Editor’s note: Given the persistently high COVID-19 case count, COVID protocols and other details for events are subject to change. Please check your event’s website for COVID requirements and the latest information, and heed local health authorities’ safety recommendations as they’re updated.
As the temperatures cool and the foliage begins to turn, the stage lights are finally heating up. After a year and a half of closed theaters and empty stages, this fall brings the return of live indoor theater at several venues around the Puget Sound area.
While many local theaters are not beginning their seasons until the winter, there are still some promising shows to see. And for those not quite ready to head back to the theater, there are also online and audio offerings, and live and on-demand streaming performances — for example: Pork Filled Players‘ Resiliency! festival featuring seven new plays in 24 hours on Nov. 13, and Sound Theatre Company’s “ASL Midsummer Night’s Dream” through Sept. 19.
Featuring monsters and myths, android dreams and disco, here are some of the most exciting offerings this season, promising much-needed relief from the bad news cycle.
Known for interactive works like “Black Bois” and “Fag God,” creators Markeith Wiley and dani tirrell will bring audiences into an immersive experience of the disco era with “amber,” a work they describe as “a sensory installation.” “amber” will explore the era associated with flashing lights and shiny shirts by guiding audiences/participants through a sensory experience of light, darkness, music and dance, all of which come together to shed light on, and lend sound to, the voices and stories that often go unheard in histories of disco.
Sept. 10-27, 12th Avenue Arts 1620 12th Ave., Seattle; $5-$22; 206-325-5105, washingtonensemble.org
‘Jesus Christ Superstar’
Can anyone ever outdo Carl Anderson’s 1973 version of “Heaven on Their Minds,” one of the most beloved songs from “Jesus Christ Superstar”? Doubtful, but we can enjoy the attempts and tributes. For the 50th anniversary of the rock opera’s Broadway debut in 1971, it’s likely to be a particularly epic one. For those unfamiliar with the musical: It’s a take on the last days of Jesus Christ from the perspective of Judas, and it strikes a similar chord as a feud between say, a lead singer who wants to go solo, and his jealous bandmates.
The production coming to the Paramount in October is a 2016 revival that presents a modern take on the story but also pays tribute to the funky rock gospel origins. It won a bunch of awards, and should be a great way to kick off Broadway tours (“Mean Girls” also lands at the Paramount this fall Nov. 16-21) returning to Seattle stages.
Oct. 5-10, Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; tickets starting at $35; 206-682-1414; seattle.broadway.com
‘Zen and the Art of an Android Beatdown’
An android boxer lands on Cecile’s operating table, wires, metal and oil spilling out of him. She’s operated on androids in bad shape before, but this one keeps ending up on her table. As she fixes his brain case and upgrades his parts over and over, the nurse and the boxer develop a unique relationship, bonded by memories that haunt them and the pain they hope will quiet them.
“Zen and the Art of an Android Beatdown,” a short story by Tochi Onyebuchi, will be adapted and directed by Gin Hammond as an audio drama for Book-It Repertory Theatre. Hammond and Book-It teamed up on the theater’s first audio drama during the shutdown last fall — a stellar production of Octavia Butler’s “Childfinder.” It’s only fitting that they’re teaming up for another sci-fi audio drama. Written in vivid scenes that pull you in and rattle you a bit as you find yourself enmeshed in the characters’ thoughts and memories, Onyebuchi’s “Zen” as an audio experience is likely to enhance the connection with the characters.
Available starting Oct. 12; tickets on sale Sept. 28; 206-216-0833, book-it.org
‘Fermin’s Great Book of Dreams’
With a cast of characters that includes a mouse in a suit, a tired seagull, and a sweet potato queen, eSe Teatro’s “Fermin’s Great Book of Dreams,” an original play by local playwright Julieta Vitullo, tells the story of a young boy who struggles with belief when he doesn’t receive a visit from Raton Perez, a mouse that visits children after they lose a tooth and exchanges the tooth for a gift. The event sends him off on a quest to discover why children’s wishes are getting lost.
The story’s magical premise and quirky characters will certainly captivate children, but it will resonate with adults too as we all find ourselves navigating the uncertain terrain of the continued pandemic together in our daily lives, looking for a little magic and a little normal in the small graces. Nov. 5-20; University Heights Center Auditorium, 5031 University Way N.E.; pay what you can; 206-527-4278; eseteatro.org
‘We’ve Battled Monsters Before’
Theater artist Justin Huertas is at his best when wrangling monsters, myth and music into fantastical adventures. With “We’ve Battled Monsters Before,” playwright, composer/lyricist and actor Huertas — whose musicals, like “Lizard Boy” and “The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion,” are often powered by local mythology — ventures back to his own origins, to a bedtime story his father used to tell him as a child about a magical bird
The story, Huertas found out while writing this musical, is actually the “Ibong Adarna,” an old Filipino epic poem about three brothers who hunt for a magic bird whose songs they believe can help heal their father. In Huertas’ hands, the epic transforms into a modern story about the adventures and fumbles of a Seattle woman named Adarna as she tries to find her place as the youngest in a family of secret warriors who, you guessed it, battle monsters to protect the city. If the monsters, myth and magic weren’t promising enough, the powerful vocals of local singer, songwriter and theater artist Rheanna Atendido, playing Adarna, will certainly captivate.
Nov. 26-Dec. 26 (previews begin week of Nov. 22); ArtsWest, 4711 California Ave. S.W., Seattle; tickets not yet on sale as of this writing; 206-938-0339, artswest.org