Homo for the Holidays Giveaway

A bawdy, non-traditional tradition returns to Seattle December 10 – 27: “Homo for the Holidays!”

Burlesque, drag, and cabaret, this is a star studded feast of a holiday show. You probably remember the gorgeous and puntastic BenDeLaCreme from RuPaul’s Drag Race. This delicious creature hosts “Homo for the Holidays,” now in its 7th year. She’ll be joined by the Seattle favorites Kitten LaRue (vavavoom!), Lou Henry Hoover (adorbs!), Cherdonna Shinatra (what-the-heck-was-that-in-the-best-way), The One The Only Inga (enchanting), Faggedy Randy (yum!), The Luminous Pariah (intoxicating), Waxie Moon (comedy-swoon!), and more. Yes, I fangirl crush this cast BIG time.

This show sold out last year and is likely to again. There’s a reason The Stranger calls this the “premiere event of the true gay yuletided season.”

Get your tickets now. Show runs December 10 – 27.

Oh yeah, there’s a GIVEAWAY too! You can enter the giveaway to win a pair of ticket (OR get a Homo for the Holidays prize pack, if you already have tickets).

Review: Balagan Theatre’s Les Miserables is Dynamic and Soulful

For this review, Seattle Pockets is thrilled to welcome guest blogger, Chanel Ryssel.

Full disclosure: Les Miserables is my second favorite musical of all time, and after their production last season of my first favorite musical (Avenue Q), Balagan is quickly eclipsing all local theaters as the nearest and dearest to my heart. This summer, Balagan has found a new artistic director in Louis Hobson who also plays Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.  If his acting is any indication of talent at artistic direction, I would expect an excellent year for Balagan.

Without giving too much away, Les Miserables tells the humanistic story of the social injustice the working class faced in 19th Century France. Playwright Victor Hugo’s central themes are that love and compassion can be found even against the backdrop of destitute living, starvation and revolution. Balagan did an excellent job performing a show in their smaller sized venue that feels like it needs a lot of space. They utilized an intricate set vertically and with an interesting 3D aspect that didn’t need much set breakdown between scenes, thus lending a sense of escapism and cohesiveness between songs. Interestingly, the battle scenes were constructed to give an unexpected angular view to audiences who might feel like they have seen most possible renditions of blocking for Les Mis.

While the cast’s performance as a whole was tight for an opening weekend, a few star characters really make the show. Balagan’s Eponine (Danielle Barnum) steals the show with her gripping, emotional testament through song and amazing stage presence. Similarly, Madame Thenardier (Rebecca M. Davis) and Monsieur Thenardier (Robert Scherzer) are often cast as comedic relief, but in this production also serve to reinforce the motif of “the plight of the orphan” and contrast with their daughter Eponine to really display the compassion that  camaraderie can build in people despite their parentage and early station. .

Balagan, with its intimate venue and excellent stage blocking, does Les Miserables as much justice as big-house theaters!  I would recommend that both people new to Les Miserables and veterans see this production, all the original elements are well done with a few refreshing changes. All in all, Balagan’s approach is dynamic and soulful, exactly what one would want from an excellent production of such a classic show. No spoilers here but bring some tissues with you! Les Miserables closes September 28th.

Visit Balagan’s website for tickets and showtimes.

Balagan Theatre's production of Les Miserables - Photo by Jeff Carpenter

Balagan Theatre’s production of Les Miserables – Photo by Jeff Carpenter

Disclaimer: Balagan Theatre provided SeattlePockets.com with two complimentary tickets to see this production. As always, free doesn’t change our opinions!

Wasabi Grilled Cheese at Bleu Grotto

I have hesitated writing a post about the savory wasabi grilled cheese (just typing those words makes my mouth water!) at Bleu Grotto on Capitol Hill in Seattle because I have yet to get a photo of it that I like! Taking food photos with an iphone is really challenging (especially in low light situations). But I just have to tell you about it. I seriously crave this sandwich (and the starter salad) ALL of the time – probably more than any dish in Seattle!

Their wasabi grilled cheese comes with three dipping sauces. Yes, you get to dip it!  I’m not sure if it’s still spelled wrong on their incredibly quirky and large menu, but it is delicious, no matter how you spell it.  The three sauces are the wasabi sauce, something white and tasty and a peach like sauce. Ok I really should have done my research. I’ll come back and let you know more the next time I go in.  You can get the sandwich with a starter stetler salad (now with kale!) that also has hummus on it, which I strongly suggest (hold the onion please).

