The second half of the theater season is as rich and potent as the first half, with powerful productions of works by August Wilson, Sarah Ruhl, and Kenneth Lonergan. One of the most anticipated undertakings is Mosaic’s staging of Ifa Bayeza’s epic The Till Trilogy. We also can’t wait to see what The Shakespeare’s Simon Godwin has up his sleeve for Much Ado About Nothing, as well as Woolly’s Teenage Dick, a modern update on Richard III set in a high school.
But it’s musicals that dominate the spring and summer, with the return of the drop-dead astonishing Hamilton to the Kennedy Center, as well as a new production of Jesus Christ Superstar, Once On This Island, and the Broadway Center Stage rendition of Bye, Bye Birdie, featuring the legendary Harvey Fierstein. There’s also a sure-to-be boisterous production of Guys & Dolls at Ford’s, Memphis and Hedwig over at Keegan, Pippin at Olney, Fun Home at Studio, and Hair at Signature, which we’re quite sure will retain its infamous nude scene. Signature also makes a rare departure from its Virginia home for a two-week stint at The Anthem, where Eric Schaeffer and company intend to turn us all into “Dancing Queens.”
Editor’s Note: Some events might be postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Please check ahead with the individual venues.
The Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats — This beautiful show follows the character of Peter and his friend Archie around the neighborhood in four of Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved tales (Now to 4/5)
Lyle the Crocodile — When a crocodile turns up in a bathtub in an apartment, he becomes good friends with the folks in the building except Mr. Grumps (4/24-5/31)
Madagascar – A Musical Adventure — Based on the Dreamworks animated film. Directed by Natsu Onoda Power (6/26-8/23)
Rasheeda Speaking — A tense workplace thriller that examines the realities of “post-racial” America when two co-workers — one black, the other white — are driven apart by the machinations of their boss (Now to 3/22)
Seven Guitars — Pittsburgh in the 1940s is the backdrop for August Wilson’s fifth cycle play. Seven lives are interconnected when old friend and blues singer vows to turn his life around after a surprise windfall. Tazewell Thompson directs (4/3-5/3, Fichandler)
Toni Stone — Considered a African-American pioneer, Toni Stone blazed a path in the male-dominated world of baseball in the ’50s (4/23-5/31, Kreeger)
Queens Girl: Black in the Green Mountains — As the Vietnam War rages and the Kent State killings ignite college campuses across the country, Jackie arrives in Vermont to begin college where she is forced to confront the space between white and black culture to find her place in the world. A World Premiere commission by Everyman (Now to 4/12)
Berta, Berta — In Mississippi, 1920, Leroy returns to the doorstep of his long-lost lover, Berta, covered in blood after committing a shocking crime. With his freedom in the balance, the clock is ticking for him to make amends (3/17-4/26)
Cry It Out — This no-holds-barred comedy by Molly Smith Metzler holds a microscope and a megaphone to the joys and perils facing new parents (3/31-5/3)
Awake and Sing! — A Jewish immigrant family must weigh the costs of holding onto an enduring belief in the American dream. By Clifford Odets (5/26-6/28)
Guys and Dolls — Peter Flynn, who knocked Into the Woods out of the park last season, returns to direct this classic, featuring the showstoppers “Luck be a Lady” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” (Now to 5/20)
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter — Set in Peru during the 1950s, this funny and tender story of an 18-year-old student who falls for a 32-year-old divorcee is based on the real life experience of Nobel Prize-winner Vargas Llosa (4/23-5/17)
Jesus Christ, Superstar — In celebration of its 50th anniversary, a new mesmerizing production comes to North America from London. Just in time for Easter! (4/14-4/26, Opera House)
Broadway Center Stage: Bye Bye Birdie — A loving send-up of the early 1960s, small-town America, teenagers, and rock and roll featuring James Van Der Beek, Carly Hughes and Harvey Fierstein (4/23-4/26, Eisenhower)
