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

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The humidity is starting to climb and it's what we call around here -- 'corn weather'. But in the air-conditioned theatres in the Nation's Capital there is a harvest of new shows opening. So if you're here visiting the monuments and the Smithsonian museums, get out of the heat and come see a play or a musical.

This week, I became the Editor and Senior Columnist at a small theatre-covering website called Maryland Theatre Guide. After pouring my heart and soul into making DC Theatre Scene a hit, I am excited to be working with Mark Beachy who is an amazing videographer, and team of passionate writers. It's going to be an exciting challenge and I hope all of you who have read my Theatre Schmooze column and listened to my podcasts will join me on the new site.

Last week, Mark Beachy and I attended the Drama Desk Awards and we videotaped interviews with the nominees and winners and some theatre and film legends. Here are the Red Carpet interviews. The interviews with the winners will be posted tomorrow on MD Theatre Guide.

TOP PICKS FOR JUNE 2011

(1) THROUGH JUNE 26TH, BOOTY CANDY, AT WOOLLY MAMMOTH THEATRE COMPANY, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

If you saw Robert O'Hara's 2010 Helen Hayes Award-winning Antebellum, you know that we are in for a rollicking time as he gives us some outrageous sex education lessons in his new work Booty Candy. "O'Hara speaks the truth about growing up gay and African American. With outrageous humor and real heart, it tests how we talk about our bodies at home, in church, and on the corner". I can't wait to see what he has up his sleeve.

O'Hara is joined by Woolly Company Member Jessica Frances Dukes, and also stars Phillip James Brannon, Sean Meehan, Laiona Michelle, and Lance Coadie Williams.

Watch a video of Playwright and Director Robert O'Hara talking about the evolution of Booty Candy to Woolly staff, artists, and friends at the first rehearsal presentation on May 3, 2011.

(2) FROM JUNE 2ND TO 25TH, BOBRAUSCHENBERGAMERICA, AT FORUM THEATRE, AT ROUND HOUSE THEATRE IN SILVER SPRING, MD.

When you have Director Derek Goldman at the helm, you always know you will see something wonderful, and now Derek is directing Charles L. Mee's play - with a very long name - for the gutsy Forum Theatre. I am a big fan of painter Robert Rauschenberg's and if the show is half as colorful as Robert's work, we are in for a great time.

"Take a wild and whimsical road trip through America! Inspired by painter and pop artist Robert Rauschenberg, BOBRAUSCHENBERGAMERICA is a vivid collage of love stories, business schemes, backyard barbecues, singing, dancing, and chicken jokes".

The cast features Company Members Michael Dove and Cliff Williams, as well as Joe Brack, Chelsey Christensen, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Julie Garner, Annie Houston, Augie Praley, and one of the most talented young actors/singers I know - Aaron Reeder. Nice to see Aaron paying us a visit from The Big Apple.

(3) FROM JUNE 2ND TO JULY 3RD, DON QUIXOTE, AT SYNETIC THEATER, IN CRYSTAL CITY, IN ARLINGTON, VA.

I can't even imagine what visual, athletic and dance 'treats' we will see when perennial Helen Hayes Award-winner Synetic Theater presents its new production of Don Quixote, written by Resident Playwright Roland Reed, and adapted by Director Paata Tskikurishvili. And of course there will be all that amazing talent from the Synetic Family on stage: Dan Istrate starring in the title role, and featuring Synetic regulars Ryan Sellers, Dallas Tolentino, Vato Tsikurishvili, Alex Mills, Natalie Berk, Ben Russo, Katherine Frattini, Domingo Quezada, and Ryan Tumulty, along with Francesca Jandasek, John Robert Keena, Brittany O'Grady, and Jessica Shearer-Wilson.

"Lost in the mystical world of his books, Don Quixote abandons his home and reality to become a wandering knight. This touching comedy, inspired by the surrealistic paintings of Dali and Bosch, brings the wonder of Quixote's dreaming mind to life and focuses a satirical lens on what it means to be normal".

