With recommendations ( • ) by Brian J. Barr, Gavin Borchert, Sara Brickner, Mark D. Fefer, Sandra Kurtz, John Longenbaugh, and Brian Miller. September17 Richard Russo Author of the Pulitzer-winning Empire Falls and Bridge of Sighs (among other novels), he begins Seattle Arts & Lectures' fall series. Benaroya Hall, www.lectures.org.18 Paul Auster Man in the Dark plagues his book-critic protagonist with murder, death, illness, and car crashes. Seattle Public Library, www.spl.org.18 The Snow Project Allison Van Dyck continues her investigations of dance and video. The Lawrimore Project, www.thesnowproject.com.• 19–Oct. 4 Seattle Dance Project Following their debut show last year, SDP directors Tim Lynch and Julie Tobiason have brought together a trio of choreographers (Wade Madsen, Eva Stone, and Olivier Wevers) for Project Orpheus, a multi-level narration of the classical tragedy. Each choreographer has taken on a different part of the work, telling the story of reunion and loss from a unique dance perspective.—S.K. A Contemporary Theatre, www.seattledanceproject.org.21–22 12 Minutes Max Our old colleague Steve Wiecking, now at Seattle Metropolitan, curates the first monthly performance gumbo of the fall. On the Boards.22 Bernard-Henri Lévy Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism is the latest from the stylish, slightly outré French intellectual. Town Hall, www.townhallseattle.org.24 Irvine Welsh The Scottish novelist (Trainspotting) turns to pulpy Florida-set crime fiction in a new page-turner called—what else?—Crime. Elliott Bay Book Co., www.elliottbaybook.com.• 24–27 SketchFest New artistic director Andrew Connor not only knows funny, but as half of the celebrated Cody Rivers Show, he is funny, with a brisk energy and offbeat absurdism. His lineup features a bracing mix of out-of-town acts, including L.A.'s Slow Children Crossing (a multicultural troupe with a political bent), Chicago's Hey You Millionaires (three guys with a taste for the dark and twisted), and Vancouver, B.C.'s Assaulted Fish (pan-Asian absurdists). Among the locals are Pork-Filled Players, All American Push-Up Party, The Entertainment Show (familiar from the People's Republic of Komedy and Laff Hole), and of course the Cody Rivers boys. —J.L. Theatre Off Jackson, www.sketchfest.org.• 25–Oct. 5 All Tharp PNB showcases Twyla Tharp's choreography and singular musical intelligence with programs set to Sinatra, Brahms, and Vladimir Martynov (the latter two are new pieces). The choreographer also appears in person Sept. 18 at McCaw Hall for a presentation on her work. Pacific Northwest Ballet, www.pnb.org.• 25–27 Big Bang This fall kickoff series is always a great show, with three evenings of the best Seattle dance can offer, but this year it's even more of a must-see, as Velocity gets ready to leave its original home at the Odd Fellows Hall for a new venue. It's a fundraiser, yes, but more important it's a show of support for a very important resource in the dance community. —S.K. Velocity Mainspace Theater, www.velocitydancecenter.org.• 25–28 Decibel Festival This four-day celebration of electronic sound is steadily becoming one of the biggest, baddest electro-festivals in the United States. Each year, artists come from all over the world to perform, many of whom, like Berlin-based group Jahcoozi or London-based The Bug (with Warrior Queen), have never played Seattle before. But that's not to neglect our own local talent; Kadeejah Streets, Lucy Bland, the Baltic Room regulars of Oi VAY!, and buckets of other Seattle DJs will represent our town. Go dance, go chill, or go bliss out at one of the audiovisual showcases, but do go. —S.B. Various locations, www.dbfestival.com.• 25–28 Symphony of a Thousand Three choirs, eight soloists (including Seattle's own Jane Eaglen), and an orchestra that's huge even by Mahler's standards: his Symphony No. 8, his grandest and least angst-ridden work, doesn't require quite 1,000 musicians, but they'll sound like it. Gerard Schwarz conducts this setting of Goethe to celebrate Benaroya Hall's 10th anniversary. —G.B. Benaroya Hall, www.seattlesymphony.org.25 The War Party Timely! A female politician must come to terms with secrets from her past in this West Coast premiere of Vince Delaney's drama. Seattle Public Theater.