A Theatre Lover's Guide to DC/Capital Area Theatres - February 2011 Offerings

With over 30 shows opening on DC area stages, there's lots to choose from for local theatregoers and visitors in February. There's a 'mash-up' festival, a puppet 'slam!', a Tom Stoppard play, the beginning of The Edward Albee Festival, and so much more! So come visit the Nation's Capital and join us for some outstanding theatre.

FEBRUARY 2011 MUST SEES:

FROM FEBRUARY 1ST TO THE 27TH, TOUCH, AT NO RULES THEATRE COMPANY AT THE H STREET PLAYHOUSE, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

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After their adorable production of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown wowed the critics, I cannot wait to see this young company's new production of Toni Press-Coffman's Touch at the intimate H Street Playhouse. The show is relocating to DC after a successful run in Winston-Salem's Hanesbrands Theatre. I'm looking forward to seeing Joshua Morgan wear the director's hat.

"Kyle loves astronomy and loves Keats, but most of all is absolutely and totally in love with his quirky and vivacious wife Zoe. When she goes out to run a quick errand and never returns, Kyle's world is turned upside down. Kyle leads us through this heartbreaking portrait of what it takes to rebuild one's life in the wake of personal tragedy".

Cast members include Lisa Hodsoll (Kathleen), Brandon McCoy (Bennie), Matthew Meixler (Kyle) and Sarah Strasser (Serena).

FROM FEBRUARY 2ND TO 20TH, CHARMING BILLY, AT ROUND HOUSE THEATRE, IN BETHESDA, MD.

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Round House Theatre's Artistic Director Blake Robison has adapted Bethesda, MD native Alice McDermott's novel Charming Billy for the stage. He also directs the production. I love a good 'unveiling the dark secrets' play so I am looking forward to being surprised.

"In a small Bronx bar, a funeral party has gathered to honor Billy Lynch. Through the night, his friends and family weave together the tale of a husband, lover, dreamer, and storyteller, but also that of a hopeless drunk whose immense charm was but a veil over a lifetime of secrets and all-consuming sorrow. Charming Billy is a masterful look at how a community can pin its dreams to one man, and how good intentions can be as destructive as the truth they were meant to hide".

The cast includes: Julie Ann Elliot, Conrad Feininger, John Feltch, Kate Guesman, Molly Cahill Govern, Mitchell Hébert, Erin Jacobs, Kathryn Kelley, Brianna Letourneau, Amy McWilliams, Kathie Mack, Jane Papish, Talia Silber, Michael Tolaydo, David Whalen, and Joey Wolf.

Read an article about Charming Billy in The Bethesda Magazine here.

FROM FEBRUARY 3RD TO MARCH 6TH, ON THE RAZZLE, AT CONSTELLATION THEATRE COMPANY, AT SOURCE, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

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I'm a huge Tom Stoppard fan and when a local theatre is producing one of his works, I run and see it. I'm thrilled that Constellation is mounting On the Razzle - one of the playwright's funniest works. Who doesn't love Stoppard's use of wordplay? His words are poetry.

"Two curious shop clerks seize the day and caper off to Vienna to find adventure and excitement. Passionate romance, run-ins with the law, mistaken identity, mayhem and all sorts of hilarious high jinx ensue."

Charlotte Akin stars as Gertrud, Fraulin Blumenblatt and Philippine. She was hysterical as the 'keeper of the sardines' in Keegan Theatre's recent production of Noises Off, Joining Charlotte are Joe Brack (Sonders), Katy Carkuff (Madame Knorr), Jennifer Crooks (Marie), Michael Glenn (Zangler), Heather Haney (Frau Fischer), Ashley Ivey (Weinberl), Drew Kopas, Charlie Retzlaff (Constable/Waiter #2/Ragamuffin), Joseph Thornhill (Foreigner/Waiter #1/German Man/Scotsman), and Abby Wood (Lisette/German Woman/Scottish Woman), and personal favorites Jim Jorgensen (Hupfer/Coachman), and Matthew McGloin (Christopher). Nick Olcott directs.

