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Tacoma Arts Month

Diverse delights for every appetite

October is brimming with hundreds of arts and culture events, exhibits, and workshops for all ages. Photo credit: Tacoma Arts Commission

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Olympia, with just shy of 50,000 citizens, will spend this weekend enjoying its biannual, downtown celebration, Arts Walk. With over four times as many residents, Tacoma needs more. That's why October is Tacoma Arts Month -- but even that's not enough. The 16th annual festival stretches over six weeks, from last week's opening of an art exhibit at Spaceworks Gallery to the finales of three stage shows in early November. Whatever your taste in live entertainment, there really is something on the schedule for you, but Tacoma Arts Month invites you to step outside your area of particular affection or expertise to discover talent all over the Gritty City.

Consider, for example, live theater. The run of Footloose the Musical is already underway at Tacoma Musical Playhouse, but if, say, you were once traumatized by Kevin Bacon, playwright August Wilson's towering masterpiece Fences opens this weekend at Pacific Lutheran University. Oct. 20 brings the premiere of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit at Tacoma Little Theatre and, for those who don't mind a short drive south, the live-radio-drama program Vault of Horror at Lakewood Playhouse. Throw Tacoma City Ballet's The Haunted Theatre into the mix along with comedy from Fools Play Improv at TLT and Tacoma Opera's The Marriage of Figaro, courtesy of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Make new little theater (and Twain!) fans by introducing them to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at Tacoma Musical Playhouse, starting Nov. 4.

What if you're already a theater fan? See those shows anyway, but stretch to live music. Melodic offerings span the spectrum from sublime to blissfully ridiculous. Kareem Kandi's "World Orchestra" hits Peaks and Pints Friday, the same night JB & Groove Fiery storm Jazzbones with Island Bound for "Da Roots Reggae Party." The University of Puget Sound offers Thai dance music plus concerts from the Northwest Honor Choir, American Brass Quartet, Regency Voices and Lyric Brass Quintet. Dance band Afrodisiacs shake the walls at Jazzbones, The Hipsters rock The Swiss, The New Frontier hosts an open bluegrass jam and Stonegate offers Dave Nichols' "Country Roadhouse Jam." That's just this weekend! The next few weeks bring PLU's symphony orchestra, blues jammer Roger Williamson, Chinese folk and classical music at UPS, Tacoma Concert Band, The Spazmatics, Leify Green, Bishops Green, West Side Story at Symphony Tacoma, Led Zeppmen, Andre Rieu with the Johann Strauss Orchestra, Hell's Belles ... The list goes on and on.

Try a free, self-guided Tacoma Studio Tour between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Oct. 14 or 15. That's a chance to meet, watch and converse with local artists like Bill Colby, Kyle Dillehay and Becky Frehse as they work. "Be adventurous," urges Naomi Strom-Avila, cultural arts specialist for City of Tacoma. "There's a lot of ways to connect with the arts, and this is a great way to showcase that and to be a part of what's going on."

Tacoma Arts Month, through Nov. 5, dozens of venues all over Tacoma, free-$150,

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