As we enter the Spring half of Washington’s vibrant theater season, there’s only one question you need to ask: “HOW DO I GET A TICKET TO HAMILTON AT THE KENNEDY CENTER???”
Hopefully, you already have yours in hand. But if not, don’t fret — it’s not the only musical in town. There’s plenty more to choose from, including two semi-staged musicals in the KenCen’s dazzling new series, Broadway Center Stage — How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and In the Heights — as well as The Wiz, which is primed to blow the rafters off Ford’s Theatre. Meanwhile, Olney fires up On the Town, Signature rolls out Kander & Ebb’s rarely done The Scottsboro Boys, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company lights up the Harman with Camelot.
In the realm of “straight” plays, Studio ushers in some gay starpower with 30 Rock‘s Maulik Pancholy in The Remains, Arena hits the August Wilson trail with Two Trains Running, and Folger dives headfirst into A Winter’s Tale. Talk about thumbing your nose at Spring….
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day — Cara Gabriel directs a stage adaptation of Judith Viorst’s book about a disastrous day in a boy’s life and the hope for better days ahead (Now to 3/31)
Judy Moody & Stink: The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt — A testy sister and her know-it-all little brother are in a competitive search for gold on Artichoke Island, based on the books by Megan McDonald (4/20-6/3)
Tinker Bell — The story of Peter Pan from the feisty fairy’s point of view, in a world premiere adaptation by Patrick Flynn and directed by Nick Olcott (6/22-8/20)
Hold These Truths — A play for our times, Jeanne Sakata’s inspirational true story focuses on a man who defied his government and the unjust and utterly un-American policy of interning Japanese Americans during World War II. Jessica Kubzansky directs (Now to 4/8, Kogod Cradle)
Two Trains Running — Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson’s masterpiece, set in a black Pittsburgh neighborhood during the Civil Rights Era, showing the impact of social change in the lives of everyday people (3/30-4/29, Fichandler)
Snow Child — A magical new work, based on a novel by Eowyn Ivey, set in Alaska and with a score combining backcountry string-band traditions and contemporary musical theater (4/13-5/20, Kreeger)
Mobile Unit: Twelfth Night — A production of the Bard classic presented by the company’s ensemble, focused on bringing theater to the city’s underserved communities, including the homeless and the elderly (3/22-3/25, Third Space)
George Orwell’s Animal Farm — Some animals are more equal than others in the classic dystopia. May Adrales directs an adaptation by Ian Wooldridge of a work with political resonance today (3/1-4/1)
Soul: The Stax Musical — Kwame Kwei-Armah ends his tenure as artistic director with a world premiere musical about Memphis-based Stax Records and the launch of its iconic artists, including Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, and Booker T & The MG’s (5/3-6/10)
The Caucasian Chalk Circle — Few companies do epic adventure on an intimate scale as fantastically as Constellation. This Brecht tale, with vivid characters, high-stakes scenarios and live music, should put that award-winning theatrical sleight of hand into sharp relief (4/12-5/13)
Aubergine — A Korean family struggles to relate across emotional and cultural divides, but it’s the food they share that leads to understanding in Julia Cho’s drama. A co-production with Olney Theatre (3/14-4/15)
The Book of Joseph — The discovery of a stash of letters stamped with Swastikas opens clues to an untold family history spanning multiple generations. Based on Richard Hollander’s book Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family’s Correspondence from Poland (5/9-6/10)
The Winter’s Tale — Aaron Posner directs the fanciful romance and tale of redemption (3/13-4/22)
Saint Joan — Four actors perform over 25 roles in a stripped-down production of George Bernard Shaw’s Joan of Arc tale. A special engagement from New York’s brilliant theater company Bedlam, responsible for last year’s Sense & Sensibility (5/12-6/3)
The Wiz — Responsible for Studio Theatre’s exhilarating Wig Out, director Kent Gash eases on down the road with Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown’s Tony-winning “Super Soul” retelling of The Wizard of Oz (3/9-5/12)
En el tiempo de las mariposas (In the Time of the Butterflies) — The Mirabal sisters of the Dominican Republic were elegant, wealthy, and inspired resistance cells against a dictatorial regime until their murder (4/12-5/13)
Broadway Center Stage: In the Heights — A semi-staged concert performance of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning first Broadway musical (3/21-25)
Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival — A thrilling national festival that brings together participants from student theatre programs around the country (4/19-22)
After the Rehearsal and Persona — Two Ingmar Bergman screenplays brilliantly reimagined for the stage by celebrated Belgian director Ivo van Hove (4/19-22, Eisenhower)
Broadway Center Stage: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying — The Frank Loesser classic in a semi-staged concert (6/6-10)
Hamilton — Not just a musical, it’s a theatrical lifeforce at this point, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s breathtaking, visionary musical settles in for a four-month run. Tickets go on sale to KenCen members in Feb. 2018 and to the general public in March (6/12-9/16, Opera House)
The Color Purple — An all-new Broadway production directed by John Doyle (7/31-8/26, Eisenhower)
Paper Dolls — Meet five Filipino guest workers who care for elderly Orthodox men in Israel by day — and headline a drag show by night. A “karaoke musical” based on a 2006 documentary, part of Mosaic’s 2018 Voices From A Changing Middle East Festival (3/29-4/22)
