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

In September, DC area theatres are filled with almost a dozen musical productions opening -- classics, family shows, and many wonderful plays being performed on our over 200 theatre venues. The humidity is finally melting away, and it's a perfect time to welcome the cooler weather and the colors of the Fall by making a trip to the Nation's Capital and catching a show or two or three. There are family shows with canines and rabbits, a Labor Day weekend theatre festival that's FREE, a new jazz musical with some of the area's most talented singers, and bugs and ants that swing on trapezes. Mr. Ripley is finally coming to town, while I'm hoping that all will be well at Shakespeare Theatre. Someone is trying to deal with a very troubling inch, a Bar-Mitzvah boy has to deal with his crazy family, spelling champions battle it out, and a beagle pilot takes flight. There's so much to choose from, so read on and see what's playing in September in this monumental town. Happy New Year to all my fellow Jewish lovers of the theatre!

SPECIAL EVENT:

Page to Stage, Labor Day Weekend -- September 4th to 6th, at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.

The Kennedy Center hosts its ninth annual Page to Stage new play festival, again this year, with over 40 theaters from the D.C.-area offering a series of free readings and open rehearsals of plays, and "developing" musicals from DC area, regional, and national playwrights, librettists, and composers. Things that are wetting my lips are: The Audible Group's Troublesome Gap, Episode 3, Howard University's 2 musicals Frat and U.G.L.Y; Taffety Punk's adaptation of Brothers Grimm; Synetic Theater's King Arthur, and Signature Theatre's American Voices Musical Voices Project: The Next Generation. There is so much to see at this three day "sneak preview" festival.

Check the schedule here.

OPENING IN SEPTEMBER MUST-SEES:

(1) Hedwig and the Angry Inch, from September 4th to September 25th, at Iron Crow Theatre Company, at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church, in Baltimore, MD.

I love John Cameron Mitchell's off-the-wall show, and that amazing score and brilliant lyrics by Stephen Trask, so I am so glad that Iron Crow is putting on Hedwig with the incredible Joseph Ritsch as the bitter rock star-wannabe Hedwig Schmidt, who is left with an 'angry inch' after a sex change surgery from hell. With no husband, and a boyfriend who never gives an inch, Hedwig begins a journey trying to find fame, fortune, and her/his other half.

Sarah Taylor co-stars as Yitzhak. The show is directed by Iron Crow Artistic Director, Steven J. Satta, and Nick Jewett musical directs. I can't believe they're putting this on in a church. Heaven help them!

(2) All's Well That Ends Well, from September 7th through October 24th, at Shakespeare Theatre Company's Landsburgh Theatre, in Washington, DC.

The big news is that actress Marsha Mason is starring as the Countess of Rossillion in Artistic Director Michael Kahn's production of All's Well…one of The Bard's most joyful comedies that has more twists than a large pretzel. "This adventure story that examines how far one will go to obtain the object of her heart's desire. In Shakespeare's moving comedy, Helena wants Bertram, and Bertram wants anything but marriage. With resourceful deception and ample persistence, our heroine Helena overcomes one obstacle after another." I'm not going to use of my limited space, so here's the synopsis of AWTEW to read here.

Now let's talk about the buffet of great talent in this cast (in alphabetical order):

Bev Appleton as 1st Lord, Michael Bakkensen as Parolles, Nick DePinto as Dumaine the Elder, Conrad Feininger as 2nd Lord / Duke of Florence, Daniel Flint as the Interpreter (he just won Favorite Actor for his performance as alchemist Edward Kelley in Burn Your Bookes at Taffety Punk in DC Theatre Scene's Audience Choice Awards), Adam Green as Lavatch, and again - Marsha Mason as the Countess of Rossillion, Natalie Mitchell as Diana, Caitlin O'Connell as Widow Capilet, Barbara Pinolini as Reynalda and Mariana, Charity Pomeroy as the Nurse, Tony Roach as Bertram, Miriam Silverman as Helena, Ted Van Griethuysen as the King of France, Kristen Varvaris as Isbel, Paxton Whitehead as Lafew, Danny Yoerges as Dumaine the Younger, and Kevin Hasser, Russell Jonas, John W. Schiffbauer, Scott Woltz and Kevin Woods are the ensemble members.

With Michael Kahn at the helm, I know that all will be hysterical, visually stunning, and quite well in the end at The Landsburgh Theatre.

(3) Glimpses of the Moon, from September 8th to October 17th, at MetroStage, in Alexandria, VA.

