A Theatre Lover's Guide to DC/Capital Area Theatres – October 2010 Offerings

With almost 40 shows opening in October, where do I begin to talk about this incredible month which is going to offer so many theatre choices in the DC area? With the weather so cool and refreshing -- this is definitely the month to come to the Nation’s Capital to see world and DC area premieres of new plays, comedies, and musicals, and an unveiling of Arena Stage’s new Mead Center for American Theater. It’s such an exciting time to be a theatergoer here, so come join us for an October to remember!

SPECIAL EVENTS:

(1) Pandemonium: The Lost and Found Orchestra, from October 5th to 10th, at National Theatre, in Washington, DC.

The co-creators of STOMP - Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas - were commissioned by The Brighton Festival (UK) to write a new work for its 40th anniversary, and PANDEMONIUM premiered in 2006. Now, they have reworked it and are traveling across North America, and I am so glad that it’s coming to DC for a short stay at The National Theatre.

The show has “A dazzling array of homemade instruments, a 25-member mix of veteran STOMP performers, classical musicians, physical comedians and aerialists. Pandemonium climaxes with the human voice being added to the mix: what begins with simple melodies plucked, blown, thumped and brushed into life ends in a complex symphonic and choral celebration. In each city a 30 member local choir will contribute vocals. (the DC choir has not been announced as of this article). Luke Cresswell serves as onstage conductor of the 50+ member company and will perform in PANDEMONIUM.” Doesn’t this sound amazing?

Watch a video preview of Pandemonium here.

(2) Saturday, October 23rd – Arena Stage's 'Homecoming Grand Opening Celebration', in Washington, DC. 

After being ‘on the road’ in Crystal City and at The Lincoln Theatre for several years, as Arena Stage officially opens The Mead Center for American Theater with a full day of FREE events, including performances by Broadway and local stars E. Faye Butler, Brad Oscar, Kate Baldwin, Matt Bogart, and Alice Ripley. There will also be presentations by local arts groups, and so much more. Tickets for these free events will be available online starting October 8, 2010. Here’s the schedule:

OPENING IN OCTOBER 2010 ‘MUST SEES’:

(1) Chicago, from October 8th to 30th, at Kensington Arts Theatre (KAT), in Kensington, Md.

I’ve seen 3 productions of Chicago in the past year, but this is the one I have been waiting for. First of all, I have not seen the five leads - Erin McNerney (Velma Kelly), Dani Stoller (Roxie Hart), Michael Cropper (Billy Flynn), Karen Plummer (Matron Mama Morton), and Terry Barr (Mary Sunshine) - in any shows before, so I am very excited about watching them perform in this production.

What I have heard from my friend Co-Director Diego Prieto is that they are all fabulous singers, actors, and Erin and Dani can really kick up their heels. I am so happy that Diego is co-directing and choreographing the show with Andrea Spitz, because this multiple WATCH Award-winning performer/singer will lend his vast experience to his cast. I’m looking forward to seeing some of my favorite local actors: Josh Doyle playing the nebbishy Amos Hart, and Tim Adams and Mark Hidalgo dancing their hearts out in the ensemble. And most of all, I can’t wait to see Chicago performed in the intimate space of the Kensington Town Center, and I love this John Kander and Fred Ebb score.

Music Direction for the show is provided by Arielle Bayer, and is produced by KAT’s artistic director Craig Pettinati. The rest of the cast is Karen Plummer (Matron Mama Morton), Quentin Nash Sagers (Emcee), Terry Barr (Mary Sunshine), Christina Addabbo Prete (Annie,) Emily L. Sergo (June), Tia Dolet (Hell Kitty), Christina Wolfgram (Veronica), and Liz Harless (Liz). Joining Mr. Hidalgo and Adams in the ensemble are Jeramiah Miller, Phil McLeod, Steve Hock, and Chris Galindo.

(2) A Fox On the Fairway, from October 12th to November 14th, at Signature Theatre, in Arlington, VA.

Local playwright Ken Ludwig (Lend Me A Tenor and Crazy for You), is premiering his tribute to English farces of the 30's and 40’s called A Fox on the Fairway at Signature Theatre. It’s described as a “hilarious romp which pulls the rug out from underneath the stuffy denizens of a private country club. Filled with mistaken identities, slamming doors, and over-the-top romantic shenanigans, it's a furiously paced comedy that recalls the Marx Brothers' classics. Audiences are taken to private country club where mistaken identities and romantic entanglements -- along with an over-the-top golf tournament—abound.” For a Ken Ludwig comedy, that’s ‘par for the course’.