The production is choreographed by multiple Helen Hayes Award winner Irina Tsikurishvili, with set, costumes, and properties design by Georgi Alexi-Meskhisvili, original music by Konstantine Lortkipanidze, and sound design by Irakli Kavsadze. I can't wait to see what they do with windmills.

Read the Director Paata Tsikurishvili's notes here.

Read the synopsis here.

(4) FROM JUNE 2ND TO 26TH, EINSTEIN'S DREAMS, AT SPOOKY ACTION THEATRE, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

Any play that has Albert Einstein at the center sounds like a good time to me. Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams is adapted for the stage by Kipp Erante Cheng, and is directed by Rebecca Holderness. Adam Segaller plays Einstein and he's joined by some of my favorite local actors - Frank Britton, Jonathan Fitts, and Hilary Kacser. Joining them are Elver Ariza-Silva, Connor Hogan, Lisa Lias, Whitney Madren, Beckett Martin, Madeline Muravchik, Sarah Thomas, Jade Wheeler and Wendy Wilmer.

"A patent clerk in Switzerland, twenty six-year old Albert Einstein dreams possible theories of Time. Characters, real and imagined, swirl around him reshaping his life and his dreams through movement, light and sound. Relativity in action gives birth to a new Theory. And a transforming vision of life". It's all sounds relative to me!

(5) FROM JUNE 3RD TO 19TH, AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' AT THE WASHINGTON SAVOYARDS, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

The Washington Savoyard's production of Ain't Misbehavin' will be jumpin' because Director Michael Bobbitt and Musical Director Darius Smith are at the helm and because there is an incredibly talented cast - Iyona Blake (Armenia); Nova Tate (Nell); Lauren Du Pree (Charlyane); Cliff Walker (Ken); and, Daryl Spiers (Andre), to sing all those great Fats Waller songs. I know every time I see a production of this show that I can't stop snappin' my fingers and tappin' my feet, so I expect to wear out a pair of shoes when I see this production, and hear those great songs: "Honeysuckle Rose", "Squeeze Me," "Handful of Keys", "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling", "How Ya Baby" and my favorite - "Jitterbug Waltz".

"The inimitable Thomas "Fats" Waller rose to international fame during the Golden Age of the Cotton Club, honky tonk dives along Lenox Avenue, rent parties, stride piano players and that jumpin' new beat, Swing. Ain't Misbehavin' is a musical tribute delivering a versatile, high-energy cast that struts, strums and sings the songs he made famous in a career that ranged from uptown clubs to downtown Tin Pan Alley to Hollywood". It didn't win The Tony for Best Musical for nothin'.

(6) FROM JUNE 4TH TO JULY 3RD, AT KEEGAN THEATRE, THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, AT CHURCH STREET THEATRE, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

I have seen 3 production of William Finn's wonderful musical this year, so bring on the fourth! Keegan Theatre has put together a cast of some of the most talented singers/actors I have ever had the honor of writing about and watching on the stage: Shayna Blass (Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere); Maddie Botteri (Olive Ostrovsky); Katie McManus (Rona Lisa Perretti); Tina Ghandchilar (Marcy Park); Dan Van Why (Douglas Panch); and RaMond Thomas; (Mitch Mahoney). But I'll tell you - I really can't wait to see these 3 guys performing these 3 hilarious roles: Chris Mueller as Chip Tolentino, Michael Innocenti, as Leaf Coneybear - my favorite character in the show - and the zany Dan Sonntag as William Barfee ('that's Bar-Fay!). The production is directed by Christina Coakley, with musical direction by the very amiable Elisa Rosman, and choreographed by Melissa Douglass Bustamante.

