Most of the hordes descending on the Seattle Center this weekend will be there for the music. Bumbershoot is known as the city’s big, blow-out festival, marking the end of the summer season and the start of the rainy Northwest fall.
But as programming manager Chris Weber will tell anyone willing to listen, Bumbershoot isn’t just music.
Weber is the guy “who programs everything else” at Bumbershoot, including the “straight theater” part of the event.
“We’re a multi-disciplinary festival and we try to be multi-genre within those disciplines,” Weber said in a recent interview. “We want people to see what is available in Seattle year round.”
This means working with Theatre Puget Sound to pack the Center House Theatre with groups like Theatre Simple (Owl & Pussycat), Nerdprov, Annex Theatre (Audrey & Nelson), Unexpected Productions (Impromtu), and Performers’ Forge (Swashbuckling Spectacular).
There’s also the one-man acts Weird and Awesome with Emmett Montgomery and My Last Year with the Nuns.
“Theater may be the easiest part of my job,” said Weber, “because Theatre Puget Sound does all the heavy lifting.”
Working with TPS since 2003, Bumbershoot has crafted a program both edgy and enticing, much like the music playing in the big venues around the Center.
“There’s a fine line between programming [theater] so that people who really know it will want to go in -- and, at the same time, having [theater] where anyone can find something that will excite them,” he said.
This year’s mix should satisfy both the connoisseurs and those looking to check out something new. Some of these shows are great for kids, said Weber, and some, like Annex’s very adult puppet musical, are not. Read the descriptions to program appropriately for family and friends.
For those who have lived through a few Bumbershoots and the many changes going on in this city, Weber definitely recommends My Last Year with the Nuns.
“It’s about Seattle, and growing up in Seattle,” said Weber about the show with monologist Matt Smith.
The Center’s other theaters also will be filled with Bumbershoot programs this weekend. Look for stand-up comedy and other comedy acts at Bagley Wright Theatre and Cornish Playhouse, and the Words & Ideas Stage at the Leo K. Theatre.