Currently in its ninth year and running from March 15 through April 8, Seattle's Moisture Festival offers a high-spirited remedy to late-winter doldrums. Housed primarily in the cavernous and Fremont-funky performance Hale’s Palladium, each two-hour performance is an old-timey, comedy-varieté show reminiscent of the days of vaudeville, with about ten acts, ranging from highly skilled circus art to the more strange and humorous performers, from the silly and sublime to the goofy and glamorous.
My favorite acts at the Friday, March 16 show I attended included The Bobs, a zany a capella quartet; Gazzo, a salty British magician who performs sleight-of-hand tricks while spinning deliciously naughty jokes written to go sailing right over children’s heads; and Circus Syzygy, a circus arts troupe featuring thrilling hand-balancer Marie-Eve Dicaire.
The audience is invited to participate with applause, sing-a-longs, laughter, and good-spirited ribbing. One little boy was even invited onstage for the duration of Gazzo’s magic act as an assistant. The rowdy atmosphere offers young children a chance to get their ya-yas out without causing their parents anxiety, especially since grown-ups have the opportunity to grab a beer or tasty food from the cash-only concessions stand.
Parents should note that there may be an act or two that may offend their parental sensibilities. For example, on the night I attended, Amy G, a roller-skating/ ukulele playing comedienne, was darling in her first act, but later reappeared on stage with a follow-up that I found tasteless for an audience containing many children. But, despite this one blip in the family friendliness of the evening (Amy G won't be in every show), the majority of the entertainers fell somewhere between hilarious and enchanting.
The Moisture Festival is, overall, a richly rewarding experience for children and adults alike. It’s obvious that great care goes into the selection of the performers involved, and that this festival is a labor of love. Complete lineups for each show and bios of the performers are all available on the festival’s website, so it is possible to read up on an evening’s offerings before you decide which night to buy tickets for.
If you go:
When: March 15 through April 8: Wednesday-Sunday, with family-friendly shows at 7:30 p.m. and – on weekends -- at 3 p.m. (Check the calendar for a full schedule.) They also have 18-and-up shows at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. An ASL-interpreted show will run on Sunday, March 25 at 3 p.m. at the Georgetown Ballroom.
Where: Most performances are at Hale’s Palladium in Fremont, but there are three family-friendly shows at the Georgetown Ballroom, and two at the Broadway Performance Hall on Capitol Hill. The Capitol Hill location serves primarily as the venue for the festival’s burlesque shows. While these evening burlesque performances are for adults only, they might make for a steamy date night. No matter which performances you decide to attend, buy tickets in advance as shows are known to sell out quickly. With 250 performers in 50 shows over the four-week run, it's the largest festival of its kind.
Ticket prices: $10 - $22
Tickets and information: moisturefestival.com