A Theatre Lover's Guide to DC/Capital Area Theatres - March 2010 Offerings
The DC area stages' theatre choices in March are dizzying! There's a new play by Terrence McNally at the Kennedy Center, and an off-Broadway gem at Signature Theatre. Adam Guettel's gorgeous Tony Award-winning harmonies will fill Arena Stage in Crystal City. Fagin and his orphans and zaftig Edna Turnblad and her daughter Tracy - will be singing and dancing at Toby's Dinner Theatre in Baltimore and Columbia, MD, and a blood-thirsty musical will be establishing roots at Ford's Theatre. With over 30 shows opening this month, come visit the DC area's 205 theatre venues, and have a monumental time!
SPECIAL EVENT: In the Heights, at The Hippodrome, in Baltimore, Maryland - through March 7, 2010.
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The DC area finally has a chance to see the Tony Award-winning Best Musical In the Heights, at the renovated Hippodrome, in Baltimore, MD, through March 7th. I have loved this show since it blew me away at 37 Arts in NYC, and the national tour is equally fantastic, filled with talented singers, actors, and incredible dancers, (some from the Broadway cast), all singing and dancing to award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda's score and Andy Blankenbuehler's award-winning, eye-popping choreography. My favorite performances were Kyle Beltran as Usnavi, Rogelio Douglas, Jr. as Benny, Sabrina Sloan as Vanessa, and Broadway veteran Natalie Toro, as Camila, who I had the honor of interviewing.
High Fidelity, which lasted only 14 performances in its original Broadway run, has been resurrected by Landless Theatre Company, which performs in a teeny-tiny space called the DC Arts Center (DCAC). I interviewed Artistic Director Andrew Baughman, actor Stephen Gregory Smith, and Director Julie Herber who talked about their new production..
OPENING IN MARCH 2010 - MUST-SEES:
(1) From March 4th to August 2nd, Hairspray, at Toby's - The Dinner Theatre of Columbia, in Columbia, Maryland.
Helen Hayes Award-winning Toby's - The Dinner Theatre of Columbia, is the first DC area theatre to mount a production of Hairspray, and I can't wait to see how Director Toby Orenstein and choreographer Mark Minnick stage the show in the round. They have a great cast to work with: Lawrence B. Munsey as Edna Turnblad, David James as Wilbur Turnblad, Jeffrey Shankle as Corny Collins, David Jennings as Link Larkin, and Celia Blitzer as Tracy Turnblad. These are all great singers and actors and they will sing the heck out of Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman's bouncy Tony Award-winning score.
I've seen Celia Blitzer's fine work in many productions in the smaller theatres in the DC area, and I'm so glad many theatergoers in the area will get to see her as she sprays her aerosol cans and dances up a storm as the chunky, beehive-wearing dancing wonder. Congrats Celia!
(2) March 5th to April 11th, The Light in the Piazza, at Arena Stage in Crystal City, in Arlington, Virginia.
It's one of my favorite musicals, and I listen to the cast CD every other week. When I heard that Hollis Resnik was cast as Margaret Johnson in Area Stage's production, I was elated. This nine-time Chicago Jefferson Award and double Sarah Siddons Award-winner was astounding as Edith Beale in Philadelphia Theatre Company's production of Grey Gardens last year, and I can't wait to hear her sing Adam Guietel's Tony Award-winning lush score, especially the show closer and eleven o'clock number "Fables"- on the Crystal City stage.
Hollis is joined by Margaret Anne Florence and Nicholas Rodriguez as young lovers Clara Johnson and Fabrizio Naccarelli. Director Molly Smith is directing an intimate, chamber version of the musical, which has a five-piece ensemble of harp, violin, bass, and cello, led by Music Director Paul Sportelli on piano.
I saw a gorgeous similar chamber production of the show this year at Philadelphia Theatre Company, directed by Helen Hayes Award-winner Joel Calarco, and starring DC favorite and two-time Helen Hayes Award-winner Sherri L. Edelen, who is currently starring as pie-baking Mrs. Lovett in Signature Theatre's Sweeney Todd. Sherri's husband, Thomas Adrian Simpson, will be playing Margaret Johnson's husband Roy.
I am a huge fan of Josh Konbluth, and I am looking forward to the world premiere of his new monologue at Theater J. When theatergoers pass the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery in the main lobby of the DC Jewish Community Theatre, on their way upstairs to see Josh's new show Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews?, they will see silk screens of famous notable Jews of the 20th Century by Andy Warhol. These portraits include the Marx brothers, Albert Einstein, Franz Kafka, Sarah Bernhardt, Sigmund Freud, George Gershwin, Golda Meir, and Sarah Bernhardt.
According to the Theater J press release, "When Kornbluth first saw Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century exhibited at the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco, he had a strong reaction to it, leading him to deface the exhibition catalogue. Kornbluth says "I put a Jewish beard and sidelocks and a yarmulke on him. I thought, if Warhol is going to Warholize the Jews, then I'm going to Jewify Warhol." Far from being upset, the museum commissioned Kornbluth to create one of his irreverent monologues about his Warhol journey." I can only imagine what Josh will do with this one!
