The Weekend List: Questlove, The Rep's latest hit, Ira Glass & his dancing girls & more!

By Florangela Davila, Nicole Capozziello & Joseph Sutton-Holcomb
Crosscut archive image.

William A. Williams, Justin Huertas and Kirsten deLohr Helland in Seattle Repertory Theatre’s Lizard Boy (2015).

By Florangela Davila, Nicole Capozziello & Joseph Sutton-Holcomb

* Denotes items that are $15 or less

Lizard Boy

Seattle Rep has a bona fide hit on its hands and the has surely hugged and high-fived actor/playwright/musician Justin Huertas many a time for being so damn talented. Huertas stars in a musical he’s created about Trevor, a young man coming to terms with his own uniqueness: He not only has the green skin of a lizard (the result of being splattered with dragon’s blood as a youngster – yes, it’s fully explained in the story), but he’s about to discover he’s got some serious superpowers. That's a good thing because a female rocker (Kirsten deLohr Helland) with some gnarly-looking nails is about to upend his world.

If this sounds more like something you’d read in a comic book, well, it kind of is. Commissioned by the late Jerry Manning, (the former Seattle Rep artistic director) to keep journal entries, Huertas started writing about coming out as a gay man to his family (the character Trevor, who is the Lizard Boy, is gay). But Huertas thought the story a bit boring so he decided to rewrite it and he put in having superpowers.

The result is an oddball, charming hero who is full of insecurities that make Huertas magnetic on stage. Huertas knows how to play “soft” and “real” and the banter between him and Cary (William A Williams), a guy he meets on Grindr, is hilarious. This is Huertas’ first play and you have to wonder what lies ahead for him and this work. Note: The Rep is offering front row seats for $5 each at every performance; they’re available one hour before showtime.

If you go: Lizard Boy, Seattle Rep, Now through April 26 (Tickets start at $16) – F.D.

Delfos Danza Contemporanea

You can always count on the UW World Series to offer you something unexpectedly creative from outside our borders. And I count on it as well as On The Boards to keep me apprised of all that’s good and cutting edge in the world of dance. This week’s offering is Delfos Danza Contemporanea, which hails from Mexico. Just take a look at the trailer for the show: that choreography, those video projections, those costumes!

This is the contemporary dance troupe’s Seattle debut and it’ll be performing a piece called Cuando los Disfraces se Cuelgan (When the Disguises are Hung Up). And in a related — and free! — event, the company will be doing a pop-up performance at 11 a.m. at SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

If you go: Delfos Danza Contemporanea, Meany Studio Theater at UW Seattle, April 9 through 11 ($30) – F.D.

Ska Fest

Music taste changes with the seasons. As we dust off our sunglasses and debate wearing long or short pants when we dress in the morning, different genres of music stowed away for the winter begin to regain their appeal. Classics like Bob Marley, Michael Franti and Sublime get shuffled into the playlists. Something about those sun-soaked Jamaican-born genres — rocksteady, reggae, dancehall and, of course, ska — is irresistible when temperatures sneak closer to 70.

This week The Highline hosts the 12th annual Ska Fest, and their timing couldn’t be better. The self-described “Afro-Caribbean roots rock” group Bachaco gives the classic Jamaican Ska sound a more Latin twist while maintaining the soulful, upbeat demeanor of traditional Ska. Joining them are the local Georgetown Orbits, who blend a reggae sound (heavy on the brass) with American soul music. Six other bands join them for this event, making it well worth the investment.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Mp7vRCrfSI[/embed]

If you go: Ska Fest, The Highline, April 10 ($15-20).21+ — J.S.H.

Questlove DJ Set

Of all the musical celebrities Neumos has roped into playing DJ sets over the last year or two (Bonobo, James Murphy and Purity Ring, to name a few) Questlove might be the most qualified. He’s the co-founder and drummer for hip-hop/soul/funk bastion The Roots, who are also the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Questlove (sometimes spelled ?uestlove) has been playing music since childhood; no musician in any genre would question his percussion skills.

Recently, he’s gained a different kind of notoriety for his encyclopedic knowledge of music. His frequent forays into music journalism and staggeringly huge record collection prove Questlove to be a musician with respect for his predecessors and benefactors, especially the classic soul and funk artists. Because his knowledge is so vast, this DJ set’s potential is impossible to calculate. But the set is guaranteed to be chosen and presented with care and precision.

If you go: Questlove DJ set, Neumos, April 10 ($15-20). 21+. — J.S.H.

