A Theatre Lover's Guide to DC/Capital Area Theatres – July 2011 Offerings

There's a lot of 'steam heat' on DC area stages and outside, so if you're visiting DC for the annual July 4th fireworks extravaganza, stop by and see a show before you roast on the Mall waiting for the concert and loud "booms" to fill up the sky. And if you couldn't get into the sold-out Oklahoma!, Aquarium, Clybourne Park, or The Importance of Being Earnest - earlier this year - you have a chance now! And then there's The Capital Fringe Festival with dozens of new shows to choose from.

TOP PICKS -SHOWS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING IN JULY 2011

FROM JULY 7TH TO 24TH, CAPITAL FRINGE FESTIVAL.

With over 120 productions this year, the Capital Fringe Festival will have a little bit of everything – new musicals, comedy, solo performances, and plays, and some hits returning from last year or past Fringe Festivals. It's always exciting when you find a 'gem', but it can also be head-turning sitting through some really 'not ready for prime time' productions. But that's what makes The Fringe so much fun! Happy Fringing!

FROM JULY 8TH TO AUGUST 6TH, VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET, AT AMERICAN Century Theater, IN ARLINGTON, VA.

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American Century Theater is presenting Gore Vidal's 1956 play Visit to a Small Planet, which ACT calls "a comedy with keen and witty observations about American and human foibles.and lampoons the Cold War and world domination…In an ill-conceived solo alien invasion, the extraterrestrial Kreton lands his space ship in the middle of a suburban rose garden-the Speldings' home in Manassas, VA. Dressed in Civil War regalia and eager to join the Battle of Bull Run, Kreton soon realizes his time machine is off by a hundred years. But he doesn't return to his planet of intellectual, mind-reading superiors: he decides to take over the world." Doesn't this sound like fun?

Rip Claassen directs Bruce Rauscher (Kreton), John Tweel (General Tom Powers), Steve Lebens (Roger), Kelly Cronenberg (Reba), and Megan Gravesas Ellen, who play members of the Spelding family. Minnow Cronenberg plays Rosemary the Cat. Noah Bird is Conrad, Brendan Haley is the Aide, and Delton 4 is played by Tamra Testerman. The Technician roles are played by Kecia A. Campbell and Peter Johnson.

FROM JULY 8TH TO OCTOBER 2ND, OKLAHOMA!, IN THE FICHANDLER AT Arena Stage, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

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It's back! It was such a smash when it opened the newly renovated Arena Stage to sold-out houses, that Director Molly Smith is dusting off the 'surrey with the fringe on top' and bringing Oklahoma back for 3 months. Tickets again are selling like hotcakes!

Returning are cast members Eleasha Gamble (Laurey), Helen Hayes Award winner Nicholas Rodriguez (Curly), adorable June Schreiner (Ado Annie Carnes) high kicking Cody Williams as Will Parker, feisty E. Faye Butler as Aunt Eller, and Aaron Ramey as Jud Fry. Parker Esse's Helen Hayes Award-winning choreography is back, as is George Fulginiti-Shakar'a Helen Hayes Award-winning Musical Direction.

"This is not your mother's Oklahoma! Inspired by the toughness of the prairie, Artistic Director Molly Smith sets her production in the robust world of territory life filled with a dynamic cast as rich and complex as the great tapestry of America itself. With Rodgers and Hammerstein's timeless music, Oklahoma! celebrates the vigor of America's pioneering spirit with athletic dance and boot-stomping energy. Chock full of classic tunes such as "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," and "People will Say We're in Love," this muscular production will thrill audiences young and old".

FROM JULY 9TH TO 31ST, AQUARIUM, AT IMAGINATION STAGE, IN BETHESDA, MD.

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It was a hit this winter and now Imagination Stage and Lyngo Theater production, in collaboration with Sprookjes En Zo, are bringing back Aquarium for the kids to enjoy once again.