• 26–Nov. 8 All the King's Men Intiman completes its five-year "American Cycle" with a dramatized adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's masterful novel about the rise and fall of a Huey Long–like politician, witnessed by a reporter who gets a good look inside the sausage factory of gubernatorial politics. With songs by master satirist Randy Newman, this is one of those sprawling epics that we see far too infrequently in these days of small-cast, high-concept shows. Local favorite John Procaccino is the monstrous, and monstrously entertaining, Willie Stark.—J.L. Intiman Theatre, www.intiman.org.26–Oct. 5 Simple Measures This innovative chamber-music series explores the intersection of music and politics through Shostakovich's Piano Quintet. Various venues, www.simplemeasures.org.27–29 KEXP's Shake the Shack Rockabilly Ball A three-day event that includes a car show, more than 20 live acts, and a reunion by rockabilly gods Johnny and The Blades. The Tractor Tavern, kexp.org.• 27 Blue Scholars/Hieroglyphics Well, two full-length albums, three EPs, and one Democratic convention later, the Blue Scholars have gone international. Seems sort of funny that a self-identified Communist would perform for the establishment, but who could turn down the DNC? The Blue Scholars tour with three of the Hieroglyphics, Souls of Mischief, Casual, and Pep Love (sorry guys, no Del this time), in support of spring release Butter & Gun$, an EP that carries on the Scholars' tradition of condemning the status quo to some of the bangin'est beats in the nation. With Musab,Prince Ali, Tanya Morgan.—S.B. Showbox at the Market.28 Alexander McCall Smith The bestselling Scottish author-physician comes to Bellevue with The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday, about a female MD in trouble. Meydenbauer Center, www.kcls.org.28–Nov. 30 Journey for Justice Photos and interviews document "223 Years of Asian Pacific American Labor History in the Puget Sound." Wing Luke Asian Museum, www.wingluke.org.29 State by State This film and reading (from the companion volume) are inspired by the famous WPA guide books of the 1930s; Carrie Brownstein, formerly of Sleater-Kinney, authored the Washington State mini-history (but isn't scheduled to perform at this event). Town Hall.October• 2 Marilynne Robinson After winning a Pulitzer for Gilead, her latest is Home, which continues the family strife and alcoholism of some of her same small-town Iowa characters. Seattle Public Library.• 2–Dec. 11 Night Wind Ten lesser-known noirs will be shown weekly in SAM's Thursday-night retrospective. Besides the stars you'd expect, like Richard Widmark in Pickup on South Street, there are some oddballs: Ronald Reagan and Doris Day in Storm Warning? (IMDb claims it's not a musical comedy.) And Robert Wagner and Joanne Woodward in A Kiss Before Dying? Turns out noir is a more elastic category than you thought. —B.R.M. Seattle Art Museum, www.seattleartmuseum.org.2–Nov. 1 The Prairie Series Christopher Harris' lambent skies. Lisa Harris Gallery, www.lisaharrisgallery.com.• 2 Silver Jews Even though iconic alt-country concern the Silver Jews formed in 1989, frontman David Berman's crippling stage fright—and a suicide attempt—prevented the band from touring until 2006, after Berman recovered and recorded Tanglewood Numbers with a new cast of players, including Will Oldham and Berman's wife, Cassie. And for all the people who've memorized the Silver Jews' entire catalogue, to finally hear Berman sing his kooky, metaphysical lyrics in the flesh was nothing short of transcendental. I know. I was there. And this is only their second tour in history. —S.B. Neumos.2–Dec. 20 Light, Seeking Light Photons, landscapes, and vision figures in paintings and video installations from the all-female lineup of Claire Cowie, Solange Fabiâo, Susan Philipsz, and Mary Temple. Western Bridge.• 3–12 Against the Grain/Men in Dance In an art form dominated by female performers and choreographers, this biannual festival offers choreography by and for men, in as many styles as you can imagine. —S.K. Broadway Performance Hall, www.menindance.org.3–8 Local Sightings Capitol Hill becomes the locus for filmmakers from Vancouver, B.C., to Portland to Montana in this 11th-annual celebration of Northwest cinema. Seattle director Nathan William will debut his feature Stumble and Fall. —B.R.M. Northwest Film Forum.