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A Theatre Lover's Guide to DC/Capital Area Theatres - December Offerings

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As we wait for the first snowflakes to transform our nation's capital into a winter wonderland, the DC area theatres are giving families so many holiday-themed shows to choose from. Here are some productions which will make the holidays very jolly indeed!

I ho-ho-hope you will bring your families to see one or more of these joy-filled shows!

Happy holidays to all of you, and wishing you a happy and healthy, and theatre-filled  2010.

SPECIAL EVENT

Zero Hour opens Off-Broadway at The Theatre at St. Clements

Jim Brochu had the DC audiences and critics raving about his uncanny, powerful, and hilarious performance as Broadway legend and three-time Tony Award winner Zero Mostel, when he performed his one-man show Zero Hour at Theater J, in the DCJCC this past August and September. Now, New York audiences will have a chance to see Jim's amazing performance through January 31st at The Theatre at St. Clement's - 423 West 46th Street. Don't miss it!

I was so lucky to have sat down with Jim and his director, the legendary Piper Laurie (Yes! That evil mother in "Carrie") when they were in DC, and we recorded a very funny interview, which became two funny podcasts. Both Jim and Piper have been in the theatre business for many decades, and the stories they tell in these interviews about Barbra Streisand, Lucille Ball, "Carrie", some of their theatre "bombs" and successes, and writing, performing and directing Zero Hour - are priceless. You can hear part one here (on Zero Mostel and Zero Hour) and part two (show biz stories) here. Wishing you a long and successful NY run Jim and Piper!

OPENING IN DECEMBER - MUST-SEES

The Solid Gold Cadillac, from December 2nd, through January 10th, at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC.

I'm so happy Studio Theatre has decided to produce a "feel-good farce" for the holidays by staging Howard Teichmann and George S. Kaufman's classic American comedy The Solid Gold Cadillac. I've been waiting for it to open because whenever multiple Helen Hayes Award winning actress Nancy Robinette is on the stage, it's like receiving a Christmas gift, and what better way to show Nancy's great comedic talents than to have her play the role of the feisty Laura Partridge.

Here's how Studio Theatre describes the show: "When Laura Partridge raises her hand at a shareholders' meeting in the first scene of The Solid Gold Cadillac, she seems harmless enough. But with one simple question about the Chairman of the Board's salary, she sends the money--grubbing leadership of General Products into a tailspin. To stop her from prying any further, the executives offer Mrs. Partridge a job as Director of Stockholder Relations--a made-up title with not much behind it. Unfortunately for them, Partridge never stops poking around. And soon enough, the little old lady turns their executive world upside down". You can only imagine how Ms, Robinette will turn this production and her cast members upside down!

Director Paul Mullins has cast a fine group of local favorites - including Michael Goodwin, David Sabin, and James Slaughter, Paul Nolan, and Leo Erickson.Watch director Mullins tell the very funny story of how Kaufman and Teichman met and wrote the  play. I'm sure we are in for a smooth, laugh-filled ride.

The Snow Queen, from December 5th, through January 10th, at Synetic Family-Classika Theatre in Arlington, Virginia.

Synetic Theater has been collecting Helen Hayes Awards in the past 5 years for its productions that "fuse the classical elements of drama, movement, dance, mime, and music into a distinct form of non-realistic theater". But, what many local theatergoers don't know is that the talent behind Synetic's success also contributes to their children's  theatre called Classika Theatre. Their wonderful productions have many visual treats also, and are always less than an hour - perfect for its young audience members. For this holiday season, Classika is offering The Snow Queen - based on the1845 fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson about young Gerda who is trying to find her lost brother Kai.

The production, directed by Lilia Slavova, is a collaboration between Classika and puppet artists from the Varna National Theatre in Bulgaria. The cast members who double as puppeteers are: Actors/Puppeteers: Morgaine Gooding (Snow Queen, Princess, Robber Girl, and Goblin), June Schreiner (Gerda and Goblin), Sean Pedersen (Kai, Robber Boy, and Goblin), Petko Kolev (Storyteller, Crow, Old Robber, and Old Goblin), Sarah Thomas (Granny, Robber Leader, and Goblin), and Alex Vernon (Kai, Prince, Robber, Crow, Reindeer, and Goblin).

The kids will love the dancing trolls, reindeers, crows and ravens, robbers and a sorceress, all created by actors pulling the strings of Bunraku style puppets and wearing colorful masks. Sounds like great fun!