How can you go wrong when you have Tony Award-winning director John Rando (Urinetown The Musical and Toxic Avenger) – and when you have Holly Twyford (this year’s Helen Hayes Award winner for Signature's Little Dog Laughed) and Jeff McCarthy (Urinetown The Musical and Side Show) in the cast? No one directs off-the-wall shows like John Rando, so I can’t wait to see this one! John Rando will be directing Adventure Theatre’s production of Harry Connick Jr.’s new musical The Happy Elf in November.

(3) Sanctified - A Musical Comedy, from October 21st to November 14th, at the Lincoln Theatre, in Washington, DC.

It’s the Washington-area premiere of a new gospel musical Sanctified, and what a perfect venue for it - the historic Lincoln Theatre! Very few gospel musicals play this town, so I am looking forward to seeing Sanctified, and maybe this Jew will feel the spirit move. When I found out that Helen Hayes Award-winning Costume Designer Reggie Ray was involved in the show, I knew that I had to see it. I can only imagine the pizzazz and sparkle his talent will lend to the show.

“The musical comedy shines a light on the African-American church and the congregations that sustain it. When the East Piney Grove Baptist Church falls on hard times, their last chance may be the upcoming 3oth annual gospel revival. Desperate, the ambitious new pastor calls on his diva-esque cousin to help update the choir's staid repertoire (and lend her extraordinary voice), but the church elders are not moved”. It examines how hip-hop and R&B has changed the traditional sound of gospel. Sounds like a ‘divine’ episode of Glee!

The cast of Sanctified features John McClure, Jr. as Pastor Harold P. Jones and Mary Millben as Sister Pauletta Denise Jones, with Almonica Caldwell (Clara), Jlocla actress Jessica Frances Dukes (Thelma), Elllis Foster (Bobby), Ashley Jeudy (Monique), Joshua Nelson (Mister), William T. Newman, Jr. (Sir), Frederick Strother (Deacon), and Kasaun T. Wilson (Jamal). The musical director is Raymond D. Reeder. The production is directed by Derrick Sanders.

(4) The Odd Couple, from October 23rd to November 28th, at Theater J, in Washington, DC. 

I saw a sneak peek of what will be a hilarious production of my favorite Neil Simon play – The Odd Couple - at Theater’s J’s season preview last year, and now a full production starring some of my favorites: multi-Helen Hayes Award-winning Rick Foucheaux as grumpy and filthy Oscar Madison and J. Fred Shiffman as the ever-cleaning and honking Felix Unger. Joining them are Lisa Bruneau and Helen Parfumi as the giggling Pigeon Sisters, and fellow poker players - Speed (Marcus Kyd), Murray (Delaney Williams), Roy (Paul Morella), and Vinnie (Michael Willis). The production is directed by Jerry Whiddon. I’ll be there to laugh at all those clever Neil Simon zingers.

“In this Tony Award-winning comic masterpiece, Neil Simon created two of the most memorable characters in the history of Broadway and broadcast television. With the help of four high-strung poker buddies and two British biddies coming in from upstairs, slovenly Oscar tries to mend his recently-divorced friend Felix’s broken heart.”

(5) Walter Cronkite is Dead, from October 24th to December 26th, at Signature Theatre, in Arlington, VA.

When Joe Calarco writes a new play and directs two of my favorite actresses - Sherri L. Edelen and Nancy Robinette - in a world premiere comedy, it’s not only a ‘Must-See’ for this month, it’s a ‘Must-See’ event for the entire new theatre season. Ticket buyers must agree with me. The show has already extended its run even before it plays a single performance. There are so many Helen Hayes Awards among the three of them that you’d need to clear an entire mantle to line them up.

So what is this new comedy about? “In a world that seems to be spinning beyond their control, two women find themselves sharing a table, stuck in an airport by a storm. Representing two sides of the culture wars – one red state, the other blue state – Margaret and Patty reluctantly strike up a conversation that encourages them to open up, challenge their world views and find common ground.” If anyone can make this situation really funny - it’s Joe Calarco and these two wonderful actresses. In fact, Joe has said that he wrote the play with Sherri and Nancy in mind.

From Joe: "At a time when civil discourse seems to be dead in America, I wanted to write a play where people from very different backgrounds are forced by circumstance to sit and simply talk and listen to one another. Even if neither woman’s world view necessarily changes, maybe in the future it will be harder for either of them to demonize someone who thinks differently than they do”,

(6) Hair, from October 16th to November 21st, at The Kennedy Center’s Opera House, in Washington, DC.