"A hilarious tale of overachievers' angst chronicling the experience of six adolescent outsiders vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime. The show's Tony Award-winning creative team has created the unlikeliest of hit musicals about the unlikeliest of heroes: a quirky yet charming cast of outsiders for whom a spelling bee is the one place where they can stand out and fit in at the same time". And that spells 'F-U-N".

(7) FROM JUNE 8TH TO JULY 3RD, OPUS, AT OLNEY THEATRE CENTER, IN OLNEY, MD.

I saw an outstanding production of Opus a few years ago at Washington Stage Guild and I fell in love with it. Now, Olney Theatre Company is mounting its own production, directed by Artistic Director Jim Petosa. Jim directed the New England premiere of Opus at New Repertory Theatre last year, and luckily for DC area theatregoers, 4 of that production's 5 actors are reprising their roles: Michael Kaye (Elliot - first violin), Shelley Bolman (Alan - second violin), Becky Webber (Grace - viola), and Benjamin Evett (Dorian - viola). Joining them is Helen Hayes Award winner Paul Morella (Carl - cello). I didn't know Paul played the cello - my favorite instrument.

"The play is interwoven with rich and powerful music that propels this fastpaced comedy-drama. Hollinger's Opus has tempers flaring and egos clashing as the dynamic of the group changes and past indiscretions. The celebrated and world-renowned Lazara String Quartet's struggle to prepare for their high-profile White House performance. When the quartet's gifted but volatile violist mysteriously disappears, new violist Grace steps in to replace him and finds herself mixed up in a cauldron of lies and secrets that's about to boil over". The play gives a new meaning to "high-strung".

(8) FROM JUNE 21ST TO JULY 24TH, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, AT Shakespeare Theatre Company'S SIDNEY HARMAN HALL, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

For the first time in over a decade, Shakespeare Theatre Company is bringing back The Merchant of Venice and that alone is cause for celebration, and then throw in Ethan McSweeney directing the new production - and you know you have to run and buy your tickets now!

What a great cast Ethan is directing: Julia Coffey as Portia, Mark Nelson as Shylock, and Derek Smith as Antonio. Joining them are Matthew Carlson as Lorenzo, Carl Cofield as the Prince of Morocco, Drew Cortese as Bassanio, Aubrey Deeker as Gratiano, Vaneik Echeverria as the Prince of Arragon, Drew Eshelman as the Duke of Venice, Tim Getman as Solanio, Andy Murray as Salerio, Daniel Pearce as Launcelot Gobbo, Amelia Pedlow as Jessica, Benjamin Pelteson as Tubal and Liz Wisan as Nerissa.

Ensemble members include Gordon Adams, Travis Blumer, Adam Ewer, Emily Joshi-Powell, Kai Moeller, Khalil Reddick, KeVin Stevens, Paul Stuart, and Hannah Wolfe. The creative team will include scenic designer Andrew Lieberman, lighting designer Marcus Doshi, costume designer Jennifer Moeller, composer/sound designer Steven Cahill, and the great Karma Camp provides the choreography.

"Whether contemplating the contents of gilded chests or the darkest corners of human nature, The Merchant of Venice challenges audiences to look beyond misleading appearances to find the true measure of things. An intriguing story of power and revenge, justice and mercy, true love and duplicity, features some of Shakespeare's most complex and memorable characters. This intriguing story of power and revenge, justice and mercy, true love and duplicity, features some of Shakespeare's most complex and memorable characters".

(9) FROM JUNE 18TH TO SEPTEMBER 3RD, XANADU, AT TOBY'S DINNER THEATRE, IN BALTIMORE, MD.

The movie with Olivia Newton John and Gene Kelly has one of the most insufferable scripts ever written for the screen, but Douglas Carter Beane's adaptation for the stage is hysterical! I saw the show 5 times in NYC and I laughed my head off because they make fun of the movie. Sheer genius! Now Toby's Dinner Theatre is bringing the show to its Baltimore location with all those roller skates - and it's being directed by the innovative Daniel MacDonald. How can you not have a great time singing along with these hits: "Magic", "All Over the World", "Have You Never Been Mellow", and "Xanadu"?