I've been waiting for this one all year! When you put Helen Hayes Award-winners Natascia Diaz and Stephen Schmidt together with chanteuse magnifique Gia Mora, and Signature Theatre favorites Lauren Williams and Sam Ludwig, and add the funny and talentEd Matthew Anderson, you are in for a toe-tapping, finger snapping fun time. With book and lyrics by Tajlei Levis, and music by John Mercurio, and directed and choreographed by David Marquez, Glimpses of the Moon is "A sparkling romantic musical, Glimpses of the Moon follows the jazzy whirl of New York society in 1922. Popular but penniless, Suzy Branch and her friend Nick Lansing devise the ultimate fundraising scheme -- to marry and live off the wedding presents, while they help one another look for suitable millionaires. The plan works perfectly -- until they fall in love". It sounds silly and fun and I can guarantee that when Natasica and Gia and Sam and Lauren and Stephen and Matthew start singing, I'll be 'over the moon.'

(4) The Talented Mr. Ripley, from September 8th to September 26th, at Round House Theatre, in Bethesda, MD.

Artistic Director Blake Robison directs the U.S. regional premiere of playwright Phyllis Nagy's adaptation of the novel by Patricia Highsmith, starring Helen Hayes Award-winning actor Karl Miller as Tom Ripley. I loved the 1999 American film version that starred Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, and co-starred Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett (as Meredith Lone, a role written exclusively for the film), and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I know you are asking how can anything equal or surpass that cast. Well DC's finest are up to the task and they will be fabulous: Billy Finn, Naomi Jacobson, Marcus Kyd, John Lescault, Karl Miller, Kaytie Morris, and Sasha Olinick.

Just to refresh your memory: "Enigmatic conman Tom Ripley is determined to gain wealth and social status by any means possible. The perfect opportunity arises when American financier Herbert Greenleaf sends him to Italy to track down his son, who has been living the high life there with his beautiful girlfriend. His mission takes on a sinister twist as the lives of Ripley and young Richard Greenleaf become inextricably entwined -- with murder the only way out. This subversive, psychological thriller explores the mind of one of literature's great anti-heroes; an intelligent, suave, charming psychopath whose amorality is at the center of a plot about duplicity and murder." Round House is the first regional theatre in the country to have this gripping play on its stage.

I'll be looking for Mr. Ripley in downtown Bethesda. Care to join me in finding him?

(5) Cirque Du Soleil's OVO: (A teeming world of insects), from September 9th to October 24th, at Harbor Place, in Washington, DC.

Bring your ants, uncles, moths, kids, and grandkids to Cirque du Soleil's 'bug-filled' extravaganza OVO, and you'll be in for an 'egg-xellent' time filled with visually and physically astounding feats that will leave you asking all night (or afternoon), "How the hell did they do that?" (By the way 'OVO' means "egg" in Portuguese. The two "O" letters represent the eyes while the letter "V" forms the nose.

According to the press release, "The cast of OVO comprises 54 performing artists from 16 countries and director Deborah Colker, a renowned choreographer, (she's the first female director at Cirque…) has integrated dance movements into many of the acts in the show. OVO features many acrobatic acts including a stunning flying trapeze act: Six flyers soar 40 feet in the air, making this act the biggest of its kind ever presented under a big top by Cirque du Soleil. It combines many circus disciplines: banquine, Russian swing, and swinging chair. The finale features 20 artists running, jumping and leaping up a 24-foot vertical wall."

And that's all I want to know for now because I want to be surprised, and I'm sure you do too!

(6) The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, from September 10th to October 9th, at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre, in Frederick, MD.

I was one of the audience members selected as a speller in one of the last performances of the show in NYC, and I had a blast. I had seen Spelling Bee (as I like to call it) 4 times and had such a wonderful time watching the cast and audience laughing and having such a great time, and this gym and seat-filled musical is now being produced by MET, and I can't wait to see it.

The show is filled with some of the most talented actors/singers in our area, and they will have a great time with William Finn's joyous score. The cast includes Josh Kemper (Chip Tolentino), Amy Baughman (Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere) -- I'm glad I didn't have to spell that name when I was a speller - Will Emory (Leaf Coneybear), The eccentric William Barfee (the eccentric Matt Baughman), Allison Lepelletier (Marcy Park), Maura Lacy (the sweet Olive Ostrovsky) is played by Maura Lacy, Laura Stark (Lisa Perretti), Tad Janes (Vice Principal Douglas) and William Shelton (Mitch Mahoney). The director is Gene' Fouche' and the Musical.

I love this show, and so do so many other theatres in the DC area, because during the upcoming season, we will see almost a dozen productions and actors spelling their hearts out.

