Things to do in Seattle: Jan. 25-31

Up-and-coming Seattle bands, Temptations: the musical and the PNW's first-ever disability-focused comedy festival.

Dark background featuring a bright light and a series of singers with arms outstretched

The traveling Broadway production of “Ain’t Too Proud” is coming to the Paramount. (Matthew Murphy)

Artistic inventor in Pioneer Square

Have you heard of Glen Alps? While Alps (1914-1996) never attained the fame of other Seattle artists of his era like Morris Graves or Jacob Lawrence, the Seattle artist/printmaker and longtime University of Washington professor is nationally known for developing the collagraph. This printmaking technique borrows from collage by adding fabric, sand, and other objects to a printing plate to create a textural effect on the final print on paper. Alps’ surprisingly contemporary-feeling collagraphs and other prints are now on view at Davidson Galleries, an excellent opportunity to add some “relief” to our knowledge of local art history. - MVS 

If you go: Glen Alps: Creator of the collagraph, Davidson Galleries, through Jan. 31. (Free)

Chart-topping musical 

Talk about a golden resumé: The Temptations were the first Motown recording act to win a Grammy Award and, with groovy and harmonized earworms like “My Girl” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” scored four Billboard Hot 100 #1 singles and topped the R&B Billboard chart 14 (!) times during the 1960s and ’70s. The touring Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations tracks the ensemble’s journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — and has, fittingly, already become a box office hit. - MVS 

If you go: Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations, The Paramount, through Feb. 5. (Prices start at $35)

Unconventional Steinem play

Writer and activist Gloria Steinem is widely hailed as one of the founders of the modern feminist movement. Emily Mann, a nationally prominent playwright, crafted an interactive theater piece based on Steinem’s eventful life and groundbreaking work.

The format of this biographical play is unconventional: Six diverse female actors portray Steinem and an assortment of other characters. These include her influential feminist cohorts — including Black activist Florynce Kennedy, Wilma Mankiller, and Steinem’s own mother, who as a journalist wrote under a man’s name to gain opportunities.

The second half of the show is devoted to a “talking circle,” where audience members will be invited to share their own experiences in an America where women still are paid 82 cents for every dollar men earn, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and Roe v. Wade was recently struck down by the Supreme Court.

As Steinem might say, We’ve come a long way baby — but we still have a way to go. - MB

If you go: Gloria: A Life, produced by Strawshop at 12th Ave Arts, through Feb. 18. ($30-$45)

A quotable comedy

After Taproot Theatre’s performances of The Importance of Being Earnest in 2007, An Ideal Husband in 2011 and Lady Windermere’s Fan in 2018 (all delicious), I hoped and assumed they’d eventually get around to the fourth of Oscar Wilde’s drawing-room comedies. And lo, it has come to pass. A Woman of No Importance, from 1893, is the least-performed of the bunch, and the slenderest, yet possibly the most quotable. 

What makes the play compelling is that Wilde dropped into his brittle comedy a villain not too far from his Dorian Gray, and gave him the best lines. The icy predator Lord Illingworth — the cad you can’t help but laugh at — embodies Wilde’s usual method of needling Victorian moral hypocrisy: He makes you complicit with every chuckle. - GB

If you go: A Woman of No Importance, Taproot Theatre, Jan. 25 – Feb. 25. ($15-$51)

Covid stories of Seattle nurses

Nurses have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic — many without respite — since it erupted in 2020. This new solo theater piece, staged by ArtsWest artistic head Mathew Wright, is culled from the candid oral histories of a diverse array of Seattle nurses who served patients tirelessly before the advent of COVID vaccines and afterward.

Devised by Seattle singer, actor and theater instructor Gloria Alcalá with local playwright Alma Davenport, the “documentary theater project” uses healthcare workers’ verbatim accounts to craft a “journey of challenge, hope and deep recognition of our common humanity.” And how better to show that commonality than by having one actor, Alcalá, play a multitude of roles from a wide range of perspectives? - MB

If you go: An Endless Shift, ArtsWest, Jan. 25 – Feb. 19. ($15-$120)

Up-and-coming Seattle band 

The music industry is a fickle sector, so predicting the next big breakout act can feel like horse-race journalism. But I feel pretty confident that great things lie ahead for THEM, an up-and-coming local pop-rock quartet of 17-20-year-olds named Thompson, Hudson, Ellie and Maia (that’s T-H-E-M). The four girls met at music school in West Seattle and debuted on KEXP in 2021 with the single “BAD 4 U.” With catchy pop songs full of heartbreak and harmonies, THEM has already scored a few local hits. Take it from me: You’ve got to see them live. - MVS 

If you go: THEM with Small Shake and Spyglass, Chop Suey, Jan. 26. ($15)

Collagraphs by Seattle artist Glen Alps are on view this month at Davidson Galleries. (Glen Alps/Davidson Galleries)

