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Susan Jouflas / The Seattle Times

Birds of a feather flock together, the old saying goes, and with the busy fall arts season upon us, it’s time to leave the nest and go explore. You’ll find plenty of places to land, thanks to the region’s rich offerings in books, classical music/opera, dance, rock/pop, theater and visual arts.

Just a sample of who and what is coming to town this fall: global hitmaker Elton John; the verbal high-jinks of the comedy news quiz “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”; an exhibition of greats from the Pop Art world, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg; and a mini-festival of the works of Dvorak, courtesy of Seattle Symphony. Don’t worry, bookworms, we’ve got you covered, too: You can expect the likes of Washington state’s own Jess Walter on the Lit Crawl; crime-fiction writer extraordinaire James Ellroy; and Python-turned-writer John Cleese.

Here we offer calendar listings of these events and many more, as well as what our writers recommend.

Swoop in!

— Melissa Davis, Fall Arts Guide editor


JUMP TO: Theater | Pop/Rock Music | Dance | Visual Arts | Classical Music | Books | Comedy



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Stark Sands, left, and Billy Porter in Broadway’s “Kinky Boots.” A “Boots” tour hits Seattle starting Oct. 7.

We recommend: ‘Boots,’ ‘Heights’ and LBJ

Expect a deluge of new theater productions, as many Seattle companies open their 2014-15 seasons with attention-grabbing and diverse fare.

A few of the many upcoming shows of interest:

“In the Heights.” Latino performers get the chance to shine in Village Theatre’s production of this zesty, salsa- and rap-driven musical, set in the multicultural New York City enclave of Washington Heights. (Opens in Issaquah Sept. 18.)

“Kinky Boots.” If you love oodles of flash and sass, and a little mush, this current Broadway hit might be for you. A national touring company brings the show to 5th Avenue Theatre for its Seattle premiere. (Opens Oct. 7.)

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” ACT stages Christopher Durang’s touchingly zany comedy, which takes its character names, characters and melancholy from Anton Chekhov’s plays as it brings an aging trio of siblings together for an eventful reunion. (Opens Oct. 17)

“Dogfight.” ArtsWest and Balagan Theatre team up to present this evolving musical based on a poignant 1991 screen romance, penned by smart young creators with Seattle credits: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“A Christmas Story”) and Peter Duchan (“Stu for Silverton”). (Opens at ArtsWest on Oct. 23)

“All the Way.” Seattle dramatist Robert Schenkkan’s Tony Award-winning, two-part epic about Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency opens locally — at Seattle Rep — Nov. 14 with an illuminating account of LBJ’s dynamic first year in the White House. (“The Great Society,” which is part 2, opens in December.)

— Misha Berson, Seattle Times theater critic


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Associated Press

The Drake vs. Lil Wayne tour stops Sept. 14 at White River Amphitheatre.

We recommend: Rap faceoff, Elton John

Two major artists — one long-established and one brand-new — make Northwest debuts this fall in a season that also features a heavyweight rap battle, a scene-defining electronic-music festival and a long-awaited tour by a pop eminence.

The Drake vs. Lil Wayne faceoff in September stems from the not entirely tongue-in-cheek premise that New Orleans rap elder Lil Wayne may soon be eclipsed by Toronto upstart Drake. Reviews from the road report they’re dueling with good humor. (Sept. 14)

Visiting Seattle for the first time are velvet-voiced Brazilian superstar Caetano Veloso (Sept. 16), who combines the poetic brilliance of Bob Dylan with the pastel romance of Tony Bennett, and the much-anticipated new soul stirrer from England, Sam Smith (Sept. 25). Veloso has played Vancouver, B.C., but never Seattle, but a significant growth in the Brazilian population here emboldened the folks at the Benaroya concert series to bring him in.

Seattle’s five-day-long Decibel Festival didn’t start the cross-Atlantic mania for electronic-dance music (EDM), but it was way ahead of the curve when it began laying the groundwork for an EDM scene here 11 years ago. Though this year there’s no one on the roster to compare with 2013’s then-breaking Lorde, headliners include Richie Hawtin and Optical 3. (Opens Sept. 24)

Four years have passed since flamboyant English singer-songwriter Elton John played KeyArena on a smash double bill with Billy Joel — twice. Since then, John has released yet another Top 10 album, “The Diving Board.” He never fails to deliver a slam-glam show. (Sept. 27)

— Paul de Barros, Seattle Times music critic


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Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in “Emeralds,” part of George Balanchine’s beautifully costumed “Jewels,” which PNB will present Sept. 26-Oct. 5.

We recommend: ‘Jewels,’ Men in Dance

Pacific Northwest Ballet kicks off its new season with a gem: George Balanchine’s sparkling “Jewels,” one of ballet’s few full-length plotless ballets, runs Sept. 26-Oct. 5. The company’s second fall rep, Director’s Choice, brings a world premiere from New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck, along with three contemporary selections; running Nov. 7-16.

Always a pleasure, the Chamber Dance Company presents its annual concert Oct. 9-12, with a program to include Nacho Duato’s wistful “Jardi Tancat,” DanialCQ Shapiro and Joanie Smith’s “To Have and to Hold,” and excerpts from Susan Marshall’s “Cloudless.”

The Men In Dance Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall with two programs, running the weekends of Sept. 26 and Oct. 3. Choreographers represented include Wade Madsen, Tim Lynch, Bill Evans and Mark Morris.

Choreographer Amy O’Neal examines B-boy culture in “Opposing Forces” at On the Boards (Oct. 23-25), with live music by Seattle’s WD4D.

And one of Broadway’s great dance shows gets a local production at the 5th Avenue Theatre: “A Chorus Line,” featuring re-creations of Michael Bennett’s original choreography, plays through Sept. 28. (Details in the theater calendar.)

— Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times arts writer

Visual Arts

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Tacoma Art Museum / Haub Family Collection

“Rain and Runoff” by Ed Mell will hang in the Tacoma Art Museum’s new Haub Gallery, of Western art.

We recommend: Masterworks, Pop, the West

Art with a local resonance will be featured in several promising museum shows this fall.

At Bellevue Arts Museum, “BAM Biennial 2014: Knock on Wood” (Oct. 31-March 29) looks to a material found in abundance in this region, and will no doubt investigate ways it can be pushed to fanciful extremes.

Ohio conceptual artist Ann Hamilton may not be local, but between her upcoming project for the Seattle Waterfront and “Ann Hamilton: a common sense” (which will occupy the entire Henry Art Gallery, Oct. 11-April 26), the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship winner will have a mighty high profile in Seattle.

“Art of the American West: The Haub Family Collection at Tacoma Art Museum” (Nov. 15-Nov. 2015) broadens the notion of “regional” to the whole lefthand side of the country, and includes work by Thomas Hart Benton, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Georgia O’Keeffe and many others. The exhibit also celebrates TAM’s new wing, The Haub Gallery.

Finally for those hungry for coast-to-coast American art exploration, Seattle Art Museum has two promising shows coming up: “American Art Masterworks” (Oct. 11-Dec. 7), featuring work by Winslow Homer, James McNeill Whistler and Childe Hassam, to name just a few, and “Pop Departures” (Oct. 9-Jan. 11), which includes pieces by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and other subversive mischief-makers.

— Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer


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Ruby Washington

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee (shown here in “Armida,” with Renee Fleming, at the Metropolitan Opera) will return to Seattle Opera’s stage to appear in the company’s staging of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” opening Oct. 18.

We recommend: ‘Don,’ Dvorak, Monteverdi

The fall offerings for classical-music fans have ripened into riches again this year. From works by early-music master Monteverdi to one by multitasker Erich Korngold (his music was even heard in “The Big Lebowski”), Seattle-area audiences have a cornucopia of choices this season. A few highlights:

• Music director Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony salute that versatile Bohemian Antonin Dvorák with a three-week celebratory series of concerts. The performances will feature Dvorak’s symphonies 7, 8 and 9 as well as works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and John Adams. The sparkling roster of series guests: Hilary Hahn (on the Korngold Violin Concerto) and rising-star pianists Daniil Trifonov and Khatia Buniatishvili. (Sept. 18-Oct. 5)

• Aidan Lang, new general director of Seattle Opera, mints the season with Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” a classic blend of comedy, drama and the devil’s-gonna-get-you. The cast includes the considerable talents of Nicolas Cavallier, Elizabeth Caballero and Lawrence Brownlee. (Oct. 18-Nov. 1)

• Pacific Musicworks opens its season with a program of works from Claudio Monteverdi’s eighth book of madrigals — “Songs of Love and War.” The Italian composer wove threads of poetry, drama and ballet in the service of describing love in terms of warfare; pursuit, battle and grief. (Nov. 7)

— Melissa Davis, assistant features editor


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Courtesy of the author

Sarah Waters will read from “The Paying Guests” on Sept. 23 at Elliott Bay Book Co.

We recommend: A bushel of novelists

There’s never a better time or place to read a book or see an author than autumn in Seattle — there may be more literary events per square mile here on a fall evening than in Manhattan. Here are some don’t-miss prospects:

• Richard Hugo House has its usual banquet of mind food for authors and readers, starting with novelist’s novelist Charles Baxter, revered both for his writing and his teaching of writers. He appears Wednesday, Sept. 10, as part of Hugo House’s “Word Works” series.

• Some amazing British/Irish novelists are passing through, including London’s Sarah Waters, who reads from her stem-winding suspense novel “The Paying Guests” (Sept. 23, Elliott Bay Book Co.). Fellow Brit David Mitchell discusses his hyperimaginative “The Bone Clocks” (Sept. 25, Town Hall Seattle). Irish novelist Joseph O’Neill reads from his Booker-longlisted “The Dog” (Oct. 1, Ravenna Third Place Books). Ireland’s Colm Toibin reads from his new novel, “Norah Webster” (Nov. 3, Seattle Arts & Lectures at Town Hall).

James McBride. McBride won last year’s National Book Award for fiction for “The Good Lord Bird,” about a cross-dressing slave who gets caught up in John Brown’s abolitionist mission. He’s at Seattle Arts & Lectures at Town Hall Oct. 15.

William Gibson. The godfather of cyberfiction is back with a new novel, “The Peripherals,” set in “multiple futures.” He appears Oct. 28 at the University Book Store.

John Cleese. University Book Store hosts the Monty Python founder’s appearance Nov. 16 at University Temple United Methodist Church to discuss his memoir “So Anyway.”

— Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times book editor


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Comedy Central

Comedian and “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver will appear at The Paramount Theatre on Nov. 23.

We recommend: John Oliver, Will Ferrell

Seattle is becoming a regular stop for big-name comedy acts, and this year is no exception. The amiable Will Ferrell, who is spotted in the city more and more, will be at the Meany Theater on the UW campus on Sept. 19. HBO smarty pants John Oliver will bring his on-point observations to the Paramount Theatre on Nov. 23.

Fall Arts Guide Staff

Fall Arts Guide editor Melissa Davis Online presentation Paige Collins
Copy editors Marilyn Bailey, Richard Seven Art director Susan Jouflas
Arts writers Misha Berson, Paul de Barros, Mary Ann Gwinn, Moira Macdonald, Michael Upchurch
News assistants Jeff Albertson, Doug Knoop, Madeline McKenzie