Who doesn’t like free dance, theater and music? The Broadway Center knows it’s pretty hard to resist a free show, let alone a free weekend of shows, and for the second year around is kicking off its season with the Fall Free for All weekend of free arts events this Saturday and Sunday to entice newbies into the downtown theaters and give us all a taste of what’s coming up. Headlining the weekend is Tacoma indie singer Vicci Martinez, playing the Pantages Saturday night.
You can download the program pdf on the Broadway Center’s website, but here are some highlights:
- New this year is Vicci Martinez, the Tacoma native singer/songwriter who went big on NBC’s “The Voice” and has found it hard to schedule her adoring hometown into her gig schedule ever since. She didn’t make it to Art on the Ave – but she’s booked in at the Pantages, so get in line early. 9 p.m. Sat.
- Also new this year is a scheduled dinner break. No, they’re not giving you a free meal, but at least there’s a two hour break in the performance schedule to allow everyone to refuel at some of downtown T-Town’s great eating places (Two Koi, Matador, Maxwell’s, The Old Spaghetti Factory, El Gaucho, Corina and The Office), where your FFFA wristband will get you discounts. 5-7 p.m. Sat., 4-6 p.m. Sun.
- Another great act at the Pantages this year is Recess Monkey, the Seattle-based kiddie rock band made up of three extremely rocking elementary school teachers. 3 p.m. Sat.
- The dance element in Free for All has stepped up several notches this year with a festival in Theatre on the Square curated by Ezra Dickinson and Faith Stevens, and including local groups like the always-inventive Barefoot Collective, the Maureen Whiting Company, hip hop artists from D.A.S.H. and plenty of dance films. Noon-5 p.m. Sat.
- Have you seen the Reptile Man yet? He’ll be in Studio 1 with his slithering, crawling and creeping collection of reptiles, with petting zoo of course. 4 p.m. Sat.
- Another new item is an emphasis on family participation. Join in the ukelele jam (noon Sat., Studio 1), check out the face painting and bouncy house or breakdancing from Fab-5 (noon-5 p.m. Sat., outdoors), learn hula fitness (3 p.m. Sat., Studio 1) or design your own iron tile to be cast before the 9 p.m. Fire and Ice pour (noon-5 p.m. Sat., oudoors)
- Don’t miss the Northwest Playwrights’ Alliance Double Shot Festival of short plays written frantically over the previous 48 hours (7 p.m. Sat., 1 p.m. Sun., Studio 3)
- Sunday’s focus is on homegrown indie talent at Theatre on the Square: the Tacoma Urban Orchestra (2 p.m.) and the Tacoma Round with various artists (6 p.m.)
Yes, you’ll be giving your email address and marketing info away in return for the free wristband. But it’s still well worth it – and who knows, you might just be inspired to buy tickets for the rest of the season, which ranges from “A Chorus Line” and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to Circus Oz and rock cellist Zoe Keating.
Noon-11 p.m. Sept. 22, 1-9 p.m. Sept. 23. Free (email registration necessary for entry wristband). Pantages, Rialto, Theater on the Square, Broadway Rehearsal Hall and other venues at Broadway and South 9th Streets, Tacoma. 253-591-5894, broadwaycenter.org