Last December, my daughter and I — already sick of the season and looking for happy company somewhere warm and bright — saw a holiday show by the Fremont Players at Hale’s Palladium. The Palladium, tucked behind Hale’s Brewery in the no man’s land between Ballard and Fremont, faces dark parking lots, bumpily paved roads cut by train tracks, and the Ballard Fred Meyer. The only sign that something interesting might be found inside were the words “Moisture Festival” spelled out in marquee bulbs over the doorway. We walked in to find a surprisingly large space with high ceilings and a cheerfully unpolished, old-Fremont look about it.
The Moisture Festival, a comedy/varietè ode to spring held every March, is about as old Fremont as it gets; it’s a collection of circus and vaudeville acts, comedy, physical theater, music and the happily unclassifiable, stitched together with respect for humankind’s periodic need to get together and get a little wild.
“A lot of times people ask, ‘Is it family oriented?’” says festival coproducer Ron W. Bailey. “And I’ll usually respond, ‘It is for Seattle families!” Performances aren’t sanitized or dumbed down for children (and neither is the atmosphere — adults can buy beer to drink while they watch the show), but there’s no overly suggestive content to make a parent squirm, either. It’s just a chance for audiences of all ages to get together, get loud, and react to what’s on stage without inhibition.
“The whole idea that mom and dad can get a beer and sit with the family — and it’s not a sin — is part of the thing,” Bailey says. “That room is so wonderful for it; the thing that makes it different than a theater is that in a theater they work on the sound so much that it almost eats up the sound of the applause.” Listening to your fellow audience members enjoy the show is part of the festival’s charm — and not having to silence a preschooler’s shouts during a performance is something that every parent can appreciate.
Kris Collingridge is ParentMap’s Out & About editor. You know where she’ll be this month.