(4) From March 11th to June 6th, Oliver, at Toby's - The Dinner Theatre of Baltimore, in Baltimore, Maryland.
If you only know the 1968 Academy Award-winning Best Picture, you need to go to Toby's Baltimore and hear the songs they left out of the film version of the musical Oliver, and see why Lionel Bart won the Tony for his wonderful melodious score. Co-directors Toby Orenstein and Shawn Kettering have cast some of the best singers in the DC area for this production: Andrew Horn as Mr. Bumble, April Blandin as Widow Carney, TJ Langston and John Morrison rotating as Oliver, Daniel L. McDonald and Tina Marie DeSimone (who is also choreographing the show), as Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry, Aviad Bernstein and Zachary McKinney, rotating as the Artful Dodger, and Alan Hoffman as the nasty Bill Sykes. I can't wait to hear April and Andrew belt - or should I say SCREAM - the hilarious "I Shall Scream".
Consider yourself lucky that Toby and Shawn cast in the role of Fagin the multi-talented David Bosley-Reynolds and in the role of Nancy - the singer extraordinaire - Maria Egler. What a pleasure it will be to watch the 'cuddly' David sing, "Gotta Pick a Pocket or Two", and "I'm Reviewing the Situation", and hear Maria raise the roof with her rendition of "As Long As He Needs Me". As every great song is sung beautifully by this amazing cast, you will be shouting, "Please Sir, I want some m-o-o-o-re!"
A special note to a special talent: Ari Goldbloom-Helzner - who recently wowed audiences in the role of Oliver at Act Two Performing Arts - is one of the orphans. Watch out for this kid. He'll be gracing our local stages for a long time.
(5) From March 6th to April 3rd, the Molotov Theatre Group will be presenting a 60-minute reduction of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, called Mondo Andronicus.
According to their website, the show "integrates stage violence and special effects". As for the violence, I'll have my can of mace with me, just in case. I can't wait to see how special those effects are. The show plays at The Theatre at 1409 Playbill Café, in Washington, DC.
If anyone would have told me that the historic Ford's Theatre would produce Little Shop of Horrors, I would have said, "Right! If that's true, then Audrey Two can eat me!" OOPS!
DC audiences will see a husband-wife team playing Seymour and Audrey - Christopher Kale Jones and Jenna Coker-Jones. But, the real excitement for me is all the great local actors/singers who comprise the rest of the cast: Felicia Curry (Ronnette), Eleasha Gamble (Chiffon), and Kara-Tameika Watkins (Crystal) as the incredible narrating trio; Helen Hayes Award-winner Christopher Bloch (Mr. Mushkin); and Evan Casey playing several mini-roles - Orin, Bernstein, Snip, and Luce. Audrey II's voice is provided by Elliot Dash, and manipulated by Scott Hitz and Marc Petrosino, who also play the Derelict. The cast is lucky to have Helen Hayes Award-winners Christopher Youstra providing the musical direction, George Fulginiti-Shakar conducting and playing piano, and Karma Camp choreographing this production. With a production team and cast like this, this Little Shop of Horrors will definitely grow on me and on Ford's Theatre audiences.
(7) March 12th to April 4th, Nights at the Opera: Golden Age, at the Kennedy Center's Family Theatre, in Washington, DC.
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After a tryout, and a successful run at Philadelphia Theatre Company last month, Playwright Terrence McNally brings Golden Age to the Kennedy Center to begin a celebration of his works that focuses on one of his favorite themes - opera - entitled "Nights at the Opera", which will also include productions of The Lisbon Traviata, (March 20th to April 11th), and Master Class (March 25th to April 18th), starring Tyne Daley as Maria Callas (an interesting casting choice, don't you think?)
"Golden Age takes place backstage at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris on the evening of the premiere of Vincenzo Bellini's I Puritani. Assembled are the composer, his faithful friend Francesco Florimo, and The Four Singers known the world over as The Puritani Quartet. Bellini thought this opera would cement his supremacy over his rival Gaetano Donizetti. It was to be his last."
The production's cast includes Rebecca Brooksher as Grisi, Jeffrey Carlson as Bellini, Roe Hartrampf as Florimo, Helen Hayes Award-winner Marc Kudisch as Tamburini, Hoon Lee as Lablache, Christopher Michael McFarland as Rubini, Benjamin Cook as Page, and Amanda Mason Warren as Malibran.
My friends in Philadelphia who saw the PTC production said it was a beautifully written and acted production with a wonderful cast. Walter Bobbie, known for his success for directing the Tony Award-winning revival of Chicago, has just come in as the show's director. Anything new by one of my favorite playwrights is a real celebration, and I am looking forward to seeing this intriguing new play, and I know that Marc Kudisch will be a joy to watch!
When an uncle and nephew write a children's musical about self esteem, you gotta love it, and I'm loving it already. Show-n-Tell is about young Vivian Loraine, (played by Elizabeth LeTendre) who refuses to take part in Show-n-Tell, because she has nothing new to show and tell about, because her father is out of work. The children teach Vivian that it's OK, and that she really does have something valuable to show and tell them about.
