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

While the cherry blossoms are blooming - over 30 productions will be taking root on DC area stages in April. So come visit the Nation's Capital and see a show or two or more. There's something playing for everyone.

APRIL 2011 MUST-SEES:

(1) FROM APRIL 1ST TO 10TH, DOKTOR KABOOM!, AT THE KENNEDY CENTER'S FAMILY THEATER, IN WASHINGTON, DC. 

You look at David Epley in the video below and on his website and you just know you want to spend some time with him. He has beaucoup personality and he looks like a barrel of fun. His three passions are science, math (the two subjects that weren't my favorites in school) and performing. David attended the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, and then for over two decades - he wrote, performed and directed original interactive comedy.

"Doktor Kaboom! is an amazing educational tour of the modern scientific method, using humor and comedy while demonstrating spectacular applications of the physical sciences. Doktor Kaboom! is an interactive one-man Science variety show suitable for all audiences. He now brings his passions together with an explosive style that refuses to allow his audiences time to catch a breath" With a name like Kaboom, you know David's show will be a blast!

Watch videos of Dr. Kaboom here. Dr. Kaboom!'s website is here.

(2) FROM APRIL 2ND TO 10TH, SAUDADE: SONGS OF LONGING & CELEBRATION, AT THE IN SERIES AT SOURCE, WASHINGTON, DC.  

The In Series continues its wonderful season with a special anniversary event. Director and spoken word artist Jenifer Deal, vocalist/instrumentalist Cecilia Esquivel, Guitarist Dani Cortaza, bassist Ephriam Wolfolk, and pianist (Artistic Producing Director and Founder) Carla Huebner will help the audience experience 'saudade' - the magical Brazilian word meaning a melancholic longing - the human desire for something which is gone and perhaps was only dreamed.

"Through musical and poetic testimony, we will joyfully celebrate love, life, memory and the innate human longing for connection. With Latin American Songbook favorites including, "El dia que me quieras" (The Day You Love Me) Tango, Samba em Preludio (Samba Prelude), Bossa Nova; "Capullito de alheli", (Fragrant Little Blossom), Bolero. "En mi viejo San Juan" (In My Old San Juan), "Bolero", "Cuando pa' Chile me voy" (When I Go Back to Chile), Cueca and poetry by Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost, Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, we get to the heart of saudade."

A reception follows the last show, recognizing the participants of the In Series' 'Finding Gabriela DC Youth Poetry Contest'. Can you feel the rhythm yet?

(3) FROM APRIL 9TH TO MAY 15TH, NATIONAL PASTIME, AT KEEGAN THEATRE AT CHURCH STREET THEATER, IN WASHINGTON, DC. 

There's nothing more exciting than seeing a World Premiere Musical, and being a life-long Yankees fan, I am looking forward to seeing if Keegan Theatre hits a home run with the new musical National Pastime. Music and lyrics are by Al Tapper, and the book is by Tony Sportiello. It's co-directed by Mark A. Rhea and Susan Marie Rhea, who brought us Keegan's Helen Hayes Award-winning production of Rent, and musical directed by Jake Null.

"National Pastime tells the story of WZBQ, a radio station in 1933 Iowa, on the verge of bankruptcy. To spark ratings, the station invents a fictional unbeatable baseball team and begins to broadcast phony baseball games as though real. All works to perfection until the media begins to pay attention."

The talented cast includes so many of my favoroite DC-area actors: Brian Cali, Larissa Gallagher, John Loughney, Timothy Lynch, Katie McManus, Tim O'Kane, Carolyn Myers, Autumn Seavey, Josh Sticklin, and Dan Van Why. Batter Up!

(4) APRIL 9TH TO MAY 29TH, GEORGE AND MARTHA - TONS OF FUN, AT IMAGINATION STAGE, IN BETHESDA, MD.

I'm a huge Joan Cushing fan and when she writes the music, book and lyrics for a show, I see it, and if they sell the CD for it - I buy it. That's why I'm going to run over to Imagination Stage to see this show, Based on the books by James Marshall, and directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer, I'm sure it will be tons of fun!

"George and Martha are best friends. They play music together and share meals, presents, picnics, and exciting adventures like flying a balloon. Sometimes they have differences but like all good friends, George and Martha just can't stay angry for long! This simple story says much about our relationships at any age."