Royal Shakespeare Company: The Taming of the Shrew — Justin Audibert turns Shakespeare’s fierce comedy of gender politics on its head (5/6-5/10, Eisenhower)
Tiny Beautiful Things — An original Kennedy Center production based on the best-selling book by Cheryl Strayed and adapted by Nia Vardalos (6/2-6/28, Terrace)
Hamilton — The astounding Tony-winning musical returns for 14 weeks (6/16-9/20, Opera House)
Once On This Island — Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s musical tells the sweeping, universal tale of a fearless peasant girl in search of her place in the world (6/23-7/12, Eisenhower)
A Monster Calls — A powerful new adaptation by visionary director Sally Cookson (7/21-8/9, Eisenhower)
To Kill A Mockingbird — Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork which took Broadway by storm (but are we getting Jeff Daniels? Please?) (8/25-9/27, Eisenhower)
Cost of Living — Two parallel narratives intersect as a wealthy graduate student with cerebral palsy and his newest caretaker build an uneasy trust, while a truck driver struggles to reconnect with his estranged wife, recently left paralyzed by a car crash in this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama (4/1-4/19)
Big Love — Fifty Greek maidens flee across the sea to Italy and claim refugee status to escape fifty arranged marriages. The fifty Grecian men follow in pursuit (5/20-6/21)
The Amen Corner — A Harlem pastor rails at her congregation and her teenaged son for their vices. She must face the music herself when a figure from her own troubled past returns (Now to 3/15, Harman)
Timon of Athens — Artistic Director Simon Godwin makes his directorial debut at the Shakespeare with a restaging of his recent, acclaimed production, featuring Olivier Award-winner Kathryn Hunter (Now to 3/22, Michael R. Klein Theatre, formerly Lansburgh)
Romantics Anonymous — Two chocolatiers suffering from social anxiety fall in love in this heartwarming musical (4/7-5/17, Klein)
Much Ado About Nothing — Godwin takes the reins to close the season with one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies (5/5-6/14, Harman)
Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes — A world premiere comedy by D.C. area playwright Dani Stoller (Now to 3/29, Ark)
Camille Claudel — Turn-of-the-century French sculptor Camille Claudel was a groundbreaking artist and a revolutionary free-thinker, but her entire life was determined by the men around her. A new musical (3/24-4/19, Max)
Nijinsky’s Last Dance — A masterful tour-de-force that delves into the fascinating and troubled genius of the greatest dancer who ever lived (4/14-5/24, Ark)
Hair — The joyous, buoyant, and trippy musical that took the ’60s by storm, featuring classics as “Age of Aquarius,” “Let the Sunshine In” and, of course, “Hair” (5/19-7/12, Max)
Mamma Mia! — The mega-hit musical, set to the soundtrack of ABBA’s greatest songs, directed by Eric Schaeffer in a two-week limited run at The Anthem (6/25-7/5)
There’s Always the Hudson — Paola Lázaro’s new work takes an unflinching look at confronting trauma, and how the bonds with our chosen family can carry us through (4/6-5/3)
Teenage Dick — Mike Lew’s modern, darkly comic re-telling of Shakespeare’s Richard III set in high school. Bullied because of his cerebral palsy, Richard is willing to crush his enemies in order to become senior class president (6/1-6/28)
In an unprecedented display of unity, 14 theaters in the D.C. area have announced that they will require audiences to show proof of vaccination in order to attend performances.
The theaters include Arena Stage, the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Constellation Theatre Company, GALA Hispanic Theatre, The Keegan Theatre, Mosaic Theater Company, Round House, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, Synetic Theater, Theater J, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, with more expected to join in the coming weeks.
(Since this article was published, the following theaters have joined the coalition requiring proof of vaccination: Anacostia Playhouse, MetroStage, Perisphere Theater, Peter’s Alley, Scena Theatre, Spooky Action Theater, Unexpected Stage, Washington Improv Theater, Washington Stage Guild, and We Happy Few Productions.)
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.
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