Teddy Roosevelt & the Ghostly Mistletoe, from December 5th through December 30th, at the Kennedy Center Family Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Why not take the kids and grand kids to see a world premier musical about President Teddy Roosevelt and his kids? This holiday sequel to their 2006 hitTeddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major is called Teddy Roosevelt and the Ghostly Mistletoe. Yes, it's "inspired" by that famous Dickens Christmas novel, but this time. the President's kids: Ethel, Kermit, and Archie want a Christmas Tree in the White House, and Dad - being the famous conservationist - axes the idea. Well, you know kids rarely listen, and havoc reigns, as doors slam, ghosts appear, all while satirist/composer Mark Russells's score fills the Family Theatre. Will TR change his mind? Will the White House get its Christmas tree? Bring the whole family to the Kennedy Center Family Theatre and find out!

The funny script is by Tom Isbell. Two-time Helen Hayes Award winner Illona Kessel (for Ragtime and 42nd Street at Toby's - the Dinner Theatre of Columbia) provides the choreography, and the man responsible for keeping those kids and the President in line is director Gregg Henry.

Another great reason to take the family to see the show is also to see the colorful holiday decorations that will fill the Kennedy Center. It's always eye-popping here at Christmas time. Bully!

The Little Engine That Could, from December 7th, through January 10th, at Adventure Theatre, in Glen Echo, Maryland.

I love the Little Engine That Could! I used to read this book to my nephews when they were little tots, and now Michael Bobbitt and his talented crew of actors and designers at Adventure Theatre are ready to put you on the right holiday track, when they present the DC area musical adaptation of this beloved children's book.

"I think I can--I think I can." Based on the well-loved classic book by Watty Piper, a little train carrying oodles of toys to all of the good boys and girls is confronted with a towering, seemingly impassable mountain. Can the Little Engine pull the train to the other side?" With the help of the audience, we will be shouting, "Yes he can!" "Yes, he can!"

The book has been adapted for the stage by James Larson, with music and lyrics by Stuart Kenny. And what a treat to see local director extraordinaire Jeremy Skidmore directing this holiday show. Kelly Mayfield is the show's choreographer, Darius Smith is the musical director, and Wayne Chadwick, the orchestrator. The design team includes Matt Nielson (sound), Dre Moore (props), Andrew Cissna (lighting), Eileen Garcia, (Scenic Designer), and Katie Touart (costumes).

The talented cast members are: Branda Lock (Morning Train/Little Engine), Jade Wheeler (Old/Freight/Shiny Trains), Javi Harnly (Clown), Davis Chandler (Hasty Bear),

Katie Brobst (Red Doll), and Chelsea Rae Abbate (Monkey).

 

Let's all chug-along over to Glen Echo Park to watch that little engine, and come early and go round and round and round on the historic Dentzel Carousel in the very fun Glen Echo Park.

Barbara Cook Spotlight: Karen Akers, on December 12th at 7:30 PM (one night/one performance only), at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre, in Washington, DC.

She is the chanteuse of my heart. Since I saw heard her sing "My Husband Makes Movies" and "Be on Your Own" in 1982 in the original production ofNine, playing Louisa - the ever-suffering wife of the always cheating director Guido Contini, I have had this long-time love affair with the exquisite voice of Karen Akers. I played the cast CD, so many times, that I wore it out this year, and had to buy another copy. In fact, when I told one of my former partners to leave my house for good, I played "Be on Your Own" in the background to make sure he got the message! That song really came in handy.



About Author

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Joel Markowitz Joel Markowitz grew up in Buffalo, NY. At a young age, between shoveling snow and eating hot Buffalo wings, he fell in love with theatre, particularly musical theatre. Moving to the DC area after graduating from Syracuse University, Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Social Group, where he leads groups to performances in the DC area, and theatre weekends in NYC and Philadelphia. This year, The Ushers is celebrating its 21st anniversary. Joel also coordinates Broadway Bound Meetup groups in the DC, Baltimore, and VA areas.

In May 2011, Joel became the Editor and Senior Columnist for Maryland Theatre Guide, after writing his popular column Theatre Schmooze, and recording interviews with DC, Philadelphia, and New York actors, directors, and composers for DC Theatre Scene for 5 years. Joel is also a regular contributor on the weekly NYC radio program ?The Lunch and Judy Show? where he talks with host Judy Stadt about theatre in NYC and the DC area. Joel is a fan of Stephen Sondheim, William Finn, Jason Robert Brown and Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. His favorite musicals include Ragtime, The Secret Garden, Spring Awakening, Gypsy, The Light in the Piazza, Sweeney Todd, The Last Five Years, and In The Heights. He is a huge supporter of children's theatre. Joel is also a Buffalo Sabres fan, so you may see him at hockey rinks, as well as at stage doors, where he schmoozes with the stars.


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