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

The DC area is full of spring splendor with so many gorgeous trees and azaleas in full bloom, and our local theatres are filled with new colorful productions. So come visit the Nation's Capital and bask in the city's beauty and the power and joy of our local theatres.

NO MORE 'MUST-SEES'.

As of this article, I am renaming my "Must Sees" to simply, "Shows I'm Looking Forward to Seeing," naming some shows that I am personally looking forward to seeing every month. I will be praying that they will be worth the effort of writing about them here and schlepping to the theatres to see them.

MAY 2011 SHOWS I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING:

(1) MAY 5TH TO JUNE 4TH, THE GREEN BIRD, AT CONSTELLATION THEATRE, AT STUDIO, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

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I love commedia dell'arte and The Green Bird has a lot going for it including a great story involving a lovesick king, a greedy fortune teller, an insatiable sausage-maker, a seductive statue and a magicAl Green bird". And it has this and last year's Helen Hayes Award winner Tom Teasley providing live music.

The cast includes Katie Atkinson (Smeraldina), Katy Carkuff (Ninetta), Rex Daugherty (Green Bird), Misty Demory (Calmon), Gwen Grastorf (Pompea), Nanna Ingvarsson (Tartagliona), Ashley Ivey (Renzo), Emma Crane Jaster (Barbarina), John-Michael Macdonald (Tartaglia), Graham Pilato (Brighella), Manolo Santalla (Pantalone), and Matthew R. Wilson (Truffaldino). Allison Arkell Stockman directs this production.

(2) MAY 6TH TO JUNE 19TH, A TIME TO KILL, IN THE KREEGER, AT Arena Stage, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

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It's the first John Grisham novel to be adapted for the stage. It's adapted by one of my favorite stage writers - Rupert Holmes - and it's produced by Daryl Roth whose work I admire. "After an unspeakable crime is committed against his daughter, Carl Lee Hailey takes the law into his own hands. Now on trial for murder, Carl Lee's only hope lies with one young, idealistic lawyer who is outmatched by a formidable district attorney and under attack from both sides of a racially divided city".

The first John Grisham novel adapted for the stage, A Time to Kill asks audiences to consider the true meaning of justice". Another reason to see it? Erin Davie is playing Jake's wife Carla Brigance (I loved her in the revival of A Little Night Music) and Deborah Hazlett, who was so brilliant as Alison Moulten in Something You Did at Theater J – is also in the cast.

Watch a video of a rehearsal here.

(3) MAY 7TH TO JUNE 19TH, FOLLIES, AT THE EISENHOWER THEATRE AT THE KENNEDY CENTER, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

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Let's be honest - the real reason to see this multi-million dollar production of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's musical Follies - is for the extraordinary Broadway-filled cast that features Bernadette Peters as Sally Durant Plummer, Jan Maxwell as Phyllis Rogers Stone, Danny Burstein as Buddy Plummer, and Ron Raines as Benjamin Stone, and starring Elaine Paige as Carlotta Campion.

Music Direction is by James Moore, who conducted the huge orchestra of The Kennedy Center's production of Ragtime which transferred to Broadway (for an unfortunate short-lived run). The choreography is by Warren Carlyle, and the production is directed by local Signature Theatre's Eric Schaeffer.

Of course the question most often asked is, "Will this transfer to Broadway after its DC run?" Well let's first see how the critics react in DC, but with this cast – who wouldn't want to move this mega spectacle to the Great White Way?

Read my in-depth interview with Elaine Page here.

(4) MAY 10TH THROUGH JUNE 5TH, A YEAR WITH TOAD AND FROG, AT ADVENTURE THEATRE, IN GLEN ECHO, MD.

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I am so happy that this week's Helen Hayes Award-winning Adventure Theatre is producing one of my favorite children's music A Year With Toad and Frog. I have seen many wonderful productions of this musical and I have loved every one of them. I am sure Adventure Theatre - with the incredibly talented director Michael Baron at the helm – will present an e hoppin' good show. Theatre Music is by Robert Reale. Book and Lyrics are by Willie Reale, and it's based on the books by Arnold Lobel.

And what a cast! Sean Maurice Lynch plays Frog; Vishal Vaidya plays Toad; Jobari Parker-Namdar plays Snail, Lizard, Father Frog, Bird, Mole, Large and Terrible Frog; Ariel Vinitsky plays Bird, Turtle, Squirrel, Mole, Mother Frog, and Kirstin Riegler plays Bird, Mouse, Squirrel, Mole, and Young Frog.

"Arnold Lobel's well-loved characters hop from the page to the stage in Robert and Willie Reale's musical. It follows two great friends, the cheerful and popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad through fun-filled seasons. Waking from hibernation in the spring, they proceed to plant gardens, swim, rake leaves and go sledding, learning life lessons along the way, including a most important one about friendship and rejoicing in the attributes that make each of us different and special."

(5) MAY 11TH TO JUNE 5TH, AMADEUS, AT ROUND HOUSE THEATRE, IN BETHESDA, MD.

