GWEN AND IDA is a work of fiction, a fantasy. Any resemblance to actual human beings is purely coincidental,' concludes the program for Gwen and Ida: The Object is of No Importance, currently at Caos on F Street. Of course, the lives of painter Gwen John and actordirector Ida Lupino could each make a full length documentary of serious importance with slides of John's elegant paintings and clips of Lupino's always forceful acting (They Drive by Night , While the City Sleeps ) and the 1964 episode she directed of 'The Twilight Zone' ('The Masks'), the only woman ever to do so. Instead, David S. Kessler has written his fantasy which cannot help but distort the significance of the women's lives and careers.BWW Review: TWO COMPANIES DEDICATE A BALLET EVENING TO ARTHUR MITCHELL at Kennedy Center Opera House June 3, 2019
The Miami City Ballet began its Friday Ballet across America evening with George Balanchine's Walpurgisnacht Ballet (1980), 'definitely the world according to Balanchine,' wrote Suzanne Farrell in her autobiography. The Miami ensemble got off to a ragged start, literally not up to speed, but once Principal Katia Carranza took the stage, in the role originated by Farrell, the ladies got with the program. Carranza combined necessary speed and technique with glorious attention to musical detail; every beat has been choreographed, and Carranza never missed one even if all she had to move was just a portion of an arm. Her cavalier, Rainer Krenstetter, added to his substantial elevation significant skill in landing--not only softly, but often exceptionally still. And by the time the Gounod score reached its feverish finish, the Corps de Ballet were at last working with the precision required for the final wedge formation; Balanchine's final image requires absolute solidity from the Corps as backdrop so that the sensational to the shoulder lift of Carranza by Krenstetter contains the power it's meant to.BWW Review: Choral Arts Society Of Washington Finishes Season In All-French Program At Kennedy Center Concert Hall May 20, 2019
When Scott Tucker, in his pre-concert introductory remarks before Sunday's Choral Arts Society of Washington performance, said that composer Florent Schmitt's style in Psalm 47 is 'off the wall,' he wasn't kidding. The 1903 setting for chorus, soprano, orchestra, and organ also includes brass, percussion, harp, timpani and sounds more like Mahler, Wagner, or Schonberg than the work of a man trained in composition by the always diplomatic innovator, Gabriel Faure. The gigantic, melodramatic, and ever dynamic piece--fun for musicians such as these, challenging, hard to sing, dandy--concluded an interesting program in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.BWW Feature: MICHAEL KAHN & FRIENDS, Off The Record At The Shakespeare Theatre Of Washington May 21, 2019
The fun of an evening such as this week's 'Michael Kahn & Friends, Off the Record: The Lansburgh Years, 1992-2007' derives from the relaxed, unscripted content provided by those who usually offer scripts to an audience. The three actors and one former administrative colleague who joined Kahn at the Harman Wednesday to visit memory lane required little prompting by moderator Tom Story to recall and reminisce about their work with the Shakespeare Theatre Company during the Lansburgh Years. Once Story asked each to remember his/her first meeting with Michael Kahn, a series of photos of past productions drove the evening of anecdotes.BWW Review: 14 at THEATRE PROMETHEUS April 29, 2019
The energetic Theatre Prometheus has skillfully mounted a timely production of 14, a play by Jose Casas in the 30-seat Caos on F Street space. Inspired by the deaths of 14 Mexican migrants in the desert bordering the USA and Mexico back in May 2001, Casas' play takes an unsparing look at the situation that has, of course, become worse 18 years later. He does it not by writing the stories of those who died (though he honors them by name); rather his characters live near the border, some in Mexico, others in Arizona, Texas, and California. Their stories combine to illuminate many facets of America's current argument/conversation about who gets to come into this country. The stalwart cast of four play 16 very recognizable people, each with opinions about and connections to that border. By concentrating on ordinary lives, Casas avoids politics and spotlights human behavior. Spending time with these 16 people is more informative than a long article in The Washington Post, as entertaining as reality TV, and frequently moving.BWW Review: CLOTHES FOR A SUMMER HOTEL at RAINBOW THEATRE PROJECT April 7, 2019
The second section of Bill T. Jones' Analogy/Trilogy, Lance: aka Pretty the Escape Artist, uses sound design, collage, projection, samples, a score by Nick Hallett, and quotations from Jones' conversations with his nephew Lance T. Briggs along with Jones' choreography to abstract Briggs' biography into this engrossing theatre piece. Jones shares choreography credits with his original cast. The strength of the dancers and the dancing surpasses every other element. The nine performers create scenes and episodes from Briggs' life: his audition for the San Francisco ballet as an 8 year old boy; his various cabarets and drag performances in New York and across Europe; his performance as a 'working girl' in The Castro.BWW Review: LA PALOMA AT THE WALL at InSeries At GALA March 25, 2019
The only wrong notes in La Paloma at the Wall, the current InSeries production at GALA, take place when the performers stop singing and try to act the clumsy script of this adaptation of the zarazuela, La Verbena de la Paloma (1894). No parallels exist between the migrant mother from Guatemala separated at the US border from her daughter and the charming people in the zarazuela, who exist in a rom-com that has an ugly sexist undercurrent. In a musical theatre landscape where Miss Saigon and Rent prove that musical forms can re-shape to refract their sources (Madama Butterfly and La Boheme) into absolutely contemporary adaptations, a way could exist for a zarazuela to connect a 21st century audience to current events via an earlier medium. But the script for this often lovely production never locates such a way. In the land of zarazuela, as with so much operetta and musical theatre, the lovers are united, and the bad guy is thwarted. But the current migrant situation at the border of the US and Mexico does not provide a parallel to such a satisfactory plot conclusion.