The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 3/31Stage: Confessions Under DuressIf you despise exposition in plays—you know, when a character tells his buddy everything that you've already seen happen on stage—then race to see this regional premiere of Sharr White's Sunlight before the post–9/11 drama closes on Saturday. Through ingenious layering of "reveals," a compelling story gradually and organically emerges. To save his daughter's soul, a liberal university president squares off against his neocon son-in-law, a former protégé who happens to be an advocate of torturing suspected terrorists (and, no, John Yoo is never named). What first appears to be mere political antagonism eventually shows itself to be intense personal animosity. First performed by the Marin Theatre Company last year, Sunlight provides well-banked twists and subtle humor. The pitch-perfect cast of Peggy Gannon, Karen Nelsen, John Ulman, and John Wray is directed by Vanessa Miller. (Ends Sat.) ArtsWest, 4711 California Ave. S.W., 938-0339, $10–$32. 7:30 p.m. MARGARET FRIEDMANTHURSDAY 4/1Comedy: The Road WorriersLast year, Shoreline comic Kevin Richards and three of his bros from the L.A. stand-up circuit crammed into a small sedan for a "pretty miserable" DIY national tour. Such is the plight of the mid-tier, 20-something funnyman for whom Facebook and Twitter serve as publicist, manager, and best friend. But then Richards had an idea: What if the same foursome super-sized their grassroots ambitions for charity? As he explains by phone from the rolling Pink Ribbon Comedy Tour headquarters ("a 23-foot Winnebago that we spruced up"), he pitched the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which endorsed the fund-raising odyssey. Hence the half-naked woman and Komen url plastered on the side of their old RV, which has carried the quartet through some 17,000 miles, three months, and nearly 70 gigs. Richards expects to raise $17,000 for the Komen Foundation by April. But ironically, he notes, "The first person who decided to get a mammogram because of this was my mom"—not before but after the tour was hatched, which turned out to be a life-saving coincidence. (Cancer was detected, and she's now in treatment.) Meanwhile, instead of chasing groupies each night after they perform, Richards and company pile back into the 'Bago, log onto their laptops, and get to work. "If we're not driving," he says, "we're promoting." Veteran Seattle comic John Keister will introduce tonight's show (and Friday's); the tour runs through Saturday before turning toward L.A. After that, says Richards, "We're already planning next year's. Hopefully we'll get a bigger RV." Comedy Underground, 109 S. Washington St., 628-0303, $10–$12. (21 and over). 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLERDance: Pilgrims and SongHeaven, for Minneapolis choreographer Morgan Thorson, is a place that imperfect people labor to reach. And the nine performers who slog around the perimeter of the stage have a way to go. Their slight untidiness, the askew clothes, the slack or too-tense bodies hint at inner grime that no hopefully donned white garments can completely conceal. White cushions are provided for the performers to kneel on when they need to get in touch with holiness. Accompanying them are Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk of slowcore group Low. The dancers not only sing, their vocal work is one of the best things about Heaven, which premiered last fall in Houston. (Through Sat.) On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 217-9888, $24. 8 p.m. DEBORAH JOWITTFRIDAY 4/2Stage: Date FrightCraig Wright's 2003 play Recent Tragic Events yokes together some well-worn theatrical tropes (a blind date; a second act of drinking and long-winded philosophizing) with some breaking-down of the fourth wall and a few other post-mod gimmicks, then sets it all on the night after 9/11. In her Minneapolis apartment, advertising exec Waverly Wilson (Jennifer Hamblin) wavers between anxiously obsessing over her sister in New York, whom she hasn't heard from since the attacks, and allowing herself to be diverted by her date and other guests. The result is a bit of a jumble, without the clear vision or psychological complexity of Wright's earlier Orange Flower Water. But the pacing's just right in this Unbalancing Act production, which is at least never dull, and often quite funny. Using 9/11 as an occasion to wonder whether our lives are somehow predetermined is at least not the most predictable of artistic responses. As the Kramer-esque neighbor, Jack Hamblin has the most fun onstage and carries the show, while Waverly's twitchy nervousness goes from engaging to wearying. Ryan Sanders conveys the weak-willed diffidence of Waverly's date, Andrew, almost too well; he's more pitiful than comical. (Ends Sun.) Odd Duck Studio, 1214 10th Ave., 800-838-3006, $10–$15. 