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I just saw a wonderful production of Peter Shaffer's Tony Award-winning Amadeus at Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia with the great Rob McClure, and I am looking forward to seeing Helen Hayes Award-winning actor Edward Gero as Salieri and Sasha Olinick as Amadeus at Round House Theatre. Steve Carpenter, Laura C. Harris, John J. Kaczynski, Helen Hayes Award winner Floyd King, Sasha Olinick, and KenYatta Rogers round out the talented cast. The production is directed by Mark Ramont.

"When your hard-earned fame has been surpassed by a brilliantly gifted, potty-mouthed golden boy, what else can you do but smile to his face while secretly plotting his downfall? Peter Shaffer's Amadeus… depicts the flamboyant genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as seen through the eyes of his desperately jealous contemporary, composer Antonio Salieri."

Read my interview with Rob McClure here.

(6) MAY 11TH TO JUNE 12TH, THE MOSCOWS OF NANTUCKET, AT THEATER J, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

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I loved Sam Forman's The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall at Theater J last year and I am so happy we will be able to see his new play - which sounds absolutely outrageous – called The Moscows of Nantucket. Again Shirley Serotsky directs Sam's play, so he is in great hand with this talented director. The cast is filled with local favorites: James Flanagan, Michael Glenn, Heather Haney, Bob Rogerson, and Susan Rome.

Here's the meshuga description: "Affluent, anxious and at each other's throats, the Moscows attempt some unusual family bonding over a summer weekend in Nantucket. On the agenda are brisket, booze and a blowout confrontation between competing brothers who've avoided each other for years. A fast-paced new American comedy with its heart in Chekhov country, from the author of Helen Hayes Award-nominated The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall." Pass the brisket!

Read my interview with The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall's Shirley Serotsky and Josh Lefkowitz here.

(7) MAY 12TH TO 28TH, THE WILD PARTY, AT TEATRO 101, IN BALTIMORE, MD.

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Teatro 101 is the best small theatre in the area that produces musicals – hands down! Their first two productions of Violet and Side Show were astounding and in their very small space – the actors are right in your face! Now they are producing Andrew Lippa's version of The Wild Party, which was a hit at The Manhattan Theatre Club in 1999.

David Gregory directs and music direction is by Cedric Lyles. Choreography is Katie Harrington. It's based on the Poem by Joseph Moncure March. The cast features Jamie Eacker as Queenie, Kevin McAllister as Burrs, Michael Robinson as Black, and Coby Kay Callahan as Kate, and a cast of partiers that include Jason Beall, Brittany Brainer, Vanessa Buenger, Erin Confair, Will Emory, CrystAl Freeman, Joseph Frollo, Sarah Gorman, Jimmy Heyworth, Josh Kemper, Lisa Pastella, and Angela Sullivan.

"The Wild Party captures the essence of a decadent and deadly all-night party in 1920s NYC. A potent cocktail of bewildered innocence & worldly cynicism at the fiery peak of the Jazz Age, this high-energy musical centers on two desperate, damaged lives spiraling downward, filled to the brim with sex, drugs, jealousy, betrayal, murder." It's not pretty, but done right it's one hell of a night in the theatre.

Read my interviews with Shelly Work, Amanda Rife on playing Daisy and Violet Hilton, and David Gregory on directing Side Show at Teatro 101 here.

Violet at Teatro 101 is named one of the Best Musicals of 2010, Katie Solomon is honored for her performance as Violet here.

(8) MAY 20TH TO JUNE 19TH, BY JEEVES, AT 1ST STAGE, IN TYSONS CORNER, IN McLEAN, VA

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Nobody ever puts this crazy musical on. It was hardly a hit for Andrew Lloyd Webber. It opened in London in April 1975 and closed after 38 performances. It was rewritten a year later and had a short Broadway run in 2001 (it lasted 73 performances), so it's brave of 1st Stage to mount a new production. But if anyone can do a wonderful production of By Jeeves - it's this small theatre company.

The show is directed by Stevie Zimmerman with Music Direction by Jeffry Newberger. The cast is: Bertram Wooster (Edward Nagel (Ted); Jeeves (Matt Dewberry);Harold "Stinker" Pinker (Paul R. Scanlan); Honoria Glossop (Katie Nigsch Fairfax);Bingo Little (Joshua Rosenblum);Gussie Fink-Nottle (Michael Shenefelt); Sir Watkyn Bassett (Tom Prescott);Madeline Bassett (Allison Leigh Corke); Stephanie "Stiffy" Byng (Ashley Batten); Cyrus Budge (JB Tadena).

"This daffy, dizzy and delightful romp of a musical inspired by the P. G Wodehouse stories of the same name follows the misadventures of Bertie Wooster and his quick-witted and unflappable manservant Jeeves. Cozy in style and fizzy in spirit, once the giggles start they rarely subside in this cheerfully convoluted tale of mistaken identity, romance thwarted and the triumph of love." Maybe it will work this time!

