16 Best Things to Do in Seattle in November 2019

Our handpicked list of the best bets for entertainment this month
A dozen all-star dancers execute Jennifer Weber’s explosive choreography for The Hip Hop Nutcracker

This article appears in print in the November 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Tchaikovsky’s music remixed with a backbeat propels this modern twist on the holiday perennial, relocated from 19th-century Germany to modern-day New York City (with act two set in a Brooklyn nightclub, The Land of Sweets). The athletic choreography is by Jennifer Weber, and hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow is the special guest MC. 8 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. $45–$85. Paramount Theatre, downtown; stgpresents.org

Noah Gundersen
Arts writers generally avoid quoting PR material, but it’d take a stronger man than I am to resist Gundersen’s opening phrase: “on valentines day, 2019, i was in bed with my girlfriend, in a hotel room in seattle, tripping on mushrooms. i was showing her bits and pieces of the album in its then unfinished form.” That album is Lover, released in August, and the Seattle-based folkie is taking it on tour all over the U.S. and Europe. 9 p.m. $22. The Showbox, downtown; showboxpresents.com

David Sedaris will speak about his new book Calypso and other topics at Benaroya Hall on 11/10. Photo by Jenny Lewis

An Evening with David Sedaris
The latest book from America’s (the world’s?) paramount comic essayist/memoirist is 2018’s Calypso. “The shadows that swarm [its] depths are darker,” says The Guardian in its review of this collection, which covers topics from the joys of Fitbit to the suicide of Sedaris’ sister. 7 p.m. $52–$61. Benaroya Hall, downtown; seattlesymphony.org 

Mrs. Doubtfire
In 2002, Seattle went nuts for Hairspray in its pre-Broadway trial run, anticipating its smash success, and that enthusiasm has made our town a favorite for producers of new musicals. (We saw Young Frankenstein, A Christmas Story: The Musical and Aladdin before NYC did, to name only three.) This season’s roll of the dice is an adaptation of the 1993 Robin Williams-in-drag vehicle; will Seattle again springboard it to glory? (Previews begin November 26; official opening night is December 13.) Times and prices vary. 5th Avenue Theatre, downtown; 5thavenue.org

Derek Smalls
Hard to believe it’s been 35 years since This Is Spinal Tap, the original and greatest mock/rock/documentary of them all, exposed “one of England’s loudest bands” to the world, but bassist Derek Smalls’ 2018 solo album, Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing), celebrating his 75th birthday, proves you’re never too old to rock. Or mock. 8 p.m. $45–$75. The Moore Theatre, downtown; stgpresents.org

Shout Sister Shout!
Singer and electric guitarist Rosetta Tharpe (1915–1973) was the prism through which gospel music was refracted into rhythm and blues, soul, rock—pretty much all the popular music of the past 70 years. Cheryl L. West’s play, based on Gayle F. Wald’s biography, tells the story of the woman who, Bonnie Raitt says, deserves “a place of honor in the field of music history.” Times and prices vary. Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center; seattlerep.org

A/NT Gallery
When this gallery moved from its original home, the bus terminal on Westlake, to that shady glass box just off Seattle Center’s Fountain Lawn, it changed its subtext (from Art/Not Terminal to A Non-Traditional Gallery), but not its acronym. Its nonjuried shows provide a uniquely welcoming space for new artists, often partnering with social justice organizations, like this month’s show sponsor, A Touch of Light, a not-for-profit organization that promotes work by incarcerated artists. A/NT Gallery, Seattle Center; antgallery.org

Jon Boogz and Lil Buck (MAI)
Starting out as street dancers and now performing together as Movement Art Is, this pair uses dance to bring attention to social issues—from police brutality to climate change—through both live performance and video. Spoken-word artist Robin Sanders joins the duo in their new multimedia (but predominantly dance) show, Love Heals All Wounds. 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices TBA. The Moore Theatre, downtown; stgpresents.org

Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2
Historically, the Seattle Symphony has paid a gratifying amount of attention to new music—unless it was written here in Seattle. But local composer and clarinetist Angelique Poteat is a talent who can’t be ignored. Poteat’s music has been performed by a dozen area ensembles and taken to New York City by the SSO. This weekend, on a bill with Rachmaninov’s second symphony, SSO first-chair cellist Efe Baltacigil performs the premiere of Poteat’s cello concerto. Times and prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown; seattlesymphony.org

“Elle Beauty” from the sketchbook of Jasjyot Singh Hans, who also designed the 2019 Short Run Comix and Arts Festival poster. Photo courtesy Jasjyot Singh Hans/Short Run Seattle

Short Run Comix and Arts Festival
No matter how large this annual celebration of “alternative comix and self-published, small press, and handmade books of all kinds” has grown—it’s now filling Fisher Pavilion with hundreds of exhibitors, about half from the Northwest and half from the rest of the world—it’s always retained its DIY feel, its focus on the individual artist and the nurturing effects of community. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Free. Fisher Pavilion, Seattle Center; shortrun.org

Head Over Heels
There’s more you can do with pop songs on stage than simply cobble together a musical about a popster’s career, as playwright Jeff Whitty (Tony winner for his book for Avenue Q) realized. Instead, you can, for example, apply them to an Elizabethan adventure: Sir Philip Sidney’s gender-bending romantic comedy about a mythical kingdom and a dire prophecy, told through the tunes of the 1980s all-female band The Go-Go’s. Times and prices vary. ArtsWest, West Seattle; artswest.org

Lindy West
The Witches Are Coming, a new collection of essays from the local writer and activist, pushes back against pushback to #MeToo and the reflexive cry of “Witch hunt!” that goes up every time a white guy’s bullshit is called out. Release date for the collection, from Hachette Books, is November 5. Seattle Arts & Lectures brings West to Town Hall to chat about it. 7:30 p.m. $35. Town Hall, First Hill; lectures.org

This kick-ass, progressive-leaning rock band, born in Olympia in 1994, is touring with new drummer Angie Boylan after founding member Janet Weiss announced her departure in July—just before the trio’s latest album, The Center Won’t Hold, came out in August. 8 p.m. Prices vary. Paramount Theatre, downtown; stgpresents.org

Savion Glover
Both a pathfinder and a keeper of the flame, Glover is considered by many to be simply the greatest tap dancer ever. Last here in December, he returns for three evenings of hard-hitting, dazzlingly suave rhythm. 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. $50. Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, downtown; jazzalley.com

Sandra Bernhard
As brazen as ever after nearly 45 years (!) in the business, this stand-up comedian/musician/actress (if you know her only from Roseanne, you’ve just scratched the surface) returns with her Sandyland Squad Band for a cabaret evening. 8 p.m. Prices vary. Stroum Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island; sjcc.org

Kamuela Kimokeo (right), one of Slack Key Festival’s top musicians, and his son Kahikualani. Photo by Malcom Chang

Slack Key Festival
The archetypal laid-back attitude of Hawaiian culture is reflected in its music: In the slack-key guitar style, strings are tuned down—slackened slightly, hence the name—to mellow the instrument’s tone from bright and twangy to sonorous and chiming. This 11th annual celebration, which includes traditional food, crafts and hula dance, will be preceded on November 9 by introductory guitar and ukulele workshops. 1–6 p.m. Prices vary. Highline Performing Arts Center, Burien; seattleslackkeyfestival.com

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