7 p.m. MARK D. FEFERSATURDAY 4/3Music: In a Rush to Grow UpFast-rising young nu-jazz vocalist and songwriter Nellie McKay is Doris Day's biggest fan. She reviewed a Day biography for The New York Times and last fall released Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day. Though two generations younger, McKay claims she shares with Day "a sunny gosh-gee-swell positivity and a love for the Great American Songbook." The London-born McKay has spent much of her life in the U.S. (including a year in Olympia as a child). At 19, she released her 2004 debut album, the cabaret-infused double disc Get Away From Me (a little dig at Norah Jones). For Blueberry Pie, she handpicked 12 lesser-known Day songs from a catalog of over 600 tunes. From the pert "Do Do Do" to the nostalgic "Sentimental Journey," McKay's phrasing is subtle and elegant, unlike her somewhat brash, bratty public persona. Today she'll perform for the live radio broadcast of Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, $28–$82. 2:45 p.m. ERIN K. THOMPSONFilm: They're No AngelsThough Three Dollar Bill Cinema is promoting its Innocence Lost retrospective series as four nights of "not-to-be-missed queer classics," the titles should be viewed more for curiosity value than for anything remotely legendary. On April 8, Cher endures a Mexican brothel in 1969's Sonny Bono production Chastity (insert Chaz joke here). There's a rare chance to view the 1958 remake of Mädchen in Uniform, starring the divine Romy Schneider as a lesbian schoolgirl (April 17). And some surprisingly frank (if silly) man-on-man action enlivens soft-core impresario Radley Metzger's 1974 Score (April 22). But opening night sets the tone: Queer themes get mangled when they hit celluloid. Fortune and Men's Eyes began life off-Broadway in 1967 as an earnest look at how the prison system dehumanizes inmates; turned into a turn-on thanks to an explicit 1969 restaging by bisexual Rebel Without a Cause star Sal Mineo (featuring a naughty young Don Johnson); then reached the big screen in this sneering, leering 1971 adaptation that adds an obligatory gay suicide. See it to appreciate how far evolved the emotions in TV's prison drama Oz really were. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, $9–$9.99 (individual), $30 (pass). 7 p.m. STEVE WIECKINGMONDAY 4/5Books: Paths to GloryAmerica's tiny armed forces were a joke before its belated entry into World War I. A draft was swiftly implemented, as local history writer David Laskin relates in The Long Way Home: An American Journey From Ellis Island to the Great War (Harper, $26.99), with peculiar results. Our nation then had an extraordinarily high rate of immigration, making our instant Army a grand experiment in multiculturalism long before the term even existed. One-third of the U.S. population were first- or second-generation immigrants, and many spoke no English. But then as now, serving in the military was a fast track to citizenship; while others who were drafted—or enlisted—were simply happy to get a paycheck and regular meals. Until they got to the front lines, of course, where the melting pot was shot full of German machine-gun bullets and poisoned with mustard gas. Laskin gives us a 12-man cast of ethnic types—Irish, Italian, Slovak, etc.—and rapidly shifts among their stories. As a result, by accident or design, individual details and battles blur together into a single grand immigrant narrative: hardship and striving, discrimination and nativism, patriotism both coerced and earned. Laskin also treads lightly on some obvious historical parallels: German-speaking Hutterites, pacifists because of their religion, were locked up and treated worse than detainees at Gitmo. Sauerkraut was renamed "liberty cabbage." And ex-President Teddy Roosevelt declared, "There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American." It's a sentiment that Laskin's book soundly rebuts. Seattle Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., 386-4636, Free. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTUESDAY 4/6Stage: There's No Way She Could Ever, Ever GoIf you're buying a ticket to the current revival tour of Dreamgirls, the splashy 1981 musical about a Supremes-like 1960s R&B trio, you're waiting for Effie to unleash her lungs on "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" at the end of Act 1. You know: The big girl gets the boot from both the group and her lover/manager's bed but she's staying, she's sta-ay-aay-ing, and you and you and you—you're gonna love her. All available advance evidence (i.e., appearances on The Early Show et al.) suggests that you should indeed have reason to adore this production's defiant diva, Moya Angela, who's got stronger vocal chops than Jennifer Hudson, the American Idol alum whom Hollywood handed an Oscar for the 2006 movie adaptation. (Let's not bring Jennifer Holliday, Broadway's original, ineffable Effie, into this. Them's fightin' words.) But this production still has Idol thoughts, casting lovely Syesha Mercado, a 2008 finalist, as Deena, Effie's friend-cum-Diana Ross rival. And a bit of the film sticks around, too, in the form of "Listen," a song originally written to give Beyoncé her Big Movie Moment which here receives new lyrics as an Act Two duet for Effie and Deena. Whatever. It's candy for the eye and the ear. Argue about the rest in the lobby. (Through Sun.) Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, $27–$75. 7:30 p.m. STEVE WIECKING

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