A Theatre Lover's Guide to DC/Capital Area Theatres - December Offerings
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.
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
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.
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.
I have seen Karen Akers perform in Grand Hotel on Broadway a dozen times, in many cabarets, and at The Barns at Wolf Trap. And, now Karen will be in the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theatre for one night only, and this fan will be there to cheer her on. It's the best Chanukah present anyone could give me! Listen to Karen sing her two famous songs from Nine here:
Young Frankenstein, from December 15th, through January 10th, in the Kennedy Center Opera House, in Washington, DC.
The weekend of the infamous stagehand strike, I was in NYC to see 5 shows with a large group of members of The Ushers group, a social group for theatre goers I have been running since 1990 in the DC area. Five of our shows were cancelled, and the only show that still went on was Young Frankenstein.
OK, I didn't fall in love with the show that weekend, but with local friend and former Max Bialystock Brad Oscar in the cast, I'm looking forward to seeing The National Tour. And then there's the added treat of watching Tony Award winners Roger Bart and Shuler Hensley reprising their original Broadway cast performances as the Doctor and Monster. That's enough for me to want to return to Transylvania one more time.
I might be in the Guinness World Record book as the only person who has recorded an interview with the great and hysterical Judy Gold where she did not use one profane word! Judy Gold is one of the funniest human beings that walks and talks loudly on this earth. I can't wait to see her new show Mommy Queerest, when it makes a stop at Theater J, where Judy's 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother had a critically acclaimed run last year.
Unlike 25 Questions..., Mommy Queerest has music and songs, which Judy composed (Who knew she could compose and co-write lyrics?) and co-wrote with Katie Moira Ryan. The book is by Judy, Kate, Eric Kornfeld, and Bob Smith. And there's multi-media in it. (What does that mean?). They're advertising this show as Judy Gold's "hysterical take on being a working gay mom, anti-depressants, nursing homes, and raising two boys in New York City."
I can only imagine what we are in for, but I know I'll be laughing my kishkes off. I can't wait to experience more golden moments with the talented and assertive Judy Gold.
Stay tuned for my second interview with Judy. Will we set another record? I doubt it. This time is will probably be f-----g impossible!
Rent, from December 17th, through January 17th, at Keegan Theatre, at Church Street Theater, in Washington, DC.
I have seen more productions of Rent in the past two years than any other show. I've seen Rent the National Tour, two Rent School Editions, and one Rentcommunity theatre production. After sitting through these Rents I swore that I would never see another production of this show until I turned 75, but when I sat in on over 100 auditions for the upcoming production of Rent at Keegan Theatre, and saw the final cast for this upcoming production, I knew I had to put off my vow for now, and run to see this incredibly talented group of young actors and musicians bring Jonathan Larson's Tony Award winning musical to life.
The cast is chock full of actors and actresses who have appeared in many of my Scene Stealers articles - Emily Levey (Mimi), John Loughney (Mark), Katie McManus, (JoAnne), Weslie Woodley, (Maureen), Mickey Daguiso (Ensemble) and Christopher Mueller (Ensemble), and some actors who I will be seeing for the first time - Edward Daniels, (Benny), Parker Drown, (Angel), Michael Robinson, (Collins), and Juan Carlos Sanchez, (Roger). The talented ensemble also includes: Shayna Blass, Julia Fanning, Nick Lehan, Carolyn Myers, Christina Sanchez, and Dan Van Why,
Rent is co-directed by husband and wife team Mark A. and Susan Marie Rhea. Aaron Broderick is the Music Director, Kurt Boehm is the Choreographer,and Mike Kozemchak is the Band Leader. Eamon Coy is the Sound Engineer, while George Lucas provides the Set Design, and Kelly Peacock and Shadia Hafiz have designed the costumes. This is one Rent I won't mind paying.
ALSO OPENING IN DECEMBER
A Dickens of a Carol, from December 1st, through December 20th at Rep Stage, in Columbia, Maryland.
RECENTLY OPEN AND RUNNING THROUGH DECEMBER
As You Like It, through December 20th, in the Harman Theatre at the Shakespeare Theatre, in Washington, DC.
CURRENTLY OPEN AND RUNNING THROUGH JANUARY 2010
Camelot, through January 3rd, at Olney Theatre Center, in Olney, Maryland.
Disney's Mulan, through January 10th, in the Lerner Family Theatre, at Imagination Stage, in Bethesda, Maryland.
White Christmas, through January 10th, at Toby's Baltimore, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Annie, through January 24th, at Toby's - the Dinner Theatre of Columbia, in Columbia, Maryland.
Come visit our 204 theatre venues in the DC/MD/VA area, and see some of these great productions. You'll have a monumental time!
(2) Cast of Rent at Keegan Theatre. Photo Credit: Jim Coates.