• 3–Nov. 11 Night of the Living Dead Usually when SCT says a show is best for kids "13 and older," it's a high-minded caution about mature emotional themes. This time it's about brain-eating zombies. This adaptation of the George A. Romero horror classic adds a dash of camp to the well-known scenario. It's great Halloween fare, featuring a series of "guest zombies" during the run, including yours truly! (I've already begun working on my shambling lurch.) —J.L. Seattle Children's Theatre, www.sct.org.3–12 Spectrum Dance Theater The Studio Series opens with an up-close view of the company in three specially commissioned works. Madrona Dance Studio and Meydenbauer Center, www.spectrumdance.org.4–Dec.13 Films4Families The Saturday-morning matinee series opens with The Black Stallion. SIFF Cinema, www.siff.net.7-26 Bobbie & Jerome A new work by local playwright Daniel W. Owens. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center.• 8 Art Spiegelman The Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist (Maus) relates his coming-of-age in Breakdowns: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!. Town Hall.9–11 SLAM Festival Not mosh-pit punk, but Seattle Latin-American Music: contemporary chamber music from the Rio Grande on south. Good Shepherd Center.9 TownMusic Cellist Joshua Roman again curates this contemporary-music series, opening with works by Adams, Carter, Glass, Reich, and more. Town Hall.• 10–16 The Exiles NWFF helped rediscover this lost gem from early-'60s L.A. before the rest of the country took note; now it's back for a second run. Northwest Film Forum, www.nwfilmforum.org.• 11 Compagnie Heddy Maalem Almost 100 years after its premiere, Le Sacre du Printemps still has artists and audiences by the throat. Algerian-born Heddy Maalem has a movement background that's equal parts martial arts and dance. He takes inspiration from the chaos of contemporary Lagos in a new version of the controversial work. Combining social dance, combat techniques, and sensual imagery for his corps of pan-African dancers, he finds a new approach to the old story of ritual murder and renewal. —S.K. Moore Theatre, www.themoore.com.11–12 The Esoterics The Seven Creations is conductor Eric Banks' new choral opera based on Persian creation myths. Various venues, www.theesoterics.org.11–Nov. 5 Jim Woodring The Seattle cartoonist will have his grotesque illustrations from COSMOCOPIA on display; author Paul Di Filippo reads at the opening-night reception. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, www.fantagraphics.com.11–Jan. 18 On the Beach Photographer Richard Misrach presents 30 years' worth of seaside snaps and images from the desert. Henry Art Museum, www.henryart.org.• 13 Sarah Vowell The Nasally One plumbs yet more American history in The Wordy Shipmates. Town Hall.14 Lang Lang The Chinese firebrand plays Chopin with the Seattle Symphony. Benaroya Hall.• 14–19 Spring Awakening Musicals work best when they're audacious, and it'd be hard to think of something more audacious than taking Frank Wedekind's 1891 play about adolescent sexuality, scandalous in its time, and giving it a rock score—while thankfully not updating the characters or situations a la Rent. The Tony-winning result reignites the script's ability to shock, and while it may seem incongruous to see actors in stiff collars and plus-fours belting into wireless mikes, what the show gets right is the way that being a teenager has been confusing and difficult for as long as there have been teenagers. This national tour features the original Broadway sets, direction, and choreography by Bill T. Jones. —J.L. Paramount, www.theparamount.com.• 15 Pacifica Quartet Play a few seconds of Beethoven's wild and gnarly Grosse Fuge, written two years before his death, for any conservative classical fan who doesn't know it, and they'll likely grouse at you to turn off that awful modern music. Only 25 years or so separate his early Haydnesque string quartets from his late ones, which even more than his symphonies or piano sonatas really do seem at times to be off on some other planet. Benaroya Hall is presenting all Beethoven's quartets this season in six concerts by six ensembles, starting with the Pacifica (the Ying Quartet plays Nov. 12). —G.B. www.seattlesymphony.org.16 Laurie Anderson Her latest, Homeland, takes a look at our rapidly changing 21st century, including reality shows, the American image across the globe, and totalitarianism. The Moore, www.themoore.com.16–19 Orpheus and Eurydice is choreographed by provocateur Marie Chouinard, who adds pasties, heels, mechanical snakes, and sensual movement to the Greek myth. On the Boards, www.ontheboards.org.• 17–26 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival Now in its 13th year, the SLGFF provides an annual fall highlight during the pre-holiday slump at the box office. The Rocky Horror Picture Show gets an encore at the Admiral. (Did it ever leave?) Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream becomes the festival-opening musical Were the World Mine. Documentaries feature artists like the late Derek Jarman. And among the fun, less-arty stuff is a "Homo Horror" series featuring, yes, Elvira in a personal appearance. (She's still alive? Who knew?) —B.R.M. Northwest Film Forum (and other venues), www.threedollarbillcinema.org.18–Nov. 1 Elektra The Greek tragedy, by way of Richard Strauss, puts your own family problems in their proper perspective. McCaw Hall, www.seattleopera.org.• 18 Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band The Earshot Jazz Festival is the pinnacle of the year for many Seattle music lovers. John Gilbreath's three-week event covers the breadth of jazz and its offshoots and influences, bringing in greats from around the world and highlighting a few local lions as well. Tonight the fest kicks off with one of the all-time greatest bands drawing from the Latin and jazz traditions, led by the mercurial trumpeter.—M.D.F. The Triple Door, www.earshot.org.22–Nov. 15 Black Gold A guy from Detroit purchases an oil rig on eBay and strikes it rich. Then the greed and exploitation begin in this West Coast premiere of Seth Rozin's play. Arts West, www.artswest.org.• 23 Neil Young Word has it that Young's long-promised, 10-disc Archives box set will hit the shelves this November. It could be a lie—rumors of its release have been circulating since 1989. But if it's true, this tour should boast plenty of rare gems from the mid-'60s.—B.J.B. Comcast Arena, www.comcastarenaeverett.com.• 23–Nov. 16 Henry IV "When you cut Shakespeare, he bleeds," my high-school drama teacher used to say, but I've always found that the Bard's plays are improved with a little pruning. (You doubt me? Watch Kenneth Branagh's uncut Hamlet.) Still, it's pretty daring to shove two of his best plays into one script as Dakin Matthews has attempted, particularly when there's a bewildering amount of battles, intrigues, and characters in both texts already. But thankfully for director Stephanie Shine, she has a trio of strong actors as her leads: star-on-the-rise Tim Gouran as Prince Hal, the always-intriguing David Pichette as King Henry, and Richard Ziman as Falstaff. —J.L. Center House, Seattle Center, www.seattleshakespeare.org.24–Jan. 11 Road Trip Local novelist Matt Ruff (Bad Monkeys) joins Aimee Bender and Marie Howe for a series of travelin' tales with music by Laurie Katherine Carlsson. Richard Hugo House, www.hugohouseorg.com.24 S'abadeb—The Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Arts and Artists Native sculpture, basketry, and weaving are displayed along with contemporary photographs. Seattle Art Museum, www.seattleartmuseum.org.26 Cecil Taylor A towering figure in the annals of jazz history, Taylor is also still playing his ass off. He returns to the Earshot fest for another headlining solo piano performance. Town Hall.• 28 Roky Erickson & the Black Angels There couldn't be a more complementary pairing than psychedelic legend/casualty Roky Erickson backed by neo-psych group (and fellow Austinites) the Black Angels. Erickson's awesomely shrill vocals are still very much intact, and the Angels' Velvet Underground–inspired repeato-trance-groove should only bolster his already powerful delivery. —B.J.B. Showbox in the Market.29–Nov. 16 The Drowsy Chaperone A Broadway favorite from 2006, this musical comedy springs from another musical comedy (actually made up) from the '20s. 5th Avenue Theatre, www.5thavenue.org.30 Tuna: A Love Story Author Richard Ellis makes the case for his favorite fish here in the heart of Salmon Nation. He also reads at Elliott Bay (Nov. 1) and Third Place (Nov. 2). Burke Museum, www.washington.edu/burkemuseum.30 Ravi Coltrane Like Sean Lennon, Jakob Dylan, and Hank Williams Jr., the son of jazz legends John and Alice Coltrane has had a lot to live up to. Ravi plays jazz that is solid, but doesn't break new ground. Then again, no one really has since his father died! Triple Door, www.tripledoor.net.31 Brian Posehn & Judah Friedlander You love them on The Sarah Silverman Program and 30 Rock. Moore Theatre, www.themoore.com.