FROM FEBRUARY 4TH TO THE 26TH, MASH-UP FESTIVAL AT LANDLESS THEATRE COMPANY AT THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ARTS CENTER ('DCAC'), IN WASHINGTON DC.

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Landless is one of my favorite theatre companies in the DC area and when I heard they were doing a 'mash-up' I put it on my calendar right away to make sure I didn't miss it. "A 'mash-up' is a combination of two or more different parody plays." The Landless Mash-Up Festival is the brainchild of Chris Griffin, Co-Founder of Cherry Red Productions and founder of Hope Operas.

The production features the talents of four local playwrights and NYC based lyricist Randy Blair, along with four local directors and a host of actors. Two general audience appropriate plays will be presented on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM:

(1) Pii Wii's Big Poseidon Adventure by Jon Gann, and directed by Melissa Baughman. Pee-Wee and friends set sail on the SS Poseidon on her last grand voyage to ring in the New Year. During an elegant celebration, a massive tidal wave envelops the ship and flips her upside down. In an effort to rescue themselves, Pee-Wee leads a group of diners from the Captain's table to safety. Or is he really out to save his precious bicycle from certain rust? It features actors: Mickey D. DaGuiso, Ally Jenkins, Charlotte Hendrix, Amy Kellett, Andrew Baughman, Tony Greenberg, Richard Renfield and Tony Rizzo.

(2) All that Jaws by Kerri Sheehan, and directed by Andrew Baughman. A giant shark is picking off Fosse-dancing beach-goers in the waters off Amity Island. If word gets out on the mainland that there's a maneater in the water, Amity's only source of income, the tourists, will dry up. So while the mayor pretends there's no shark eating the tourists and that everything's fine, three men set sail to find the fish and save the town. It features actors Darius T. Epps, Tony Greenberg, Tony Rizzo, Mickey D. DaGuiso and Stefanie Garcia

Two late night productions, intended for adult audiences, will be presented on Fridays and Saturdays at 10 PM:

(3) Gleeam with book and music by Andrew Baughman and lyrics by Randy Blair, and directed by Emily Jablonski. A vaguely familiar high school glee club is under attack by a masked slasher. Will the culprit be apprehended in time for state finals?! A musical mystery satire. It features actors Chase Maggiano, Karissa Swanigan, Lucrezia Blozia, Ally Jenkins, Steve Custer, Cyle Durkee, Michael J. Perez, JR Russ, Anna Brungardt, and Oscar Caville.

(4) Tarxxxanadu written and directed by Chris Griffin. A place nobody dared to go - the Tarzan backlot where all-male, adult film company, Fruit Fly Studios is shooting their latest mastur-piece, Mannibal. When the music of a certain Australian superstar lures a wild man out of the bushes what are they to do but turn him into the next porn sensation?! As his star ascends everyone wants to know just where he came from ...and everyone wants a piece. Experience the magic that is Tarxxxanadu! It features actors Clay Comer, Karissa Swanigan, Chase Maggiano, JR Russ, Oscar Caville, and Ally Jenkins

Watch a video of what a 'Mash-Up' is here.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11TH AT 7 AND 9 PM, , 2011 PLAYHOUSE PUPPETRY SLAM!, AT THE PUPPET COMPANY, IN GLEN ECHO, MD.

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The Puppet Theatre Company does so many wonderful shows for young children. Parents - leave the kids at home and enjoy "A showcase of edgy and provocative puppetry vignettes by puppeteers of all kinds: Short, experimental works that might not be seen in other venues". At $15.00 – it's a bargain!

Pulling the strings will be Drew Allison, Don Becker, Ingrid Crepeau, Michele Valeri, Jill Kyle-Keith, Bob Brown, Christopher Hudert, Eric Brooks, Genna Davidson, Emma Jaster, Matthew Pearson and Terry Snyder.

Watch highlights of the 2010 SLAM! here.

FROM FEBRUARY 17TH TO MARCH 12TH, ONE FLEA SPARE, AT FORUM THEATRE AT ROUND HOUSE THEATRE, IN SILVER SPRING, MD.