Talk about beaucoup energy on the stage. This 2009 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival of Hair - one of the first great rock musicals - will have DC audiences dancing in the aisles and singing along to such famous songs as “Good Morning Starshine”, and “Let the Sun Shine In”. I had one of the most fun and emotional experiences in the theatre when I saw the revival a week after it opened on Broadway.

“A celebration of life, a love letter to freedom, and a passionate cry for hope and change, HAIR defined one generation and continues to inspire today. Join the tribe of the Age of Aquarius for the story of a group of friends choosing to speak up and sing out in celebration of love, life, and freedom.” So, let you hair down and return to the “Age of Aquarius”.

Watch a montage video from The Broadway revival production here:

(7) Improbable Frequency, through October 24th, at Solas Nua, in Washington, DC.

When Solas Nua, an arts organization that brings new Irish talent to US audiences was producing Arthur Riordan s hit musical - IMPROBABLE FREQUENCY - I was elated. I can’t remember ever seeing anything quite like it here in DC.

They are advertising the musical as, “Transports you to an underground nightclub where spies and revolutionaries abound! Dublin 1941 - While war rages across Europe, Dublin revels in its knife-edge neutrality as the fledgling Irish Free State tries to remain open for business. The city is host to a volatile mixture of exiled intellectuals, literary bar-lizards, British spies and Nazi sympathizers. When coded messages, broadcast during an Irish radio-requests show, draw the attention of the British, a young code breaker called Tristram Faraday is sent across the Irish Sea to investigate. His enquiries lead him into a series of deeply improbable encounters, where the truth is more improbable than anyone could have imagined.” Doesn’t this sound like an Irish version of Cabaret? And the show has a score by Bell Helicopter - Conor Kelly and Sam Park, who have written for The Royal Shakespeare Company and other theatres in London and Dublin.

The cast is filled with some of the best actors in the DC area: Eric Messner (Tristram Faraday), Stacey Jackson (Philomena O’ Shea), Madeleine Carr (Agent Green), Chris Davenport (Betjeman, O’ Dromedary and The Colonel), John Tweel (Myles Copaleen and Muldoon), and one of the funniest guys I know - Cyle Durkee, as Schrödinger. The thought of Cyle playing someone with that name – makes me smile. Matt Torney has been an Associate Director of Ireland’s Rough Magic Theatre Company since August 2009.

It will be a wonderful experience watching this musical in Solas Nua’s new digs – “From office space to underground nightclub, as Solas Nua transforms 111 K St, NE into a wartime speakeasy brimming with noir-ish intrigue, sex appeal and treachery”.

(8) King Arthur, through October 31st, at Synetic Theater, in their new Crystal City space, in Arlington, VA.

Synetic Theater has moved into the Crystal City space that Arena Stage has vacated as it prepares to open its new The Mead Center for American Theater, and now Synetic is opening its new season and its new venue with the ‘wordless’ epic King Arthur. Based on legends and myths, “King Arthur weaves together mystery, magic, heroes, and romance in an adaptation that will see the legend reborn in Synetic’s signature mixture of movement, music, combat and drama.” And to make a real splash, the production will unveil their first ever water stage.” I’ll make sure I wear a raincoat when I come see the shoW. Maybe I’ll sit in ‘The Splash Zone’.

King Arthur is adapted by Synetic’s Artistic Director Paata Tsikurishvili and Ben Cunis, and is directed by Paata. It’s choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili, with set, costumes, and properties design by Anastasia R. Simes. The original score was composed by Konstantine Lortkipanidze, with lighting design by Andrew F. Griffin

Ben Cunis stars as King Arthur,Vato Tsikurishvili as Lancelot, Brynn Tucker as Guinevere, Jodi Niehoff as Morgan le Fay, and Alex Mills as Merlin. They are joined by Kathryn Kelly, Thomas Matthews, Sean Pedersen, Peter Pereyra, Hector Reynoso, JR Russ, JB Tadena, Dallas Tolentino, Ryan Tumulty, and Matthew Ward.

If you have never seen a Synetic Theater production, you will be amazed with what this athletic and innovative and powerful company creates. They have proved over and over again in their Helen Hayes Award-winning productions that you don’t need words to tell a story and move an audience. What you do need is a visually exciting way to tell the story, and when you have the family of creative and talented artists, dancers, actors, and designers that Synetic has, you are always in for an exciting and breathtaking experience in the theatre.

