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Originally published Friday, September 13, 2013 at 5:04 AM

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What’s opening, what’s ending on Seattle stages soon

A look at some of the promising new theater productions debuting in Seattle, as well as some nearing the end of their runs.

Seattle Times theater critic

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As some shows of note prepare for their final curtain, others are getting ready to take their first bows. Here’s a look at what is coming and going over the next week on local stages:

PLAYS

Coming: “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”

The Seattle debut of Rajiv Joseph’s offbeat Broadway drama focusing on a pair of Marines, an Iraqi translator and their intense encounter with a zoo tiger who roams the streets of Baghdad in wartime begins Washington Ensemble Theatre’s (WET) new season. WET co-founder Michael Place directs a cast headed by accomplished Mike Dooly as the philosophical tiger — and his ghost on the prowl.

Through Oct. 7 at WET, Seattle (206-325-5105 or washingtonensemble.org).

“The Matchmaker”

You won’t be hearing a chorus of “Hello, Dolly!” in this Taproot Theatre production of the Thornton Wilder comedy that inspired that musical. But you will become acquainted with Dolly Levi, chief yenta of Old Yonkers, as she engages in a farcical plot to marry off a curmudgeonly (and rich) businessman whom she might just nab for herself. Featuring Taproot co-founder Pam Nolte as Dolly.

Wednesday-Oct. 19 at Taproot Theatre, Seattle (206-781-9707 or taproottheatre.org).

Going: “ The Realm of Whispering Ghosts”

K.C. Brown’s play imagines an encounter between President Truman and physicist Albert Einstein, as Truman was deliberating over the atomic-bomb attack on Japan that ended World War II.

Director Arne Zaslove and his Hit and Run company blend Japanese Noh theater accents, original music and projections to convey their what-if drama.

Through Sunday at Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse, Seattle (800-838-3006 or brownpapertickets.com).

MUSICALS

Coming: “Xanadu”

Village Theatre opens its 2013-2014 season with, yes, that show based on that 1980 disco-lite movie camp-classic starring Olivia Newton-John as a goddess who whooshes into Los Angeles on roller skates and falls for a hunky airhead artist.

If it sounds like pure silliness, it is, but writer Douglas Carter Beane has embellished the Broadway musical version with a lot of gags and sharp wisecracks.

The Village’s production stars local light Jessica Skerritt as the goddess, Skerritt’s real-life husband, Dane Stokinger, as her human paramour, and former Seattleite Lisa Estridge-Gray returns to play Melpomene, a muse with attitude.

Through Oct. 20 at Village Theatre, Issaquah (425-392-2202 or villagetheatre.org ).

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”

Another show based on a movie, this one is a buddy-musical comedy about a pair of high-stakes con artists whose rivalry on the French Riviera sparks a competition to get a seemingly naive young heiress to part with a large chunk of change.

Seattle Musical Theatre, now under new management, kicks off its 2013-2014 season with the shtick-laden romp.

Through Oct. 6, Seattle Musical Theatre, Seattle (800-838-3006 or seattlemusicaltheatre.org ).

Going: “Les Miserables”

It won’t be easy scoring a ticket to Balagan Theatre’s compact but potent staging of the epic musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel. It’s worth trying, though, just to hear the hearty young ensemble chorus and watch Broadway veteran and Balagan artistic head Louis Hobson’s thoughtful, stirring performance as the hunted ex-con Jean Valjean.

Through Sept. 28 at Erickson Theatre, Seattle (206-329-1050 or balagantheatre.org).

FESTIVALS

Coming: Seattle Fringe Festival

The latest incarnation of this do-it-yourself jamboree is a five-day affair with more than 20 eclectic shows by groups and solo artists from Seattle, Chicago, Portland, New York and other theatrical hubs. Performances are offered at four Capitol Hill venues: Annex Theatre, Northwest Film Forum, Richard Hugo House and Eclectic Theatre. See website for calendar and ticket info.

Wednesday through Sept. 22 in Seattle ( www.seattlefringefestival.org ).

Going: Intiman Theatre Festival

Intiman’s second summer-play fest offers its final performances this weekend. If you haven’t seen them yet, we recommend catching the searing “Trouble in Mind,” a rewarding serio-comedy from the 1950s by Alice Childress, which uses theater as a metaphor for the American racial divide that persists to this day, and “Stu for Silverton,” an ingratiating new musical about small-town bigotry and tolerance set in an Oregon hamlet that has repeatedly elected a transgender mayor.

Through Sunday at Cornish Playhouse, Seattle Center (206-726-5190 or intiman.org).

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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