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Forum Theatre is piling up the accolades and some Helen Hayes Awards for their wonderful and powerful work, including last year's critically acclaimed two part Angels in America. Now I get to see one of my favorite actors Alexander Strain direct Helen Hayes Award winner Andy Brownstein, and fellow cast members Davis Hasty, Nanna Ingvarsson, Sarah Taurchini, and David Winkler in Naomi Wallace's 1007 Obie Award-winning One Flea Spare, a "searing and bawdy Black Plague comedy that explores the limits of compassion in a tale about sex, class and disease.

"As the streets of 1665 London pile up with bodies, a rough-spoken sailor and a precocious young girl steal indoors, only to discover themselves quarantined for a month with the wealthy master and mistress of the house". I can't wait to be a flea-on the-wall in that house.

FROM FEBRUARY 19TH TO MARCH 7TH, INTERSECTIONS - A NEW AMERICA ARTS FESTIVAL, AT ATLAS PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

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With their motto: 'Break Boundaries. Create Connections. At Intersections', Atlas Performing Arts Center holds its second annual all-arts festival celebrating the 'artistic and cultural connections of our community and world'.

There are performances including theatre, dance, family shows, classical muic, film, and spoken word. Some of the theatre companies who are performing in the Festival are Arena Stage, Adventure Theatre, African Continuum Theatre Company's, Urban Artistry and Coyaba Dance Theater, Dissonance Dance Theatre, Factory 449: A Theatre Collective, The In Series, Scena Theatre, theHegira, and Theater of the First Amendment. Check out the full schedule here.

FROM FEBRUARY 23RD TO MARCH 20TH, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, AT OLNEY THEATRE CENTER, IN OLNEY, MD.

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OK - I've seen this Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical more times than the number of Joseph's brothers, but I still love it! There are many reasons to run and see it at Olney Theatre Center. The first reason is that Helen Hayes Award winner Eleasha Gamble returns to Olney to play the Narrator, (she first played the role in 1999). Eleasha recently 'saved the day' by coming in with 2 weeks to go and assuming the role of Laurey in Arena Stage's critically acclaimed production of Oklahoma! This Joseph… experience should be less stressful for her and will be a treat for the audiences who have the opportunity to hear her gorgeous voice.

Many Toby's Dinner Theatre talented veterans are in this production. Besides Toby's vet Eleasha Gamble, Alan Wiggins plays Joseph, Nick Lehan plays Levi, Kurt Boehm, Helen Hayes Award winner Parker Drown and Russell Sunday play other brothers. Mary Lee Adams, Jamie Eaker, Emily Levey, Ashleigh King, and Heather Marie Beck are members of the ensemble. Also in the cast are Joe Peck (Jacob and Potiphar), Stephawn Stephens (Reuben), Mardee Bennett (Judah) and LC Harden Jr., Vincent Kempski, Ben Lurye, Jeramiah Miller, and Andrew Sonntag who round out the cast of 'Jacob's brothers'. Helen Hayes Award winner Erin Driscoll and Sean Silvia round out the ensemble. .

Helen Hayes Award winner Christopher Youstra is the Musical Director and Wendy Seyb provides the choreography. According to the Olney press release Director David Hilder's vision for this production of Joseph 'marries the big-scale impact of the musical with the personal sentiment of the story'. Hopefully this means a colorful production. With this incredible cast, this Joseph… is going to be amazing!

FROM FEBRUARY 25TH TO MARCH 19TH, THE LAST FIVE YEARS, AT KENSINGTON ARTS THEATRE, IN KENSINGTON, MD.

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When I heard that recent 'Scene Stealer' Ryan Burke - who was hysterical as William Barfee (Barfay) in Montgomery College's production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – was going to play Jamie Wellerstein in Kensington Arts Theatre's production of The Last Five Years – I was ecstatic! I cannot wait to hear Ryan and Michelle Simon (Cathy Hyatt) sing Jason Robert Brown's glorious score. It's one of my favorites.