To get a flavor of a Synetic Theater production, watch a preview of Synetic Theater’s Antony and Cleopatra from January 2010 - here.

(9) Cats, through November 7th, at Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Baltimore, in Baltimore, MD.

Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Baltimore is bringing back one of its biggest hits –that furry musical that lasted almost two decades on the Big White Way - to excite a new generation of theatre goers in the Baltimore area.

Who knew that T.S. Elliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats", would make a fine musical? And who knew that felines with names like Old Deuteronomy, Rumpelteaser, and Grizabella, could sing, dance, and purr Andrew Lloyd Webber tunes to those lovely T.S. Elliot poems?

I can’t wait to see some of my favorite Toby regulars dressed up in their fancy furs:

Tina DeSimone (Demeter), Charlie Abel (Macavity/Gus), David Bosley-Reynolds (Old Deuteronomy), David Jennings (Munkustrap), Deb Buonaccorsi (Bombalurina), and Frank Anthony (Rum Tum Tugger). Rounding out this ‘purr-fect’ cast are: Antonio Beverly (Alonzo), Vincent Musgrave (Bustopher Jones), Anastacia King (Cassandra), Ali Hoxie (Griddlebone), Katie Harrington (Jennyanydots), Brook Urquhart (Mistoffelees), Scean Flowers (Mungojerrie), Ashleigh King (Rumpleteazer), Jessica Coleman (Sillabub), Javi Harnley (Skimbleshanks), Alison Crosby/Christen Svingos (Tantomile), and Hanna Leigh (Victoria).

Hearing Janine Sunday (as Grizabella) singing “Memory” will be worth the price of admission. And I am so glad that I will have the opportunity to see Jamie Ogden (Jellylorum) make her Toby’s debut. She was outstanding in my favorite musical at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival -- The Poet Warriors -- where she played Jeanette. I can’t wait to see what costume designer Larry Munsey has stiched up for the show.

Music Direction is by Pamela Wilt, choreography by Paula Lynn, Sound Design By Corey Brown, Scenic Design By David A. Hopkins, and Lighting Design is by Lyn Joslin.

Let me ‘paws’ here to say that I’m am really looking forward to revisiting my Jellicle friends.

(10) RENT!, through November 14th, at Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Columbia, in Columbia, MD.

I have seen so many productions of RENT! that I told my editor Lorraine Treanor from DC Theatre Scene that after I see this production, I am retiring from RENT! viewings.

So with this amazing cast I know I will go out with a bang!: Greg Twomey (Roger), Heather Beck (Joanne), Nick Lehan (Mark), MaryLee Adams (Mimi), Mary Searcy (Maureen) and David Gregory, as Benny, Kevin McAllister (Collin) and Bryan Daniels (Angel).

Nick and MaryLee were members of this year’s Helen Hayes Award-winning ensemble of another production of RENT! At Keegan Theatre, and it will be thrilling to see them in their lead roles of Mark and Mimi. The talented ensemble members are: Matthew Wojtal, Deborah Lubega, Katie Brobst, Jennie Lutz, Vishal Vaidya, Chad Fornwalt, Kelli Blackwell, Conrad Buck, Dan Sonntag, Michael Robinson, and Crystal Freeman.

All of these performers have amazing voices and are equally talented actors. I am a big fan of each one of them, and I am eager to see them perform these challenging roles.

Toby Orenstein and Kevin McAllister are co-directing. Christopher Youstra is the Musical Director and Kurt Boehm is the choreographer. Kurt choreographed Keegan Theatre’s Helen Hayes Award-winning production of RENT!


ALSO OPENING IN OCTOBER 2010

From October 1st to October 24th, Sabrina Fair, at Ford's Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From October 4th to October 23rd, Julius Caesar, at Taffety Punk, in Washington, DC.

From October 6th to October 24th, Two by J.M. Barrie: The New Word and The Old Lady Shows Her Medals, at Rep Stage, in Columbia, MD.

From October 7th to October 31st, Titus Andronicus, at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, in Ellicott City, MD.

From October 8th to November 13th, Lips Together Teeth Apart, at Bay Theatre Company, in Annapolis, MD.

From October 12th to November 21st, Henry VIII, at Folger Theatre’s Folger Elizabethan Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From October 14th to October 31st, Evil Dead The Musical, at Landless Theatre Company at The Frederick Cultural Arts Center, in Frederick, MD.

