Also: Aimee Phan, Scissor Sisters, Akira Kasai, and The French Connection.




A kindly old circus drunk prays for a son, and the Lord responds by sending down a lad who literally loses his head upon impact. Tim Burton would be so proud. Creator Brian Kooser's darkly sweet, Bunraku-style adult puppet show, which mischievously traces the misadventures of both noggin and decapitated torso, was one of last year's highlights when it played at the Nippon Kan Theatre. It's back, and possibly even better: Director Scot Augustson, no stranger to irreverent puppetry himself as the mastermind behind Seattle's naughty silhouette shows, has been brought on board to push playwright Stephanie Timm's fanciful wit even further. Kaleidoscopic live music accompaniment from Circus Contraption should complete the offbeat charm. Previews Thurs., Sept. 23. Opens Fri., Sept. 24. 7:30 p.m. Thurs. and Sun.; 8 p.m. Fri.–Sat.; 2 p.m. matinees select Sun. $10–$40. Empty Space Theatre, 3509 Fremont Ave. N., 206-547-7500. STEVE WIECKING



Aimee Phan

Little has been written about Operation Babylift since its occurrence, but Aimee Phan's We Should Never Meet (St. Martin's Press, $22.95) puts that to rights. The interconnected stories vividly relate the effects of the U.S. evacuation of nearly 2,000 Vietnamese orphans and other children at the end of the Vietnam War. Phan's strong, eloquent tales finally give voice to the children, and the people around them, who are forced to live with the consequences of loss—loss of family, country, culture, and hope. 7 p.m. Wed., Sept. 22. Free. Seattle Public Library, Beacon Hill Branch, 2821 Beacon Ave. S., 206-624-6600. JOANNE GARRETT



Scissor Sisters

Currently enjoying MTV rotation with their self-titled debut CD (Universal, $13.98), the Sisters sound something like Elton John having a prance through CBGB in David Bowie's spandex. It's glittery, happy, horny, irresistibly catchy pop rock, ingenuously executed but full of enough musical references to keep retro queens smirking knowingly. Expect a crowd full of booty-shaking pansexuals at this gig for No Vote Left Behind, most of whom may have warmed up for the night at the band's record-signing earlier in the day (5:30 p.m. at Easy Street Records, 20 Mercer St., 206-691-3279). 8 p.m. Thurs., Sept. 23. $12 adv./$14. Showbox, 1426 First Ave., 206- 628-3151. STEVE WIECKING



Akira Kasai

Kasai has been called "the Nijinsky of Butoh," and that hyperbolic title actually fits him, not just because he's a preternaturally skilled dancer, but because, like the legend himself, his performances break as many rules as they exemplify. In Pollen Revolution, Kasai starts as a Kabuki performer, wrapped in multiple kimonos, and ends as a street dancer, embodying the complex matrix of influences that is contemporary Japanese culture. Breaking through formal traditions, Kasai dances like he's possessed by gods. 8 p.m. Fri., Sept. 24–Sun., Sept. 26. $12–$22. On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 206-217-9888. SANDRA KURTZ



The French Connection

Still reeling from the handheld heart-stopper that climaxes The Bourne Supremacy but ready for another rush? The big action sequence from this 1971 classic is widely regarded to be the best car chase ever committed to celluloid. It's not the only reason to see the film: Director William Friedkin's thriller about international heroin smuggling won Oscars for best picture, director, screenplay, and editing, and gave Gene Hackman (pictured) the gold for his turn as tough N.Y. cop Popeye Doyle. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Fri., Sept. 24–Thurs., Sept. 30. Also 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sat.–Sun. Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. STEVE WIECKING

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