Fall Stage Favorites

The Classic

Is there a lovelier, more liltingly American play than Our Town? Thornton Wilder's ruminative, wrenching appreciation for the preciousness of every waking moment only grows more resonant with age; its uncluttered sense of purpose will probably get us all right in the tear ducts given the current state of the world. Tom Skerritt seems to me perfectly cast as the Stage Manager of the Everytown that is Grovers Corners, where young George and Martha live and die and try to decide what it was all for. And Intiman's artistic director Bartlett Sher has a specific gift for mining understated grace from overfamiliar texts—imagine what epiphanies he'll find in a play that is nothing but grace. Previews begin Oct. 8. Intiman Theatre, 206-269-1900.

The Think Piece

Director John Kazanjian revitalized his New City Theater with spiny, thought-provoking stagings of Caryl Churchill's Far Away and Neil LaBute's Bash. There's no reason to suppose his work on the even testier The Designated Mourner will be of any less interest. Kazanjian is adept with bone-dry, bare-bones attention-getters, and this conversation piece should be just his ticket: Three characters confront the death of intellectual values in an unnamed quasi-dictatorship disturbingly like today's United States. It's timely, God knows, but it's a Wallace Shawn play, which means dense talk, talk, and more talk. Kazanjian does good talk. Previews begin Oct. 22.Empty Space Theatre, 206-547-7500.

The Gay Bait

Richard Greenberg's Broadway hit Take Me Out is about a hot young baseball player who comes out of the closet, causing much discomfort and scenes of frontal nudity from the other hot young baseball players in the locker room. What else could you possibly need to know? Seriously, Greenberg is a thoughtful, funny, accessible playwright—his yuppie contemplation Eastern Standard has long been a favorite of mine—and this acclaimed production comes complete with its original director, the talented, tireless Joe Mantello, who won a Tony and then proceeded to conquer New York with Wicked and his award-winning revival of Assassins. America's favorite pastime will probably never look this good again. Previews begin Nov. 6. Seattle Repertory Theatre, 206-443-2222.

The Pop Art

Sorry, but I am so going to The Lion King. I know this is Disney. I know this is essentially consumer-oriented mind control. I know it's from a bloated cartoon with a shitty Elton John/Tim Rice score about how happy little African animals are to be eaten because it's all a part of "the circle of life." But every reliable source I have swears that the masterful staging (and mask and puppet and costume design . . . ) by Julie Taymor is worth the price of admission. And let me tell you something—I've interviewed Julie Taymor, and Julie Taymor will come after your sorry, highfalutin ass if you try to dismiss her. The woman is an artist in every sense of the word, and anyone who has experienced the visceral, theatrical grandeur of her films Titus and Frida knows she has a way with visuals. If that means stomaching a chorus or two of "Hakuna Matata," so be it. Opens Nov. 30. Paramount Theatre, 206-292-ARTS.

The One-Woman Show

Contrary to the opinions of overreaching actors everywhere, not everyone deserves a solo show. Had an interesting childhood? Trust me—keep it to yourself. Unless you're Sarah Rudinoff. She sold out the run of her one-woman Go There at Re-bar a while back, and if Ubu at the Empty Space this spring wasn't a solo affair, it may as well have been—as good as it was, the production lived and died on her gargantuan energies. The Last State gives Rudinoff the opportunity for a one-person, multicharacter re-creation of her beloved Kauai. Doing a solo show means you have to hold the stage on your own. Rudinoff has a big body, a big voice, and a big talent, and she's not likely to let anything out of her grasp. Opens Dec. 2. On the Boards, 206-217-9888.


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