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

The Fall theatre season in the DC area is in full bloom. As the leaves are turning, there is a colorful group of shows opening this month. There are so many, so where do I begin? Here are shows that I am looking forward to seeing, and remember I am a musical theatre lover who likes to sprinkle in a play or two - here and there - so don't get mad if I don't choose one of the plays you are looking forward to seeing. You have your chance at the end of this article to share your "must sees" also with our readers. Hopefully, you'll make the trip down to the DC area to see some of these wonderful productions.

SPECIAL OFFERINGS

12th International Festival of Hispanic Theater, at Teatro de la Luna, from October 15th through November 21st , at Gunston Arts Center's Theatre 2, in Arlington, Virginia.

With works from Columbia, Argentina, Uruguay, the Dominion Republic, Venezuela, and Teatro de la Luna, this festival has something for every member of the family. Described as, "A one-of-a-kind spectacle as only you deserve! Enjoy the most evocative theater from our countries; the best of the Americas and Spain in this great festival of Hispanic Theater, with something for everyone's theatrical passion, every public, all ages and all tastes!". Every work will be presented in Spanish with English subtitles. Open your theatre horizons, and come to the festival. Traiga la familia entera al festival, inclusive los niños!

The Audience Choice Awards by The Audible GroupOver 12,000 local theatergoers voted for DC Theatre Scene's Audience Choice Awards. And here's your chance to hear The Audible Group's hysterical play they created just for the occasion, with the winners accepting their awards: "A huge crowd of DC Theatre fans have gathered, hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite nominees. Television cameras are trained on reporter Rona Slivers at the head of the red carpet, ready to give her usual biting fashion commentary...But what's this? No taxis? No limos? No stars? Where are all the nominees? No Hedman, no Hicken, no Hemmingsen? And what's that whispering??? Nancy Robinette has skipped town! Something doesn't smell right here-and the situation is also strange....Will the curtain on the Audience Choice Awards Show ever go up? Is this the end of theatre in Washington, DC? Get comfy and listen in as Hashell Dammitt solves The Case of the Empty Red Carpet." Listen in and enjoy!

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OPENING IN OCTOBER - MUST-SEES

Jersey Boys, from October 1st to December 12th, at The National Theatre, in Washington, DC.

We've been waiting a long time for this Tony Award winning Best Musical to make it to the nation's capital, so when the tickets finally went on sale, they disappeared faster than you could say, "Sherry Baby!" I am so glad that the show will be playing in the very intimate National Theatre. It will be nIce To see original Broadway cast member Steve Gouveia on the stage as Nick Massi, the role that Next To Normal's J. Robert Spencer played in the original Broadway cast. DC audiences, who have not yet schlepped to NYC to see the show, are in for a great time. Sixty members of my theatre going social group called The Ushers will be seeing the October 20th evening performance. Those tickets sold in less than an hour, faster than I could say, "Who wears short shorts". Oh, what a night (or day if you are seeing a matinee) you will have at The National Theatre!

Angels in America: Millenium Approaches, from October 3rd through November 21st, and Angels in America: Perestroika, from October 24th through November 22nd, at Forum Theatre at Round House Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland.

When Artistic Director Michael Dove announced a few months ago that Forum Theatre would be producing Tony Kushner's two-part mega epic and Tony Award winning Best Plays, Angels in America, the theatre community jumped for joy.

Featuring some of the DC area's most talented young and veteran actors - Ro Boddie, Daniel Eichner, Nanna Ingvarsson, Jim Jorgensen, Jennifer Mendenhall, Karl Miller, Casie Platt, and Alexander Strain, this could easily be the event of the DC theatre season! Part I: Millennium Approaches, will be directed by Jeremy Skidmore, whose bloody-good production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore at Signature Theatre had audiences squirming in their seats, and Part II: Perestroika, will be directed by Michael Dove, who directed the critically acclaimed The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.

