Seattle's 2012 Moisture Festival kicks off with four weeks of festivities with aerial acts, jugglers, comedians — and a most unlikely kazoo recital.

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Performance review |

From outside Hale’s Palladium as torrential rains came down, the Moisture Festival’s name seemed drenchingly apt. But inside the hall, the spirit of the festivities couldn’t have been more warming.

Seattle’s four-week Moisture Festival, now in its ninth year, opened Thursday with a zany, feisty lineup of comedians, jugglers, magicians, singers and aerialists, plus an act or two impossible to classify. Within the city limits of Seattle, some of these folks are stars (rope-acrobat Terry Crane’s highly vocal groupies made their presence known), and all of them have charisma.

Comedian Bill Robison (“He’s been on stages from Paris to Puyallup!”) kicked things off with a routine that was a marvel of crack-timing. It involved a microphone that could read both his thoughts and the thoughts of those in the audience — not that he necessarily wanted to hear the latter.

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Juggler/balancer Charlie Brown had a snickering style all his own, as he lobbed around everything from balls and hats to a sword and a toilet plunger. Alfredo Fettuccini’s specialty was magic tricks that seemingly went nowhere — before they suddenly arrived somewhere. Squeaky-voiced Reid Belstock got big laughs when his already sublime juggling routine took an oopsy-daisy high-speed turn.

On the musical front, the Bobs were in excellent tune, delivering a three-song set that included a snazzy-steamy cover of Tom Waits’ “Temptation” and an over-the-top original, “Get Your Monkey Off My Dog” (complete with simian antics).

While this was a family show, it had some risqué elements, especially when Amy G took the stage — first on out-of-control roller skates that landed her in comically unseemly postures, then in an elegant evening gown that masked a most unusual way of playing a kazoo.

The aerialists on the program, Crane and Tanya Brno, were risky in another sense. Brno, suspended over the middle of the crowd, created exquisite arabesques in the air while tenuously perched on a rotating, spiral-shaped trapeze. Crane practically walked on the ceiling once he ascended his rope, and his acrobatics up there ranged from painful tangles to daredevil plunges.

With Ron W. Bailey and Simon Neale as jovial hosts, and the Fremont Philharmonic Orchestra moving things along with circus waltzes and marches, the evening sped by quickly.

The one still moment: clown Godfrey Daniels, by now a Fremont icon, doing his slow-motion balloon-juggling routine.

If you’re a Moisture Festival regular, you may remember Rob Williams making sandwiches with his feet — and getting people to eat them — a few years ago. He’s back, joining forces with a gal who sometimes goes by the name Super Spacey Casey in a duo called Kamikaze Fireflies. Their act — as unclassifiable as Amy G’s kazoo recital — involves large, clear plastic balloons and a desire on the part of the performers to “touch” the audience, albeit from behind a protective lining.

It made for a near-riotous end to the show.

The festival continues through April 8, with several chances to see opening night’s acts again, plus dozens of other performers.

Michael Upchurch:

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