"A contemporary song-cycle musical that ingeniously chronicles the five year life of a marriage, from meeting to break-up... or from break-up to meeting, depending on how you look at it. Written by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, and Songs For A New World), The Last 5 Years is an intensely personal look at the relationship between a writer and an actress told from both points of view. The show is presented in "forward time" as we follow the story of their relationship from Jamie's perspective, starting with their first meeting and following through with their wedding and ultimate breakup. At the same time, Cathy relates the story in "reverse" - starting with their breakup and moving backwards in time until their first meeting at the end of the show. Made up mostly of solo turns, with beautiful music and alternately humorous and heartfelt lyrics, it is only in the middle of the show that Jamie and Cathy come together as Jamie proposes and the two are wed".

With Music Direction by David Rohde and Craig Pettinati directing – Ryan and Michelle are in great hands.

FROM FEBRUARY 25TH TO APRIL 10TH, WHO'S AFRAID OF Virginia Woolf, AT Arena Stage, IN THE KREEGER, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

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Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, directed by Pam MacKinnon, comes to Arena Stage with playwright Tracy Letts (August: Osage County and Superior Donuts) playing hen-pecked alcoholic George and Amy Morton (Tony nominated for her role as Barbara Weston in August: Osage County) playing his foul-mouthed wife Martha. Carrie Coon and Madison Dirls play the unsuspecting guests Honey and her husband Nick.

"You're invited for drinks with George and Martha. As wickedly hilarious today as when it first shocked audiences, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is an ingeniously funny play that packs a helluva wallop. What starts as verbal sparring at an impromptu cocktail party, devolves into a no-holds-barrEd Battle of wits and wills. With brilliant writing and some of the greatest characters ever created for the stage, Albee set a new standard for American theater with this sharp, vicious Molotov cocktail of a play". I'll drink to that! 

ALSO OPENING IN FEBRUARY 2011:

From February 2nd to 20th, An Almost Unholy Picture, at Rep Stage, in Columbia, MD.

From February 3rd to 27th, La cándida Eréndira/The Innocent Eréndira and her Heartless Grandmother, at Gala Hispanic Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From February 4th to 26th, Owl Moon, at Taffety Punk, at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, in Washington, DC.

From February 4th to 27th, Fuddy Meers at 1st Stage, in Tysons Corner in McLean, VA.

From February 4th to March 5th, Dead Man's Cell Phone, at Maryland Ensemble Theatre ('MET'), in Frederick, MD.

From February 5th to March 13th, Perseus Bayou, at Imagination Stage, in Bethesda, MD.

From February 7th to March 6th, Oedipus El Rey, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, in Washington, DC.

From February 8th to 12th, DRUID: The Cripple of Inishmaan, in The Eisenhower Theatre at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.

From February 10th to 11th, The Great Game: Afghanistan, in Sidney Harman Hall, at Shakespeare Theatre Company, in Washington, DC.

From February 10th to 28th, 24, 7, 365, at Atlas Performing Arts Center, in Washington, DC.

From February 11th to March 20th, Beyond Therapy, at Bay Theatre Company, in Annapolis, MD.

From February 11th to 13th, Ragtime, at Act Two @ Levine at The Figge Theatre at Georgetown Prep, in North Bethesda, MD.

From February 11th to 13th, The Gondoliers, at The Washington Savoyards, at Atlas Performing Arts Center, in Washington, DC.

From February 12th to March 13th, The Weir, at Keegan Theatre, at Church Street Theater, in Washington, DC.

From February 17th to 27th, Benched at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, in Washington, DC.

From February 17th to March 20th, Juno and the Paycock, at Washington Shakespeare Company, in Arlington, VA.

From February 17th to April 10th, Jack and the Beanstalk, at The Puppet Company, in Glen Echo, MD.

From February 18th to 20th, 46 Circus Acts in 45 Minutes, in The Family Theater at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.

February 18th to March 13th, Tether, at Doorway Arts Ensemble, in the Studio Theater of the Cultural Art Center Montgomery College, in Silver Spring, MD.

From February 18th to March 19th, Cymbeline, at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, in Ellicott City, MD.

From February 19th to March 12th, Basra Boy, at Keegan Theatre, at Church Street Theater, in Washington, DC.

