We have an abundance of good theaters in Seattle. Here's a guide to help you get started.
Into theater? You’re in luck; Seattle is known for being a theater town — and this is just a sampling of what’s out there. Don’t know if you’re into theater? Find out with some of the cheap-seat options.
If you’re into spectacles
Long-running dinner show/cirque Teatro ZinZanni (zinzanni.com) is opening “Hollywood & Vine” on Nov. 1 — its first show at its new long-term home on the site of the former Redhook Brewery in Woodinville. (As you’ll recall, ZinZanni had to leave its longtime Lower Queen Anne location last year, and where it would end up was uncertain.) Meanwhile, Cirque du Soleil‘s (cirquedusoleil.com) “Volta” runs through Nov. 4 at Marymoor Park.
If you’re into musical theater
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The 5th Ave, Paramount and Village are the biggies for musicals around here. The 5th Avenue Theatre (5thavenue.org) creates its own new stagings of well-known musicals (see: “Annie,” opening later this year), occasionally hosts touring productions (including this fall’s “Come From Away”) and develops new musicals. The Paramount Theatre is home to the Broadway at The Paramount series (seattle.broadway.com), which brings in touring productions of Broadway hits, including this fall’s “On Your Feet!” Village Theatre (villagetheatre.org), which holds performances in Issaquah and Everett, develops new musicals (currently: “The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes”) and creates its own stagings of existing musicals (such as “Matilda” later this year). It’s also not unusual to catch a musical at one of the local theaters known more for straight plays, including Seattle Rep, ACT, ArtsWest and Taproot.
If you prefer straight plays (with the occasional musical)
Seattle Repertory Theatre (seattlerep.org), the city’s flagship regional theater (whose new season opens in October with “A Thousand Splendid Suns”), is likely already on your radar, as is ACT Theatre (acttheatre.org), which concludes its season this fall with “Skylight” and “Oslo.” Both the Rep and ACT are acclaimed playhouses, with multiple stages covering a mix of classics and new works.
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If you love the feeling of being immersed in a good book, check out Book-It Repertory Theatre (book-it.org), which adapts literary works — from short stories to full-length novels (like this fall’s “Jane Eyre”) — with its own style in which the characters speak not just the dialogue from the book, but also the narrative text; the result can feel like reading a book while simultaneously seeing the words play out before you. Seattle Shakespeare Company (seattleshakespeare.org) is the place to go if you love the Bard and other classics; this fall, it’s presenting (with upstart crow collective) an all-female version of “Richard III,” as well as George Bernard Shaw’s “Arms and the Man.”
Among companies making strong, interesting work: Earlier this year, Strawberry Theatre Workshop (strawshop.org) delivered a production of “Frost/Nixon” whose final hour “might be the must-see theater moment of the month — or, depending on what 2018 brings, the year,” Seattle Times reviewer Brendan Kiley wrote. This fall, Strawshop tackles Craig Lucas’ “Prelude to a Kiss.” ArtsWest (artswest.org), which has grown quite adventurous in recent years, takes on “Skeleton Crew” and a musical version of “Jane Eyre.” The Williams Project (thewilliamsproject.org), which has held stirring shows in places as varied as a church, a high school and a dinner theater, tackles Tony Kushner’s “A Bright Room Called Day” at Hillman City Collaboratory this fall.
The intrepid, inventive Washington Ensemble Theatre‘s (washingtonensemble.org) productions can be polarizing but memorable, whether they’re about a harrowing trip through the dark web or a pack of teenage cybercriminals; its fall production — Sheila Callaghan’s “Everything You Touch” — may carry on this tradition. Seattle Public Theater (seattlepublictheater.org), whose “Hand to God” earlier this year offered a gut-busting, gut-wrenching take on a lewd tragicomedy with puppets, tackles another comedy with deeper themes this fall with Tanya Saracho’s “Fade.” Meanwhile, Intiman Theatre (intiman.org), back now seven years from its financial implosion, has been trying something a little different each year, from operating as a summer festival to co-curating its seasons. This fall, it’s closing its first season under Artistic Director Jennifer Zeyl with Karen Zacarías’ “Native Gardens.”
Many other theater companies around town are well worth visiting, from neighborhood gems like Taproot Theatre (taproottheatre.org) in Greenwood (fall shows: “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” and “Cyla’s Gift”) to smaller groups including long-running Asian-American theater company Pork Filled Productions (porkfilled.com, teaming up this fall with newer group REBATEnsemble to present “The Night Parade”) and Latino Theatre Projects (latinotheatreprojects.org, with “Brainpeople” starting in October).
And, for the very young among us — or the young at heart — the excellent Seattle Children’s Theatre (sct.org) is presenting this fall “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show,” “And in This Corner: Cassius Clay” and “The Velveteen Rabbit.”
If you’re feeling more adventurous
Sure, Annex Theatre (annextheatre.org) presents plays — many of them world premieres — including those by local playwrights (up this fall: “Anansi and the Halfling”). But one of the things it’s best known for is the long-running, monthly late-night variety show “Spin the Bottle” — featuring local actors, musicians, filmmakers and others — which Times reviewer Kiley called “a magical little keyhole into how the city thinks.”
On the Boards (ontheboards.org) is the place for you if you’re thrilled by experimental theater, dance, performance art and shows that defy categorization. What they have in common: a cutting-edge, often visceral bite. Andrew Schneider’s “Youarenowhere” and “After” in October should be no exception.
If you’re looking for cheap seats
Yes, theater tickets can be expensive. But there are ways to get cheaper tickets — and not just through student and senior discounts.
It’s worth keeping in mind that regular-price tickets for some shows start as low as around $15 to $20.
Many theaters have rush tickets — usually day-of discounted tickets that go on sale a half-hour to an hour before the show begins — and also designated pay-what-you-will performances. Some theaters charge less during previews — performances that precede opening night.
TodayTix (todaytix.com) — a ticketing platform accessible via desktop or mobile app — offers discount and full-price tickets, and lets users see prices for a range of shows. Some theaters also partner with TodayTix to offer lottery tickets to certain shows.
SpiceBox Passport (spiceboxpassport.org) offers discounted tickets to participating shows — usually with culturally diverse themes — once you buy a ticket to any one of the participating shows.
TeenTix (teentix.org) is a pass that allows teens to buy $5 day-of-show tickets to theater performances and other arts events.
And be sure to check the websites and social media of the theater you’re interested in for postings about discounts and last-minute deals.