18 Best Things to Do in Seattle in December 2019

Our handpicked list of the best bets for entertainment this month
  • Artwork "Black Sky" from the In Plain Sight exhibition
Sadie Barnette’s immersive installation “Black Sky” is one of the works featured in the show In Plain Sight at the Henry Art Gallery

In Plain Sight
Through 4/26/2020
This exhibit’s ironic title refers to visual art and performances by an international array of artists that evoke experiences and communities (in many senses: racial, sexual, economic) still obscured from the mainstream. Among the works are Los Angeles artist Andrea Bowers’ confrontational yet celebratory photos of transgender activists of color. Henry Art Gallery, University District; henryart.org

Ahamefule J. Oluo: Susan
One of on the boards’ artists-in-residence this season, the Seattle-based composer, trumpeter, writer and stand-up performer puts all these skills to use in his new performance piece about his family history, with the help of vocalists Okanamodé and Tiffany Wilson and a stellar local band. Times and prices vary. On the Boards, Lower Queen Anne; ontheboards.org

New Year’s Eve Meow Meow
No one loves Strauss waltzes more than I do, but there can be more to a New Year’s Eve concert than that timeworn tradition. Australian cabaret artiste Melissa Madden Gray, aka Meow Meow, is the Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s guest for this year’s gala. Imagine the brain of Dame Edna transplanted into Liza Minnelli’s body and you come close to envisioning her magic. Champagne and dancing until midnight follow! 9 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown; seattlesymphony.org

Guys and Dolls
Through 12/29
Village Theatre stands out in the area’s theater scene as a nurturer of new musicals, but it also has a way with the classics, like this snappy 1950 “musical fable of Broadway,” which brings the gamblers, the bookies and the mythical Noo Yawk of Damon Runyon’s short stories to life. Times and prices vary. Village Theatre, Issaquah; villagetheatre.org

Next Fest NW
Velocity’s annual festival of new dance works always gives applicants an intriguing theme to explore; this year, with “Ritual and Rebellion,” it called for dance artists to question tradition and received wisdom and turn their findings into art. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Velocity Dance Center, Capitol Hill; velocitydancecenter.org

The Daily Show host Trevor Noah. Photo by Gavin Bond

Trevor Noah: “Loud & Clear” tour
As a biracial South African, the Daily Show host provides a unique perspective on America’s racial tensions that other late-night hosts, however trenchant their one-liners, can’t match. Being booked into an uncommonly huge stand-up venue like the Tacoma Dome testifies to his success. 8 p.m. Prices vary. Tacoma Dome, Tacoma; tacomadome.org

Story Party Seattle: True Dating Stories
Our universal language is no longer music, it seems; it’s romantic humiliation. In this comedy show that’s toured the world, pro storytellers recount painful dating disasters for your amusement; you can submit your own stories (anonymously) at the show or online anytime at storyparty.net. 4 p.m. $20. Market Theater, downtown; unexpectedproductions.org

Saturday University: Zoroastrian and Manichean Arts
They may sound arcane, but Northern Arizona University prof Zsuzsanna Gulasci will expertly introduce you to these ancient religions that used art as a major—and successful—method of dissemination, spreading from the Middle East to Central Asia and as far as China. 10 a.m. Prices vary. Seattle Art Museum, downtown; seattleartmuseum.org

Britain’s Baking Challenge
Jet City Improv adds a twist to its version of cult fave The Great British Baking Show: All the treats (yes, they’ll actually be baked onstage) will need to fit a theme suggested on the spot by the audience. On your mark, get set, bake! 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Jet City Improv Theater, University District; jetcityimprov.org

Michael Cunningham
In his talk “The Problem Is Never the Plot,” the Yale faculty member and Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist (The Hours) advises fiction writers to focus on creating believable characters who will “in turn take care of the plot, all by themselves.” This isn’t too big a spoiler, is it? You should go hear him anyway. He’ll be interviewed after his lecture by Portland-based novelist Cari Luna. 7 p.m. Prices vary. Hugo House, Capitol Hill; hugohouse.org

FLYING HIGH: Alt-circus troupe Acrobatic Conundrum combines jaw-dropping physical performance with powerful, emotional storytelling. Photo by The Silence

Acrobatic Conundrum: Unraveling
The new show from our region’s current alt-circus stars focuses on a single circus art, but it’s one of the most dazzling: the corde lisse, or vertical rope. Unraveling will explore “themes of interdependence, mortality and love” with the help of 12 invited rope artists from Teatro ZinZanni, Cirque du Soleil and elsewhere. Times and prices vary. Broadway Performance Hall, Capitol Hill; theatres.seattlecentral.edu

Wa Na Wari
Through 12/28
It’s no coincidence that the name Wa Na Wari—the arts center opened in a Central District home in April to showcase and nurture black art in the gentrifying neighborhood—literally means “our home” in the Kalabari language of Nigeria. Chantal Gibson, Brenetta Ward, Moses Sun and Storme Webber each contributed an installation to this current exhibit, utilizing media from video animation to fiber arts. Wa Na Wari, Central District; wanawari.org

Seattle Symphony: The Four Seasons
Vivaldi’s ever-popular tetralogy of violin concertos was answered in the late 1960s by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla’s suite of tangos The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. All together they’ll make a tasty New Year’s party menu, with soloist Elisa Barston. (What would The Seasons of Seattle sound like? There would be only three movements: wet and 45 degrees, cloudy and 55, sunny and 75.) Times and prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown;

Jomama Jones: Black Light
Playwright and performance artist/actor Daniel Alexander Jones (currently a creative research fellow at the University of Washington) salutes the divas and divos of black popular music in this solo cabaret show that premiered in 2015, reviving his alter ego, Jomama Jones, and channeling through her the spirits of Prince, Diana Ross and others. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Jones Playhouse at Meany Center for the Performing Arts, University of Washington; meanycenter.org

Gage Academy Drawing Jam
Providing much more than just models, Seattle’s main center for traditional instruction in representational art is sponsoring this open-mic night—whoops, open-pencil night—also offering art supplies, instruction, drawing demos, live music, food and a holiday bazaar. Plus drag queens for you to sketch! 9 a.m.–6 p.m. $15, free for children 12 and under. Gage Academy of Art, Capitol Hill; gageacademy.org

Photo by KUOW/Juan Pablo Chiquiza


You’ll have three opportunities this month to get in on a popular audio experience as a member of its live audience. In U Up?, Jordana Abraham and Jared Freid, latter-day Carrie Bradshaws, explore the complications and conundrums of dating, from the tech-enhanced (“Should I Put My Instagram Handle in My Dating App Profile?”) to the timeless (“How Do I Say ‘I Love You’ First?”). Join them for a hearty game of “Red Flag or Dealbreaker.”

KUOW’s Week in Review first left the studio to take its show on the road in August; now it’s visiting Cornish Playhouse to try to make sense of the whole mind-melting year at once. For Year in Review Live, host Bill Radke will oversee the usual mix of guests, quizzes and opining.

Watch What Crappens celebrates all things Bravo, and hosts Ben Mandelker and Ronnie Karam are crossing the nation to commune and obsess with the fans for whom no Housewives could ever be too Real.

U Up? Live: 12/6. 8 p.m. $33.50. Neptune Theatre, University District; stgpresents.org

KUOW Year in Review: 12/12. 7 p.m. Free. Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center; kuow.org

Watch What Crappens: 12/13. 8 p.m. $26. Neptune Theatre, University District; stgpresents.org

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