(9) MAY 20TH TO JUNE 19TH, THE B TEAM, AT LANDLESS THEATRE COMPANY, AT DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ARTS CENTER (DCAC), IN WASHINGTON, DC.

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I'm from Buffalo, NYC and any play that is set in my hometown is one I have to see, and since Landless Theatre Company is producing The B Team, I know it's going to be quite looney. The B Team is written by Dave Holstein, who is a writer for Showtime's Weeds, so there's a good chance there will be some really hearty laughs.

"Synopsis: The B-Team is a dark comedy that follows a crew of second-string terrorists from Buffalo, New York -- a leader with thumbs paralyzed in the up position, a militant homophobe, a bombmaker seduced by capitalism and a Jew who really hates his mother -- on their quests for love, approval, McNuggets and martyrdom."

The 'B players' are Nick Hagy (Mohamed); Matt Baughman (Ammad); Michael Greenan (Abdul); John Tweel (Sadiq); Evan Crump (Brian); and Rob Heinly (Abu). Bob Bartlett directs.

ALSO OPENING IN MAY 2011:

Through May 2nd, The Stephen Schwartz Project, at No Rules Theatre Company, at Edmund Burke School, in Washington, DC.

May 3rd to 8th, I'll Always Love My Mamma, at The Warner Theatre, in Washington, DC.

May 6th to 15th, The Merry Wives of Windsor, at Vpstart Crow, in the Hylton Performing Arts Center, in Manassas, Va.

May 6th to 22nd, How I Learned to Drive, at Synapse Theatre, in Gaithersburg, MD.

May 12th to July 3rd, Night and Day, and Tennessee Continuum performed in rep at Washington Shakespeare Company, at Artisphere, in Arlington, VA.

May 14th to 22nd, Henry VI, Parts I, II and III, at Lumina Studio Theatre, in Silver Spring, MD.

May 17th to June 3rd, Old Times, at Shakespeare Theatre Company, at The Lansburgh Theatre, in Washington, DC.

May 17th to June 11th, In The Blood, at theHegira, in Washington, DC.

May 19th to June 11th, As If it Were Tonight, at Teatro de la Luna, at Gunston Arts Center Theatre 2, in Arlington, VA.

May 21st to 28th, Swampoodle, at Solas Nua at the U-line Arena, in Washington, DC.

May 25th to July 3rd, Venus in Fur, at The Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

May 26th to July 11th, Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, at American Ensemble Theatre, at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, in Washington, DC.

May 28th to June 19th, Jack and the Bean-stalk, at 1st Stage, In Tysons Corner, VA.

May 30th to June 26th, Bootcandy, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, in Washington, DC.

ALREADY OPEN AND PLAYING THOUGH MAY 2011

Through May 7th, Stage Door, at American Century Theater, in Arlington, VA.

Through May 8th, Magnificent Waste, at Factory 449 at Flashpoint Mead Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through May 14th, Blues for an Alabama Sky, at African Continuum Theatre Company, at Atlas Performing Arts Center, in Washington, DC.

Through May 15th, National Pastime, at Keegan Theatre at Church Street Theater, in Washington, DC.

Through May 15th, From Berlin to Sunset: The 1940s in Hollywood, at The In Series, at The Atlas Performing Arts Center, in Washington, DC.

Through May 21st, LiberTy Smith, at Ford's Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through May 22nd, The Apple Cart, at Washington Stage Guild, in Washington, DC.

Through May 22nd, Art, at Signature Theatre, in Arlington, VA.

Through May 22nd, Chesapeake, at The Bay Theatre Company, Inc., in Annapolis, MD.

Through May 22nd, Farragut North, at Olney Theatre Center, in Olney, MD.

Through May 22nd, The Clockmaker, at The Hub Theatre, at the John Swayze Theatre, in Fairfax, VA.

Through May 22nd, The Race, at Doorway Arts Ensemble, at he Studio Theater of the Cultural Art Center Montgomery College, in Silver Spring, MD.

Through May 28th, George And Martha-Tons of Fun, at Imaginations Stage, In Bethesda, MD.

Through May 29th, The Day John Henry Came to School, at Imagination Stage, in Bethesda, MD.

Through May 29th, The Real Inspector Hound, at MetroStage, in Alexandria, VA.

ALREADY OPENED AND PLAYING THROUGH JUNE 2011

Through June 2nd, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, at The Puppet Co., in Glen Echo, MD.

Through June 5th, Cyrano, at Folger Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through June 5th, 42nd Street at Toby's Dinner Theatre of Baltimore, in Baltimore, MD.

Through June 5th, Ruined, in the Fichandler at Arena Stage, in Washington, DC.

Through June 12th, Happy Days - A New Musical, at Toby's Dinner Theatre of Columbia, in Columbia, MD.

Through June 12th, Side By Side By Sondheim, at Signature Theatre, in Arlington, DC.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED COMMUNITY THEATRE PRODUCTIONS

May 6th to the 28th, Jekyll and Hyde, at Kensington Arts Theatre, in Kensington, MD.

Through May 14th, [title of show] at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, in Alexandria, VA.

______

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 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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