Dance in Volunteer Park 

Seattle choreographer Alice Gosti likes to push the boundaries of contemporary dance — literally. She once created a 10-day performance traveling from airport to airport and, with her dance ensemble MALACARNE, has staged pieces around Seattle Center’s fountain, on the waterfront and in the Georgetown Steam Plant. Her latest work takes her to the Volunteer Park Conservatory, where spectators can expect an intimate and immersive performance in response to the architecture and the plants. - MVS 

If you go: Malacarne, Volunteer Park Conservatory, Jan. 27. ($50-$100) 

A disability-focused comedy festival 

“The greatest, most accessible, yet simultaneously least commercially viable comedy show in the history of the Pacific Northwest.” That’s how comedians Dan Hurwitz and Kayla Brown once jokingly described what was, in 2020, a brand-new venture for them: a comedy show featuring comedians with disabilities. Since then, The Disabled List has grown into a beloved bi-monthly showcase and now a festival, the first-ever disability-focused comedy festival in the Pacific Northwest. 

The two-day, in-person event will be hosted by Hurwitz and Brown and feature live comedy by New York-based headliner Gibran Saleem and other comedians with disabilities, plus music by King Khazm and a screening of the mockumentary “This Is Spinal Injury.” In addition to wheelchair accessibility, there will be live captions and ASL interpreters. - MVS 

If you go: The Disabled List Comedy Festival, Northwest Film Forum, Jan. 27 and 28. (Free-$35) 

Cathartic local rock  

Remember Omicron? We may have banished it to the vaults of memory, but back in early 2022, the COVID-19 variant catapulted us into another bout of uncertainty and cancellations. Seattle rock band Smokey Brights, stuck at home and unable to perform, wrote a cathartic, energetic EP about that uncertain time, Broken Too — a representation of how they felt, and how the world felt. That said, “Far from songs of self-pity, these are the sounds of us putting the pieces back together,” the band writes in an artist statement. For this Broken Too release party, the band shares the stage with up-and-coming local bands La Fonda and Divorce Care. - MVS 

If you go: Smokey Brights with La Fonda and Divorce Care, Tractor Tavern, Jan. 28. ($15)

The Smokey Brights are celebrating their EP release at the Tractor Tavern. (Rachel Bennett)

Lunar New Year continues

Welcome to the Year of the Rabbit (or the Cat, if you follow the Vietnamese tradition). Rabbit years are supposed to be marked by compassion, conflict avoidance, caution and quiet contemplation — all of which sound like a big improvement. This weekend, the Wing Luke Museum is throwing its annual Lunar New Year Fair, featuring a lion dance with firecrackers (outdoors), as well as indoor craft activities such as ceramics with Ling Chun and a print-your-own rabbit coloring sheet designed by local artist Michelle Kumata. - BD 

If you go: Lunar New Year Fair, Wing Luke Museum, Jan. 28, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Free-$17) 

Black theater history on stage

What was it like for talented Black theater artists to perform on stage in bygone days? Theirs is a story of struggle and achievement that for many of us has remained obscure history. But local actor/playwright Reginald André Jackson unearths and revives a big chunk of that history in this world-premiere piece directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton and produced in collaboration with The Hansberry Project.

Spanning from 1820 to the 1930s, the play spotlights some fascinating stage folk, from Pat Chappelle, founder of The Rabbit’s Foot, the first Black touring vaudeville company, to Ira Aldridge, a classical actor who had to travel to England to find fame and fortune, but returned to impress American audiences with his mastery of Shakespeare. 

From the first Black theater in the country (in New York) to the Seattle-based Negro Repertory Company, federally funded in the New Deal era of the 1930s, the play adds fresh context to the present state of theater. - MB

If You Go: History of Theater: About, By, For and Near at ACT Theatre, Jan. 28 - Feb. 12. ($10-$54)

Celebrating music of the Asian diaspora

The music is only part of the celebration at the Seattle Symphony’s 15th annual Celebrate Asia concert, which packs a wide scope of Asia into an afternoon. Starting at 3 p.m., there’ll be dance from Vietnamese cultural group GDPT Lieu Quan and the Seattle International Lion Dance Team.

As for the concert itself, conductor Sunny Xuecong Xia leads rousing pops favorites, two Chinese and two Russian: Li Huanzhi’s Spring Festival Overture; The Butterfly Lovers by Chen Gang and He Zhan-Hao with violin soloist Kerson Leong; Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet and Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio espagnol. Afterward, stick around for performances by drumming ensembles CHIKIRI and The School of TAIKO, and for Bhangra/Bollywood dance from Rhythms of India. - GB

If you go: Celebrate Asia, Benaroya Hall, Jan. 29, 3 p.m. lion dances, 4 p.m. concert. ($25-$105)

A traditional lion dance from a previous Lunar New Year Celebration at Wing Luke. (Alan Alabastro)

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About the Authors & Contributors

Misha Berson

Misha Berson

Misha Berson was the chief theatre critic for The Seattle Times for 25 years, now working as a freelance writer and teacher.