(7) Falsettos, from September 11th to October 10th, at Ganymede Theatre at Noi's Nook at go mama go!, in Washington, DC.

In 1992, I had friends dying all around me and I went to an average of two funerals for 18 months and then I went to NYC and was invigorated and restored to fight another day after I saw the sung-through powerful musical Falsettos at the Goldman Theatre. And now as the rate for new AIDS cases has risen and is attacking the DC area, Ganymede Arts is mounting a new production of William Finn's emotional, funny, and tear-filled musical with an amazing cast of actors that I admire and whose work I have written about and have attended.

Ganymede's Artistic Director Jeffrey Johnson is directing and playing the very messed up Marvin, while Michael Sazonov plays his off-and-on lover Whizzer. Lisa Carrier-Baker plays his ever-suffering ex-wife Trina, Tony Gudell plays Mendel, the ex's new husband, and my favorite young local actor/singer Noah Chiet is playing Jason, the Bar-Mitvah-to-be son of Marvin and Trina, who they are driving Meshuga. Tammy Roberts Cordelia, plays a kosher caterer who needs cooking lessons, and Barbara Papendorp plays her loving partner who lies about how good her cooking is!

Christopher Wingert is musical director and this will be the first production of Ganymede's performed at Noi's Nook at go mama go!

"Falsettos is a universal story of the modern day family. It focuses on a man named Marvin who leaves his wife and young son to live with another man yet ends up alone. Two years later, Marvin is reunited with his lover on the eve of his son's Bar Mitzvah, just as AIDS is beginning its insidious spread". No one tells it better than William Finn.

(8) Spot's Birthday Party, from September 17th to November 2nd, at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, MD.

Here's a family show that really hits the 'spot'! Adventure Theatre opens its new season with a doggone fun show for the whole family -- The U.S. premiere of David Wood's stage adaptation based on the books by Eric Hill. Music and lyrics are by David Wood, and the production is directed Joe Banno, with Musical Direction by Aaron Broderick and choreography by Kurt Boehm.

"Hi! Spot is everyone's favorite puppy - and today it's his birthday! It's party time! And you're invited! Spot's friends Tom the crocodile, Helen the hippo, and Steve the monkey will be there for the fun, games, songs and magic. Spot hopes to see you too! Celebrate Spot's 30th Anniversary with Eric Hill's award-winning books. "You receive a free goodie bag & birthday hat, compliments of Spot!" Hopefully there's no 'spot remover' in that bag!

Even sweeter than that goodie bag is the great cast: Spot (John Robert Keena), Spot's Dad (Matt Dewberry), Spot's Mom/Fairy God Mother (Ayanna Hardy). Marco the Magician (Danny Pushkin), Steve the Monkey/Step Sister (Kirstin Riegler), Tom the Crocodile (Joshua Dick), and Helena the Hippo/Cinderella (Mary Beth Luckenbaugh). If you've had a 'ruff' week at work, why not pack up the kids and come visit spot at Adventure Theatre?

(9) You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, from September 23rd to October 17th, at No Rules Theatre Company at H Street Playhouse, in Washington, DC.

We can all use a little happiness, some sweetness, so why not spend some time with the gang from Peanuts at No Rules Theatre Company's production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown?

"Join Schroeder, Lucy, Snoopy and their friends for an average day in the life of Charlie Brown. These classic characters, played by adults, lead us through the dilemmas of first love, fitting in with your friends and discovering what happiness is in this timeless musical treat. This updated version of the original 1967 musical is based on the comic strip "Peanuts" by Charles M. Schulz with book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner, additional dialogue by Michael Mayer and additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa".

Co-Artistic Director Joshua Morgan plays Linus, and is joined by cast members Kristen Graffo (Sally), Sean Maurice Lynch (Schroeder) , Augie Praley (Charlie Brown), Carolyn Cole (Lucy), and Chris French (Snoopy). Taylor Williams is the Musical Director, and Pauline Grossman is the choreographer, Ryan Wineinger is the Scenic Designer, Dina Perez the Costume Designer, and Travis McHale is the Lighting Designer.

When the production closes in DC, it will transfer to the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC. This will be the first of many productions which the company will transfer between the two cities as part of its dual city operating model. Now that's real happiness!

(10) Bunnicula, from September 25th to October 31st, at Imagination Stage, in Bethesda, MD.

