Sydney Andrews and Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako co-star in Book-It's production of "Little Bee." Credit: John Ulman
* Events that are $15 or less
Somehow I’ve overlooked reading this 2008 bestselling novel by Chris Cleave about a Nigerian refugee girl named Little Bee and the harrowing way she’s connected to an English magazine editor and the editor’s columnist husband. Luckily, I have Book-It to thank for adapting Little Bee for the stage in a powerful, absorbing way. Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako is exceptional in the title role — how she makes us hurt and laugh. And Sydney Andrews is believable as Sarah, the editor whose life is upended before Little Bee even steps back into her life. I went to a matinee last weekend when the weather was sunny and you know what? At intermission, I kept thinking how perfect it felt to spend a couple of hours in the dark, watching this memorable and important story unfold. The production, a world premiere, closes this weekend. Go.
If you go: Little Bee, Book-It Repertory Theatre, Now through May 17 ($25) — F.D.
KEXP’s “Little Big Show”
This series is an incredible innovation on the local radio station’s part. Each show takes place at the Neptune, is reasonably priced and benefits a local nonprofit or charity organization. Teen Tix is the beneficiary this time around. Anyone ages 13-19 who enrolls gets a pass allowing him or her to purchase $5 day-of-show tickets from any of Teen Tix’s partner organizations, which include ACT, The EMP, MOHAI, The Seattle Symphony and many others. The program is an investment in the future of Seattle culture.
To drum up some cash for this worthy cause, KEXP has enlisted the help of three excellent rock acts. Headliner Cloud Nothings is a raw-boned indie rock group out of Cleveland. They are excellent at conveying intensity without resorting to thrashing and screaming. This rare show of calculated restraint is largely due to the excellent singing/songwriting/guitar work of frontman Dylan Baldi. Seattle mainstays Tacocat and Chastity Belt are opening. For the last year or so, these two bands have been vying for the title of Best Seattle Slacker Surf Pop Group, a category that has many, many other worthy contenders in this town.
If you go: Cloud Nothings, Tacocat, Chastity Belt, Neptune Theater, May 14 ($19). All ages — J.S.H.
Brown Derby Series: Jurassic Park
Inaugurated in 2010 with Purple Rain, Ian Bell’s Brown Derby Series continues to deliver “ridiculously staged readings of your favorite screenplays.” This weekend, Bell and a crew of actors pay homage to the 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park. Relish in the chance to see this script reenacted on stage, stripped of all special effects and dino-free. If this doesn’t have the makings of a hilarious night, I don’t know what does.
If you go: Brown Derby Series: Jurassic Park, Re-Bar, May 14 to 16 ($20) — N.C.
Pierogi Fest *
Italy has ravioli, China has wontons, Argentina has empanadas and Poland has pierogi. Now a Seattle institution, the annual Pierogi Fest returns to the Polish Home Association for one day only. These wonderful little dumplings are stuffed with any number of savory fillings — cabbage, onion, beef, cheese — dropped into boiling water to cook, then sautéed to a golden perfection in butter and onion. Let professionals do the work. Just head to 18th Avenue in Capitol Hill for entertainment, Polish beer and a whole plateful of pierogi, savory or sweet.
If you go: Pierogi Fest, Polish Home Association, May 16 ($10 for adults, $5 for kids) — N.C.
Fly Moon Royalty, Tangerine, Snuff Redux
For some weeks now, I’ve been raving to everyone who would listen (and many who wouldn’t) that this Saturday’s show at Neumos is the year’s best deal on live music to date. The bill features three excellent, eclectic local acts: Headliners Fly Moon Royalty along with openers Tangerine and Snuff Redux. While all three groups are KEXP darlings with solid traction in the local scene, this lineup’s real selling point is its almost outlandish diversity. Fly Moon Royalty self-categorizes as “Electro soul” and pair funky homemade beats with sassy R&B vocals. Tangerine is equally dance-y but relies more on guitars than electronics and keys to achieve the effect. Their dayglo surf pop is both tightly orchestrated and energizing. Snuff Redux does not share the penchant for tight-knit orchestration; they are a tornado of garage rock, shoegaze and postpunk that is at once unabashedly catchy and conspicuously unique. In triplicate, these acts might well summon enough raw power to blow the roof off the place.
If you go: Fly Moon Royalty, Tangerine, Snuff Redux Neumos, May 16 ($10). 21+ — J.S.H.
Me and Earl and The Dying Girl *
Seattle International Film Festival 2015 begins! We’re lucky enough to play host to an array of films from around the world, including a good many world premieres that will screen all over the city (some even at resurrected venues like the Harvard Exit Theatre). One of the first events of note is the Seattle premier of Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, winner of the 2015 Sundance Grand Jury Prize and the festival’s Audience Award. Watching the trailer, it’s not surprising that no one’s had anything but glowing things to say about this coming-of-age tale, an homage of sorts to Harold and Maude that “feels like an instant classic.” Its young cast shines and the story comes together to make a potentially tired premise funny, authentic and resounding. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is scheduled to attend Saturday’s screening, followed by a reception catered by Il Fornaio.
If you go: Me and Earl and The Dying Girl + Party, Pacific Place, 6: 30 p.m. May 16 and 2:30 p.m. on May 17 ($13 or $25 for film and the party) — N.C.
Orchestra Seattle | Seattle Chamber Singers
The orchestra and chorus celebrate the year 1954 with music that was playing on stage, in the movie theater and on the radio from that era. Selections include music by composing greats Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein (“On the Waterfront,” which won Best Picture that year). The concert will feature a musical tribute to Boeing’s first flight, which happened in 1954, and a world premiere by Stacey Phillips, winner of the OSSCS composer competition. Phillips’ work features lyrics drawn from the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a Paul Dunbar poem “Breathe”, composed in response to the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
If you go: Orchestra Seattle | Seattle Chamber Singers, First Free Methodist Church, 3 p.m. May 17 ($25) — F.D.
The great tradition of the guitar-slinging troubadour poets lives on in artists like Elvis Perkins. His lyrics, at once personal and expansive, whimsical yet insightful, hearken back to Bob Dylan, John Prine, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. Perkins’ songs are the type that remain cryptic after many listens, defying concrete understanding even as they plumb the depths of the soul. One of his earlier ballads (“While You Were Sleeping”) practically reached out of my car’s radio and grabbed my teenage self by the scruff of the neck. I could focus on nothing else when I heard him sing, “While you were sleeping, you tossed you turned / you rolled your eyes as the world burned / the heavens fell, the earth quaked / I thought you must be but you weren’t awake, No, you were dreaming.” The images he paints leave a permanent imprimatur on listeners’ minds. Don’t deny yourself that experience.
If you go: Elvis Perkins, The Triple Door, May 19 ($16). All ages — J.S.H.
Read more about: Book-It R | Brown Derby Series | Chastity Belt | Cloud Nothings | Elvis Perkins | First Free Methodist Church | Fly Moon Royalty | Jurassic Park | KEXP | Little Bee | Little Big Show | Me and Earl and The Dying Girl | Neptune Theat | Neumos | Orchestra Seattle Seattle Chamber Singers | Pacific Place | Pierogi Fest | Polish Home Association | Re-Bar | SIFF | Snuff Redux | Tacocat | Tangerine | The Triple Door