Hooded, Or Being Black for Dummies — A special encore remount of Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm’s irreverent comedy after its sold-out run earlier this year (5/2-6/3)
The Vagrant Trilogy: The Hour of Feeling (Part I), The Vagrant (Part II) — Mona Mansour explores the life and events of a displaced Palestinian family spanning four decades. Part of Voices From A Changing Middle East (5/31-6/24); The Vagrant Trilogy: Urge for Going (Part III) — “A Special Event Presentation,” examining the cost of collective dreams deferred as the family lands in a refugee camp in Lebanon in Mansour’s conclusion (6/18-20)
Every Brilliant Thing — Developed with actor Jonny Donohue, Duncan MacMillan’s unusual one-person play pivots on interactions with the audience, collectively examining a child’s reaction to his depressed mother and helping build a list of things worth living for. Michael Dove directs (Now to 3/25, Theatre Lab)
The Crucible — Arthur Miller’s opus on the Salem witch trials remains as timely and cautionary a tale as ever: a reminder of what can happen when fear runs amok and truth is bent to political convenience (4/18-5/20, Mainstage)
The Invisible Hand — The power of the free market is put to the test in a thriller by Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhta (5/9-6/10, Theatre Lab)
On The Town — Three sailors on shore leave romp around New York. Olney’s Jason Loewith revives this early musical with an exuberant score by Leonard Bernstein in the year of the composer’s centennial. It’s a heck of a show (6/20-7/22, Mainstage)
The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore — Chicago’s innovative company the Hypocrites returns with its wild takes on two classic Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, staged in repertory (7/11-8/18, Theatre Lab)
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway
True West — The late Sam Shepard’s explosive, darkly funny American classic (4/26-5/13)
John — A ghost haunts a couple on their retreat in Gettysburg, a quietly suspenseful play with the kind of sly, observant humor about humanity that playwright Annie Baker is known for (4/3-29, Max)
Girlfriend — Matthew Sweet’s power-pop music becomes the background for a tender tale of a college-bound jock and his aimless, first-time boyfriend in small-town Nebraska circa 1993. Matthew Gardiner directs (4/17-6/10, Ark)
The Scottsboro Boys — Joe Calarco directs Signature’s take on Kander & Ebb’s final musical collaboration, a breathtaking critique of a true story of racism and injustice from 1931 (5/22-7/1, Max)
Translations — British army engineers arrive in 19th-century rural Ireland to draw new borders and translate local place names into the King’s English. A modern classic from Brian Friel reminding us of how personal the political can be (3/21-4/22)
Vietgone — Vietnamese-American playwright Qui Nguyen recreates his parents’ 1975 refugee camp romance in a high-octane comedy. Part of Studio X (4/25-5/20)
The Remains — A comedy about the tragedy of loving starring Maulik Pancholy (30 Rock). David Muse directs a world premiere from Ken Urban (5/16-6/17)
Underground Railroad Game — Two middle school teachers get shockingly down and dirty with a lesson about race, sex, and power. An unflinching comedy from Ars Nova (4/4-29)
Botticelli in the Fire — While painting “The Birth of Venus,” the famed artist is put to the test by the arrival of a conservative priest leading a populist revolution in Lorenzo de’ Medici’s Florence. By acclaimed Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill (5/28-6/24)
English schoolkids go to prom? Color us surprised that American-style prom culture has boomed in popularity across Britain. A 2012 Guardian article on the phenomenon, "How British Children Have Embraced the High School Prom," pinned some of the blame for the cultural exchange on the overseas success of Glee and High School Musical, noting that in 2011, Holiday Inn had seen a 5000% increase in prom bookings in the U.K.
That same year, Jenny Popplewell's documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16 introduced the public to Jamie Campbell, a gay student in Sheffield, England, who was determined to attend his prom in drag.
An epic journey rendered in the space of a well-lit stage, Round House Theatre's regional premiere of Quixote Nuevo (★★★☆☆) enchants and entertains, without delivering the knockout punch implied by playwright Octavio Solis' poignant Don Quixote adaptation.
The show, directed by Lisa Portes, does hit with its delightfully versatile ensemble, evocative design on every front, and rich Spanglish-tinged storytelling that encompasses live Tejano music, puppetry, and arresting Dia de los Muertos imagery and styling.
Amid the haunting atmosphere of scenic designer Milagros Ponce de León's pueblo porticos, the play offers timely takes on mental health, aging, and the ongoing conflict over immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. Heavy issues are handled here with a light touch -- lighter than the comedy at times, which is played broadly in some cases, though most deftly by Ernie Gonzalez, Jr., portraying the stable Sancho Panza to Herbert Siguenza's mad Don Quixote.
Cinderella, the classic persecuted heroine, is as popular now as she's ever been. She's the star of a new, critically acclaimed Andrew Lloyd Webber musical on London's West End, and was the focus of last weekend's Opera in the Outfield simulcast at Nats Park from the Washington National Opera.
This weekend, you'll find her as the mysterious belle of the ball streamed into the homes of Amazon Prime subscribers. Writer/director Kay Cannon's Cinderella (★★★☆☆) serves up an inspiring and strong female character to lead a messy but likable modern take on the fairytale. Here, the heroine goes by her original name of Ella, and she is no longer preoccupied by fanciful dreams of a noble boy sweeping her off her feet and rescuing her into a life of fame and royalty.
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