The Pick List: This Week’s Recommended Events

Friday, July 18

Repo Man
There are certainly worse ways to spend an evening than driving around with Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton in this 1984 punk comedy, a memorable instance of Hollywood pushback during the Reagan era. Not yet a member of The Breakfast Club (or the Brat Pack), Estevez is suitably blank as the L.A. teen who stumbles into the auto-repossession trade, and Stanton is suitably sage as the geezer who mentors him. Englishman Alex Cox made a big impression with this shaggy satire of La-La Land losers; unfortunately, his cantankerous career really tailed off after Sid and Nancy. Despite the film’s famous tagline in Stanton’s gutter-existentialist monologue (“Ordinary fucking people, I hate ’em”), Repo Man is actually quite warm in its view of humanity. That affectionate spirit is embodied, of course, by Tracey Walter’s gentle, alien-seeking soul, who alone can drive that fateful 1964 Chevy Malibu. Then there’s the soundtrack: Iggy Pop, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, the Circle Jerks, and those pioneers of punk: the Andrews Sisters.
(Through Tues.) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 686-6684, $6–$8. 9:30 p.m.

Bite of Seattle
Three events on the Seattle Center calendar bring Lower Queen Anne to gridlock and turn Mercer and Denny into fuming ribbons of steel. Summer begins, of course, with Northwest Folklife and ends with Bumbershoot. At midpoint, this weekend’s Bite of Seattle is no less popular, with over 400,000 expected to attend if the weather stays clear. Inside the grounds you’ll find the usual huge array of food vendors, beer gardens, wine-tasting areas, celebrity-chef cook-offs and demos, a Nintendo gaming area inside the Armory (air-conditioned, let’s note), live music on five stages, craft vendors, and more. You don’t have to gorge on food, of course, but what else would be the point of going? And you’ll have the rest of summer to work off the calories. Also note the 8:30 p.m. screening of Back to the Future at the Mural Amphitheatre—not a bad way to wait out the traffic and let the temperature cool.
(Through Sun.) Seattle Center, Free. 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

An Evening of One Acts
Summer is the dead season for theater. It’s sunny outside, so who wants to be indoors? And with so many activities scheduled, it can be hard to concentrate on, say, four hours of Tony Kushner. For that reason, ACT is staging three short works by boldface names, all directed by R. Hamilton Wright. From 1995, Steve Martin’s Patter for the Floating Lady has a lovelorn magician (David Foubert) try to win back his former assisstant (Jessica Skerritt) by levitating her (kind of a gentler form of hostage-taking). How they’ll work this stage trick remains to be seen. Woody Allen’s Riverside Drive is one of those appropriations of a prior text of which the Woodman has grown too fond in recent years (recall Blue Jasmine/A Streetcar Named Desire). In this 2003 work, he paraphrases Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story, with a nut case (Eric Ray Anderson) accosting a meek screenwriter (Chris Ensweiler) seated on a park bench and accusing him of having stolen his ideas. (Of course the two have never met.) Last is an early work by a true playwright: Sam Shepard. His 1969 The Unseen Hand is a somewhat uncategorizable sci-fi parable, with three outlaw brothers from the Old West reunited in modern times by an alien overlord. There’s talk of revolution and robbing trains, only there are no more trains left to rob. The sibling dynamics and lament for better, prior times will likely remind you of True West and other, later Shepard dramas.
(Previews begin tonight. Opens July 24. Runs through Aug. 17) ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, act $44. and up. 8 p.m.

Saturday, July 19

Northwest Mahler Festival
A dark forest, a royal castle, a fratricide, an interrupted wedding celebration: Who wouldn’t think of Game of Thrones upon hearing the story told in Das klagende Lied (1880), Gustav Mahler’s first major work? With a taste for genre fiction like many men his age since, it’s no surprise the 17-year-old composer chose this grim Grimm tale, setting it for for chorus, four soloists, and huge orchestra. The vast forces and medieval setting are Wagnerian; a low, primordial-sounding alto narrator looks back to the Ring’s earth goddess Erda—but also ahead to his own “Urlicht” from his Second Symphony. The score’s somber marches and hyperecstatic fanfares, though, are unmistakably Mahler’s own, with echoes in nearly all his later works—not to mention any number of film scores. On the Northwest Mahler Festival’s culminating concert, Das klagende Lied is coupled, appropriately, with Wagner’s prelude to Parsifal; between the two of them, they established a lingua franca for evocations of chivalry and adventure that no composer since has been able to avoid. Mahler’s lyrical, meadow-scented Symphony no. 4 rounds out the program; Nikolas Caoile conducts.
First Presbyterian Church of Seattle, 1013 Eighth Ave., $15–$18. 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 22

The original Broadway cast featured, from left, Rema Webb, Andrew Rannells, and Josh Gad. photo Joan Marcus

The Book of Mormon
Tickets went fast when this show toured through town in January of last year, and you’ll have to be quick on the mouse to book a seat for this return engagement. Things this hit show’s creators—Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez—hate: received wisdom, Disney plasticity, Johnnie Cochran, and condescension from anyone anywhere on the politico-religious spectrum. Things they love: production numbers. Their Tony-winning musical follows two fresh-faced Mormons, dorky, porky Elder Cunningham and square-jawed, self-adoring Elder Price, on their first mission to Uganda. Discovering that his confabulated Mormon myths draw converts even more effectively than the ones in his titular Book, Cunningham wreaks havoc in the village. For most of the evening, the combination of perky tunes (by Lopez), jazz hands, and verbal atrocities keeps the show bouncing along expertly. Then Book takes off to a new, exhilarating, hilariously profane dimension when the Ugandans reinterpret, in a show-within-a-show, all that Cunningham has taught them. Credit goes to Parker, Lopez, and Stone for creating a big, glitzy fun-fest that will be absolutely untouchable by any high-school drama department. Oh, and if the shows are already sold out or the tickets too dear, take heart that a movie adaptation is supposedly in the works.
(Through Aug. 10) The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, $48 and up. 7:30 p.m.

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