In the cast are Sandra L. Murphy (Martha), Michael John Casey, (George), Derek Thomas (Dog), Nickolas Vaughan (Croc), and Kate Guesman (Pig). The production is directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer, with music direction by Debbie Jacobson and choreography by Scott Rink.

(5) FROM APRIL 13TH TO MAY 1ST, SPEECH AND DEBATE, IN THE HOROWITZ CENTER Studio Theatre, AT REP STAGE, IN COLUMBIA, MD. 

When you have four of my favorite young actors in a show, I have to run and see them. Rep Stage is so lucky to have Helen Hayes Award winner Parker Drown playing Howie, Florrie Bagel playing Diwata, Sam Ludwig playing Solomon, and Karen Novack playing the teacher and reporter in Speech and Debate. I've never seen Florrie, Parker and Sam play misfits, so this should be a lot of fun!

A hit Off-Broadway and regional dark comedy hit, Speech & Debate "cleverly blends contemporary dark comedy, music and cyberspace. The show blends music, cyberspace, and dance in a story of three teenage misfits linked by a sex scandal that rocks the town of Salem, Oregon". The production is directed by Eve Muson.

Aaron Broderick is the musical director and Renee Brozic Barger is the choreographer. Aaron is fabulous and received a 2010 Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Musical Direction for his work on Rent at the Keegan Theatre, and I have admired his work at both Keegan Theatre and Rep Stage.

(6) FROM APRIL 20TH TO MAY 29TH, THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND, AT METROSTAGE, IN ALEXANDRIA, VA.

Tom Stoppard is coming back to MetroStage! John Vreeke returns to direct Ralph Cosham, John Dow, and Michael Tolaydo, who were awarded a Helen Hayes Award for their ensemble work in Heroes (which John directed and Tom Stoppard translated) at MetroStage last year. Joining them are local favorites David Elias, Catherine Flye, Kimberly Gilbert, Doug Krehbel, and Emily Townley.

"Two theatre critics, Moon and Birdboot, watch a ludicrous setup of a country house murder mystery. By chance, they become involved in the action causing a series of events that parallel the play they are watching."

(7) FROM APRIL 22ND TO JUNE 5TH, RUINED, IN THE FICHANDLER AT Arena Stage, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

Playwright Lynn Nottage was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for her powerful play Ruined, and this month DC area theatergoers will be treated to the first in-the-round production of Ruined in The Fichandler.

"In war-torn Congo, Mama Nadi keeps the peace between customers on both sides of the civil war by serving everything from cold beers to warm beds. This shrewd matriarch both protects and profits from the women whose bodies have become battlegrounds 'ruined' by the brutality of government soldiers and rebel forces alike. Inspired by interviews conducted in Africa, this searing play is an engrossing and uncommonly human story told with humor and song, revealing the immeasurable loss and hopelessness of war, yet finding affirmation in life and hope."

Charles Randolph-Wright, whose production of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies played to sold-out audiences last year, directs an award-winning cast led by Jenny Jules as Mama Nadi, whose portrayal of Mama Nadi at Almeida Theatre recently won her a Critics Circle Theatre Award. Joining Jenny are Jeremiah W. Birkett as Christian, Rachael Holmes as Sophie, Donnetta Lavinia Grays as Salima, Lawrence Redmond as Mr. Harari, Jamairais Malone as Josephine, Psalmayene 24 as Fortune, Jerome Kisembe as Clifton Duncan, JaBen A. Early as Simon, James J. Johnson as Aid Worker/Soldier, Jamairais Malone as Josephine, and Babs Olunsanmokun as a Soldier.

This production of Ruined also includes an ensemble comprised of students from the University of Maryland from various areas of study. The ensemble features Jamar Brown, Ellentinya I. Dodd, Thony Mena, Jason Phillips, David Samuel, Anastasia Stewart with student coordination by Renee Nyack. There will be live music onstage, with cast members David Foreman on percussion, Mongezi Ntaka and Ralph Waldo Robertson on guitar, and Daniel Ssuuna on traditional African instruments Hectorlyne P. Wuor.

(8) THROUGH APRIL 24TH, CHINA - THE WHOLE ENCHILADA, AT LANDLESS THEATRE COMPANY, AT DC ARTS CENTER ('DCAC'), IN WASHINGTON, DC.