"Designed by artists from the Lyngo Theatre Company and using Imagination Stage actors, Aquarium invites you to be a part of this magical world created especially for the very young. With gentle music, beautiful puppets and props, the actors lead children and caregivers to an underwater world with a giant jellyfish; to a grassy patch where sheep love to graze; and to a garden where lemons create the sun in a let's pretend sky. Along the way, every child (and some of the grown ups, too) will have a chance to get in the act"

I saw the show this year and had a blast watching the children having such a great time becoming part of the action. Take the kids and grandkids to see it - just for the halibut! Watch a preview video here

FROM JULY 13TH TO AUGUST 7TH, POP!, AT THE Studio Theatre'S 2NDSTAGE, IN WASHINGTON, DC

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I'm a big Andy Warhol fan and I can't wait to see Maggie-Kate Coleman and Anna K. Jacobs' musical directed by the very talented Keith Alan Baker. And what a cast - filled with some of the most talented actors and singers in the DC area: Tom Story (Andy), Matthew DeLorenzo (Candy), Rachel Zampelli (Valerie), Deborah Lubega (Viva), MaryLee Adams (Edie), Sean Maurice Lynch (Ondine), and Luke Tudball as (Gerard). Hunter Styles is the Assistant Director. They are in good hands with Helen Hayes award-winning Music Director Chris Youstra. Helanius Wilkins choreographs.

"1968. New York City. The Factory. Art icon Andy Warhol has a new project - handing out empty paper bags to his friends, much to their bewilderment and chagrin. Their confusion is the least of his problems, though, since Andy's agreed to let his friend Viva star in the film he's making in The Factory, his mecca for Pop Art. He doesn't realize how jealous Factory poster girl, Edie Sedgwick would become at losing her place at the center of the camera frame. Meanwhile, aspiring playwright Valerie Solanis' patience runs thin with Andy when he fails to return her self-proclaimed revolutionary script. When Andy's new film doesn't make Viva the next Factory "it" girl, Viva also becomes irritated with Andy's lackluster acknowledgment of his friends' contributions to the success of The Factory. And when all three women find guns in those mysterious empty paper bags, this musical whodunit turns fatal." So Warhol-esque!

FROM JULY 14TH TO AUGUST 14TH: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, AT SCENA THEATRE, AT H STREET PLAYHOUSE, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

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Scena Theatre resurrects their sold-out hit production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest from last August. Fortunately, the entire cast and production team are being reunited for this remount, except for two supporting actor roles. The cast includes DC favorites Brian Hemmingsen, Anne Nottage, Sara Barker, Tyler Herman, Sissel Bakken, Stacy Whittle, Mary Suib, and Kim Curtis.

"Oscar Wilde's timeless tale of class and marriage both revels in and mocks the "double life." The main character Jack creates an alter ego personality to indulge in pleasure outside of society's mores. The play's plot is full of twists and turns, and many characters actually possess gender qualities typical of the opposite sex. So, SCENA Theatre celebrates these dualities with cross-gender casting. Strong female characters are played by men; stylish, effeminate male characters are played by women. A simple engagement proposal turns into a comedy of errors, and what was initially certain becomes deliciously muddled in this production's topsy-turvy world of gender bending. The production is re-set in the roaring 1920s to further celebrate a liberating era where many women were free to act like men - smoking, drinking, and copulating. In the end, patrons will realize that "all is not as it seems" on the surface. Artistic Director Robert McNamara directs.

FROM JULY 15TH TO AUGUST 7TH, BIRDS OF A FEATHER, AT HUB THEATRE, IN FAIRFAX, VA.

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I am a huge fan of Director Shirley Serotsky's work and penguins, so I am looking forward to seeing her direct her wonderful cast - Dan Crane (Silo), Matt Dewberry (Roy), Eric Messner (Birder), and Jjana Valentiner (Zookeeper), in Marc Acito's play Brids of a Feather - in the very intimate Hub Theatre.

"This comedy about nature and nurture interweaves two famous NY stories: the male penguins who raised a chick together at the Central Park Zoo and the captivating red-tailed hawks that made their home on the ledge of a luxurious 5th Avenue residential building. All the animals are played by actors, including the bird-brained humans".

I can't wait to see Robbie Hayes' set design and Deb Sivigny's costume design. And I'm not 'lion'.

FROM JULY 21ST TO AUGUST 14TH, CLYBOURNE PARK, AT WOOLLY MAMMOTH THEATRE COMPANY, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

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Bruce Norris' 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winner, and Woolly Mammoth's recent production of Clybourne Park just received the 2011 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Resident Play and Outstanding Director (Howard Shalwitz), and now it's also back! Directed once again by Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz, the production features Woolly company members Kimberly Gilbert, Mitchell Hébert, and Jennifer Mendenhall with Dawn Ursula Michael Glenn, Cody Nickell, Jefferson A. Russell, and Chris Dinolfo.

"A white community in 1950's Chicago splinters over the black family about to move in. Fast-forward to our present day, and the same house represents very different demographics as we climb through the looking-glass of Lorraine Hansberry's classic A Raisin in the Sun. These hilarious and horrifying neighbors pitch a battle over territory and legacy that reveals how far our ideas about race and gentrification have evolved-or have they?"