• 31 Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra featuring Carla Bley The combination of epically big scoring with powerfully subdued bass playing from the leader has always been a riveting one for this band, and the inclusion of unclassifiable pianist Carla Bley will add to the charge. Part of the Earshot Jazz Festival. —M.D.F. Town Hall.November2–3 Music of Remembrance Performing Betty Olivero's new score to accompany a screening of the 1920 film The Golem. Benaroya Recital Hall, www.musicofremembrance.org.5–9 JERK is a puppet show, but a puppet show based on the crimes of '70s serial killer Dean Corll, as envisioned by an accomplice who taught himself the art of puppetry in prison as a way to reenact—or atone for?—his sins. On The Boards, www.ontheboards.org.• 6 John Hodgman Microsoft rules! Microsoft totally kicks Apple's ass! Or at least that's when Hodgman plays a PC in those funny, ubiquitous Apple ads on TV. (In response to which, Microsoft gives us Jerry Seinfeld?) His new volume is More Information Than You Require, and you can expect a very funny, dry reading. And John? Leave Justin Long at home, OK? —B.R.M. Elliott Bay Book Co.6–15 Seattle Symphony Sir André Previn conducts: Mozart this weekend, Beethoven and Gershwin next. Benaroya Hall.6–16 New Works Local boy Mark Morris and William Forsythe are the featured choreographers. Pacific Northwest Ballet, www.pnb.org.7–30 Davide Salvadore African forms and textiles inspire his glass and string creations. Traver Gallery, www.travergallery.com.8–Mar. 15 Bulbous Marauder This installation by London-based Italian artist Enrico David is meant to invoke feelings of isolation, nostalgia, and alienation. Seattle Art Museum, www.seattleartmuseum.org.• 8 Doctor Atomic John Adams' opera about the Los Alamos tests and the birth of the nuclear age provides J. Robert Oppenheimer a staggering aria on a John Donne text, and actually pulls off a musical depiction of an H-bomb detonation: an elemental whoosh seen/heard from afar that makes one of the hair-raisingest operatic finales ever. If you can't get to NYC for the Metropolitan Opera's performance, see it broadcast live in HD. —G.B. Pacific Place (and other theaters), www.metopera.org.• 12 John Updike Still reviewing for The New Yorker, the giant of American letters earned a Pulitzer for his Rabbit series. Now he revives another franchise in The Widows of Eastwick. (Paging Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, and Jack Nicholson?) —B.R.M. Benaroya Hall.13–Dec. 14 boom Proving dating is hell, a lonely marine biologist searches for the perfect woman to help ensure the survival of the human race through online personal ads in Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's dark comedy. Leo K. Theatre, www.seattlerep.org.• 13–Mar. 1 Edward Hopper's Women His work featured on a million coffee cups, his Nighthawks referenced in thousands of ads, posters, and movies, the American painter changed the way we see ourselves. And our women. Seattle Art Museum.14 McCoy Tyner The legendary pianist for John Coltrane's classic quartet, McCoy Tyner is a giant in the jazz world. For this show, Tyner will be performing with the bare essentials: a drummer and a bassist. In a room like the Moore, the sound should be pristine. The Moore, www.themoore.com.• 14–15 Doug Benson One of the funniest survivors of Last Comic Standing and VH-1's Best Week Ever will also reprise stoner bits from his documentary Super High Me. Laughs Comedy Spot, www.laughscomedy.com.14–20 Festival of New Spanish Cinema The children of Almodóvar, so to speak, get their chance to shine with nine bold titles seldom seen stateside outside the festival circuit. Acting talent includes Maribel Verdú of Pan's Labyrinth. Some directors are scheduled to attend. Northwest Film Forum.14–26 Zeitgeist Retrospective The art-house movie distributor coughs up 13 worthy titles from its vaults; filmmakers include Todd Haynes, François Ozon, Olivier Assayas, and Guy Maddin. SIFF Cinema.15–16 Beyond the Threshold Phffft! Dance Theatre leads a multi-company festival of site-specific dance. Seattle Center House, www.phffft.org.18 Grace Potter & the Nocturnals Like Jenny Lewis, Grace Potter is one of those singers who gets men—young and old—all hot-and-bothered with her '70s-style looks. The Vermont native has a smoky blues-pop voice similar to Bonnie Raitt's, and her backup band the Nocturnals could appeal to diehard alt-country fans as well as to listeners of 107.7 The Mountain. Neumo's, www.neumos.com.20–21 The Hold Steady and Drive-by Truckers A dynamic pairing of two beloved rock bands brings us the "Rock and Roll Means Well" tour. Showbox SODO.