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Summer Stages: An Exciting Summer of Theatre in Washington, DC Lies Ahead!

Summer Stages:  An Exciting Summer of Theatre in Washington, DC Lies Ahead!

One of the fabulous things about living in the Washington, DC Metro Area is that opportunities to see theatre - and good theatre at that - exist throughout the year. The summer is no exception. This year local audiences can choose from several national tours, more than a hundred shows in three summer festivals, and an array of other professional theatre productions - some featuring well-known titles and (more exciting to me) some that don't. If that doesn't strike your fancy, Wolf Trap - known as America's Park for the Performing Arts - has a concert lineup that offers music suited for nearly every taste. BroadwayWorld.Com's DC writing staff will be covering many of these offerings this summer, so please check out our reviews.

As Senior Contributing Editor for the DC BroadwayWorld.Com page, I polled some of our writers to see what everyone is most looking forward to seeing this summer, whether as a reviewer or in a personal capacity. Their answers appear below in addition my own picks, and a listing of numerous other performances taking place in our area this summer.

Jennifer Perry:

Dani Girl at Unexpected Stage Company at the Randolph Road Theatre in Silver Spring, MD: If there's anything that gets me personally excited, it's musicals by up-and-coming composers. Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond's debut album Out of Our Heads, which features vocal talent from Broadway and beyond is one of those albums I have on regular rotation on my iPod. Their world premiere musical Orphie and the Book of Heroes was the source of critical acclaim recently at the Kennedy Center. Local audiences will have a chance to check out one of their other musicals, Dani Girl, this summer at one of our local theatres that isn't afraid to think out of the box. Dani Girl follows a young child as she grapples with cancer and - with friends - figures out the secrets of life and death. Unexpected Stage calls the contemporary show "witty and touching." Tickets cost less than $20. There's no reason not to check it out. It runs from July 17 to August 10.

The Totalitarians at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Downtown, DC: Woolly is one of those local companies that is always pushing the limits and asking the hard questions about issues of contemporary social importance. While there's certainly no shortage of politics-centric theatre in this city for obvious reasons, I am really looking forward to Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's The Totalitarians directed by Robert O'Hara - both of whom Woolly audiences should know really well. Featuring recent Helen Hayes Award winner Dawn Ursula, Emily Townley, Nick Loumos, and Sean Meehan, we'll find out what happens when an ambitious speechwriter helps a rich housewife run for public office in Nebraska. This National New Play Network rolling world premiere runs from June 2 to June 29 at Woolly's home in the Penn Quarter. Ah, premieres! Music to my ears!

Festivals, Festivals, and More Festivals: Capital Fringe Festival, Source Festival, and the Sizzlin' Summer Nights Series at Signature Theatre (Cabaret): For local audiences that like to binge on the performing arts like I do and see multiple shows in a day or week, June and July offer such opportunities in Washington, DC proper and in Arlington, VA.

  • Source DC gets us into festival mode in June with three full-length productions, three series of ten-minute plays, and three artistic blind dates, all focused on the themes of mortality, quests, and revenge. All of the festival offerings are brand new and can be seen from June 6 to June 29 at Source's home on the very trendy 14th Street in downtown, DC. Consult the Source Festival website for a listing of all shows.
  • Music geeks can spend several weeks in Shirlington Village in Arlington, VA - home to the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre. Their annual "cabaret" series, known as Sizzlin' Summer Nights, is running from July 9 to July 26. Whether your taste is jazz, pop-rock, songs from TV shows, or musical theatre, there's something for everyone. Featuring local and New York-based talent, including those that have appeared in some of your favorite shows at Signature, you won't want to miss it. Consult the Signature website for a listing of all offerings.
  • A summer in DC is not complete without taking in one or two (or maybe twenty or fifty) shows in the Capital Fringe Festival. A magnet for the adventurous theatregoer, you never know what gems you'll find within the festival. The festival runs from July 10 to 27 at small traditional and non-traditional venues all around downtown DC. Tickets go on sale June 19. Keep your eye out for the show listing on the Capital Fringe website within the next few weeks.

Concerts, Concerts and More Concerts (and a Little Bit of Theatre) at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA: Beyond being a theatre nerd, I have a pretty eclectic music taste and try to catch at least several shows at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap each summer. Whether sitting on the lawn and enjoying a picnic or sitting in the traditional seats, one can experience live music in the great outdoors. There's really nothing better.

This year, Wolf Trap brings back some favorites like Gipsy Kings, Straight No Chaser, Diana Ross, and Josh Groban, as well as an array of other very popular artists like Sara Bareilles, Jennifer Nettles, Sara McLachlan, Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Band Perry and more to perform what are sure to be enormously entertaining concerts. The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) also offers several concerts there throughout the summer, and is joined by artists like Mary Chapin Carpenter, Matthew Morrison (with special guest star Laura Benanti), and Ben Folds. Sing-along concerts and instrumental classical music also make for a fun experience under the stars, as does the national tour stop of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. For a full listing of shows between now and September, consult the Wolf Trap website. Some shows are already sold out, so please don't delay and buy your tickets now! I am personally really, really looking forward to the Sara Bareilles concert as well as many of the offerings from the NSO.

Jennifer Perry and Benjamin Tomchik:

Carrie: The Musical at Studio Theatre's 2ndStage in Downtown, DC: Both Benjamin Tomchik and I are looking forward to seeing how Studio Theatre's 2ndStage handles one of Broadway's most infamous flop musicals, based on the novel by Stephen King. Yes, musical theatre aficionados will certainly remember that glorious 1980s camp fest that features music by Michael Gore, lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and a book by Lawrence D. Cohen and now local audiences can experience it too - albeit in a revised format. Benjamin Tomchik thinks it will be interesting to see whether Directors Keith Alan Baker and Jacob Janssen make this Carrie a camp fest or embrace the story of a girl with telekinetic powers being bullied by her fellow classmates. I happened to see the recent Off-Broadway 'revisal' at MCC Theater several years ago and it offered an angst-ridden good time filled with fun pop-rock musical numbers. I am certainly looking forward to seeing it at Studio 2ndStage because of the small, intimate black box space and its successful track record with somewhat off-kilter summer musicals. Be sure to check it out from July 9 to August 3 at Studio Theatre's home on bustling 14th Street.

Benjamin Tomchik:

Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA: Perhaps no show is more fitting to open Signature Theatre's silver anniversary season with than Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George. The musical's themes of art and creation seem perfect for a regional theater that continues to take risks and champion new, forgotten and classic works. Over the past 24 seasons, Sondheim shows have become Signature's signature and that makes this production all the more exciting! The show - directed by Matthew Gardiner - runs from August 5 to September 21.

Andrew White:

The British Players' Old Time Musical Hall at Kensington Town Hall in Kensington, MD: This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the British Players' Old Time Music Hall. From its humble beginnings at the Embassy, it has grown to become a major community event and this year should be special. Music Halls have been a popular British institution for nearly 200 years, and the chance to drink and sing along as you like has a great appeal. It offers period-style entertainment that is surprisingly racy (innuendo and double-entendres abound), and one of my favorite local performers, Albert Coia, stars and co-directs. Performances will be from June 13 to 28.

Jennifer Perry, Charles Shubow, and Audrey Liebross:

Side Show at the Kennedy Center in Downtown, DC: Many of the DC BroadwayWorld.Com writers are looking forward to the upcoming production of Bill Russell (book and lyrics) and Henry Krieger's Side Show at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theatre, which had a far too short Broadway run in the 1990s. This new incarnation of the cult favorite - featuring some new songs and characters - recently premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse and now local audiences will have a chance to check it out as well.

I happen to be a huge Side Show fan (honestly, it's in my top five musical theatre shows and will see it anywhere, anytime), so I am very, very curious about how this one plays out and any future life it might have. Audrey Liebross, likewise, says that the fictionalized story of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, who became well-known stage performers in the early 20th century, appeals to her because she's fascinated by the acting challenge. How will Emily Padgett and Erin Davie, who portray the twins, manage to move in such a way that the audience believes that they are attached through a shared spine? She can't wait to find out. The show plays from June 14 to July 13 and features direction by none other than Academy Award winner Bill Condon.

Audrey Liebross:

Menopause, The Musical at the Warner Theatre in Downtown, DC: I'm excited about Menopause, The Musical, playing at the Warner Theatre for four performances between Friday, June 13 and Sunday, June 15. The production features a cast of four women. Not only am I interested in seeing how the performers in a small-cast musical interact, but the fact that they're all women of a "certain age" raises my expectations that I'll see a version of myself on the stage. Besides, everything I've read about the Las Vegas and touring productions promises ninety minutes of hilarity. Who can resist the opportunity to cut a biological annoyance down to size through laughter?

Selected Other Theatre in Washington, DC this Summer Beginning Performances June through Mid-August:

National Tours:

  • National Tour of Disney's The Lion King, June 17 to August 17 at Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
  • National Tour of West Side Story, June 3 to 8 at National Theatre in Washington, DC.
  • National Tour of We Will Rock You, June 3 to 8 at Warner Theatre in Washington, DC.

Local Professional Theatre:

  • No Rules Theatre Company's Boeing-Boeing, June 4 to 29 at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.
  • SeeNoSun's Killer Joe, June 5 to 29 at DC Arts Center in Washington, DC.
  • Arena Stage's Healing Wars, June 6 to 29 at its home at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, DC
  • Scena Theatre's Happy Days, June 7 to July 5 at Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC.
  • Studio Theatre's Presentation of Grounded, June 10 to 29 at its home in Washington, DC.
  • Signature Theatre's Cloak and Dagger, June 12 to July 6 at its home in Arlington, VA.
  • Taffety Punk Theatre Company's Enter Ophelia, Distracted, June 20 to 28 at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop in Washington, DC.
  • Shakespeare Theatre Company's Presentation of Buyer and Cellar, June 20 to 29 at its home in Washington, DC.
  • Adventure Theatre MTC's Pinkalicious: The Musical, June 25 to August 31 at its home in Glenn Echo, MD.
  • Imagination Stage's The BFG, June 25 to August 10 at its home in Bethesda, MD.
  • Forum Theatre's Gidion's Knot, July 2014, at Round House Theatre Silver Spring in Silver Spring, MD.
  • Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company's Rodney King, July 8 to 20 at its home in Washington, DC.
  • The Hub Theatre's Abominable, July 11 to August 3 at New School of Northern Virginia in Fairfax, VA.
  • Quotidian Theatre's The Veil, July 18 to August 17 at Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD.
  • Woolly Mammoth Theatre's Company's remount of Stupid F##king Bird, July 28 to August 17 at its home in Washington, DC.

Photo: Promotional photo for Side Show, featuring Emily Padgett and Erin Davie (by Cade Martin).

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