Hot Tips – Seattle Area Arts Events

Autumn brings a new harvest of arts and entertainment offerings in the Seattle area—things to discover or re-discover, and to savor with family and friends. Here are some of the enticing events on the horizon.

Return to Narnia

The Seattle Children’s Theatre is a local treasure for drama-lovers of all ages. From Oct. 13 through Dec. 11, the company brings back its magical adaptation of a beloved fantasy tale, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Based on the first volume of the C.S. Lewis series, The Narnia Chronicles, this play with music follows four English youths, consigned to the countryside during World War II, who find an enchanted land behind an old wardrobe. In the beautiful but oppressed Narnia, they help a talking lion defy a wicked white witch who has kept the country in a perpetual state of winter—with no Christmas allowed.

This may be the perfect chance to also share the Lewis book, an international best-seller that’s been translated into more than 40 languages, with young people who haven’t read it yet. Or you can extend the pleasure of the play yourself by diving into the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe again, or for the first time.

For tickets and more information, contact Seattle Children’s Theatre at 206-441-3322 or see

Book-It’s Treasure Island

Another classic hitting the boards could also lead you and young ones on an epic journey. Book-It Repertory Theatre, which has adapted scores of literary works for live audiences, is unveiling its new dramatization of the ripping pirate yarn, Treasure Island.

Penned by Robert Louis Stevenson in the 1880s as a magazine serial, this coming-of-age classic follows young Jim Hawkins, an innkeeper’s son, on a ship voyage with a dissolute band of treasure-seekers that includes the infamous Long John Silver, he of the peg leg, eye patch, and pet parrot on his shoulder.

One thrilling escapade follows hard on the heels of another in Stevenson’s colorful fable. And while many previous adaptations of Treasure Island have swashbuckled their way across stage and screen, Book-It has a unique style of translating from page to stage. For one thing, the company will use as much of Stevenson’s original prose as possible in its version.

The show runs Nov. 23 through Dec. 24. For details and tickets, call 206-216-0833 or visit

A Duke Ellington Christmas

The December arts calendar is heavy on holiday events, including such perennial favorites as the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker Suite, Seattle Symphony’s Messiah, and ACT Theatre’s A Christmas Carol. But if you are in the mood for something different, in a jazzy key, the annual Sacred Music of Duke Ellington concert performed by the Seattle Jazz Repertory Orchestra and other local artists should be on your list.

Composer, pianist, and bandleader Duke Ellington was an innovator steeped in jazz, but he had far-ranging musical interests. “Every man prays in his own language,” he once said. And his concerts of original sacred music, originally performed in 1965, 1968, and 1973, were inspirational events with soaring spirituals, swinging band compositions, and tap dance hymns.

The music endures, and the Dec. 17 concert at Seattle’s Town Hall will be the 28th annual, soul-stirring concert of these Ellington selections presented by the city’s Earshot Jazz organization. It will feature the excellent Seattle Jazz Repertory Orchestra, noted vocalists, a gospel choir, and tap dancers. It’s best to reserve tickets early, since these concerts often sell out. To find out more, go to or call the Town Hall box office at 206-652-4255.

National Theatre Live

London is indisputably one of the world’s theater capitals. But if a trip to England isn’t on your agenda this fall, you can still enjoy some of that historic city’s finest stage performances in a cinema near you, and for a modest price.

The film series NT Live captures live, acclaimed productions by the National Theatre, London’s leading drama center. This fall, Puget Sound cinemas will screen several highly praised NT Live shows, including two stunning works featuring one of the most popular and skilled British actors of our day, Benedict Cumberbatch.

When he isn’t portraying a cyber-age Sherlock Holmes on the telly or appearing in sequels to The Hobbit films, this classically trained thespian is flexing his theater muscles. This autumn, NT Live reprises Cumberbatch’s stellar performances in Frankenstein (he and Jonny Lee Miller take turns playing the monster and his maker), and as the tragic Dane in a splendid rendering of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which I caught last year and highly recommend.

The local NT Live screenings occur on various dates in many venues, including cinemas in Seattle, Bellevue, and Lynnwood. For a local schedule and ticket information go to ntlive.nationaltheatre.

Misha Berson writes about the arts for The Seattle Times and many other publications, and is the author of four books, including Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination (Applause/Hal Leonard). 

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