12 Weeks of Great Performances in the South Sound
This autumn, the lineup of stage shows is both diverse and ambitious, blending classic plays and musicals with new offbeat and adventurous dramas and comedies, concerts, film studies and solo performances. Tip: Get tickets soon, because each year shows sell out sooner than the last—and the 2016 schedule is more in demand than ever. Here’s a breakdown of your opportunities:
In Tacoma, Broadway Center for the Performing Arts begins its fall season Sept. 7 at the Pantages Theater with modern, eclectic musician Jake Shimabukuro. Coming up at the same venue are Art Garfunkel on Sept. 24, Arsenio Hall on Oct. 1, Rita Moreno’s variety performance on Oct. 1 and the Russian Grand Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty on Oct. 28. Kris Kristofferson drops by on Nov. 10, and then there’s the Vienna Boys Choir on Nov. 13 and the well-attended Sing-A-Long-A Sound of Music, with costume contests and prizes, on Nov. 26.
Some of the season’s most entertaining productions will be at Theatre on the Square, where the Film Focus series includes West Side Story on Oct. 2 and Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind on Oct. 23. For Halloween, don’t miss Sister’s Back to School Catechism: The Holy Ghost and Other Terrifying Tales, a comedic take on tricks, treats and ghost stories with full audience participation.
The Rialto Theater also has an exciting schedule of widely varying performances, starting with the Tacoma Opera’s La Bohème Oct. 29 to Nov. 6. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble plays on Nov. 18, followed by the Seattle band Hey Marseilles Dec. 3 and the Seattle Men’s Chorus Dec. 10.
Across the Tacoma Narrows bridges in Gig Harbor, Paradise Theatre has some deliciously talented fall fare in a performance season titled Thrillers, Farces & Romance! Little Shop of Horrors kicks things off Sept. 16 through Oct. 8, in a remake of one of the longest-running off-Broadway shows. The holiday feature is A Christmas Story, based on the motion picture.
Lakewood’s community theater, Lakewood Playhouse, has a terrific set of autumn shows, beginning with a comedy take on Hound of the Baskervilles. There’s also a bonus production of The Wizard of Oz in collaboration with the youth theater program Nov. 4–13. The holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life takes the stage Nov. 25 to Dec. 18.
Olympia’s venerable Washington Center for the Performing Arts starts out with laughter: Northwest Comedy All Stars’ live standup sessions on Sept. 17. The off-Broadway hit Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus: Live! is on the Main Stage Sept. 23. Oct. 8 brings songs of love, life and purpose from the Masterworks Choral Ensemble. There’s a treat on Oct. 13: Rita Moreno’s award-winning, multifaceted performance of swing, jazz, Broadway classics, selections from her new Spanish album and some magical storytelling. Swan Lake, presented by the Russian Grand Ballet, graces the stage Oct. 27, followed on Oct. 30 by the satirists of The Capitol Steps, who put the “mock” in democracy.
November brings the musical Once on Nov. 3 and National Geographic’s Between Earth and Sky on Nov. 10. The Seattle International Comedy Competition hits the stage Nov. 17, and the Seattle Rock Orchestra brings David Bowie back to life Nov. 18. Then you can sing along with The Sound of Music, costumes and all, on Nov. 27.
Holiday celebrations begin in December: Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold is on the 1st, and the Masterworks Choral Ensemble performs Jingle: A Christmas Celebration on the 3rd.
Olympia Little Theatre, the oldest in the region, always has an enticing lineup. This fall it starts with Calendar Girls, based on the Miramax movie, running Sept. 11 through Oct. 4. Mysteries play the rest of the fall season, with Unwrap Your Candy, an evening of one-act plays, from Oct. 23 to Nov. 1, and The Games Afoot (or Holmes for the Holidays) from Nov. 27 to Dec. 20.
Harlequin Productions rounds out this preview with several can’t-miss options for the months ahead. The Last Five Years is an intimate musical running Aug. 18 to Sept. 10. The Two Gentlemen of Verona, a Shakespeare romantic comedy, follows from Sept. 29 to Oct. 22. The always popular Stardust Christmas Dazzle kicks off the theater’s 25th anniversary season, running Nov. 27 through the end of the year.
HOLLY SMITH PETERSON
For Additional Information:
Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, Pantages Theater,
The Rialto Theater, Theatre on the Square | broadwaycenter.org
Harlequin Productions | harlequinproductions.org
Lakewood Playhouse | lakewoodplayhouse.org
Paradise Theatre | paradisetheatre.org
The Washington Center for the Performing Arts | washingtoncenter.org