A Theatre Lover's Guide to DC/Capital Area Theatres - September 2011 Offerings
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by Joel Markowitz
The new DC area theatre season begins in September. Over 50 shows are opening in our professional and community theatres. But before we move on to the new season and what's opening in September, let's look back at my personal favorite musicals, plays, and performances in both musicals and plays in the DC area - from August 2010 to August 2011.
(1) By Jeeves, at 1st Stage.
(3) Chess, at Signature Theatre.
(4) Children of Eden, at Musical Theater Center.
(5) Mirandy and Brother Wind, at Adventure Theatre.
(6) Oklahoma! (The revival), at Arena Stage.
(7) Ragtime, at Act Two @ Levine and The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts.
(8) The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, at The Keegan Theatre.
(9) The Drowsy Chaperone, at McLean Community Players.
(10) The Happy Elf, at Adventure Theatre.
(11) The Wild Party, at Teatro101.
(12) Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story, at Elden Street Players.
Favorite Musical Performances
(1) Ryan Burke as Jamie Wellerstein, in The Last Five Years, at Kensington Arts Theatre.
(2) Danny Burstein as Buddy, in Follies, at The Kennedy Center.
(3) Noah Chiet as Jason, in Falsettos, at Ganymede Arts Theatre.
(4) Lauren 'Coco' Cohn as Coral Hicks, in Glimpses of the Moon, at MetroStage.
(5) Felicia Curry as Mirandy, in Mirandy and Brother Wind, at Adventure Theatre.
(7) Will Hawkins and Josh Kaufmann as Tateh, in Ragtime, at The Theatre Lab School of Dramatic Arts and Act Two @ Levine.
(8) Leora Goldbloom-Helzner as Eve, in Children of Eden, at Musical Theater Center.
(9) Kevin S. McAllister as Burrs, in The Wild Party, at Teatro 101.
(11) David Pittsinger as Emile de Becque, in South Pacific, at The Kennedy Center.
(15) Christopher Thorn as Aldolpho, in The Drowsy Chaperone, at McLean Community Players.
(1) Amadeus, at Round House Theatre.
(2) An Ideal Husband, at Shakespeare Theatre Company.
(4) King Lear at Synetic Theater.
(5) Return to Haifa, at Carmen Theatre, at Theater J.
(6) Ruined, at Arena Stage.
(7) The Chosen, at Theater J, at Arena Stage.
(8) The Importance of Being Earnest, at Scena Theatre.
(9) Visit to a Small Planet, at American Century Theater.
Favorite Performances in a Play
(1) Cameron Folmer, as Lord Goring, in An Ideal Husband, at Shakespeare Theatre Company.
(2) Rick Foucheux as Rebbe Saunders, in The Chosen, at Theater J.
(3) Edward Gero as Antonio Salieri, in Amadeus, at Round House Theatre.
(7) Joshua Morgan as Danny Saunders, in The Chosen, at Theater J, At Arena Stage.
(9) Sasha Olinick, as Mozart, in Amadeus, at Round House Theatre.
(10) Robert Sheire as Candy, in Candy and Dorothy, at Unexpected Theatre Company.
(11) J. Fred Shiffman as Oscar Madison, in The Odd Couple, at Theater J.
MY TOP PICKS: SHOWS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING IN SEPTEMBER 2011
FROM SEPTEMBER 2ND TO NOVEMBER 6TH, CHICAGO, AT TOBY'S DINNER THEATRE, IN COLUMBIA, MD.
Watching Chicago in-the-round is going to be a blast. What is very exciting is that Helen Hayes Award winners Toby Orenstein and Helen Hayes Award nominee Larry Munsey are co-directing, Ilona Kessel is choreographing, and Christopher Youstra is musical directing. You know that Chris and his orchestra/band will play the heck out of Kander and Ebb's brassy score. Everyone is in good hands with Toby and Larry, Ilona, and Chris at the helm.
Here's the talented cast: Carole Graham Lehan as Roxie, Debra Bournacorzi as Velma, David James as Amos Hart, Jeffrey Shankle as Billie Flynn, and the powerful Jesaira Glover as Matron Morton. Can't wait to hear Jesaira knock the roof off with "When You're Good to Mama."
FROM SEPTEMBER 7TH TO OCTOBER 1ST, STOP KISS, AT NO RULES THEATRE COMPANY AT H STREET PLAYHOUSE, IN WASHINGTON, DC.