Things will be 'hare-raising' at Imagination Stage's new musical Bunnicula. "It is a dark and stormy night at the Monroe house when family pets Harold the dog and Chester the cat are confronted by a mysterious new addition to the family: small, furry with long ears and fangs. Bunnicula! Soon the carrots in the kitchen are left drained of juice and with suspicious teeth-marks. First the veggies, next...the Monroes? Chester and Harold try to thwart the vampire bunny before it is too late! This musical adaptation of the book is a hugely imaginative tale full belly of laughs and suspense".

Bunnicula is based on the book by Deborah & James Howe. Jon Klein adapted the book for the stage and provided the lyrics to Chris Jeffries' score. Nick Olcott directs.

Why should you hop over to see the show? Look at this amazing cast with many Imagination Stage veterans returning: Michael John Casey (Harold) will energize this bunny, and will be joined by Tia Shearer ( Chester), James J. Johnson (Mr. Monroe), Brittany Parker (Mother), Mikey Cafarelli (Toby), Josh Sticklin (Pete), and Bette Cassatt is the Puppeteer -- pulling all the strings. I feel warm and fuzzy all over already.

ALSO OPENING IN SEPTEMBER 2010

From September 2nd to September 26th, Play Nice at Venus Theatre, in Laurel, MD.

From September 8th to October 17th, Circle Mirror Transformation, at Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From September 10th to October 3rd, Mauritius, at 1st Stage, in McLean, Virginia.

From September 16th to October 10th, The Saint Plays, at Factory 449, in Washington, DC.

From September 17th to October 16th, The Tenth Man, at American Century Theater, in Arlington, VA. 

From September 17th to October 16th, El caballero de Olmedo/The Knight from Olmedo, at GALA Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From September 29th to October 24th, Misalliance, at Olney Theatre Center, in Olney, MD.

From September 29th to October 24th, Song of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, at Studio Theatre, in Washington, DC.

From September 30th to October 23rd, Improbable Frequency at Solas Nua at Union Station, in Washington, DC.

From September 30th to October 23rd, Scorched at Forum Theatre at Round House Theatre, in Silver Spring, MD.

ALREADY OPEN AND PLAYING THROUGH SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER 2010

Through September 4th, Side Show, at Teatro 101, in Baltimore, MD.

Through September 5th, Cat's Cradle at Longacre Lea, at Catholic University, in Washington, DC.

Through September 5th, Cherry Smoke, at Round House Theatre, in Silver Spring, MD.

Through September 5th, The Sound of Music, at Wolf Trap's The Filene Center, in Vienna, VA.

Through September 5th, Twelfth Night, at The Shakespeare Theatre Company's at Sidney Harman Hall, in Washington, DC.

Through September 12th, Buddy--The Buddy Holly Story, at Toby's Baltimore, in Baltimore, MD.

Through September 12th, Travels with My Aunt, at Rep Stage, in Columbia, MD.

Through September 19th, In The Next Room or the Vibrator Play, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, in Washington, DC.

Through September 19th, Nunsense, at Toby's - The Dinner Theatre's Columbia, in Columbia, MD.

Through September 26th, Chess, at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.

Through September 26th, Dinner with Friends, at Olney Theatre Center, in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, in Olney, MD

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

PHOTOS

(1) Joseph Ritsch as Hedwig, in Iron Crow Theatre Company's production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Photo Credit: Sofia Silva.

(2) Miriam Silverman as Helena and Tony Roach as Bertram in the Shakespeare Theatre Company's production of All's Well That Ends Well, directed by Michael Kahn. Photo Credit: Scott Suchman.

(3) Gia Mora and Stephen Schmidt in Glimpses of the Moon at MetroStage. Photo Credit: Colin Hovde.

(4) Karl Miller as Tom Ripley, in The Talented Mr. Ripley, at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, MD. Photo Credit: Clinton Brandhagen.

(5) Cast of OVO. Photo Credit: Benoit Fontaine.

(6) Allison Lepelletier who plays Marcy in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, at Maryland Ensemble Theatre (MET). Photo Credit: Joe Williams.

(7) The cast of Ganymede Theatre's production of Falsettos: From L-R: Tony Gudell (Mendel), Noah Chiet (Jason), Lisa Carrier-Baker (Trina), Jeffrey Johnson (Marvin), Michael Sazonov (Whizzer), Tammy Roberts (Cordelia), and Barbara Papendorp (Dr. Charlotte). Photo Credit: Ward Morrison.

(8) Artwork from Adventure Theatre's Spot's Birthday Party, by Eric Hill/Salspot Ltd.

(9) Graphic for No Rules Theatre Company's production of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, by Wolber Enterprises, LLC.

(10) The show logo from Imagination Stage's production of Bunnicula, by Kristina Swarner

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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 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.



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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...)

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