The Weekend List: The arts and culture guide to Seattle's good life

Hilarious (and nekkid) theater, two -- count them, two -- film festivals, and Cameron Carpenter's dazzling orchestral flair.
Hilarious (and nekkid) theater, two -- count them, two -- film festivals, and Cameron Carpenter's dazzling orchestral flair.

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A Room With A View

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I could wax on about the scenery that whisks you away to Florence and the English countryside. The powerhouse vocal couplings of Laura Griffith and Louis Hobson. The Edwardian wardrobes. The plot, based on the E.M. Forster novel and inspired by the Merchant Ivory film, about a young woman torn between duty and lust. But what really got me and mother howling (at a preview show and yes, I went with Mom) was the male skinny dipping scene in Act 2 — and not just because the actors were nekkid.

At right: The musical "A Room With A View" is world premiering at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo: Mark Kitaoka

In a world premiere musical that’s about living and letting one’s heart drive you forth, nothing telegraphs shedding one’s inhibitions quite like dropping trou and splashing around in a bucolic pond. It’s a terrific pond, by the way. The song “Splash is a total winner, as are the comedic let-loose maneuverings of Hobson, Matt Owen and Richard Gray. I dare you not to laugh.

If you go: A Room With A View, The 5th Avenue Theatre, Through May 11. ($30-$65). — F.D.

Hair

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Speaking of letting it all hang out, ArtsWest offers up the counterculture rock musical Hair, which never seems all that dated. Peace, love and protestations against The Man. A wee twist here is how the group of hippies act all flash mob-like and take over Grand Central Station to stage the show.

At right: Stacie Pinkney Calkins in "Hair," now playing at ArtsWest. Photo: Michael Brunk.

If you go: Hair, ArtsWest, Through June 7. ($17-$36.50). — F.D.

*Kool Keith

These days, many would associate horrorcore rap — a subgenre that draws on horror-themed lyrical style and imagery — with the profane antics of California’s relatively new Odd Future hip-hop collective. But rappers have been getting surreal and creepy for quite a while now. Kool Keith, a.k.a. Dr. Octagon, the self-proclaimed progenitor of horrorcore rap, is at Neumos this week. Like his hip-hop cohorts and collaborators Dr. Doom and Del tha Funky Homosapien, Kool Keith has a shared penchant for science fiction and alter-egos, sometimes rapping directly from the perspective of Dr. Octagon, an alien gynecologist. Get ready people.

If you go:  Kool Keith, Neumos, April 24 ($15). — J.S-H.

* National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY)

The National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) packs genius and stunning variety – documentary, musical, experimental, reel animation – into three days. Seattle hosts this fest each spring, bringing a new generation of filmmakers, all under age 22, from around the world. While there’s surely a film for everyone’s taste, I recommend seeing one of the shorts programs (a mixed bag called Eclectic Afternoon or Cinematic Journey, showing the work of “young Malicks”) to experience variety. Or on Friday evening, head to SIFF for Happy Hour Shorts, complete with a free tasting from the always-delicious Fremont Brewing Company.

If you go: NFFTY, SIFF Cinema Uptown, April 24-April 26. ($11) — N.C.

Cameron Carpenter

I’ve got a serious love affair with organ music and by all accounts, Cameron Carpenter is the organist who will dazzle, what with his outré sparkly outfits and his musical virtuosity and his tendency to chat up audiences before performances. He’s all about smashing stereotypes, adding his own style of flair to Bach and Demessieux. He’ll play Benaroya’s magnificent Watjen Concert Organ. And to help us appreciate Carpenter’s athletic footwork, there’ll be a screen on the side of the stage for us to watch.

If you go: Cameron Carpenter, Benaroya Hall, April 25. ($19-$31). — F.D.

* Langston Hughes African American Film Festival

Here’s another film festival offering to lose yourself in. More than 50 films over 9 days that celebrate African American culture and black filmmakers. Take a look at the trailer for the opening film (below), They Die by Dawn.

Now tell me you don’t want to see Omar Little (actor Michael K. Williams) in a cowboy hat. The film’s director, Jeymes Samuel, will be at the festival on opening night.

The festival premieres three films by local filmmakers about love, an Ethiopian-American teen and people of color in the steampunk movement. Other subjects profiled in a huge swath of offerings: the digital divide, Cuba, a blues musician and three young opera singers from South African townships. And look! A Fat Albert mini-fest on Saturday afternoon. Gonna have a good time/Hey hey hey!

If you go: Langston Hughes African American Film Festival, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, April 26-May 4. ($5-$10; festival passes also available). — F.D.

Avian Love

Starting this spring, the UW Botanic Gardens/Center for Urban Horticulture will be hosting a series all about birds in our area. Local author and ornithological authority Connie Sidles will take on a seasonal topic and then share a story from her book Fill of Joy, based on her observations of the Montlake Fill. (Need a qualifier. What is the Montlake fill?) This month’s topic: Avian Love, in which Sidles will talk all about how our feathered friends court, partner and breed. With any luck, the next time we see a trail of downy ducklings trailing behind their mother, our cooing will be that much more enlightened.

If you go: Avian Love, UW Botanic Gardens/Center for Urban Horticulture, April 26. ($25) — N.C.

* Talcum

Let loose on floors dusted with Talcum powder as 100 percent vintage vinyl music transports you. On the last Saturday of every month, a handful of DJs tote their collection of rare soul 45s on stage to provide a night of dancing unlike any other around. The best part? You’re never the most awkward dancer in the room.

If you go: Talcum, Chop Suey, Saturday, April 26, ($5) — N.C.

Shlohmo

This is an electronic show, but Shlohmo is a far, far cry from EDM. He crafts sedate, atmospheric electronica that makes you feel like you’re adrift in a sea of zeros and ones. It’s very melodic and definitely influenced by R&B, as evidenced by his excellent collaboration with neosoul singer How to Dress Well. James Blake is another easy sonic comparison, as both share an elegant, subtle production style. It should be interesting to see how Shlohmo navigates through his nuanced tracks in a live setting. I expect come creative rearrangements.

If you go:  Shlohmo, Neumos, April 26 ($18). — J.S-H.

* Trust

Those who were fans of Depeche Mode and Soft Cell back in the day should do themselves a favor and check out Trust. It’s common knowledge that the synthesizer is back on top of the world. Still, there are a good number of contemporary synthpop acts, Trust included, that channel the true spirit of New Wave key sounds and (in my humble opinion) improve on the formula. This band, the project of Toronto native Robert Alfons, has synth hooks out the wazoo, but Alfons’ weird half-drawl-half-croon captures the suave sentimentality of old-school synth.

If you go:  TrustBarboza, April 28 ($15). — J.S-H.

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About the Authors & Contributors

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Joseph Sutton-Holcomb

Joseph is a full-time landscaper, part-time journalist and full time culture junkie discovering the hidden joys of life as a UW graduate in Seattle. When not taking care of plants or writing, he spends his time in the company of good friends enjoying film, music and the great outdoors.