No Rules Theatre Company opens its new season with multiple (I've lost count) Helen Hayes Award-winning actress Holly Twyford making her directorial debut with Diana Son's Stop Kiss - and that's a cause for celebration. And what a great cast she gets to work with: Ro Boddie Karin Rosnizeck, Jonathan Lee Taylor, Howard Wahlberg, Alyssa Wilmoth and Rachel Zampelli.
"When charming and scattered New York City traffic reporter, Callie, and gentle and optimistic St. Louis schoolteacher, Sara, meet they are confronted with new feelings that change the course of their lives. As the story flips between moments before and after a violent attack, Callie and Sara face the wonders and hardships of being fearless and falling in love".
Artistic Director David Muse directs an exceptional cast that includes another multiple Helen Hayes Award-winning actor Ted Van Griethuysen (Fitz), Paxton Whitehead (Henry), Cameron Folmar (Donald), Wynn Harmon (Neil), Margaret Daly (Kay), Randy Harrison (Tim), Matt Dewberry (George), Lynn Sharp Spears (Joan), Alfredo Palupa (Tom), and Will Cooke (Ralph).
"Wistful and filthily funny, the latest play from the award-winning writer Alan Bennett of The History Boys examines creativity, desire, and the tenacity of the artistic spirit. The Habit of Art takes place in Rehearsal Room Two of London's National Theatre, but rehearsals quickly fall apart when the director is called out of town unexpectedly. The stage manager tries to marshal a run of the play, though the lead actor isn't quite solid on his lines and the playwright has shown up and isn't altogether pleased with the cuts that have been made to his play in his absence. The play-within-the-play follows an imagined meeting between poet W. H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten a year before Auden's death." Sounds like a lot of fun!
FROM SEPTEMBER 8TH TO OCTOBER 16TH, SAVAGE IN LIMBO, AT METROSTAGE IN AEXANDRIA, VA.
John Patrick Shanley's (the film Moonstruck and Pulitzer Prize Tony Award-winning Doubt) Savage in Limbo opens MetroStage's new season. Lise Bruneau - who is one of my favorite local actresses and directors - directs Helen Hayes Award-winning Natascia Diaz, who plays Denise Savage. Natascia is joined by Veronica del Cerro (Linda Rotunda), Jenna Sokolowski (April White), Michael Kevin Darnall (Tony Aronica), and Sasha Olinick (Murk).
"Taking place in a seedy Bronx bar, a quintet of bar regulars are looking for answers--to life and love-- and looking for change. Growing up Catholic in the Bronx (just like Shanley himself) they all believe there is something more out there for them to experience. But will they be able to break out of the life-long patterns and routines that are currently defining their lives? Shanley has created fascinating, entirely original characters and remarkably authentic language to fit the time, place and these unique and memorable characters." I can't wait to see this superb cast!
Everyone remembers Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly (who won an Oscar for her performance as the ever-suffering wife Georgie Elgin) in the 1955 film version. Now Clifford Odets' powerful The Country Girl comes to the intimate Gunston 2 space at American Century Theater.
"The Country Girl tells the story of faithful, devoted Georgie Elgin, her alcoholic has-been actor husband, and the director who offers him an opportunity to resurrect his career. Once the toast of Broadway, washed-up thespian Frank Elgin is drinking himself into oblivion until red-hot director Bernie Dodd offers him a starring role. While Dodd thinks he's giving Georgie and Frank a chance at redemption, his involvement in their life could as likely destroy them all. The Country Girl is a darkly beautiful play about theater and the art of art...how it impacts our relationships and ourselves in ways that are transporting and also hurtful."
Steven Scott Mazzola directs Brian Crane as Frank Elgin, with Vanessa Bradchulis as his wife Georgie. Kevin O'Reilly plays director Bernie Dodd, and Steve Lebens plays producer Phil Cook. Kelsey Acers as Nancy, Christopher Holbert as playwright Paul Unger, and Arturo Tolentino in the role of Larry, are making their The American Century Theater debuts.
FROM SEPTEMBER 9TH TO OCTOBER 2ND, DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER, AT 1ST STAGE, IN McLEAN, VA.
This is my kind of show - a fast paced and hilarious farce, and what a great way for 1st Stage to start their new season by producing Marc Camoletti's off-the-wall farce.
Local actors Evan Crump, Joshua Dick, Liz Dutton, Katie Nigsch-Fairfax, Gil Hasty, and Jessica Shearer Wilson make up the cast. Tom Prewitt directs.
"Things are never what they seem in Don't Dress for Dinner as fidelity is thrown to the pigs and every lover belongs to someone else. Bernard's weekend tryst is foiled when his wife decides to rendezvous with her lover under the same roof. Mistaken identity, feuding spouses and unwitting cooks make up this crowded table of cheating dinner guests. A perfect concoction of hilarity and farce, this is one meal that will keep you laughing from aperitifs to after dinner drinks." Sounds like a barrel of laughs!
I can't remember when a Broadway musical moved me more. And I can't remember a musical that had so much energy and amazing music and choreography, provided by Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones - who also directs.
"HIS STORY INSPIRED A NATION. HIS MUSIC INSPIRES THE WORLD.
FELA! is the true story of the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, whose soulful Afrobeat rhythms ignited a generation. Inspired by his mother, a civil rights champion, he defied a corrupt and oppressive military government and devoted his life and music to the struggle for freedom and human dignity. FELA! is a triumphant tale of courage, passion and love, featuring Fela Kuti's captivating music and the visionary direction and choreography of Tony-Award winner Bill T. Jones." Don't miss this exciting theatrical experience.
FROM SEPTEMBER 14TH TO OCTOBER 2ND, MACBETH, AT SYNETIC THEATER, AT THE CRYSTAL CITY METRO, IN ARLINGTON, VA.
Synetic Theater's 2007 'Silent Shakespeare' Macbeth is one of my all-time favorite Synetic works, and I am so glad they are bringing this visually stunning production back.
"One of the most successful Synetic productions of all time, Macbeth returns with its dark tale of ambition, bloodlust and the supernatural. In 2008, Macbeth was nominated for 11 Helen Hayes Awards and received 5 awards. Set in a dark, impressionistic, military world, Macbeth is a swirl of murder, madness and self-destruction, exploring the outsized ambitions of a husband and wife".
Irakli Kavsadze returns as the doomed king, Irina Tsikurishvili returns as Lady Macbeth, as does Philip Fletcher , Mary Werntz, and Sarah Taurchini as the infamous three witches. Synetic regular Ben Cunis plays Macduff, and Salma Shaw returns as Lady Macduff. Alex Mills, Ryan Sellers, JB Tadena, Dallas Tolentino, Ryan Tumulty, Vato Tsikurishvili, and Matt Ward round out the athletically talented cast.
It's a 'Must See' so run over to Synetic's Crystal City performing space and be mesmerized!
Watch video highlights from Synetic Theater's 2007 production of Macbeth.
FROM SEPTEMBER 15TH TO OCTOBER 8TH, THE MANDRAKE, AT FACTION OF FOOLS THEATRE COMPANY, INC., AT GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY, IN WASHINGTON, DC.
Faction of Fools begin their performance in residence at Gallaudet University by presenting Machiavelli's The Mandrake, with a translation by Nerida Newbigin.
"A romantic comedy by the guy who wrote the book on how to be a blood-thirsty despot. Our season opener is a classic Renaissance comedy written by a man more notorious for his politics: Machiavelli's The Mandrake creates an unlikely happy ending out of the hilarious deceptions people employ for love. The Mandrake will be our inaugural performance in residence at Gallaudet University. Matthew R. Wilson's troupe is always entertaining and since I love Commedia dell'Arte, I am looking forward to seeing what surprises Matthew and his fellow actors have up and behind their masks.
Read Matthew R. Wilson's Faction of Fools' season preview article.
It's one of my favorite musicals and I am so happy that visitors to Ford's Theatre will get to hear Jason Robert Brown's beautiful score and will be exposed to this miscarriage of justice. Euan Morton will sing Jason's score so beautifully in his gorgeous tenor, and many of the DC areas finest actors/singers will be lending their voices. It's going to be heavenly!
Parade has a book by Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy) with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years). Musical Direction is by Steven Landau, and the show is choreographed by Helen Hayes Award winner Karma Camp. Stephen Rayne directs the amazing cast: Euan Morton (Leo Frank), Jenny Fellner (Lucille Frank), Carolyn Agan (Monteen), Sandy Bainum (Mrs. Phagan/Sally Slaton), Christopher Bloch (Old Soldier/Judge Roan/Guard), Erin Driscoll (Essie), Will Gartshore (Office Ivey/Tom Watson), Matthew John Kacergis (Young Soldier/Frankie Epps/Guard), Kellee Knighten Hough (Minnie McKnight/Angela), James Konicek (Hugh Dorsey), Kevin McAllister (Newt Lee/Jim Conley/), Stephen F. Schmidt (Governor Slaton), Chris Sizemore (Britt Craig/Mr. Peavy), Christopher Talbert (Luther Rosser/Officer Starnes), Bligh Voth (Iola Stover), and Lauren Williams (Lila/Mary Phagan).
If you added up all the Helen Hayes Awards this cast has received, you could fill up a room.
"The Tony Award-winning musical drama Parade is based on the true story of Leo Frank's trial and lynching in early 20th-century Atlanta. Ostracized for his faith and Northern heritage, Jewish factory manager Leo Frank is accused of murdering a teenaged factory girl the day of the annual Confederate Memorial Day parade. Alfred Uhry's award-winning book and Jason Robert Brown's rousing, colorful and haunting score illuminate a circus of conflicting accounts, false testimony and mishandled evidence in a town reeling with social and racial tension. Isolated from the world, Leo develops a new and deeper love for his wife, who tirelessly crusades for his freedom. Stephen Rayne directs this compelling and provocative tale of justice miscarried, revealing a country at odds with its declarations of equality."
I've been waiting all year for this production, and I am confident it will be a huge hit.
CHILDREN'S/FAMILY THEATRE-ALL HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
From September 16th to October 9th, Tales of Beatrix Potter, at The Puppet Co., in Glen Echo, MD.
From September 17th to 25th, Charlotte's Web, at Pumpkin Theatre, in Baltimore, MD.
From September 23rd to October 30th, Aladdin's Luck, at Imagination Stage, in Bethesda, MD.
From September 23rd to October 31st, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, at Adventure Theatre, in Glen Echo, MD.
COMMUNITY THEATRE PRODUCTIONS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
From September 16th to 25th, A View From the Bridge at Rockville Little Theatre, in Rockville, MD.
From September 16th to October 1st, Social Security, at McLean Community Players, in McLean, VA.
From September 16th to October 8th, Based on a Totally True Story, at Silver Spring Stage, in Silver Spring, MD.
ALSO OPENING IN SEPTEMBER 2011
From September 1st to 25th, The Stenographer at Venus Theatre , in Laurel, MD.
From September 7th to October 9th, Fahrenheit 451, at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, MD.
From September 8th to October 2nd, Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, at MET (Maryland Ensemble Theatre), in Frederick , MD.
From September 9th to 24th, Riot Grrrls Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing, at Taffety Punk Theatre Company, at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, in Washington, DC.
From September 9th to November 5th, Chicago, at Way Off Broadway, in Frederick, MD,
From September 9th to November 13th, Dreamgirls, At Toby's Dinner Theatre, in Baltimore, MD
From September 15th to October 9th, !Ay Carmela!, at GALA Hispanic Theatre, in Washington, DC.
From September 16th to November 20th, Dreamgirls, at Riverside Center Dinner Theater, in Fredericksburg, VA.
From September 22nd to October 15th, Mad Forest, at Forum Theatre, at Round House Theatre, in Silver Spring, MD.
From September 22nd to October 22nd, A Moon for the Misbegotten, at Heritage-O'Neill, in Silver Spring, MD.
From September 27th to October 30th, Les Miserables, at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC.
From September 28th to October 23rd, Witness for the Prosecution, at Olney Theatre Company, in Olney, MD.
From September 30th to November 6th, Wit, at Bay Theatre Company, Inc., in Annapolis, MD.
From September 30th to October 2nd, Love Brothers Serenade, at African Continuum, in Washington, DC.
OPENED AND PLAYING THROUGH SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER 2011
Through September 3rd, Xanadu, At Toby's Dinner Theatre, in Baltimore, MD.
Through September 4th, Grease, at Olney Theatre Center, in Olney, MD.
Through September 18th, OR, at Rep Stage, in Columbia, MD.
Through September 25th, Happy Days at WSC Avant Bard, at the Artisphere, in Arlington, VA.
Through September 25th, Imagining Madoff, at Theater J, in Washington, DC.
Through September 25th, Nunsense, at Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre, in Lorton, VA.
Joel Markowitz writes about theatre in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and New York for Maryland Theatre Guide, where he is The Editor and Senior Columnist. 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. For five years. he wrote a column called Theatre Schmooze and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. Joel also writes this 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.