For the first time in a few years, theaters across the city are looking ahead confidently to full seasons of onstage productions. This fall will feature heavy hitters like a Broadway-hopeful adaptation of a classic film series and one of the most highly praised memoir plays to have graced Broadway stages.
But Seattle will also be treated to some special opportunities, like the return of a hometown circus-and-dinner show and a chance to see an all too rarely produced play from one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. With an Emmy winner and a dance star taking on Harper Lee, and Jane Austen getting the improv treatment, here are some of the most promising theater opportunities over the next few months.
“The Griswolds’ Broadway Vacation”
The Griswolds are headed to Broadway! But first, they’re making a stop at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre for this world premiere musical based on the National Lampoon film franchise that dates back to 1983’s Chevy Chase-led “Vacation.” The musical has a book, music and lyrics from David Rossmer and Steve Rosen, and it will follow the Griswold family as they head on vacation once again, this time for a New York City adventure.
“The Griswolds’ Broadway Vacation” is produced in association with Tony-winning Broadway producers Ken Davenport (“Kinky Boots”) and Sandi Moran (“Hadestown,” “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”), who aim to eventually take this show to the real Broadway stage, and it will star Kate Rockwell, who last took the Broadway stage in the “Mean Girls” musical, as matriarch Ellen Griswold, and Tony nominee Hunter Foster as Clark Griswold.
Sept. 13-Oct. 2; 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., Seattle; $59-$189; 206-625-1900; 5thavenue.org
“What the Constitution Means to Me”
You may have seen it on Amazon Prime, but there’s nothing quite like experiencing the power of Heidi Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me” in a theater. Schreck’s memoir play is told through the lens of both a modern-day Schreck (who’s from Wenatchee and was active in Seattle theater for several years) and her 15-year-old self who is participating in a constitutional debate contest. Schreck’s play is both hilarious and poignant as she meshes factual information about the Constitution with the ways it has affected multiple generations of women in her family.
Tour director Oliver Butler and star Cassie Beck take the stage at Seattle Rep with the play that was a 2019 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and netted Schreck two Tony nominations. Alongside “Where We Belong” (Sept. 9-Oct. 9), Seattle Rep kicks off its 2022-23 season with a powerful one-two punch.
Sept. 30-Oct. 23; Seattle Rep, 155 Mercer Street, Seattle; tickets start at $17; 206-443-2222; seattlerep.org
“To Kill a Mockingbird”
The Paramount Theatre is set to have a hefty fall, starting off with Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-winning 1960 novel. Much like the novel, the play follows 1930s lawyer Atticus Finch as he defends Tom Robinson, a Black man who was falsely accused of rape, but the play is instead centered around Atticus as the protagonist rather than his daughter, Scout. During its Broadway run, which opened in 2018, the Jeff Daniels-starring play became the top-grossing American play in Broadway history and received nine Tony nominations.
The tour stars Emmy winner Richard Thomas, best known for his role as John-boy Walton in “The Waltons,” as Atticus Finch and Melanie Moore, the season 8 winner of “So You Think You Can Dance,” as Scout. It’s directed by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher, former artistic director of Seattle’s Intiman Theatre.
The Paramount’s fall lineup will also see the Alanis Morissette-inspired musical “Jagged Little Pill” (Nov. 8-13) and the tour of the Blue Man Group (Nov. 25-27) before closing the year out with the spectacle of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” (Dec. 14-Jan. 1).
Oct. 11-16; The Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine Street, Seattle; $35-$125; 206-682-1414; stgpresents.org
“The Amen Corner”
The storied career of James Baldwin includes a number of notable works as he explored themes of sexuality, race and class through his writing. This fall, Baldwin’s earliest play, “The Amen Corner,” will make its way onto a Seattle stage in this production from The Williams Project and LANGSTON, directed by Reggie D. White. The play, first published in 1954, centers a 1950s church in Harlem, led by Margaret Anderson, the church’s pastor. When Anderson’s estranged husband unexpectedly arrives, he brings with him a truth that threatens to put a divide between Anderson, her son and her congregation.
Oct. 28-Nov. 20; Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S., Seattle; $15-$75 and a limited number of pay-what-you-can tickets; 206-494-5364; thewilliamsproject.org
With a cast that includes a world champion rhythmic gymnast, a hula hoop performer, a singer, a Chinese pole artist and a yodeling dominatrix (to name a few), Teatro ZinZanni is returning to Seattle for an all-new show. The limited engagement, themed “Coming Home,” is a celebration of Teatro ZinZanni returning to the city where it was founded in 1998. The dinner and show experience combines circus performers, musicians and comedians alongside catering from Herban Feast inside the factory-turned-event space Sodo Park.
Nov. 16-Feb. 19, 2023; Sodo Park, 3200 1st Ave. S., Seattle; tickets start at $109; 206-802-0015; zinzanni.com/seattle
How well do you know the works of Jane Austen? No matter what your answer is, you’d likely find yourself struggling if you were asked to improvise an Austen-esque story. Yet that’s exactly what Book-It and its cast of long-form improvisers is setting out to do in “Austen Unbound.” By taking just one single suggestion at the beginning of each performance, the improvisers will create a Regency-era story that takes the structure, romance and escapism of Austen’s world and combines it with the unplanned nature of improv.
Nov. 30-Dec. 18; Book-It Repertory Theatre at the Seattle Center Armory, 305 Harrison Street, Seattle; $35-$65; 206-216-0833; book-it.org