The Homestretch *

The Homestretch follows three homeless youth in Chicago as they weather the Chicago streets, find support wherever they can and show remarkable human strength (just watch the trailer). This film, one of the few of its kind, helps start a conversation about the problem of teen homelessness prevalent across American cities.

A panel afterward will feature members of Northshore and Seattle Public Schools and directors of local nonprofits ROOTS and Friends of Youth- Eastside. The discussion will address the reality of homeless youth in the Seattle area and what we can do to change it.

[embed]https://youtu.be/gMoCevdGQPs[/embed]

If you go: The Homestretch, The Frye, noon on April 11 (Free but RSVPs are encouraged) – N.C.

Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host

Ira Glass, arguably our most beloved public radio persona (just ask anyone) is in town

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Radio host Ira Glass and dancers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass take the stage at the Paramount on April 11. Photo by David Bazemore.

with contemporary dancers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass. Yes, the “This American Life” host has a new stage show in which he may or may not actually dance (he doesn’t like to give that away). But he will tell radio stories and the dancers will do their very funny, near vaudevillian moves in a show that Glass says is a lot like his radio show – only different.

And, if you happen to fall in love with the dancers, well, you’re in luck because they’ll be sticking around town for a week to perform their new dance show at Velocity. And I’ll tell you all about that in next week’s list.

If you go: Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host, Paramount Theatre, April 11 (Tickets start at $26) – F.D.

Langston Hughes Festival of African American Cinema *

Now in its 12th year, the Langston Hughes Festival of African American Cinema offers “positive, provocative and penetrating films” by emerging filmmakers. This year’s week-long program includes a whole array of short films, documentaries and feature films. It’s hard to recommend just a few, but I'll do it anyway: On Fathers and Sons and Love, The Godmother of Rock and Roll, Dave the Potter: The Spirit Captured in Clay and, of course, all the shorts programs.

https://vimeo.com/113956142

If you go: Langston Hughes Festival of African American Cinema, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, April 11 to 19 ($12 for most shows) – N.C.

100 Years After Birth of a Nation *

One of this festival’s main events is a discussion of the cultural impact of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, led by The Stranger’s Charles Mudede and festival curator Zola Mumford. While a commercial success among whites upon its 1915 release (and celebrated cinematically to this day), the epic film was incredibly negative for African Americans, long considered the blueprint for negative depictions of blacks in the media. Mudede and Mumford will discuss the film, its far-reaching impacts, and African American director Oscar Micheaux’s superb 1920 response film Within on Gates.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9UPOkIpR0A

If you go: 100 Years after Birth of a Nation, Northwest African American Museum, 7 p.m. on April 13 (Free with RSVP) – N.C.

Kimbra

There’s a small group of wonderful female-led groups — including Lorde, tUnE-yArDs, YACHT and Deep Sea Diver — who blend R&B influences with a sort of New Wave inspired weirdness and contemporary jazz singer magnetism in the tradition of Fiona Apple. In 2011, New Zealander Kimbra positioned herself alongside these talented individuals with the release of her debut album Vows. Shortly thereafter, she exploded across the radio waves thanks to her feature spot on Belgian-Australian pop fixture Gotye’s club-ready single “Somebody That I Used to Know.” The song went multi-platinum.

Her sophomore album The Golden Echo continues the move away from R&B toward dancy pop earworms. It’s a predictable direction for an artist like her to evolve, but Kimbra retains a certain strangeness. The weird influences of New Wave and her indulgent singer-songwriter presence are still the backbone of her newer material.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K1hoMlxQmg[/embed]

If you go: Kimbra, The Neptune, April 13 ($23). All ages. — J.S.H.

T.C. Boyle *

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T.C. Boyle, photo by Jamieson Fry

Novelist and short story writer T.C. Boyle comes to town with a new book, The Harder They Come. While I’ve yet to get my hands on it, everyone who has seems to love it; the New York Times called it “arguably [his] most powerful, kinetic novel yet,” reaffirming Boyle’s “fascination with characters who pit themselves against their neighbors, the system and nature.”

Next Wednesday, Boyle will read from the novel, which chronicles the life of an aging Vietnam vet and his son, struggling with mental illness. It certainly won’t be a light night at the lovely Sorrento, but it’s bound to be a good one.

If you go: T.C. Boyle, Sorrento Hotel, 7:30 p.m. April 15 ($5) – N.C.

  

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