The winner of the NYC Fringe's 2009 Outstanding Musical, China - The Whole Enchilada is a perfect fit for the loonies at Landless Theatre Company. Advertised as "Landless Improves Chinese History and Relations with Humor and General Ignorance", the musical was written by Mark Brown with additional music and arrangements by Paul Mirkovich.

"China - The Whole Enchilada features three caucasian men singing, dancing, and irreverently marching their way through four thousand years of Chinese history- in less than two hours with an intermission. The show dares to tackle racism, human rights, genocide, and the birth of the fortune cookie. After adopting his daughter from China, Mark Brown felt compelled to write a show in her honor. The result was this fractured history lesson about China, Chinese in America, and just about everything else he could cram into the script.

China - The Whole Enchilada dares to tackle 5000 years of Chinese history - not to mention the controversial topics of creationism, racism, government censorship, political correctness, strained Chinese-American relations, and why a Chinese actor has never played Fu Manchu."

John Sadowsky directs Producing Artistic Director Andrew Lloyd Baughman who plays Andy Bachman, his brother Matt Baughman who plays Matt Bachman, and introduces "straight-man" newcomer Ben Demers who, as Ben Dimurs, will "provide audiences with a welcome respite from the brothers' antics". Sounds like another off-the-wall (this time the Great Wall) time at Landless. Check out the show's official website here.

(9) APRIL 27TH TO MAY 22ND, FARRAGUT NORTH, AT OLNEY THEATRE CENTER, IN OLNEY, MD.

It's always fun watching a play about politics when you live in the DC area. Playwright Beau Willimon's Off-Broadway hit about an overly ambitious young press secretary who learns that everything in politics is personal, comes to The Olney Theatre, not too far from the Nation's Capital. Willimon knows politics well, having working on campaigns for Charles Schumer, Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton and Bill Bradley.

"Set against the backdrop of the primary season in Iowa, presidential politicking as never been this sharp, witty and entertaining. What happens behind the closed doors of a tight presidential campaign? Farragut North, by Washington, D.C., native Beau Willimon, explores the hubris, loyalty, and lust for power that accompany the drive to win. Twenty-something wunderkind press secretary Stephen Bellamy has built a career that men twice his age would envy. During a close primary race for the presidency, however, Stephen's meteoric rise falls prey to backroom politics, the manipulations of veteran operatives, and the wiles of a seductive young intern."

Olney Theatre Center's Associate Artistic Director Clay Hopper directs Danny Yoerges who plays Stephen Bellamy, press secretary to Governor Morris. Multiple Helen Hayes Award winner Bruce Nelson plays Paul Zara, the campaign manager for the governor. Kevin Hasser plays Ben, deputy press secretary, and Elisabeth Ness plays the role of Molly, an intern. Alan Wade plays the campaign manager for the opposition, Timothy Andres Pabon plays as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and one of my favorite actors in the DC area - Susan Lynskey - plays a political reporter for the New York Times. I vote this play a Must-See!

ALSO OPENING IN APRIL 2011:

From April 6th to April 24th, The Walworth Farce, at The Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From April 7th to May 1st, Divorciadas, Evangelicas y Vegetarianas, at GALA Hispanic Theatre, in Arlington, VA.

From April 8th to May 7th, Stage Door, at American Century Theater, in Arlington, VA.

From April 9th to May 8th, Magnificent Waste, at Factory 449 at Flashpoint Mead Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From April 12th to 24th, The Color Purple, at The National Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From April 13th to May 1st, The New Electric Ballroom, at The Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From April 14th to April 17th, Fragments, at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.

From April 14th to May 8th, Blues for an Alabama Sky, at African Continuum Theatre Company, at Atlas Performing Arts Center, in Washington, DC.

From April 15th to June 2nd, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, at The Puppet Co., in Glen Echo, MD.

From April 15th to May 14th, Chesapeake, at The Bay Theatre Company, Inc., in Annapolis, MD.

From April 15th to May 28th, The Day John Henry Came to School, at Imagination Stage, in Bethesda, MD.

From April 20th to May 1st, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, in Washington, DC.

From April 26th to June 5th, Cyrano, at Folger Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From April 26th to June 12th, Side By Side By Sondheim, at Signature Theatre, in Arlington, DC.

From April 28th to May 22nd, The Apple Cart, at Washington Stage Guild, in Washington, DC.

From April 29th to May 22nd, The Clockmaker, at The Hub Theatre, at the John Swayze Theatre, in Fairfax, VA.