The old location of Bleu Grotto (then, Bleu Bistro) had a little bit more secret charm, but they have really done some special things to their new space. There are some tall community tables in the center of the restaurant, a bar, some small seating at the window and (my favorite) a few booths with curtains you can pull around them for more “secret” feeling dining. You’ll need some time to get through the menu (their cocktail list alone is long and fabulous). There are other great things on the menu, my friends tell me (I’m boring and just order the WGC every single time). I love their lemon drop as well.

That’s it. One of my favorite places in Seattle. It’s past 10pm and I’m getting ready to head out on vacation, so my brain is a little fried, but I hope you get a chance to visit them soon.  If I get sad about coming back from vacation, I’ll console myself with the reminder that wasabi grilled cheese will soon be in my future.

Moisture Festival delights Seattleites in 3 locations, now through April 8th

Update: Wed, 3/28 get 1/2 price tickets for tonight’s show at Hale’s Palladium by using promo code word rubberband. Click here for tickets.

When was the last time you were aware of your face hurting because of smiling & laughing for hours?  Treat yourself to a night of quality and diverse entertainment: open your calendar right now to find a date to catch The Moisture Festival, before it disappears after April 8th. You’ll still be smiling when you take the time to come back to this blog to thank me.

The Moisture Festival takes the stage in three venues this year: Broadway Performance Hall, Georgetown Ballroom and Hale’s Palladium (grab a pretzel and a beer before you take your seat).  Now in it’s nineth year, The Moisture Festival stays true to its mission “to enrich the community by presenting an affordable annual festival showcasing the art of live comedy/ variete performance.”

Last year, I was a bit apprehensive of seeing yet another burlesque show as the boom of performances in this genre in the last few years have left many Seattleites, myself included, exhausted by the quantity without guaranteed quality.  There seems to be a new troupe forming around ever corner.  I’m a fan of burlesque, but my standards are high – the talent, skill and innovation have got to be there in the acts to make it a burlesque show worth telling your friends to see.  Moisture Festival does not disappoint – pulling from the cream of the crop of Seattle talent while bringing unique and charming performers from afar to also perform.  Some local favorites, Fuchsia Foxxx, Inga Ingenue, Lily Verlaine and Waxie Moon, show us their skills along with many out of towners. Check out the full performer list, here. Burlesque has been a part of Moisture Festival since 2005 and they do a fantastic job at curating these nights.

This year, however, my main intention was to catch the Comedy/Variete performances. Having been to Hale’s Palladium recently for Honk! Around the World (enjoying dancing in the crowd to Tubaluba and other bands), I was excited to return to this quirky venue.  Musicians, physical comedians, comedic musicans and more took the stage in what is truly a perfect venue for these types of acts.  The night itself reminded me a bit of the shows one would expect to find in The Night Circus, a delightful novel that whisks its readers into a different land.  Moisture Festival truly catapults its audience into a different world, one where all your troubles are gone (except, perhaps, the monster under the bed in a jaw-dropping “did they just say that” song). Your only job is to laugh.

I want to go into detail about the best acts of the show, but don’t want to spoil the surprises for you (this is a spoiler-free blog, after all).  One of the biggest crowd pleasers from the night I attended was Amy G, not surprisingly the granddaughter of a vaudevillian acrobat/ukulele playing song and dance man. She brought down the house with laughter and always leaves the stage with a ton of admirers. You have to see her to understand the joy that this physical comedian brings to her audience, and trust me, you will thank me later (though, not for the faint of heart).

Amy G

It’s clear why Gazzo (wise enough to project his magic cup and balls trick onto a screen so even those in the back could get a good look) gets such rave reviews from Penn and Teller – Seattle is lucky to have him visit.  And Kamikaze Fireflies reminded us that sometimes an act just needs a few props and a lot of hot air…plus audience participation of course.

The night ended with a standing ovation and I’m sure many of the audience, myself included, will be back to enjoy more performances before the festival ends.  Do yourself a favor and clear a night in your schedule before April 8th and buy tickets to a show.  No matter if it’s Burlesque or Comedy/Variete, no matter who is performing that night, you can put your faith in Moisture Festival – these folks do it RIGHT.

Disclaimer: Seattle Pockets was provided 2 tickets to Moisture Festival.  All opinions expressed in this post, as always, are mine – compensation or gifts will never alter the opinions or thoughts shared on this blog. Full disclaimer, here.