"Xanadu is hilarity on wheels for adults, children, and anyone who has ever wanted to feel inspired. You will enjoy this camped-up spoof of the 1980's movie which starred Olivia Newton John and Gene Kelly. It's a hilarious, roller skating musical adventure that rolls along to the original movie hit score composed by pop-rock legends Jeff Lynne and John Farrar".

The cast is filled with Toby's veterans: Heather Beck (Clio/Kira); Greg Twomey (Sonny Malone); David Reynolds (Danny McGuire/Zues); Maria Egler (Melpomene); Medusa Tierra Strickland (Calliope and Aphrodite); CrystAl Freeman (Erato, '40s Singer, Eros, and Hera); Katie Heidbreder-Euterpe ('40s Singer, Thetis), David Gregory (Terpsicore, '80s Singer, Hermes, and Centaur); Chris Rudy (Thalia, '80s Singer, Cyclops);Celia Blitzer (Pit Singer); and Jimmy Biernatowski is the Featured Skater. Cedric Lyles is the Music Director, Laurie Newton is the Choreographer, and Larry Munsey is the Skating Coach.

(10/11) FROM JUNE 22ND TO AUGUST 14TH, THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS, AT IMAGINATION STAGE, IN BETHESDA, MD.

AND FROM JUNE 24TH TO SEPTEMBER 5TH, CHARLOTTE'S WEB,

Two famous and often-read children's classics are being adapted for the stage at Imagination Stage and Adventure Theatre. At Imagination Stage, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows has been adapted by Richard Hellesen, and has music and lyrics by Michael Silversher. The production is directed by Janet Stanford.

"Go on a wild ride with Mr. Toad! It's early in the twentieth century, and Mr. Toad embraces the motor car with reckless abandon. When it is clear that he is on a road to disaster, Toad's friends Mole, Ratty and Mr. Badger decide to intervene. Can they save Toad from himself? In an adventure with police chases, prison breaks and bandits, Mr. Toad learns the true meaning of friendship."

At Adventure Theatre, E.B. White's Charlotte's Web is adapted for the stage nu Joseph Robinette, and the production is directed by Serge Seiden. "E. B. White's popular tale of love and devotion, takes theatergoers to Zuckerman's Farm, where the delightful runt pig Wilbur appears headed for the dinner table -- as main course, not as guest. Yet he is saved by the remarkably crafty spider, Charlotte, and the whole town begins talking about it. Some pig!"

These are the perfect shows to take the kids and the grandkids to - filled with hoppin' good lessons, lotsa humor and great characters that will never 'boar' you.

(12) FROM JUNE 28TH TO JULY 10TH, NEXT TO NORMAL, IN THE EISENHOWER THEATRE, AT THE KENNEDY CENTER, IN WASHINGTON, DC.

It's going to feel a little weird watching Alice Ripley perform at The Kennedy Center after watching her in Next to Normal so many times at Arena Stage's Crystal City space (before it reopened its DC location) before it's successful move to Broadway, where she won a Tony Award for her performance as the manic-depressive housewife Diana.

It's so rare that an actor/actress who originated a role or has won a Tony for that performance, takes the show on the road, so I am so glad that DC audiences who missed the show at Arena Stage will have the opportunity to see Alice's powerful performance. Joining her are Asa Somers (Dan); Curt Hansen (Gabe); Emma Hunton (Natalie); Preston Sadleir (Henry); and Jeremy Kushnier, who received a Helen Hayes Award nomination this year for his bratty Freddie in Signature Theatre's production of Chess, plays Dr. Madden and Dr. Fine.

I was so happy when Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's score and lyrics won the Tony Award, because I listen to the Broadway cast CD a lot. It's melodic and powerful and at times hearty-wrenching, but always exciting and filled with beautiful harmonies.