I can't wait to see the "look" and hear the "sound" of the show, because some of the best designers in town - Colin K. Bills, Tony Cisek, Paul Frydrychowski, Elissa Goetschius, Heather Lockard, Matt M. Nielson, Ivania Stack, and Jesse Terrill - are working on these productions. Because of all the incredible talent involved in these two productions, we are guaranteed two powerful productions

Jane Krakowski, on October 3rd at 7:30 PM and 9:30 PM - for one night only - at the Barbara Cook Spotlight, at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Before TV watchers knew her as Jenna Maroney on NBC's 30 Rock, I watched Jane Krakowski act and dance and sing her heart out on Broadway. I first saw Jane on the stage roller-skating as Dinah The Dining Car in Starlight Express, as the adorable "Barcelona" flight attendant April in The Roundabout 1995 revival of Company, and then in one of my favorite musicals - Grand Hotel - belting out "I Want To Go To Hollywood", playing the "I-wanna-be-a-star" Flaemmchen, and as the funny Lady Larken in the 1996 revival of Once Upon A Mattress. But who can forget her sexy portrayal of Carla in the revival of Nine, which won her a well-deserved Tony Award? With that incredible voice, and that energetic and magnetic personality, audiences will have a great time with this sassy performer in The Terrace Theatre on October 3rd.

Hysteria, from October 7th through November 1st, at Rep Stage, at Howard Community College, in Columbia, Maryland. 

Hello Dali! I missed last May's production of Hysteria at The Wilma in Philadelphia, so I'm glad I will get a chance to see it performed in Columbia, Maryland. Rep Stage follows its fantastic production of Wittenberg with another off-the-wall show - Terry Johnson's zany Hysteria. It's advertised as "All hell breaks loose when Sigmund Freud's final days battling cancer are interrupted by Salvador Dali and an attractive young student in this rollicking farce that bares Freud's own troubled psyche." When two-time Helen Hayes Award-winning actor Bruce Nelson plays Salvador Dali, you gotta run and see him. Jeff Baker plays Freud, and Conrad Feininger and Marni Penning round out the incredible cast. Steven Carpenter directs.

Evil Dead The Musical, from October 8th through November 1st,  at Landless Theatre Company, at the District of Columbia Arts Center (DCAC), in Washington, DC.

I sat in the "splatter zone", in New World Stages in NYC in February 2007, to watch the midnight show of Evil Dead The Musical, and was soaked by fake blood, even though I was given a plastic cover to protect myself. I didn't care - I had a blast! I even bought a "I Survived the Splatter Zone" T-Shirt after the show, and got to podcast blood-soaked cast member Brandon Wardell after the show - at about 1 AM in the morning. The book and lyrics by George Reinblatt and music by Frank Cipolla, Christopher Bond, Melissa Morris, and George Reinblatt were goofy and really silly. Who knew?

It's a good thing that Landless Theatre Company and Baughman brothers Matt and Andrew, and his wife Melissa (who is directing the show), and choreographer Karissa Lynn Swanigan - are getting their creative hands on Evil Dead The Musical, and since this is right up their alley, they will do a bloody good job! The multi-tasking cast will be: as Linda - Natalie Pyle, as Cheryl - Karissa Lynn Swanigan, as Shelly/Annie - Zehra Fazal, as Ash - Clay Comer, as Scott - Matt Baughman, as Ed- Mickey DaGuiso (who is also serving as Musical Director), as Jake/Moose - Andrew Lloyd Baughman, and as Hand/Dead Shelly/Puppeteer - Jen Tonon, who has also designed the special effects with Steven A. Grainger. Jared Davis has designed, according to Artistic Director Andrew Baughman, "Landless Theatre's biggest set yet!" Elizabeth Reeves has designed the costumes and puppets. In the very small "in your face" DCAC performance space - the silly jokes, the outrageous lyrics, and that gross red stuff will be overflowing. There will be no place to escape!  

Adding Machine: A Musical, from  Oct. 14th through November 1st, in Stage 4 at Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

I loved Adding Machine: A Musical when I took The Ushers to see it when it played at The Minetta Lane Theatre in the summer of 2008. Now, Studio Theatre, who brought us the eye-popping Jerry Springer-The Opera last year, brings us this very calculating musical. Based on the famous Elmer Rice play, the show has a wonderful score by Joshua Schmidt, and a libretto by Jason Loewith and Mr. Schmidt. We are very fortunate to have Jason here in DC to direct the Studio Theatre production, and I can't wait to see how he does it, and how similar or different this production will be from the show I saw in NYC.