From October 14th to November 14th, Women Beware Women, at Constellation Theatre Company, in Washington, DC.

From October 14th to November 19th, Len Piper’s Pinocchio, at The Puppet Co., in Glen Echo, MD.

From October 15th to November 13th, Blood Sweat & Fears III: Red Velvet Curtain, at Molotov Theatre Company, in Washington, DC.

From October 16th to November 7th, Fool for Love, at Keegan Theatre, at Church Street Theater, in Washington, DC.

From October 19th to October 20th, Chekov InterNational Theatre Festival’s Three Sisters, at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From October 19th to November 27th, The 13th International Festival of Hispanic Theater, at Teatro de la Luna, at Gunston Arts Center in Theatre 2, in Arlington, VA.

From October 20th to November 7th, Ameriville, at Round House Theatre, in Bethesda, MD.

From October 21st to November 14th, The Lost Ones, at Spooky Action Theatre, in Takoma Park, MD.

From October 21st to December 12th, Richard III In Rep With Mary Stuart, at Washington Shakespeare Company, at the Artisphere, in Arlington, VA.

From October 22nd to November 14th, Holiday, at 1st Stage, in McLean, VA.

From October 23rd to October 31st, Locomotion, at The Kennedy Center’s Family Theater, in Washington, DC.

From October 28th to November 13th, ON THE FRINGE: Eye on Edinburgh, at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.

From October 28th to November 21st, Looking for the Pony, at Venus Theatre, in Laurel, MD.

From October 28th to November 28th, Purge, In Rep With The War of the Worlds, at Scena Theatre, at H Street Playhouse, in Washington, DC.

From October 28th to November 21st, Darwin in Malibu, at Washington Stage Guild, in Washington, DC.

From October 29th to November 7th, Cabaret Macabre, at Happenstance Theatre, at Round House Theatre in Silver Spring, MD.

ALREADY OPEN AND PLAYING THROUGH OCTOBER & NOVEMBER 2010

Through October 3rd, Mauritius, at 1st Stage, in McLean, Virginia.

Through October 3rd, Something You Did, at Theater J, in Washington, DC.

Through October 9th, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre, in Frederick, MD.

Through October 10th, Falsettos, at Ganymede Theatre at Noi's Nook at go mama go!, in Washington, DC.

Through October 10th, The Saint Plays, at Factory 449, in Washington, DC.

Through October 16th, El caballero de Olmedo/The Knight from Olmedo, at GALA Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through October 16th, The Tenth Man, at American Century Theater, in Arlington, VA.

Through October 17th, Circle Mirror Transformation, at Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through October 17th, Glimpses of the Moon, at MetroStage, in Alexandria, VA.

Through October 23rd, Scorched at Forum Theatre at Round House Theatre, in Silver Spring, MD.

Through October 24th, All’s Well That Ends Well, at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Landsburgh Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through October 24th, Cirque du Soleil’s OVO: (A teeming world of insects), at Harbor Place, in Washington, DC.

Through October 24th, Misalliance, at Olney Theatre Center, in Olney, MD.

Through October 24th, Song of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, at Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

Through October 31st, Bunnicula, at Imagination Stage, in Bethesda, MD.

Through November 2nd, Spot’s Birthday Party, at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, MD.

PHOTOS

(1) The ‘Plumpet' from Pandemonium. Photo Credit to Steve McNicholas.
(2) Artwork from Signature Theatre’s production of A Fox On the Fairway, by Design Army.
(3) Graphic for Sanctified at The Lincoln Theatre.
(4) Graphic for Theater J’s production of The Odd Couple, by David Polonsky.
(5) Artwork from Signature Theatre’s production of Walter Cronkite is Dead, by Design Army.
(6) Artwork from The Broadway Revival of Hair.
(7) Madeleine Carr plays Agent Green in Solas Nua’s new musical Improbable Frequency. Photo Credit to Dan Brick.
(8) Ben Cunis as King Arthur, Vato Tsikurishvili as Lancelot, and Brynn Tucker as Guinevere, in Synetic Theater’s production of King Arthur. Photo and Design Credit: Graeme B. Shaw.
(9) David Reynolds as Deuteronomy in Cats, at Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Baltimore. Photo Credit: Kirstine Christiansen.
(10) MaryLee Adams, as Mimi in RENT! At Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Columbia. Photo Credit to www.miapink.net

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-- 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. Joel can also be heard 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. The group is in its 21st season. Joel also writes a monthly preview of what’s about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. His work can also be seen on BroadwayStars.




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From This Author 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, (read more...)