Alien/Angel Premieres at Cafe Nordo, February 8
In his own time, Klaus Nomi was largely unknown outside the 1980s New York Underground scene. He died in 1983, before his legendary status was confirmed among peers (including David Bowie) and countless performers to come. Cafe Nordo brings Klaus Nomi back to earth in Alien/Angel, with writer and performer Devin Bannon in the starring role. From Nordo:
In between the songs, Bannon-as-Klaus tells a moving narrative of [Nomi’s] life as a young, queer German, gifted with a soprano vocal range, who moved to Manhattan in the 1980s with a generation of youth inspired by Warhol’s Factory. Klaus Nomi did the impossible: struck NYC speechless with his latex costumes, clown makeup and angelic voice. Now, on his comeback tour from outer space, Klaus tells the tale of his brush with fame and all-too-young death as one of the first celebrity victims of the AIDS epidemic.
Nomi famously traded homemade pastries in exchange for studio time and rehearsal space. The menu for dinner during the show is inspired by Nomi’s penchant for pies, with sweet and savory options. Alien/Angel runs through February 24. This show is ages 21+. Get your tickets online.
Skeleton Flower Premieres at Erickson Theatre Off Broadway, February 13
Degenerate Art Ensemble‘s latest multimedia performance Skeleton Flower has its world premiere in Seattle, February 13. Never a group to shy away from trauma and insanity as subject matter, DAE gets personal this time. The semi-autobiographical work is informed by co-founder Haruko Crow Nishimura‘s own chaotic, even violent upbringing. In their words:
The work explores how, through creativity, she was able to not only survive, but also share the fruits of her imagination with others, and transform herself in the process. The piece also deals with the painful and tangled karma that is passed down to us over generations and how we can find ways to untangle that karma and choose our own path for our own lives.
As always, expect inventive sets and projections, outrageously complex costuming, wild and lilting music, and Butoh-infused movement. This show runs through February 16. Get tickets online.
Nicola Gunn at On the Boards, February 14-16 and February 21-24
Theatre-goers cups runneth over. Performer Nicola Gunn brings not one but two of her critically acclaimed shows to On the Boards on consecutive weekends. We recommend both, and in some ways, the less you know about each before going in, the better. But in case you need help deciding one or the other, here are some salient bits.
One woman show Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster starts minimal, with a simple enough anecdote. Gunn relates the story in wry, amusing fashion, while her movements gradually become more erratic. By the end, the story has become a layered, cutting meditation on ethics and morality, action and inaction, hypocrisy and guilt. It gets weird, but still fully tethered to reality.
The following weekend, Gunn takes aim at performance itself in Nicola Gunn: In Spite of Myself. The staging has Gunn playing a curator speaking about fictive works by Gunn in third person. The meta self-deprecation soon comes for Gunn’s invented (but familiar) curator character and the goofy performance idiom on display, as well.
I hate making comparisons between unrelated performers, but… If you love how Hannah Gadsby (an antipodean like Gunn) used Nanette to unpack comedy itself, you will love how Gunn questions the limits and basis of performance. However, whereas Gadsby intentionally steps away from the laughs by the end for pure earnestness, Gunn is riotously funny.
Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster runs February 14-16. Nicola Gunn: In Spite of Myself runs February 21-24. Gets tickets at On The Boards online. If you want to see both shows, On the Boards offers a package deal: buy your ticket package here.
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs West Coast premiere, February 23-March 9
Seattle Opera is an apt spot for the west coast premiere of the Grammy-nominated opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Microsoft is in the backyard, and the opera company certainly strives to become a more contemporary, tech-driven venue. Outgoing general director Aidan Lang even did away with the set shop, and has relied more on projections as backdrops. That approach has been shoddy (or even laughable) in a number of productions, but The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is made for it.
Even if you have lost a little (or a lot of) faith in Seattle Opera, THIS is probably the production to see. Few recent libretti have enjoyed the acclaim that Mark Campbell has received for his work, and Mason Bates’ music is vigorous and contemporary. And above all, the influence of the eponymous subject looms large in the culture, even after his death. See more and hear more on the opera’s official page.
Featured Image: Photo by Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera, via Seattle Opera.