"From the director of Rent comes Next to Normal, an emotional powerhouse of a musical with a thrilling contemporary score about a family trying to take care of themselves and each other. Winner of three 2009 Tony Awards including Best Score and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Next to Normal is the most talked about Broadway show on tour".

Watch Next to Normal's Jennifer Damiano, Alice Ripley, and Aaron Tveit perform "Superboy and The Invisible Girl" at the 2009 Tony Awards Nominations Concert on May 18th at the Hudson Theatre.

ALSO OPENING IN JUNE 2011

From June 4th to August 14th, Rumple Who?, at Bay Theatre Company, in Annapolis, MD.

From June 8th to 26th, Canto al Peru Negro...Celebrating Afro Peru!, at Gala Hispanic Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From June 9th to July 17th, The Great Dinosaur Mystery, at The Puppet Company, in Glen Echo, MD.

From June 9th to July 3rd, The Glass Menagerie, in the Kogod Cradfle, at Arena Stage, in Washington, DC.

From June 10th to July 25th, A Midsummer Night's Dream, at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, in Ellicott City, MD.

From June 11th to 19th, I Wish You Love, in The Terrace Theater, at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.

From June 15th to August 21st, Wicked, in the Opera House, at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.

From June 15th to July 3rd, The History of Kisses, at The Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From June 16th to August 28th, Anything Goes, at Toby's Dinner Theatre, in Columbia, MD.

From June 21st to July 3rd, Reduced Shakespeare Company: Completely Hollywood (abridged), in the Terrace Theatre, at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.

ALREADY OPENED AND PLAYING IN JUNE AND JULY 2011:

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

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

Through June 3rd, Old Times, at Shakespeare Theatre Company, at The Lansburgh Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through June 4th, The Green Bird, at Constellation Theatre, at Studio, in Washington, DC.

Through June 5th, A Year With Toad and Frog, at Adventure Theatre, in Glen Echo, MD.

Through June 5th, Farragut North, at Olney Theatre Center, in Olney, MD.

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 5th, The Real Inspector Hound, at MetroStage, in Alexandria, VA.

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

Through June 11th, In The Blood, at theHegira, in Washington, DC.

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

Through June 12th, Amadeus, at Round House Theatre, in Bethesda, MD.

Through June 12th, Cyrano, at Folger Theatre, 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.

Through June 12th, The Moscows Of Nantucket, at Theater J, in Washington, DC.

Through June 19th, A Time to Kill, In the Kreeger, at Arena Stage, in Washington, DC.

Through June 19th, By Jeeves, At 1st Stage, In Tysons Corner, In Mclean, VA

Through June 19th, Follies, at the Eisenhower Theatre at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.

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

Through June 19th, The B Team, At Landless Theatre Company, At District Of Columbia Arts Center (DCAC), In Washington, Dc.

Through June 28th, Swampoodle, at Solas Nua at the U-line Arena, in Washington, DC.

Through July 3rd, Venus in Fur, at The Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

FESTIVALS

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

(2) From June 12th to 19th, DC Black Theatre Festival, in Washington, DC and Arlington, VA.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED COMMUNITY THEATRE & YOUNG PERFORMERS' PRODUCTIONS

(1) From June 3th to 19th, Frankenstein: A New Musical, at Take Flight Theatre Company, in Sterling, VA.

(2) From June 3rd to 5th, Once Upon a Mattress, at Act Two @ Levine, at Georgetown Prep's Figge Theater, in North Bethesda, MD.

(3) From June 24th to 26th, Children of Eden, at Musical Theater Center, at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre in the Rockville Civic Center, in Rockville, MD.

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Joel Markowitz writes about theatre in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and New York for Maryland Theatre Guide, where he is The Editor and Senior Columnist. For 5 years. 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. 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 grew up in Buffalo, NY. At a young age, between shoveling snow and eating hot Buffalo wings, he fell in love with theatre, (read more...)