of Back of the Throat and People of the Book. Hotter than Egypt, set in the years immediately following the Egyptian revolution, examines the political and personal legacy of colonialism through the intertwined fates of a troubled American couple on vacation in Cairo and the young Egyptian couple they hire to spirit them around the city. 

Seattle Opera

Tickets for Seattle Opera’s production of Orpheus and Eurydice, a surreal journey into the depths of the underworld in pursuit of lost love, already sold out in September, signaling a voracious appetite for in-person arias after a season trapped in the shadowy underworld of streaming. Blue, set to run the weekend of February 26, tells the story of a Black family bound together and torn asunder by police brutality. The father’s position as a police officer himself adds nuance to the narrative, and writer and director Tazewell Thompson interviewed many Black police officers to inform his creation. 

Blue at Seattle Opera.

Intiman Theatre

Intiman has undergone some tectonic shifts this year, leaving the 50-year-old establishment on ground more solid than ever before. Previously debt-logged and without a permanent location, the production company has rolled out a monthly donation-based membership program that will make its 2021–22 season, and all seasons to come, more accessible. Its three productions delve into the theme of home—a nod to the company’s newfound place as the professional theater in residence at Seattle Central College. The Mystery of Irma Vep, running February 8–27, is a campy romp through a decadent Victorian estate riddled with ghouls and ghosts straight out of a penny dreadful. All six parts are played by two actors, and much cross-dressing ensues.

Seattle Symphony

The Symphony, after enduring the trials and travails of perennial shutdowns, was tossed a $5.6 million life preserver from its donors in September, with its Opening Night Gala on September 18 raising $1.6 million alone. These recovery funds in hand, the Symphony presents an exclusive New Year’s tribute to fin-de-siecle Vienna and the waltzes penned by the massively prolific Johann Strauss. The ongoing Masterworks Series highlights twentieth-century American composer Samuel Barber, a mandolin interpretation of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons by Avi Avital, and the work of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, interpreted by Thomas Dausgaard, the Symphony’s music director. Dausgaard’s Nordic roots and communion with the natural world uniquely position him to illuminate Sibelius’s compositions, which reflect the landscapes and ecosystems of his native Finland. 

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