100 Things To Do in Seattle Before You Die

I live in an amazing city – rich with unique parks, fabulous entertainment options, memorable restaurants and so much more.  When 7×7 contacted me to write a list of  “100 things to do in Seattle before you die,” I jumped at the chance, tapping into my personal experiences and asking Seattleites around me their advice of what makes our city truly special. We started a bit north and worked our way south. Here’s #1 – 20:

1. Support young writers by shopping at the Space Travel Supply Company. (Greenwood)
2.    Fly a kite at Gasworks Park. (Wallingford)
3.    Giggle at the kitsch at Archie McPhee’s. (Wallingford)
4.    Have a laugh at quirky Bizzarro Italian Cafe. (Wallingford)
5.    Find your favorite sweet treat: try a Trophy Cupcake. (Wallingford)
6.    Then head to Cupcake Royale to cast your vote in the great cupcake debate. (Ballard)
7.    Toss on those bike shorts and hit the Burke-Gilman Trail. (Ballard)
8.    Sample from the 64 beers on tap at Brouwer’s. (Ballard)
9.    Savor Eastern Mediterranean flavors at Golden Beetle. (Ballard)
10.    Dance to a rockabilly or bluegrass band at Tractor Tavern. (Ballard)
11.    Knock back an adult beverage at Cafe Mox over a board game from Card Kingdom. (Ballard)
12.    Start a bonfire during sunset at Golden Gardens. (Ballard)
13.    Take a free guided tour at the Arboretum. (U District)
14.    Kayak past houseboats in Portage Bay or paddle out to see the Seattle Skyline at Agua Verde Paddle Club. (U District)
15.    Get a uniquely flavored brain freeze at Full Tilt Ice Cream. (U District)
16.    Catch a show at a movie theatre built in the ’20s. (U District)
17.    Critique contemporary works at Henry Art Museum. (U District)
18.    Climb on the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge.  (Fremont)
19.    Hunt for treasures at the Sunday Fremont Market. (Fremont)
20.    Unearth  vintage threads at Deluxe Junk. (Fremont)