From April 29th to May 15th, From Berlin to Sunset: The 1940s in Hollywood, at The In Series, at The Atlas Performing Arts Center, in Washington, DC.

From April 30th to May 1st, The Cat Who Went to Heaven, at The Kennedy Center's Family Theater, in Washington, DC.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED COMMUNITY THEATRE PRODUCTIONS

From April 1st to the 17th, The Fantasticks at Rockville Musical Theatre at The Arts Barn, in Gaithersburg, MD.

From April 8th to the 23rd, 42nd Street, at The Arlington Players, at Thomas Jefferson Community Center, in Arlington, VA.

Through April 16th, Thrill Me, at Elden Street Players, in Herndon, VA.

FESTIVALS AND SPECIAL EVENTS

April 3rd, Monologue Madness, at Warehouse Theatre, in Washington, DC.

April 11th to 13th, New Play Festival at Young Playwrights' Theater, in Washington, DC.

Through April 24th, The Edward Albee Festival, at Arena Stage, in Washington, DC.

Through May 2nd, New Ireland: The Enda Walsh Festival, at The Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through April 16th, Tennessee Williams Centennial Festival, at Georgetown University, in Washington, DC.

ALREADY OPENED AND PLAYING THROUGH APRIL 2011 AND MAY 2011

Through April 2nd, Morgue Story, at Molotov Theatre Group, at 1409 Playbill Cafe, in Washington, DC.

Through April 3rd, Blue Man Group, at the Warner Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through April 3rd, Penelope, at The Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through April 3rd, Voices Underwater, at Rorschach Theatre Company, at The National Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts, in Washington, DC.

Through April 10th, As The Curtain Rises, at Signature Theatre, in Arlington, VA.

Through April 10th, Jack and the Beanstalk, at The Puppet Co., in Glen Echo, MD.

Through April 10th, Protest and Passion Latino & American Resistance Songs, at The In Series, at Source, in Washington, DC.

Through April 10th, The Magic Paintbrush, at Synetic Family Theater, in Arlington, VA.

Through April 10th, The Trip to Bountiful, at Round House Theatre, in Bethesda, MD.

Through April 10th, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, at Arena Stage, in the Kreeger, in Washington, DC.

Through April 15th, iMusical, at Washington Improv Theater, at Source, in Washington, DC.

Through April 16th, Boeing Boeing, at Maryland Ensemble Theatre ('MET'), in Frederick, MD.

Through April 16th, An Ideal Husband at Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall, in Washington, DC.

Through April 17th, Master Harold...and the boys, at Quotidian Theatre Company, at The Writer's Center, in Bethesda, MD.

Through April 17th, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through April 17th, The Glass Menagerie, at First Stage, in McLean, VA.

Through April 17th, The Ressurectionist King, at Active Cultures Theatre, in University Park, MD.

Through April 24th, At Home at the Zoo, at Arena Stage in The Kogod Cradle, in Washington, DC.

April 23rd and May 1st, Ernesto Lecuona's Maria la O and Ruggiero Leoncavallo's Pagliacci [Clowns], at Atlas Performing Arts Center, in Washington, DC.

Through April 24th, King Lear, at Synetic Theater, at The Lansburgh Theatre, in Washington, DC

Through April 24th, Photograph 51, at Theater J, in Washington, DC.

Through April 24th, The Weir, at Scena Theatre, at H Street Playhouse, in Washington, DC.

Through April 25th, If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, at Adventure Theatre, in Glen Echo, MD.

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

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

ALREADY OPENED AND PLAYING THROUGH JUNE 2011

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

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

PHOTOS

(1) David Epley as Dr. Kaboom!

(2) Artwork from Saudade: Songs of Longing & Celebration. Painting by Diego Rivera.

(3) Artwork from National Pastime at Keegan Theatre by Cameron Whitman.

(4) Artwork from George and Martha by Kristina Swarner.

(5) Artwork from Speech and Debate.

(6) Artwork from The Inspector Hound by MetroStage.

(7) Illustration from Ruined by Rudy Gutierraz.

(8) The cast of China - The Whole Enchilada. From L to R: Matt Baughman, Andrew Lloyd Baughman, Ben Demers. Photo by Amanda Williams Photography.

(9) Artwork from Farragut North by Olney Theatre.

______

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.




From This Author - Joel Markowitz