From February 19th to April 3rd, The Magic Paintbrush, at Synetic Family Theater, in Arlington, VA.

From February 25th to March 5th, Slam Theatre 1.0, at Atlas Performing Arts Center, in Washington, DC.

From February 25th to April 24th, At Home at the Zoo, at Arena Stage in The Kogod Cradle, in Washington, DC.

ALREADY OPENED AND PLAYING THROUGH FEBRUARY AND MARCH 2011

Through February 5th, Aquarium, at Imagination Stage, in Bethesda, MD.

*Through February 5th, Twilight of the Golds, at Reston Community Players, in Reston, VA.

Through February 6th, Black Watch, at Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall, in Washington, DC.

Through February 6th, Magic at Washington Stage Guild, in Washington, DC.

Through February 6th, Tynan, at Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through February 9th, The Arabian Nights, In The Fichandler At Arena Stage, in Washington, DC.

Through February 12th, Beyond the Horizon, at American Century Theater, in Arlington. VA.

*Through February 12th, The Seagull, at The Arlington Players, in Arlington, VA.

Through February 12th, Under the Shadow of Wings, at Ambassador Theatre, at Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint, in Washington, DC.

Through February 13th, Let Me Down Easy, in The Kreeger, At Arena Stage, In Washington, DC.

Through February 13th, Marcus, or The Secret of Sweet, at The Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through February 13th, Mirandy and Brother Wind, at Adventure Theatre, in Glen Echo, MD, and from February 25th to March 13th at Atlas Performing Arts Cnter, in Washington, DC.

Through February 13th, Sunset Boulevard, At Signature Theatre's Max Theatre, In Arlington, VA.

Through February 13th, The Carpetbagger's Children, at Ford's Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through February 13th, The Velveteen Rabbit, at The Puppet Company, in Glen Echo, MD. 

*Through February 19th, Frozen, at The Elden Street Players, in Herndon, VA.

Through February 19th, Requiem for a Heavyweight, at Heritage-O'Neil Theatre, in Silver Spring, MD.

Through March 6th, Cymbeline, at Shakespeare Theatre Company's Lansburgh Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through March 6th, I Left My Heart: A Salute to The Music of Tony Bennett, at Toby's Dinner Theatre of Columbia.

Through March 6th, The Comedy of Errors, at The Folger Elizabethan Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through March 13th, His Eye is on the Sparrow, at MetroStage, in Alexandria, VA.

Note: *Community Theatre productions I recommend seeing in February.

PHOTOS

(1) Matthew Meixler (Kyle) and Lisa Hodsoll (Kathleen) look for Jupiter in No Rules Theatre Company's production of Touch. Photo by Daniel Kelly Photography.

(2) Artwork from Charming Billy at Round House Theatre.

(3) Heather Haney (Frau Fischer) and Matthew McGloin (Christopher) in On the Razzle at Constellation Theatre Company.

(4) The Cast of All That Jaws from Landless Theatre Company's Mash-Up Festival. From L to R: Amy Kellett, Darius T. Epps, Stefanie Garcia, Bruce The Shark, Richard Renfield, Tony Greenberg, Charlotte Hendrix, Ally Jenkins, and Tony Rizzo.

(5) Artwork from The Puppet Company's Playhouse Puppetry Slam!

(6) Artwork from Olney Theatre Center's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

(7) Artwork from Atlas Performing Arts Center's Intersections - A New American Arts Festival.

(8) Artwork from Kensington Arts Theatre's The Last 5 Years.

(9) Left to right: Carrie Coon, ensemble member Tracy Letts, Madison Dirks and ensemble member Amy Morton in Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Photo by Michael Brosilow.
____

Joel Markowitz writes about theatre in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and New York for DC Theatre Scene. Follow Joel's Theatre Schmooze column here and his podcast interviews here. He is a regular guest on The Lunch and Judy Show radio program starring Judy Stadt on Positive World Radio Network and can be heard on WTBQ 1110 AM in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, and co-organizes Broadway Bound Meetup. Joel also writes a monthly preview of what's about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. His work can also be seen in "Columns" and "Podcast" on BroadwayStars.

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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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