• 20–22 Kathy Griffin Don't pretend you're above it. They've just added a fourth show. The My Life on the D-List star promises to have plenty of dish to dish. Paramount Theatre.20–22 Lost Action The acclaimed Dutch choreographer Crystal Pite brings seven of her dancers to enact a new ensemble work. On the Boards.21–22 A Chekhovian Resolution The first production of Spectrum Dance Theater's new three-year initiative joins American and Israeli choreographers with Palestinian musicians. Moore Theatre.21–22 Cornish Dance Theater A mixed program with choreography by Cornish regulars Christina McNeil, Deborah Wolf, and Jason Ohlberg. Broadway Performance Hall, www.cornish.edu.21 Personal Injury Local musician Laura Veirs supplies a soundtrack full of hurt for woeful stories by Allen Johnson, Sallie Tisdale, and Richard Rodriguez. Richard Hugo House.22–Feb. 8 Adaptation Video installations by Arturo Herrera, Guy Ben-Ner, Catherine Sullivan, and Eve Sussman & The Rufus Corporation explore how meanings shift from one medium to another; source texts include Moby Dick and The Rape of the Sabine Women. Henry Art Museum.• 25 M83 Galactic French electro-maven Anthony Gonzalez may be flying solo at this point, but the M83 stars continue to shine brightly with the release of record #5, Saturdays = Youth, earlier this year. Though M83's known for taking a spacey approach to song structure, wandering willy-nilly in lush landscapes of distortion, Gonzalez paid more attention to structure and form on Saturdays = Youth. —S.B. Neumos.26 Australia Do you know how we know Hugh Jackman's not gay? Because he rides a horse, herds cattle (not sheep!), and wears a beard in this frontier epic from Down Under. Virile! Also, in Baz Luhrman's long-delayed star vehicle, Jackman woos Nicole Kidman. And nothing proves you're hetero like hooking up with Nicole Kidman. —B.R.M. Various theaters, www.australiamovie.com.• 28 Joel McHale The Seattle native and UW grad is home for the holidays. The Soup has him now, but Almost Live had him first. Moore Theatre.28–Jan. 3 You Can't Take it With You The evergreen feuding-family comedy by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, first performed in 1936, will put your own clan's holiday squabbles to shame. Bagley Wright Theatre.29–Dec. 27 Black Nativity Can I get a hallelujah? This favorite amalgam of theater, concert, and church service has become a Seattle tradition. Intiman Theatre.• 29 Mudhoney and Supersuckers The self-proclaimed "World's Greatest Rock Band," Supersuckers and Seattle grunge heroes Mudhoney play one night only at the Showbox. Showbox at the Market.December3–28 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Romance in the Oregon Territories never involved so much high kicking and high spirits as in this musical-comedy juggernaut. Some new songs have been added to the originals, which feature lyrics by Johnny Mercer. 5th Avenue Theatre.4 Steven Kazlowski He'll show some amazing photos and share tales of the furry white endangered species from his environmental album The Last Polar Bear. Town Hall.5–7 Next Fest NW The latest new things in Northwest dance. Velocity MainStage.11–13 Winter Dreams Tchaikovsky and other holiday favorites may have you wishing you lived in imperial Russia. Or maybe not. Benaroya Hall.12–18 Alexander Nevsky Sergei Eisenstein's 1938 historical epic, on a new print with the original Prokofiev score, may have you wishing you lived in medieval Russia. Or maybe not. If you missed it at SIFF this year, here's another chance. SIFF Cinema.• 12–25 It's a Wonderful Life A GI tradition for three decades and counting, Frank Capra's 1946 holiday perennial stars James Stewart and Donna Reed—like you didn't already know that.—B.R.M. Grand Illusion Cinema, www.grandillusioncinema.org.12 Jaap ter Linden All six of Bach's cello suites in one recital? They really oughta start earlier than 8 p.m. Town Hall, www.earlymusicguild.org.12 Last Comic Standing The popular NBC show brings a fresh roster of funnymen (and women) for your approval. Or not. Moore Theatre.13–Jan. 10 Beasts! Local artists including Peter Bagge have contributed to the fanciful new album of imaginary critters. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery.16–28 The Color Purple How beloved is the Alice Walker source novel? So beloved that Oprah herself is presenting this traveling musical stage show. Moore Theatre.• 20 Messiah Seattle Baroque and the Tudor Choir team up again, after a few seasons off, for about as good a performance of Handel as you will ever hear. Town Hall.• 31 Beethoven's Ninth Ring in the new year with the Seattle Symphony and Ludwig bloody Van. Benaroya Hall.