What a cast and what a play! It's time to visit the park once again.

FROM JULY 22ND TO SEPTEMBER 4TH, THE WIZARD OF OZ, AT THE PUPPET CO. PLAYHOUSE, IN GLEN ECHO, MD.

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They do some amazing work at The Puppet Co. Playhouse, and now they are presenting a new version of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. Here, unlike the 1939 MGM movie classic, "the Wicked Witch is a minor character, dispatched easily with humor, and adventures never seen in the movie are brought to this production. Set at the Kansas State Fair in 1900 - the year in which Baum published the original book - live actors tell a 'story within-a-story' using a wide variety of puppet styles, that recreates the characters illustrated by W. W. Denslow including masks, tabletop puppets, marionettes and moving-mouth puppets.

Dorothy, and her little dog, Toto, too, visits the Kansas State Fair, but Dorothy gets lost amidst the crowd. While her parents are being located, a few festival workers care for the young child and tell her a fascinating story about a girl, a scarecrow, a tin man and a lion venturing together to see a wizard who will give them just what they are looking for – even if they already have it."

The production is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the production was awarded the coveted UNIMA Citation of Excellence at the 2009 Puppeteers of America National Festival.

Bring the kids, grandkids and even Toto, too!

Watch a video preview here.

ALSO OPENING IN JULY 2011

From July 8th to August 7th, The Cherry Orchard, at Quotidian Theatre Company, at The Writer's Center, in Bethesda, MD.

From July 12th to 24th, Rock of Ages, at The National Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From July 15th to 6th, Caracalla Dance Theatre: Zayed and the Dream, at The Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From July 15th to 24th, Rumors, at Ypstart Crow, in the Gregory Family Theatre at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, in Manassas, VA.

From July 23rd to August 24th, Steel Magnolias, at Keegan Theatre at Church Street Theater, in Washington, DC.

From July 27th to August 21st, Grease, at Olney Theatre Center, in Olney, MD.

ALREADY OPEN AND PLAYING THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2011

Through July 3rd, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, At Keegan Theatre at Church Street Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through July 3rd, Bootcandy at Woolly Mammoth Mammoth Theatre Company, in Washington. DC.

Through July 3rd, Don Quixote at Synetic Theater, in Crystal City, in Arlington, VA.

Through July 3rd, The Glass Menagerie, in the Kogod Cradle, at Arena Stage, in Washington, DC.

Through July 3rd, The History of Kisses, at The Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through July 3rd, Night and Day, and Tennessee Continuum performed in rep at Washington Shakespeare Company, at Artisphere, in Arlington, VA.

Through July 3rd, OPUS, At Olney Theatre Center, in Olney, MD.

Through July 3rd, Reduced Shakespeare Company: Completely Hollywood (abridged), in the Terrace Theatre, at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.

Through July 10th, Next to Normal, in The Eisenhower Theatre at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.

Through July 17th, The Great Dinosaur Mystery, at The Puppet Company, in Glen Echo, MD.

Through July 24th, The Merchant of Venice, At Shakespeare Theatre Company, at Sidney Harman Hall, in Washington, DC.

Through July 24th, Venus in Fur, at The Studio Theatre, in Washington.

Through July 25th, A Midsummer Night's Dream, at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, in Ellicott City, MD.

Through August 14th, Rumple Who?, at Bay Theatre Company, in Annapolis, MD.

Through August 14th, The Wind in the Willows, At Imagination stage, in Bethesda, MD.

Through August 21st, Wicked, in the Opera House, at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.

Through August 28th, Anything Goes, at Toby's Dinner Theatre, in Columbia, MD.

Through August 28th, Charlotte's Web, at Adventure Theatre, in Glen Echo, MD.

Through September 3rd, Xanadu, At Toby's Dinner Theatre, in Baltimore, MD.

COMMUNITY THEATRE PRODUCTIONS I HIGHLY RECOMMEND

July 8th to 24th, Annie, at Rockville Musical Theatre, in Rockville, MD.

July 23rd to August 13th, Hairspray, at The Little theatre of Alexandria, in Alexandria, VA.

July 29th to August 20th, Ain't Misbehavin' at Elden Street Players, in Herndon, VA.

FESTIVALS

From June 10th to July 3rd, Source Festival, at Source, in Washington, DC.

______

Joel Markowitz writes about theatre in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and New York for Maryland Theatre Guide, where he is The Editor and Senior Columnist. 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. For five years. he wrote a column called Theatre Schmooze and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. Joel also writes a monthly preview of what's about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. His work can also be seen and heard 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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