We are in good hands knowing that Helen Hayes Award-winning musical director (for Titanic: The Musical at Toby's Columbia) Christopher Youstra, who also musical directed Jerry Springer: The Opera at Studio Theatre, is in charge of the orchestra. Designer Debra Booth will turn the small Stage 4 space into a thrust for this production. And what a great cast: Featuring: David Benoit (Mr. Zero), Joanne Schmoll (Mrs. Zero), Kristin Jepperson (Daisy), Stephen Gregory Smith (Shrdlu), Dan Via (Boss/Fixer/Charles), and Channez McQuay, Katie Nigsch, Joe Peck, and Thomas Adrian Simpson, as the Quartet.

"Elmer Rice's expressionistic masterpiece re-imagined in a stunning new musical! After losing his job to a machine, Mr. Zero's monotonous life swirls into chaos. With jangling, percussive music reflecting period influences - including early-20th-century modernists, Tin Pan Alley and gospel - this work conjures a vision of American life in the 1920s at odds with that decade's popular image as a happy-go-lucky era ended only by the Depression. It is a vision that feels eerily in tune with our own unsettled economy".

Dracula, from October 16th to November 15th, at Synetic Theater at The Rosslyn Spectrum, in Arlington, Virginia.

You've never seen anything like it! With stunning visuals and choreography, and a heart-pulsing score and no (shh!) talking, Synetic Theater recreates and updates their 2005 production of Dracula with more "bite". "Dan Istrate performs the title role as The Count. There are "vampiric wolves howling in the Transylvanian night and the erotic blood-lust of the demonic Count and his consorts". The only way to show you what a Synetic production looks and feels like - is for you to watch this trailer from Synetic's 2005 production of Dracula.

And as a special offer, join Synetic Theater for their Vampire's Ball on Halloween Night - Saturday, October 31, 2009. In addition to seeing the show at 8 PM, the event features a live DJ-set by resident composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze, a Halloween costume contest, and a special Dracula-themed fashion show. Sounds batty - doesn't it? Tickets are $75 each, including a $30 tax-deductible contribution to support Synetic Theater. Wow! That sounds like a bloody-good time!

Lost in Yonkers from October 21st to November 29th, at Theater J, in the DC Jewish Community Center's Aaron and Cecile Goldman Theatre, in Washington, DC.

You can't go wrong with a very well written Neil Simon play in a Jewish theatre. Lost in Yonkers won the Pulitzer Prize and a couple of Tony Awards for its funny and heart-warming story of two brothers trying to stay sane with their Throw Mama from the Train-like grandmother, their charming but not too smart aunt, and their gangster uncle. I saw the 1991 Broadway production at the Richard Rodgers.Theatre 5 times. I couldn't get enough of the amazing cast which won Tonys for Irene Worth as Grandma and Mercedes Ruehl as Bella, and also starred Kevin Spacey as Louie, Lauren Klein as Gert, Danny Gerard as Arty, Jamie Marsh as Jay, and Mark Blum as Eddie. Why did I see it so many times? I could relate to being a kid trying to survive in a dysfunctional Jewish household, and I had a grandmother just like the tyrant who drove these two kids crazy!

Theater J has gathered a fantastic cast to play the meshuganah characters - two-time Helen Hayes Award Winner Tana Hicken, three-time Helen Hayes Award winner Holly Twyford, Lise Bruneau, Marcus Kyd, and Kevin Bergen, and two of the most talented young actors I have had the honor to watch and write about - Kyle Schliefer and Max Talisman. I can only imagine how much fun director Jerry Whiddon will have working with this talented cast. As Ira Gershwin wrote, "Who could ask for anything more?"

The Rocky Horror Show, from October 23rd to November 14th, at Kensington Arts Theatre at the Kensington Armory, in Kensington, Maryland. 

KAT is my favorite community theatre in the area, and they consistently sweep the local WATCH Awards, which are awarded to DC area community theatres. I can't wait to see this production because KAT musicals are always so professionally done. Of small theatres in the area performing classical musicals, KAT is the crème de la crème.




More On: Nancy Robinette, National Theatre, Ice T, S, teve Gouveia.

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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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