During these tough times, isn't this a wonderful lesson to teach kids? Get thee to the Ellington Theatre and bring the kids and grandkids, and your adult friends. It's a lesson we could all learn during good and bad times. Note: There are 10:00 AM matinees on Wednesday and Thursday, March 24th and 25th.
(9) March 17th to April 11th, My Name is Asher Lev, at Round House Theatre, in Bethesda, Maryland.
I fell in love with Aaron Posner's adaptation of My Name is Asher Lev, based on Chaim Potok's famous novel, when I saw local actor Karl Miller star in the lead role at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia last year. How lucky for DC theatergoers that Jeremy Skidmore is directing a cast of three exceptional actors: Alexander Strain, as Asher Lev, Adam Heller, as Man, and Lisa Bruneau as Woman.
Asher Lev is a young artist who is trying to find himself. He must choose between his "art and tradition". How does he repair the stressful relationship he has with his father - who is ashamed of Asher's choice of occupation, and deal with the Jewish community that scorns his art. It's a powerful play full of conflict, tears, emotion, and laughs. Don't miss it!
(10) From March 20th to April 3rd, Porgy and Bess, at the Washington Opera, at the Kennedy Center Opera House, in Washington, DC.
I saw the free performance of this production of while sitting on the lawn on the Mall five years ago, and now the Washington National Opera is reviving this critically acclaimed production of Porgy and Bess (Sung in English with English supertitles), which also played in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago.
Sometimes you'll see me walking down the street humming "Summertime," and "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'", so to hear them sung by gorgeous voices will be a real treat for me, because, frankly, my voice is "plenty o' nuttin'".
This production of Porgy and Bess is directed by Francesca Zambello, (known for her direction of The Little Mermaid on NYC) and conducted by John Mauceri. Morenike Fadayomi plays the tortured Bess, while Kevin Short plays Porgy. I'm looking forward to seeing Jermaine Smith's high-kicking performance once again as Sportin' Life. I am so excited to have the opportunity to listen once again to the brilliant music and lyrics of the Gershwin brothers - George and Ira. And to hear their work performed by such a brilliant cast in the Kennedy Center Opera House, well, "Oh Lord, I'm on my way to a heavenly land!"
Watch a video preview here of WNO's production of Porgy and Bess.
ALSO OPENING IN MARCH 2010
March 4th to March 21st, Some Girls, at norules theatre, at H Street Playhouse, in Washington, DC.
March 4th to April 10th, FIST: Fighting IMPROV Smackdown Tournament, at the Washington Improv at Source, in Washington, DC.
March 9th to March 21st, Summer at Nohant, Ambassador Theater at Flashpoint - Mead Theatre Lab, in Washington, DC.
March 11th to April 4th, Zelda at the Oasis, at Venus Theatre, at The Play Shack, in Laurel, MD.
March 15th to April 11th, Clybourne Park, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, in Washington, DC.
March 17th to April 10th, The Zoo Story, at Theatre du Jour at the DC Arts Center, in Washington, DC.
March 18th to April 18th, Dancing at Lughnasa, at Keegan Theatre, at Church Street Theater, in Washington, DC.
March 23rd to March 28th, The 39 Steps, at The Warner Theatre, in Washington, DC.
March 24th to April 25th, Da, at Olney Theatre, in Olney, MD.
March 26th to April 18th, Humble Boy, at 1st Stage, in McLean, VA.
March 27th to May 16th, The Fool at the Circus, at Synetic Family Theatre, in Arlington, VA.
CURRENTLY OPEN AND RUNNING THROUGH MARCH 2010 AND APRIL 2010
Through March 3rd, The Atheist, at Keegan Theatre at Church Street Theater, in Washington, DC.
Through March 7th, Gdirl from Gdansk, at Keegan Theatre at Church Street Theater, in Washington, DC.
Through March 7th, RENT, at Kensington Arts Theatre, in Kensington, MD.
Through March 8th, Orestes, A Tragic Romp, at Folger Elizabethan Theatre, in Washington, DC.
Through March 13th, Chumbale, at Teatro de la Luna, in Washington, DC.
Through March 14th, Bus Stop, at The Olney Theatre Center, in Olney, MD.
Through March 14th, High Fidelity, at Landless Theatre Company, at the District of Columbia Arts Center, in Washington, DC.
Through March 20th, Chicago, at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, in Alexandria, VA.
Through March 21st, Peter & the Wolf, at Imagination Stage, in Bethesda, MD.
Through April 6th, The New Musical Adventures/Flat Stanley, at Adventure Theatre, in Glen Echo, MD.
Through April 10tth, Henry V, at The Shakespeare-Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall, in Washington, DC.
(1) In the Heights tour cast. Photo Credit to Joan Marcus.
(5) Jermaine Smith as Sportin' Life, in Washington National Opera's production of Porgy and Bess. Photo Credit to Karin Cooper.
Joel Markowitz writes about theatre in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and New York for DC Theatre Scene.com. Follow Joel's Theatre Schmooze column here and his podcast interviews here.