21. Cash in your golden ticket and take the Theo Chocolate factory tour. (Fremont)

22. Add to your vinyl collection at Jive Time Records. (Fremont)
23. Dress up for a swanky event at Fremont Studios. (Fremont)
24. Run in the International Fountain in the shadow of the Space Needle. (Seattle Center)
25. See a show at Seattle Repertory Theater and stay for a talk-back. (Seattle Center)
26. Enjoy an Erik Carlson menu and aerial performances at Teatro Zinzanni. (Seattle Center)
27. Rock out like Hendrix at EMP Museum. (Seattle Center)
28. Witness a book go from page to stage at Book-it. (Seattle Center)
29. Walk up the stairs from lower Queen Anne to snap a postcard worthy photo from the view at Kerry Park. (Queen Anne)
30. Make date night delicious with a visit to an Ethan Stowell restaurant. (Queen Anne)
31. Spoil your sweet tooth at Top Pot Doughnuts. (Queen Anne)
32. Nosh on rotating Americana themed food at  5 Spot. (Queen Anne)
33. Nurse your hangover at Peso’s. (Queen Anne)
34. Splash land in a seaplane. (South Lake Union)
35. Steam, soak and sauna at co-ed urban spa, Banya 5. (South Lake Union)
36. Climb the pinnacle at the flagship REI store. (South Lake Union)
37. Go back for seconds at Portage Bay’s Cafe‘s brunch toppings bar. (South Lake Union)
38. Snag a slice of gourmet pizza at Serious Pie. (South Lake Union)
39. Shock your taste buds with a crazy burger from Lunchbox Laboratory. (South Lake Union)
40. Dress retro and dance to soul music at The Lo-Fi. (South Lake Union)
41. Eat an enchilada in the Elvis Room at Seattle’s oldest Mexican restaurant, Mama‘s. (Belltown)
42. Have a cocktail & bucket of popcorn delivered mid-movie at The Big Picture. (Belltown)
43. Grab a beer and dog while you drop a couple quarters in the pinball machines atShorty’s. (Belltown)
44. Get your sushi happy hour on at Umi. (Belltown)
45. Delight in goat cheese stuffed bacon wrapped dates at Pintxo. (Belltown)
46. Find a speakeasy around the corner. (Belltown)
47. Eat after the bars close at The Lucky Diner. (Belltown)
48. Marvel at the mummies, shrunken heads and other curios at Ye Old Curiosity Shop. (Waterfront)
49. Wander through the art along the Puget Sound at Olympic Sculpture Park. (Waterfront)
50. Ride a ferry to Bainbridge Island. (Waterfront)
51. Hop on the Water Taxi and dine at Salty’s. (Waterfront/West Seattle)
52. Stand under an arch of jellyfish at Seattle Aquarium. (Waterfront)
53. Dodge seagulls while snacking on fish & chips at Ivar’s. (Waterfront)
54. Find your way to a well crafted cocktail at Zig Zag. (Waterfront)
55. Munch on a salmon sandwich at Three Girls Bakery. (Pike Place Market)
56. Add a piece to the Market Theater Gum Wall on your way to an improv show. (Pike Place Market)
57. Listen to buskers perform outside the original Starbucks. (Pike Place Market)
58. Enjoy tea and crumpets. (Pike Place Market)
59. Sip some absinthe at a cabaret show at The Can Can. (Pike Place Market)
60. Catch a fish from a fishmonger. (Pike Place Market)
61. Romance a lover over Italian food and live jazz at The Pink Door. (Pike Place Market)
62. Ride up neon green escalators inside the Seattle Public Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas & Joshua Prince-Ramus. (Downtown)
63. Parkour up walls and over waterfalls at Freeway Park. (Downtown).
64. See a show from a half-moon booth at The Triple Door. (Downtown)
65. Smile when a tourist expects a second stop on the Monorail. (Downtown/Seattle Center)
66. Shop the half-yearly sales at the flagship Nordstrom. (Downtown)
67. Order an international wine flight and sweet potato fries at Purple. (Downtown)
68. Explore local shops (Rain City Meats, Calf & Kid, Taylor Shellfish) at Melrose Market. (Capitol Hill)
69. Cozy up in a curtained booth at Bleu Grotto over clever cocktails and Wasabi Grilled Cheese. (Capitol Hill)
70. “Spin The Bottle” – see some good, bad and great late night theater at Annex. (Capitol Hill)
71. Indulge in a souffle-like Chocolate Pot at B&O Espresso. (Capitol Hill)
72. Attend a literary event at  Richard Hugo House. (Capitol Hill)
73. Show your sporty side at Cal Anderson Park. (Capitol Hill)
74. Hang out with hipsters at Unicorn. (Capitol Hill)
75. Spin a partner around the dance floor at Century Ballroom. (Capitol Hill)
76. Take an adult class at the original Babeland store. (Capitol Hill)
77. Meditate on a Sunday evening with Compline Choir at St. Mark’s Cathedral. (Capitol Hill)
78. Buy an ingredient you’ve never seen before at Uwajimaya. (International District)
79. Fill up on Dim Sum at Harbor City. (International District)
80. Share hot pot with friends at Seven Stars Pepper. (International District)
81. Give a shout out to the ’90s and karaoke a grunge song. (International District)
82. Flash back to the 80s and pick up some retro video games at Pink Gorilla. (International District)
83. Get inspired at the First Thursday art walk. (Pioneer Square)
84. Witness the view from The Chinese Room in Smith Tower, Seattle’s first skyscraper. (Pioneer Square)
85. Delight you inner child at Magic Mouse Toys. (Pioneer Square)
86. Enjoy chilled tastings at Saké Nomi. (Pioneer Square)
87. Get a taste of Seattle’s debaucherous past with the underground Underworld Tour. (Pioneer Square)
88. Watch the visiting team beat the Mariners at Safeco Field. (SODO)
89. Rock out to a favorite band at Showbox SODO. (SODO)
90. Show off your scarf and spirit at a Sounders game. (SODO)
91. Geek out on comics at Fantagraphics. (Georgetown)
92. Fly through the air with the greatest of ease at SANCA. (Georgetown)
93. Raise a glass of Washington wine at Laurelhurst Cellars. (Georgetown)
94. Take the pilot’s seat in a WWII flight simulator at Museum of Flight. (South Seattle)
95. Share a quiet picnic at Kubota Gardens. (South Seattle)
96. Spot an eagle at Seward Park. (South Seattle)
97. Sit on the patio at Cactus and watch the sunset over the water. (West Seattle)
98. Get healthy with some vegan fare at Chaco Canyon. (West Seattle)
99. See the “Statue of Liberty” and breathtaking views at Alki Beach. (West Seattle)
100. What should #100 be? Tell me in the comments below!

I’d love to hear your feedback! How many have you done? Anything I missed? Which of your favorite things made the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

You can also check out my pal Rob Lightner’s list of 100 things to eat in Seattle before you die.

My drink will be featured at The Social!


The Social will be opening soon (well, this summer or fall, no official opening date set yet) – from the photo renderings, this “two level 12K square foot ultra lounge / restaurant and nightclub” looks to be quite the addition to Capitol Hill.

Recently, they hosted a drink creation contest…and my suggestion won! The following drink will be featured on their menu:  The Michael Jackson.

Here’s my suggested recipe (Social bartenders are welcome to tweak it of course)

The Michael Jackson
1 part kalua
splash of chocolate liquor
2 parts vanilla vodka

splash of cream as floater

Can be served on the rocks or straight up (be sure to put cream in last, as floater, so it create a black and white effect).

Song that inspired the drink: