DC Theater Friday: The old ‘Cabaret’ and new plays up the river

Friday, 14 July 2017, 05:00:46 AM. Six fresh scripts in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

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Leigh Ann Larkin in Roundabout Theatre Company's “Cabaret,” at the Kennedy Center. (Joan Marcus)

The weekly feature of what’s happening on Washington stages.

You can choose something new or the tried-and-true. Summer showcases of fresh works are in full swing downtown at the Capital Fringe Festival — see the ETC. category — and in Shepherdstown, W.Va. at the Contemporary American Theater Festival. Meanwhile, “Cabaret” and “The King and I” occupy the Kennedy Center, and the popular (if challenging) “An Octoroon” returns to Woolly Mammoth.

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PREVIEWING

“Bonnie and Clyde.” The emerging Monumental Theatre Company takes on the 2011 Broadway flop (music by Frank Wildhorn) in a potentially dubious D.C. area premiere. July 14-31 at the Ainslie Arts Center, 3900 W. Braddock Rd., Alexandria. Tickets $30. Visit monumentaltheatre.org.

“The King and I.” Replacing another toruing Rodgers and Hammerstein show (“The Sound of Music”) during the Kennedy Center’s summer of Broadway classics. Bartlett Sher directs the Lincoln Center Theatre production. July 18-Aug. 20 at the Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets $59-$149. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.

“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.” An Anacostia Playhouse production of the late-career Billie Holiday concert drama, featuring Anya Randall Nebel. Through Aug. 6 at the Anacostia Playhouse, 2020 Shannon Pl. SE. Tickets $30-$40. Call 202-290-2328 or visit anacostiaplayhouse.com.

“The Mark of Cain.” A premiere about the biblical figure from the movement troupe Synetic Theater. July 19-Aug. 13 at Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington. Tickets $20-$60. Call 866-811-4111 or visit synetictheater.org.

“Oblivion.” Liberal parents dealing with their 16 year old daughter’s sudden Christianity, in a drama from Carly Mensch (“Orange is the New Black,” “GLOW”). Produced by Unexpected Stage Company. Through Aug. 6 at the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 6301 River Rd., Bethesda. Tickets $10. Call 301-229-0400 or visit unexpectedstage.org.

“An Octoroon.” Woolly Mammoth revives its hit staging of Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins’s “acerbically virtuosic skewering of America’s perpetually festering racial anxieties,” as Peter Marks wrote last year. July 18-Aug. 6 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D St. NW. Tickets $ Call 202-393-3939 or visit woollymammoth.net.

“Things You Shouldn’t Say.” The “dragapella” Kinsey Sicks return to Theater J for a brief summer stint. July 19-30 at Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW. Tickets $30-$52. Call 202-777-3210 or visit theaterj.org.

“Thurgood.” The solo show on Thurgood Marshall by George Stevens, Jr. July 19-Aug. 20 at the Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd., Olney. Tickets $45-$70. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.

“Wig Out.” An early work on drag and gender from Tarell Alvin McCraney, writer of this year’s Best Picture winner, “Moonlight.” Through Aug. 6 at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW. Tickets $20-$62. Call 202-332-3300 or visit studiotheatre.org.

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“The Niceties,” by Eleanor Burgess, at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, W.Va., with Margaret Ivey and Robin Walsh. (Seth Freeman)

“Cabaret.” The Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2014 Broadway revival, co-directed by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall (and inspired by Mendes’s 1993 staging for London’s Donmar Warehouse). With Jon Peterson as the Emcee and Leigh Ann Larkin as Sally Bowles. Through Aug. 6 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Tickets $59-$149. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.

“The Contemporary American Theater Festival.” Six new plays, fully produced, in the annual summer showcase. “‘The Niceties,’ performed with precision-guided authenticity by Margaret Ivey and Robin Walsh, as a relentless Ivy League student of color and the equally headstrong, liberal, white history professor whose pieties and prerogatives are systematically dismantled, is the best of a well-chosen cohort. They include a perceptive, character-rich drama about forgiveness in an Amish community, Chelsea Marcantel’s ‘Everything Is Wonderful’; and Evan Linder’s ‘Byhalia, Mississippi,’ a conventional touchy-situation comedy elevated by strong seriocomic writing and Marc Masterson’s sterling direction.” (Peter Marks) Through July 30 at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, W.Va. Tickets $30-$65. Call 304-876-3473 or visit catf.org.

“The Happiest Place on Earth.” “Some plays make you wait before paying off, and that’s the case with Philip Dawkins’s solo show and personal memoir — mostly thoughtful, sometimes funny — about family grief and coping at Disneyland. Tia Shearer is a genial host, a smooth talker as she winds through the complex family tree, and appealingly curious once Dawkins’s script finally finds a sharp edge.” (Nelson Pressley) Through July 30 at the Hub Theatre, 9431 Silver King Court, Fairfax. Tickets $22-$32. Visit thehubtheatre.org.

“My Fair Lady.” “In the lean, generally fetching, mildly nontraditional ‘My Fair Lady,’ the power struggle between Higgins and Eliza occasionally displays a startling erotic edge. That’s the case in part because director Alan Souza has given us a Higgins with the looks, and often the presence, of a matinee idol. This production benefits from the dynamism and singing prowess of Brittany Campbell as Eliza, the Covent Garden flower seller who learns elite pronunciation under Higgins’s tutelage. Program notes proclaim that Souza has set the story in 1921, a few years after the passage of a law that enabled some British women to vote. Postdating the story seems almost redundant, given Eliza’s resolve, iconoclasm, daring and ultimate self-reliance.” (Celia Wren) Through Aug. 6 at the Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd., Olney. Tickets $33-$80. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org .

“The Originalist.” Edward Gero dons Antonin Scalia’s robes again in John Strand’s 2015 hit drama. Through July 30 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. Tickets $41-$101. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.

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Tia Shearer in “The Happiest Place on Earth.” (DJ Corey) CLOSING

“Broken Glass.” Aaron Posner directs Arthur Miller’s 1994 drama, set in 1938, about a New York woman paralyzed as she reads news of Kristallnacht. “Kristallnacht is the immediate backdrop, but Miller’s psycho-political mystery gives its characters lots to unravel. Posner’s staging astutely makes clear that Phillip, played like a man on the verge of a stroke by a tightly wound Paul Morella, is every bit as sick as his wife, Sylvia (a magnificently impassioned and sympathetic Lise Bruneau). The play labors hard over its wasted marriage, but Posner trusts its powerful flickers as Miller the moralist draws his stern civic map.” (Nelson Pressley) Through July 16 at Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW. Tickets $13-$64. Call 202-777-3210 or visit theaterj.org .

“The Sound of Music.” A national tour of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, directed by Tony Winner Jack O’Brien (“Hairspray”). “Reverent is the word, even if O’Brien breaks a bit with how he sees the plucky postulant-turned-governess Maria and the forbidding Captain Georg von Trapp. Charlotte Maltby’s Maria oozes robust health; at a glance you suspect she could scamper across the Alps, yodeling over the peaks. Nicholas Rodriguez is a gentle von Trapp, naturally radiant, and the kids are the soul of the show. It’s not a put-it-in-the-pantheon ‘Sound of Music,’ but fans and newcomers alike should find themselves settling in comfortably.” (Nelson Pressley) Through July 16 at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House. Tickets $39-$149. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.

TYA (Theater for Young Audiences)

“Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook.” Allison Gregory’s adaptation of the Barbara Park series. For all ages. Through Aug. 14 at Adventure Theatre MTC, 7300 MacArthur Blvd. (Glen Echo Park), Glen Echo. Call 301-634-2270 or visit adventuretheatre-mtc.org.

“Wonderland: Alice’s Rock and Roll Adventure.” The versatile Erin Weaver is Alice in this rock telling of Lewis Carroll’s fantasy, for age 5 and older. Through Aug. 13 at Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda. Tickets $10-$30. Call 301-280-1660 or visit imaginationstage.org.

READ MORE: Jane Horwitz rounds up this summer’s family-friendly fare.

ETC. dc-theater-friday-the-old-cabaret-and-new-plays-up-the-river photo 4
Acrobatics and silks in “MacBheatha” at the Capital Fringe Festival. (Bruce Wiljanen)

Capital Fringe Festival. Nearly a hundred acts — theater, movement, music, you-name-it — in two action-packed weeks, with a third week for selected shows. Venues are clustered downtown and around the Capital Fringe Logan Arts Space at 1438 Florida Ave. NE. Through July 30. Tickets $17, plus a one-time $7 purchase of a Fringe button. Call 866-811-4111 or visit capitalfringe.org.

The Capitol Steps. The longtime political satirists, tearing laughs from the headlines. Fridays and Saturdays in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center Amphitheater, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Tickets $36. Call 202-397-7328 or visit www.capsteps.com.

“The Second City’s Almost Accurate Guide to America: Divided We Stand.” The Chicago-based comedy troupe returns with an update of last summer’s political satire. “A running joke is that North Korea’s missiles have launched and caught us off-guard; we have 15 minutes ’til doomsday. This cast seems to have an especially good time playing together, and they blend well embodying a bunch of stereotypes at a pre-protest meetup. ‘Okay, guys,’ someone says, only to be greeted by a protest: ‘Please don’t gender the group.’ This isn’t electric material; it’s genial. But the summery spirit is a balm.” (Nelson Pressley) Through Aug. 13 at the Kennedy Center Theater Lab. Tickets $49-$69. Call Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.

Sizzlin’ Summer Nights. Signature Theatre performers in the annual cabaret series, through July 22. This week: Nova Y. Payton, “Songs I Love” (July 14); Bob McDonald, “And the Oscar Goes To …” (July 15); The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, “Let’s Misbehave!” (July 18); Matthew Schleigh & Jessica Lauren Ball, “Falling Slowly” (July 19); Liam Forde, “A Jubilee” (July 20). At Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Tickets $35. Call 703-820-9771 or visit sigtheatre.org .

READ MORE:

The good, the bad and the ugly of intermissions

Peter Marks reviews the Trump-themed “Julius Caesar”

Public Theater director Oskar Eustis on his “Julius Caesar”

The 2017 Tony Awards

Look ahead: Marks and Pressley annotate the 2017-18 theater season

Look back: This year’s Helen Hayes Awards

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